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VIOLET REVISIT REINVENT RECLAIM REVISIT The stain on your cuff The receipts stuffed into your wallet The article torn from an old newspaper The flyer in the bottom of your bag

REINVENT Wander the halls of a gallery Look up at the sky Spend all day inside with a book Pick up a trampled photograph from the street

RECLAIM Write notes on a napkin in the corner of a cafĂŠ Hunt down a perfectly shaped collar Pull apart the seams of your old dress Paint a picture

WELCOME TO VIOLET Times are turbulent. We turn to the past not for reassurance but for inspiration. Some ideas which inspired us then are worth revisiting now. Ideas that once provoked can be reclaimed, subverted and understood in new ways. Violet celebrates new work that knows its history, and design that is transformative. Violet values the old, embraces the new and glimpses the future. REVISIT will look to designs from the past, once familiar but now forgotten. Violet shares cherished vintage and second hand pieces and looks at the archive of Alexander McQueen’s high-drama catwalk shows, tracing his momentous journey through to his latest collection. Violet searches out the new books and exhibitions of cult designers and artists who have radicalised style. In this launch issue, REINVENT will explore the work of Japanese artists and designers, unique in their ability to reinvent the past without nostalgia, building on new techniques and finding imperfect beauty in their collections. RECLAIM celebrates the artists, designers, writers and musicians, emerging from the London fringe, who reimagine and transform in the energy of their new work. Violet translates Spring couture into silhouettes, and reviews the London Autumn Winter ready-to-wear. Collection previews showcase four Central Saint Martins graduates. Violet is the colour of imagination. Of beautiful flowers which wither and die. Of fantasy, playfulness, impulsiveness, and dream states. It is Courtney Love singing in the whorehouse. It is royalty and extravagance. It is Violet Beauregarde chewing indolently on her gum. Violet is a contradiction, a juxtaposition. Violet is a source of inspiration. Jo Gowans-Eglinton Editor-in-chief

Lipstick, Chanel Rouge Allure Laque no. 75

This page and cover: Dress, Sam Greenberg Tights (worn on arms), Wolford Necklace, Comfort Station Modelled by Anna-Faye


REVISIT Exhibition: Théâtre de la Mode - 18 Exhibition: Robert Frank - 23 Doll Parts - 26 Archive: Alexander McQueen - 40 Book: Miles Aldridge - 72 Exhibition: Colour Chart - 76 Exhibition: The Pictures Generation - 92 Film: Coco Avant Chanel - 94 Book: Mademoiselle - 95 Book: Hugh Hefner - 96 Exhibition: Lise Safrati - 97 Book: Herbarium Amoris - 98 Book: Paul Graham - 102 Exhibition: Diane Arbus - 103 Exhibition: Boris Savelev - 104

REINVENT #1 JAPAN Japanese Avant-Garde - 48 Book: Japanese Cinema - 50 Book: Japanese Goth - 51 Exhibition: Walking in My Mind - 52 Sputnik Sweetheart - 54

RECLAIM A Call to Arms - 7 London Fashion Week - 12 In a Name - 20 The Future of Vintage - 68 Haute Couture - 78 Through the Looking Glass - 88 Profile: Anna-Faye Gillespie - 106 Collection Preview: Sarah Lown - 108 Collection Preview: Rehana Begum - 112 Collection Preview: Viktor Smedinge - 116 Collection Preview: Matthew Josephs - 118 Q&A: The Broken Hearts - 122 Q&A: Silhouette - 124 Q&A: KASMs - 125 Lifestyle: Hannah Margaret Stewart - 126

Stockings, Falke



A CALLTO ARMS Autumn Winter 2009 Recession is bleak. Energy-sappingly, stay-in-bed bleak. People we know are losing their jobs, businesses that are slow to adapt are failing, the government is swallowing billions of pounds worth of debt that it can’t maintain, like some enormous gorging bulimic animal. The past seems glamorous and decadent, and only a chipand-pin ago. We could wallow in nostalgia. We can re-make the tried and tested, stick to the basics and play it safe. But there are those who will not stand by, who will not allow time to stand still and who will fight for a brighter tomorrow. This year’s Autumn Winter collections press on to the future. Powerful and strong, they demand our attention and our gratitude. They challenge us to shake up the grey matter and stop wallowing in fiscal fear. This fall’s designs offer us Boadicea looks to fight for the nation in. Fashion is not going down without a fight, and credit crunch be damned. Louise Goldin faces the uncertainties of the times with a stronger, sharper edge than she’s given us before. Her soft knits are now more structured, working with black leather crafted breastplates for a fierce LBD that oozes sexuality. Hair and make-up echo the pleasure-seeking replicant ‘Pris’ of Blade Runner fiction, with strict fringes and blue shadow eye-masks. Alessandro Dell’Acqua has transformed his knitwear into simple, body-skimming shift dresses and knitted layers, reminiscent of the chainmail that protected soft bodies

against blades and daggers in the past. There is more chainmail from Haider Ackermann whose long lean knit tunic is rough edged, with pieces of the knit trailing the length of plain black trousers. Hermes gives us sleek tailoring under big-shouldered jackets in leather and sheepskin. The World War II pilots’ caps call to the fighting spirit of our own 21st century hard times. For sheer drama it is, of course, Alexander McQueen, with one look encasing the body and face in an armoured body stocking, studded with blood red jewels. Anne Demeulemeester’s collection, as always, plays on masculine tailoring. Her warrior queens are wearing leather chest plates over monochrome blouson shirts with cigarette legs. Add her Native American feather headdresses for the full effect if you’re hunting down a mortgage. For a more contemporary wartime reference, Moschino Cheap and Chic featured camouflage-like prints; and Comme Des Garçons girls can hit the mean streets in cropped jackets like bullet proof vests. Hussein Chalayan is so optimistic about the future, he breaks though monochrome with cleavage moulded leathers in sunshine yellow and sharp turquoise. This is not the time to reach for comfy clothes and the remote control. We are in a time of flux, when everything becomes difficult and yet possible. This season, designers give us strong and sturdy clothes in which to weather the storm; armour for our times. We’re not going to sink so easily into depression, it’s time to fight back.


NO No fear No sense of direction No money No regrets No time No obedience No mediocrity

No rules, only choices


Previous page: Glasses, So High Soho Black dress, Retro Woman Tights (worn on arms), Falke Opposite: As Above, worn with Pannier cage, National Theatre Costume Archive Modelled by Rhiannon







This season, Ann-Sofie Back Burns in Hell. Back goes a little too heavy on the theme here, as models walk the runway with white contact lenses and dishevelled hair. The Ghostbusters’ theme and Tubular Bells from The Exorcist playing over the top only add to the comedic feel, which is a shame because viewed online without the cheesy theatrics, the clothes have a lot more credibility, and it becomes possible to see them as more than just dress up. Some of the more subtle dreamcatcher detailing works particularly well.

PPQ show in Burlington Arcade, which proves to be a very tight squeeze with an extremely narrow catwalk. The show is entitled Proletariat Chic, but the choice of born-into-money celebrity models are hardly working class. Apparently this season PPQ “love peas” as well as Daisy, Pixie and Alice. Unfortunately it all ends up looking more high street than high end, and their choice of clashing colours is more mismatched than daring. This is particularly disappointing after the promise of their Spring Summer collection.

Schwab shows a collection of cocktail dresses with a tailoring twist, as some are given the effect of a double silhouette. Miniature dresses appear to be pinned onto the front of some looks, while others are more simply cut, and cinched at the waist. Swarovski crystals give the impression of cracking rock, and 3-D prints explain the glasses embedded in our invites. Each look is complemented by changing light boxes on the back wall, which at the end tint the crowd a violent looking red.




Before the show, dinner ladies (complete with hair nets) provide guests with trays of tea and biscuits. Bartley sticks to what she does best, and adorns each outfit with signature touches, like the adorable bows on the backs of coats and dresses. There was a loose utilitarian feel, nothing as thematic as her Spring Summer show, but apparent in gold fastenings and marching band hats. The show finishes with The Smiths, which everyone is still singing hours later. “Some girls are bigger than others, some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers.”

This season, Erdem take the romantic painterly flower prints from Spring Summer and give them some edge. Delicate lace becomes graphic when black is teamed with bright reds and yellows, and billowing bias-cut maxi dresses are given a structured shoulder. Youthful minis are playful without becoming childlike, and ruffled collars look like blossoming garlands of flowers. The collection is considered and precise, with printed shoes to match each outfit, and exquisite embroidery.

LOUISE GOLDIN Goldin’s woman is both feminine, with a stunning Swarovski crystal mini-dress, and a warrior, with black leather over black knits in armour-like structured detailing. Hair and make-up are powerful too – plastered down fringes with blue Blade Runner eyes. With so few shows behind her after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2005, Goldin has excelled in creating an instantly recognisable style. This is definitely one to see in person though, as pictures fail to pick up the details and don’t do the collection justice.





Todd Lynn shows on the morning of a not so sleepy Sunday, with Di Meliora (Heaven send us better times). The collection is tough, with black leathers and furs, while chains hang down one side like rosary beads. Looks are dark and dangerous interjected with pools of white light. Religious chants play in the background, but the George Michael You’ve Gotta Have Faith ending was an unfortunate overstatement of theme. The odd male model shows the versatility of the range, which could be worn by either sex. Lynn says he went “back to basics” for this collection.

Katrantzou is another Central Saint Martins graduate who has established a distinctive style. In her Graduate 2008 collection, and again for Spring Summer 2009, Katrantzou used complex digital prints of oversized jewellery, accessorised with real handmade versions. In this, her second collection as part of Topshop’s Newgen, she retains her signature bright prints, this time inspired by vintage perfume bottles. These are again complimented by her extraordinary jewellery designs, including tribal gold neck braces. Egyptian kohl eyeliner gives the impression of scarab beetles hiding within her abstracted patterns.

Peter Pilotto’s Autumn Winter collection also focuses on strong prints, although his are inspired by national disasters. Two heavily bejewelled dresses take on the look of crystallised rock, while a feathered cape resembles molten lava. Prints are like magnifications of precious stones, light refracted and reflected. Some show altered images of fur and scales. Pilotto’s partner, Christopher De Vos took responsibility for shape. A pair of simply but elegantly cut coats are the only looks without ornamentation, testament to his eye for silhouette.


CHRISTOPHER KANE A very subdued collection for Christopher Kane, as greys and blacks drew the eye to tailoring and fit. Kane’s considered use of geometric appliqué is stunning; the garment is mapped out, with each section defined and outlined in black. Tasselled brogues and slate grey knitwear contrast against the delicate femininity of his dresses. The show begins with the only pair of trousers in the collection, in what is a more sombre and casual look. Gradually becoming more defined and exciting, the tartan knitwear gives way to metallic stripes, and the graphic organza dresses have no need for accessories.

GILES For his Autumn Winter collection, Giles takes us on a trip down memory lane. Deacon said later that the show was “not a retrospective, but more a personal analysis”. Stephen Jones’ flying saucer hats bring a stunning touch of glamour, but with Giles’ unexpected trip into his own past, one can’t help but wonder if the recession is a driving force behind this collection. Giles feels “it’s going to effect everybody, so you’ve got to maximise on your strengths and keep doing those things that make sure people are interested in you.” Deacon should have captured that interest with new ideas, rather than empty recycling which didn’t move forward.

RICHARD NICOLL Richard Nicoll has collaborated with artist Linder Sterling, known for her post-punk montages and for her controversial stage performances when fronting the band Ludus. Distorted images of women are digitally collaged onto the clothes, punk made passive in romantic nudes. Jackets and eye masks have suspender belt detailing, with boning and corsets showing through outerwear. Nicoll said this lingerie element centres around “being very honest about showing your insides and showing how vulnerable you are”.



15 May – 6 September International Center of Photography, New York


David Seidner: Jacques Fath, 1990 © International Center of Photography, David Seidner Archive

During World War II, the Nazi occupation of Paris had cut off couturiers from their worldwide market. In order to re-establish themselves, Parisian designers showed an exhibition of their clothes, made in miniature to fit small wire mannequins, which went on to tour the world. Designs included pieces by Jeanne Lanvin, Lucien Lelong, Elsa Schiaparelli and Pierre Balmain. The tour ended at the Maryhill Museum in Oregon, where the dolls remained, presumed missing. They resurfaced in 1990, when they were shot by fashion photographer David Seidner. The photographs, set in a disused theatre, will be exhibited at the International Centre of Photography, alongside one of the original dolls.



London has justifiably become known as a hotbed of new designer talent, and that talent is nurtured by initiatives such as Fashion East, Fashion Fringe and Topshop Newgen. Despite this, serious money and energies continue to be channelled into resurrecting the old designer houses and styles.

had become a hangout for the young and experimental, but this market was completely priced out in the relaunch. The revival lasted only three seasons. Hulanicki disapproved of resurrecting the name. She understood that in today’s terms Biba would be more a Topshop or H&M rather than a high end concept.

This February, Matteo Marzotto announced that he would be producing collections under the Vionnet name. Madeleine Vionnet’s genius in cut made a success of her brand, but can this be replicated? Can another designer really simulate and expand on a signature style? Vionnet [1876-1975] was famed for her bias-cut, where garments were shaped around the body, as opposed to being built up from flat patterns. The first collection under the relaunch, to be shown in June, will be designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga, previously of Prada. It is unclear how true to the Vionnet name this collection will be or why we value Paglialunga in homage to Vionnet rather than Paglialunga in his own right.

Ossie Clark is another iconic London designer famed for his cut and appreciation of the female form, the so called ‘King of Kings Road’. He collaborated with Celia Birtwell, using her prints on now statement collectables. In 2008, Marc Worth enlisted Avsh Alom Gur to design a collection under the Clark name, much to the outrage of Ossie Clark’s two sons, who claim no permission was granted for its use. The new collections have continued to underwhelm the fashion press, with their predictable and commercial look. Sarah Mower said of the Spring Summer 2009 collection, “it’s not that they didn’t look like Ossie Clark—they didn’t look like anything”. The show for Autumn Winter 2009 had three empty rows along the entire length of the BFC tent, and Avsh Alom Gur has since announced he will no longer be designing under the Ossie Clark name.

Other resurrected brands have enjoyed mixed success. The House of Chanel was closed during World War II, and its reputation suffered when Coco Chanel was romantically linked to a Nazi Officer. The House remained closed until 1954, when Mlle. Chanel returned to Paris. After her death in 1971, the House was kept open, but it was in 1983 that it was effectively reinvented with the appointment of Karl Lagerfeld as head designer. Lagerfeld was brought in to rejuvenate the brand, but sparked controversy with his trend-led and exaggerated styles, which in many ways contrasted with Chanel’s understated elegance. The brand has gone on to enjoy huge success, remaining one of the most recognised worldwide, so clearly Lagerfeld knew what he was doing. Some brands have not been so blessed. Biba, the shop and brand founded by Barbara Hulanicki, provided fashion specially designed for the emerging teenage market in sixties London. Garments were made in limited quantities, and became collectors’ items, with vintage pieces currently selling for many times their original price tag. The brand was re-launched in 2006, under Bella Freud. Prices were extremely high, due to royalty payouts, and the attempt to take it from high street to high end was a failure. The original store

Several of these re-launches are going against the wishes of the original designers, which ensures that they are viewed more as money making enterprises than sentimental creative endeavours. Despite the success of Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel had vowed never to produce ready-to-wear, as had Cristobal Balenciaga, who closed his doors in 1968, “no more, I cannot dress people like this. I am not made to dress people on the street”. In 1987 his house was reopened, now headed by Nicolas Ghesquière, the third designer to lead the brand. Despite threats on his job if Ghesquière didn’t make profits by 2007, the house has enjoyed renewed popularity. It seems a shame that backers are continually investing their money in resurrecting old names, rather than supporting new ones. There is so much expectation on these revived houses, the sceptical eyes of original fans almost making it harder to succeed. Perhaps the shake-up of recession will force us to look to emerging talent, appreciating the contributions of the old elite, and continuing to be inspired by their ideas, but embracing the new challenges and opportunities of our own historical moment.





‘She doesn’t complain, she’ll go anywhere I want, and she’ll pose any way I want’ Barbie is 50 this year, but she hasn’t aged a day. Air Stewardess to palaeontologist, aerobics instructor to Marine Corps sergeant. She has also been Italian, Parisian, British Royal, Inuit, Japanese, Korean, Jamaican and Native American. If Barbie were a real girl, she would not have enough fat to menstruate, be unable to walk, the weight of her chest would tip her on to her toes. But Barbie is a fantasy, and one that graced this season’s catwalks, with commemorative designs by Fifty-one different names, including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenberg, Marchesa, made specially-designed outfits, to celebrate Barbie’s half-century anniversary. Roksanda Ilincic and Danielle Scutt have deisnged capsule collections for the doll. Quote doll


about do as you

you dress

dress your yourself????


Robert Frank’s book The Americans celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. His honest collection of portraits showed American life beneath the idyllic surface, exploring racism, politics, and ordinary people struggling to come to terms with cultural change. Sarah Greenough curates an exhibition which will tour America this year, and includes behind-the-scenes material such as contact sheets and personal letters. This unique insight into 1950s American life will be on show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from May 16th to August 23rd, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from September 22nd to December 27th. For those of us not jetting off Stateside this year, the books will be re-published by Steidl.


1940s lace dress, The Girl Can’t Help It Eyelashes, Viktor & Rolf for Shu Uemura Lipstick, Chanel Rouge A Levres no. 166 Modelled by Francesca

DOLL PARTS “I am doll eyes doll mouth doll legs.

I want to be the girl with the most cake”

Courtney Love


Opening page and previous double: Pannier cage, lace body and fishnet tights, National Theatre Costume Archive Opposite and following double: Powder blue and white petticoats, Beyond Retro White lace tights, This Shop Rocks


“Observe a little girl spending the day around her doll, constantly changing its clothes, dressing and undressing it hundreds and hundreds of times, continuously seeking new combinations of ornaments – well or ill-matched, it makes no difference. Her fingers lack adroitness, her taste is not yet formed, but already the inclination reveals itself. In this eternal occupation time flows without her thinking of it. She even forgets meals. She is hungrier for adornment than for food. But, you will say, she adorns her doll and not her person. Doubtless. She sees her doll and does not see herself. She can do nothing for herself…she is entirely in her doll and puts all her coquetry into it. She will not always leave it there.

She awaits the moment when she will be her own doll.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Opposite: White body, Beyond Retro Suspender belt shorts, National Theatre Costume Archive Vintage Schiaparelli stockings, Retro Woman Following double: Body and petticoats, Beyond Retro White lace tights, This Shop Rocks Modelled by Hannah


11am Brighton Pier Helter Skelter Merry-go-round Big Top Seagulls screaming Waves crashing


ALEXANDER MCQUEEN “What attracted me to Alexander was the way he takes ideas from the past and sabotages them with his cut to make them thoroughly new and in the context of today”, said the late Isabella Blow, patron and muse to Alexander McQueen. Violet embraces McQueen as a true postmodernist, pillaging and deconstructing the past to inform his own new creations. It is talent that elevates his work beyond pastiche, to design that has its own meaning and value. Here, Violet takes a look back through McQueen’s dramatic archive of catwalk shows, spanning the last two decades.

Images by Christopher Moore



At the Central Saint Martins Graduate show at London Fashion Week in February 1992, McQueen presented a collection inspired by Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel victims in 1888. Locks of hair were sewn into the clothes, in remembrance of the hair the prostitutes would have sold in nineteenth century London. Isabella Blow, then Fashion Assistant to Michael Roberts, Fashion Director of Tatler and The Sunday Times, famously bought the entire collection for £5,000.


The collection, shown at Café de Paris, featured a moulded plaster breastplate and knitwear cut to expose the breasts. An Elizabethan neckline, cut traditionally below the nipple, was modelled by a pregnant skinhead. “The inspiration came from Irish folklore about banshees heard wailing when a boat sank” [Alexander McQueen].



For this season, McQueen showed at the Ritz Hotel, with a collection inspired by the decadence, sleaze and violence of Scorsese’s 1976 film, Taxi Driver. McQueen wrapped his models in clingfilm and latex, or draped their bruised and bloodied bodies in prints of Robert De Niro’s character Travis Bickle.

“People were so unintelligent they thought this was about women being raped – yet ‘highland rape’ was about England’s rape of Scotland” [Alexander McQueen]. The name McQueen gave this show and his slashing and shredding of some of the pieces sparked controversy about this collection. It featured Edwardian collars, lace fragments and dresses in traditional tartans cut deep or torn to expose the breasts.


The Nihilism show was at the Bluebird Garage on Kings Road. Models, splattered in blood and dirt, wore clothes cut or transparent to expose erogenous zones like breasts and buttocks. McQueen said it was a statement of anti-romanticism. This show introduced McQueen’s infamous Bumster trousers which revealed buttock cleavage.


This Hitchcock inspired collection saw models bound in scotch tape with blazers opened to reveal tyre marks across bare chests. Women’s breasts were again revealed through transparent panels and cut-away dresses. Suits and skirts were printed with bird silhouettes which have reappeared in his 2009 Autumn Winter collection.



holes and surrounded by car wrecks. McQueen was inspired by the prominent black and white markings on a Thomson’s gazelle, referenced with face paint, horns and animal skin. Sleek silhouettes in hides, leathers and feathers were teamed with cowboy boots and traditional tailored suits, a nod to McQueen’s training at Savile Row.

A/W 1996 DANTE

S/S 1998

Inspired by this dark, heavily sexual and decadent vampire story, McQueen featured prints that looked like veins, animal prints, straightjacket sleeves and gauze body stockings. For one look, he trapped live worms beneath a plastic bustier.

This highly theatrical collection was staged at a church in Spitalfields, where guests sat in pews next to skeletons. Models wore crucifix masks, denim splashed with bleach, and mourning veils in black lace. An opening of organ music was drowned out by gunfire. “It’s not so much about death, but the awareness that it’s there” [Alexander McQueen].

rigid leather bodice against a delicate lace skirt. McQueen also designed her prosthetic legs. In a spectacular finale, Shalom Harlow’s white trapeze dress was spray painted by two robots live on the runway.


Originally called The Golden Shower, for this show McQueen installed a perspex tank as a catwalk in a bus depot in Victoria. Halfway through the show the catwalk filled with pools of black ink, and rain poured from the ceiling. White clothes became increasingly see-through as the rain fell. The collection featured a ribcage corset by Shaun Leane, cast from a human skeleton.



“This was based on the work of a photographer called Hans Bellmer who dissected dummies and reconstructed them…it was the idea of the body reconstructed like a doll-like puppet” [Alexander McQueen]. Models walked through a 100ft water catwalk in figure hugging jumpsuits, sheaths and suits which again exposed the body through transparency and cut. Wing jackets referenced his preoccupation with birds, and black model Debra Shaw was controversially shackled to a large piece of jewellery.

Models ice-skated in this artificial snowy landscape, dressed entirely in white like Narnia’s Ice Queen. They wore trapeze and swing skirts under luxurious furs, and soft knits had cowl necks and hoods. Floor length black coats and hard-edged leathers reflected the darker side of the morality tale.

A/W 1998

For this collection, inspired by the brutal murders of the Romanov dynasty, models wore chain mail sheaths, blood red leather suits and sequinned dresses with prints of Romanov children. Pieces referenced monastic and clerical tailoring, and religious imagery continued to the show’s culmination, a satanic ring of fire around the catwalk.

A/W 1997 IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE This show took place in Borough Market against a screen of corrugated iron, which was covered in bullet 42 VIOLET

S/S 1999

In a change of mood, models during this show rotated on the catwalk like music box ballerinas. The show opened with physically handicapped athlete Aimee Mullins, who wore a

S/S 2000

As in the Spring Summer 1997 and 1998 shows, models walked through a lake of water. Later, however, the catwalk unexpectedly became a bed of nails as hundreds of metal spikes appeared through the water and models were lifted into the air. This was McQueen’s first showing in New York. Pieces included sheer knits, body hugging jerseys, and bird wing sleeves. McQueen referenced fetish with PVC and chain mail bodies and masks, and continued covering the face with a re-working of the burka.

A/W 2000 ESHU

Wearing a collection inspired by the Yoruba people of West Africa, the models walked along a catwalk of broken stones in an industrial warehouse in Paris. McQueen fused traditional tribal motifs, like extended hair headdresses and fur trims, with modern western elements like fringing, denim and plaid. Tribal neck rings worked as collars, and have featured again this Autumn Winter.

S/S 2001 VOSS

Nicknamed the Asylum Collection, this elaborate show cost £70,000 and took seven days to construct. Models watched themselves in a two-way mirror, walking around an inner cube which opened to reveal a naked body covered in butterflies and moths; recreating a photograph by Joel-Peter Witkin. The finale outfit, worn by model Karen Elson, was constructed from a vintage silk kimono and segments of a two hundred year old Japanese screen.


This Spanish themed show saw models impaled by red flags, with traditional flamenco dresses cut in red leather. McQueen reinterpreted Spanish frills in densely folded fluted skirts. Matador suits featured padded hip embellishment, with the hats reworked in moulded plastic.

along a huge industrial wind tunnel over a landscape of earth and snow. “I wanted it to be like a nomadic journey across the tundra” [Alexander McQueen]. As this implies, there were strong Russian influences in the cut and construction of the clothes. Tunic dresses were layered like tiles, while extravagant furs suggested arctic expeditions. Japanese flag colours also came through, with traditional kimono shapes.

A/W 2002 SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC Wolves prowled a catwalk lit by Tim Burton, in the spot where Marie Antoinette is thought to have died. The collection personified Germanic Puritanism. Monotone clothes were bound with leather straps and heads held tightly in leather caps. Old references recurred, and new inspiration was drawn from the German cabaret scene of the 1940s.

S/S 2003 IRERE

A huge screen projected the image of a drowning girl, with models like beached pirates in dresses shredded like seaweed. As the girl was saved, the screen darkened and so did the clothes, from brown and beige to black leather and lace, set against the green and black backdrop of night-vision. One model on screen disappeared into the woods, and returned lit by a heat sensor, with the third section of the collection exploding into rainbow bright tropical colours in voluminous shapes with birds of paradise headdresses.


With the help of Michael Clark’s choreography, McQueen re-enacted the dance marathon of Sydney Pollack’s film They Shoot Horses Don’t They. The models danced, ran, and collapsed their way around the stage, at first in old school glamour with stunning ostrich feather ball gowns. Then, as the marathon progressed, in fitted sportswear cut for movement in pinks and greys, and finally in western denim and plaid.


McQueen subverted the circus, dressing nightmarish, sexualised characters pole dancing around a carousel. Models became terrible clowns in feather trimmed sequinned flapper dresses, asymmetrical tailoring, harlequin legs and black leathers embellished with lace trains; clawed at by golden skeletons.


Kimono style capes billowed out dramatically as models walked VIOLET 43


This season McQueen wanted to “focus purely on design” [Alexander McQueen]. Models walked from a spaceship onto a huge glowing landing pad, in a collection largely made up of pale nudes in draped jersey and chiffon. A feathered gown with illuminated neckpiece provided the finale, focusing all attention on the clothes, as McQueen intended.


The catwalk was transformed into a giant chessboard, as 36 models took their places and then fought against each other. Some looks referenced McQueen’s archive, while others were inspired by the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, set in the early twentieth century.


Unusually, there were no theatrics to speak of, as McQueen presented a more traditional and pared down catwalk. Models wore mini-dresses with deep v-necks and capes. Short suits mixed with leathers and sheers. Embellished wrestling belts nipped in waists, and soft fabrics were draped in Grecian style empire line dresses.


In tribute to the women who lost their husbands in the bloody battle of Culloden, McQueen returns to Scotland for his inspiration. Despite feather and stag horn headdresses, Elizabethan ruffs, veils of antique lace and rich Scottish tartan, this show will be best remembered for the haunting hologram of Kate Moss, a vision in floating organza.

McQueen’s mother traced back their family history to one of the victims of the Salem witch hunts. Drawing on this, the catwalk became a huge painted pentagram, with a 45’ inverted pyramid overhead. The screen behind showed images of frantic locusts, naked bodies, skulls and fire, dark and demanding. The collection included Grecian dresses and warrior-like moulded bustiers, worn with striking Egyptian make-up.


This collection was bursting with Hitchcock references, with a Vertigo invite, Rear Window set, Tippi Hedren inspired clothes, and of course with the show’s title itself. McQueen cut to a 1940s silhouette, with pencil skirt suits, jumper dresses and a very feminine body enhancing collection, culminating in splendid fishtail evening dresses.




This show took place at the Cirque D’Hiver in Paris, inspired by the 1975 film Barry Lyndon and iconic eccentric Marchesa Casati. Real flowers adorned the dress worn by model Tanya Dziahileva, and petals dropped behind her as she walked. “Things rot. It was all about decay. I used flowers because they die” [Alexander McQueen]. Where much of the collection was mourning clothes, McQueen exaggerated funereal elements and played with body shapes through padding.


In remembrance of the death of Isabella Blow [2007], La Dame Bleue was based around her personal wardrobe. Much of this was obviously a collection of McQueen’s own work, as she was his muse, but also included pieces by Yves Saint Laurent and Junya Watanabe, which gave the collection a Japanese influence. Behind the catwalk, neon lights were arranged into the shape of angels’ wings.


“I’ve got a 600-year-old elm tree in my garden and I made up this story of a girl who lives in it and comes out of the darkness to meet a prince and become a queen” [Alexander McQueen]. In tune with the theatricality of the story, the clothes are regal, almost livery, heavily embellished and sumptuous. This exquisite collection was inspired by the Indian Empire.


For Autumn Winter 2009, Alexander McQueen presented his show Horn of Plenty in Paris, and remained true to his philosophy of reference and re-creation. The show was typically extravagant and theatrical; arguably one of his best. Set to Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People, McQueen celebrated the best moments of his career. Models looked like blow-up dolls, or Manson himself, with hair curled and bound under plastic and extraordinary Philip Treacy umbrella hats. McQueen referenced pivotal moments in fashion history, most noticeably Dior’s New Look. He also revisited his own past, using archive pieces from jewellery designer Shaun Leane, and decorating the set with a scrap yard of props from past shows. McQueen’s preoccupation with Hitchcock’s The Birds was apparent in graphic prints, similar to those from the Spring Summer 1995 show. Garments made entirely of gull and crow feathers made models into bird-like creatures. Bold stripes and Harlequin prints in red and black, as well as clown-like make-up, drew to mind the circus theme of the Autumn Winter 2001 What a Merry Go Round show. Russian references of the Autumn Winter 2003 show are echoed again here, as is Japanese styling, which has been present subliminally through several collections. These were not passive references; there is an energy in the clothing which translated to the viewer. McQueen challenged the past with his defiant and aggressive new vision.


Models emerged from beneath a revolving globe amongst an array of animals, with a focus on the issues of climate change and industrialisation. As usual, clothes were cut to emphasise and celebrate the body shape, but this time cut was secondary to the politically inspired prints. VIOLET 45

Headband, Johnny Loves Rosie Cardigan, COS Lipstick, Mac Lipglass in Russian Red Modelled by Charlotte

JAPANESE AVANT-GARDE OUT OF THE VALLEY OF DARKNESS In 1981, Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto showed in Paris for the first time, and created a storm that sent ripples throughout the fashion establishment. Their ‘unfinished’ and loosely fitting garments drew harsh critique from journalists, and their collections were dismissed by some as ‘Hiroshima chic’. Despite this, their success has shown that the fashion world was ready to accept, however reluctantly, a different aesthetic, one that challenged western notions of dress. These clothes were not elaborately decorated or nostalgic


for the past, they were imperfect by design, masking the body shape and valuing process over effect. In many ways they were an affront to western design values. Fashion theorist Barbara Vinken has argued that Japanese designers are unique in their ability to manipulate the past, to reinvent without the emotional attachment of nostalgia. Their rule breaking caused initial outrage, but has ultimately pushed western fashion into a more varied and eclectic postmodern marketplace, which constantly

re-evaluates conventions. “I would never be content making garments everyone else finds beautiful. Instead, I became defiant” [Rei Kawakubo]. Kawakubo and Yamamoto deliberately make their garments look unfinished and worn. Hems are left unstitched, knits have intentional holes, screws are loosened on machinery to avoid perfect results; “I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion” [Yohji Yamamoto]. The two designers also brought with them Japanese ideas about the body, where traditional kimonos disguise the natural shape, wrapping the body and eliminating contours. The clothes become forms in themselves, creating shapes of their own, masking physical features. Some elements of western dress have worked by these principles too, such as eighteenth century panniers, which have been referenced by Yoshiki Hishinuma, who has found a way of imitating their shape without the need for the cage underneath the clothes. It is this experimentation with fabrics that has made Japanese designers stand out. They design in partnership with textile producers, who work with them to develop new materials and techniques, rather than working from ready made fabrics, like most western designers. One of the most successful of these collaborations was for the Issey Miyake line Pleats Please. Miyake would make

garments between two and eight times larger than their required size, and then pleat them post construction, for a permanent effect. His A-POC range was also revolutionary, where garments could be cut from a single piece of cloth, with no sewing involved and without fabric wastage. Cutting edge designers like Miyake, Yamamoto and Kawakubo have paved the way for the next generation of Japanese innovators. Hiroaki Ohya, who designed accessories for Miyake, constructed The Wizard of Jeanz, where entire garments would fold out from volumes of books. Junya Watanabe has enjoyed immense western success with the help of Kawakubo, having worked for Comme Des Garçons since 1984. Jun Takahasi’s Undercover label has also been supported by Rei Kawakubo, and he’s also behind the popular line Bathing Ape. The legacy of this incursion of Japanese aesthetic into Western fashion can be found in the very dynamic experimentations of Hussein Chalayan. The Japanese worldview known as wabi-sabi, is about accepting the transient nature of things. It makes the Western modernist struggles for perfection seem spiritually bankrupt. For fashion, it offers a love of vintage, with its history and social patina, a delight of the new with all the imperfection of technologies and the will to move on, evolve and discover. As Richard R. Powell translates, “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect”.


BEYOND KUROSAWA This book celebrates the work of Japanese filmmakers, aiming to introduce western readers to more obscure films, beyond the better known Akira Kurosawa. So many Japanese films are dubbed over or completely re-made in English, valuing only the story and not the art; this book encourages us to appreciate the originals. Published by Taschen.



Main Image: Š Yoshida Ryo

Teenagers on the streets of Harijuku in Tokyo have had a worldwide influence, thanks to the popularity of street style books like Fruits. Their gothic Lolita style fuses the macabre of western goth with kitsch, childlike elements. Looks are theatrical and highly stylised, with trends sometimes lasting little more than a week. This book celebrates their unique subculture, including the work of illustrators, designers and artists. Published by Rizzoli.



When it’s nice and warm, spend a day on the Southbank in London, buy a new book, and eat some ice cream. Also visit this exhibition at the Hayward, which will take you into the minds of ten international artists, three of which are from Japan. Charles Avery (UK) Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland) Yayoi Kusama (Japan) Bo Christian Larsson (Sweden) Mark Manders (The Netherlands) Yoshitomo Nara (Japan) Jason Rhodes (USA) Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland) Chiharu Shiota (Japan) Keith Tyson (UK) Yayoi Kusama’s instillations are based on hallucinations she experiences. Walk through her mirrored corridor filled with red spotty ballons (right). Yoshitomo Nara will be filling a room with a house, decorated to resemble his studio. Chiharu Shiota buries objects in a tangle of black string, and will create a unique piece for the Hayward. After London, the exhibition will travel to Haus Der Kunst in Munich, Germany and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Yayoi Kusama: Dots Obsession, 2004

23 June – 9 September Hayward Gallery


SPUTNIK SWEETHEART “She loved the sound of it. It made her think of Laika, the dog. The man-made satellite streaking soundlessly across the blackness of outer space. The dark, lustrous eyes of the dog gazing out of the tiny window.

In the infinite loneliness of space, what could Laika possibly be looking at?�

All words from the novel Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami


Previous page: Hat, Vintage at Liberty Vest, Helmut Lang from Bang Bang Necklaces, Hurwundeki This double: Cape coat, Public Beware Gloves, Beyond Retro Shoes, Absolute Vintage


Dress, East End Thrift Store Collar and gloves, Annie’s Vintage


Dress, Jonathan Logan from Beyond Retro Nail Polish, Lanc么me Paris no. 103

Sumire looks back, and the staircase is gone. She’s surrounded by stone walls. Where the staircase had been there’s a wooden door. She turns the knob and opens the door,

and beyond is the sky.

Cape, Beyond Retro. Gloves, Rokit 62 VIOLET

This double: Jacket, Mint Vintage T-Shirt, Retromania Scarf, Oscar De La Renta from Rellik Following double: Dress, Jonathan Logan from Beyond Retro Modelled by Heidi. With thanks to Sketch

I dream.

Sometimes I think that’s the only thing to do.

To dream, to live in the world of dreams.

THE FUTURE OF VINTAGE Most of us have a little vintage in our wardrobe. Creative recycling of quality clothing has become too popular to sustain. Some people will only shop vintage, finding that it gives them a unique and authentic look. Most of us mix our finds with some high street staples. London’s highly successful vintage emporium Beyond Retro, with stores in Brick Lane and Soho, sources stock from around the world, especially Canada, Salt Lake City, India and Germany. Owners Helen and Steve are concerned about dwindling supplies and even estimates that stocks of good retro and vintage clothing will run out in the next 10 years. We are now consuming, at an enormous rate, all those clothes that have been tucked away and mothballed. Certainly there is more demand than ever, but is the end of vintage really in sight? The bulk of the fashion dominating the high street market is disposable, and the recession is doing nothing to halt the growth of these fast fashions. One in every £4 spent on clothing in Britain is spent on cheap chic; clothes that barely last a few wears. In past recessions, people bought quality investment buys against

Opposite: gloves, necklace and dress all from Visa Swap. Modelled by Francesca


an uncertain future, but we have become addicted to endless variety. During World War II the British government enlisted top fashion designers to dress the public as part of the Utility Scheme, so investment dressing was a given, and those clothes survive today. But what will be the legacy of our binge on cheap and cheerful? We buy millions of garments so cheaply made that they are often binned rather than washed, pressed and hung-up. Certainly these aren’t pieces to hand down. So where will the vintage of the future come from? Designer label vintage is already highly desirable, and as the market shrinks, and we run out of ‘retro’ fashions, it will become more covetable still. Ebay has expanded the marketplace even further, as more people auction a dwindling supply of collectable clothes. Visa Swap, which has taken place over the last two summers in London, provides another highly successful platform for acquiring vintage. There are top designer names and hand-made garments to swap for, and everyone goes home with at least one quality piece, leaving behind baskets of cheap clothes that nobody wants. People want to swap quantity for quality. But how much quality clothing is left?


Corsica Studios Chipped nail polish Dried fake blood Extra long lashes Fifties dresses Roughed up ringlets Bright red lips



Opposite: The Last Range of Colours, Vogue Italia 2007. This page: Cat Story, 2008. Next double: Lip Synch, The Face, 2001.

A well known fashion photographer, Miles Aldridge first came to Violet’s attention with his sleeping beauties and stunning lip photography in The Face magazine. His powerful use of colour is both striking and uplifting, his subjects demanding and sometimes aggressive. His photographs are hyper-real, and other-worldly, transporting us to a different place. This book focuses on the connection between Aldridge’s pre-shoot sketches and the finished photograph. It aims to explore this ‘crucial’ relationship,

but actually the simplistic sketches are completely outshone by the fantasy of the photographs. Nonetheless, some beautiful pieces are included, and it’s well worth a look. If you’re unfamiliar with Aldridge, be sure to also check out his website, which is truly inspiring, and includes an adorable picture-book style biography ( Pictures for Photographs is published by Steidl.


REINVENTING COLOUR Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today. If you didn’t make it to the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year, Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour is coming to the UK. Tate Liverpool celebrates artwork dedicated to the celebration of colour, drawing attention to the importance of colour in graphics, fashion and interior design. The artists’ work marks a mid-century change in the perception of colour, from a scientific phenomenon to mass produced commodity; with the pop art movement giving artists permission to play with notions of originality and authenticity. Featured Artists: Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, Yves Klein, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Dan Flavin, Damien Hirst, David Batchelor, Jim Lambie, Angela Bulloch, Cory Archangel. 29 May – 13 September 2009 Tate Liverpool.


Ellsworth Kelly: Colours for a Large Wall 1951. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of the artist, 1969 © Ellsworth Kelly. Photo: Digital Image © 2009 The Museum of Modern Art.


DIANE ARBUS A SHIMMER OF POSSIBILITY Young people especially often exhibit a sudden strangeness in behaviour; an unexpected, objectively unfounded interest arises and governs their whole sphere of conciousness, only to disappear in the same irrational manner. We might call this a personal fashion, which forms an analogy to social fashion Young people especially often exhibit a sudden strangeness in behaviour; an unexpected, objectively unfounded interest arises and governs their whole sphere of conciousness, only to disappear in the same irrational manner. We might call this a personal fashion, which forms an analogy to social fashion Young people especially often exhibit a sudden strangeness in behaviour; an unexpected, objectively unfounded interest arises and governs their whole sphere of conciousness, only to disappear in the same irrational manner. We might call this a personal fashion, which forms an analogy to social fashion

HAUTE COUTURE SPRING 2009 In 1991, Pierre Bergé of Yves Saint Laurent predicted that “haute couture will be dead in 10 years time”. He was not alone. For years, journalists have been threatening the end to Parisian hegemony, but 18 years on from Bergé’s prediction, the couture houses continue to inspire and dictate mainstream fashions. After the Nazi occupation of Paris in World War II, it looked as if fashion might find a new capital. New York was very actively bidding for international attention. However, with the success of Théâtre de la Mode and immense popularity of Dior’s New Look, Paris regained its authority. This was threatened again through the 1990s and into this decade, as journalists lost faith in the innovation of French designers; “Paris should be a hotbed of new ideas, but most of the latest collections seemed timid and predictable…fashion that is old-fashioned, clothes that are beautiful but dumb” [McDowell, 2001]. It’s undeniable that designers continue to go to Paris for recognition and prestige, and central to this is the unique system of haute couture. The Japanese designers who descended on Paris in the 1980s helped to rejuvenate interest in French fashion, as did the young British


designers who were brought in to head couture houses, bringing with them headline grabbing theatrics and controversial themes. For over a century, couture houses have excited the world with the most extravagant, and accordingly expensive, fashion design. Without the limitations of budgets and need for commercial appeal, designers are able to express their creativity to the full. Violet celebrates this season’s couture, reducing the Spring collections to mere silhouette, removing all embellishment, leaving only the purest form. The essence of the garment becomes clear; the shape, the idea before it’s fabricated, the concept before the compromises. Design can then take on a new kind of beauty, like the idea at its conception, free from the fatality of completion. “Fashion is defined as the art of the perfect moment… but its realization is, at the same time, its destruction. By appearing, and giving definitive form to the moment, fashion is almost already part of yesterday” [Barbara Vinken].

White floral print silk satin suit with peaked shoulders, fishtail hem and pleated faux sash detail to waist.

Red PVC fishtail suit with 1960s style oval clasp and winged shoulder.

Grey silk Capri trouser suit with flared cuffs and oriental waist clasp with red tassel.

Silk smoking jacket with flared cuff, button detail and Chinese style fastening in purple, worn with yellow silk Capri pants.

Red evening gown with moulded bodice, single strap and full skirt, gathered and fastened to the right hip.

Black crepe fishtail dress with deep v-neckline. Fitted black and silver jacket with sequin trim.

Strapless grey full length tapered gown with train.

Black charmeuse sheath dress with cap sleeves and bold Japanese floral print.


Cropped double-breasted cap sleeve jacket over drop waisted shift dress, teamed with cigarette leg trousers, all in white with dove feather headdress.

White sateen shirt-maker dress with moulded waist detail and white paper flower headdress.

Stiffened high sheen self-striped white suit with cap sleeve, Japanese style bodice wrap detail and flower headdress.

Sixties style minimalist structured tunic with cap sleeve, matching cigarette pants and paper rose hooded headdress (train not shown).

Cropped double breasted white jacket with stand away collar. Matching skirt with black buttons and braided cinched waist. Black and white paper headdress.

Silk satin sheath dress with thick black beaded waistband and teardrop print, extended collar and rose headdress.

White waist length chemise with Onassis collar and cap sleeve. Cinched waist skirt with central pleat, and white rose headdress.

White box jacket with a-line skirt and black beaded edging with braided silk waist. Paper flower headdress.


Blue silk suit. Skirt with hooped hem, jacket with rows of ruched fabric from waist to shoulder, belted with pannier style hips.

Knee length scarlet silk satin dress with fabric gathered to neck over fitted bustier.

Hourglass full length gown in white organza with sequined floral print.

Orange raglan sleeve Chinese style jacket with pannier effect hip and hooped trapeze skirt.

Belted powder blue dress with close fitted top and full skirt, tucked to reveal layers of billowing petticoats.

Shawl collar black silk jacket with pleating to hip. Flared skirt with white flower embellishment.

Yellow dolman sleeve dress with oversized white collar and overlapping curled hoop hem. Worn with white paper picture hat.

Bridal sheath dress with elaborate white floral appliquĂŠ and embroidery with oversized sleeve.



Black pencil skirt with striped gauze body and shawl collar extended to hip.

Organza striped swing skirt dress with elaborate braid detail to neck and box frame hat.

Striped gauze body with black tailored waistcoat, skirt, sleeve and three quarter trouser leg inserts and box frame hat.


Fan shaped pleated mini-dress with lime body worn underneath and lime bow to right hip.

Grey trouser suit with pin pleated long jacket and shawl collar extended to belted waist. Highly structured silver and gold micro mini-dress with accentuated cap sleeve and deep v gold fringing to corseted waist.


High neck full-length red fitted tunic dress with thigh-high slit to the right hand side.

Floor length grey horizontal pleat sheath dress with dense folds to left shoulder.

Powder blue full-length silk column dress with high neck and heavily darted bodice.

Sleeveless nude sheath dress with strips of silver sequinned organza gathered to waist.

Encrusted lace empire line full-length dress with deep satin cuff hem.

Floor length tulip dress of interwoven diagonal strips in eggplant.

Grey and silver jewelled column dress with bow fastened feather bolero.

Alabaster full-length pin pleated dress with overlapping diagonally layered skirt and structured sleeveless bodice.


Bias-cut grey satin full-length gown with peplum detail and heavily embellished deep halter bodice.

Nude pencil skirt and sheer cross-over white blouse with padded shoulders and waist gathered to buttons on left hand side.

Black full-length frilled sheath dress with plunging v-neck, exaggerated jewelled shoulder and gauze sleeves.

Structured satin body with sheer panels, worn under padded shoulder three quarter length lace jacket with mantilla.

Full-length sheer white sheath dress with structured half-cup trapeze bodice.

Nude sheath dress with Grecian style tunic shawl fastened at shoulder with elaborate silver disc.

Nude tunic dress with layers gathered from hip, fanning out at shoulder.

Full-length black gown with painterly floral print, sash from underarm to hip and cross straps to neck.



Black sequined shift dress with white flower detail. Sheer white bolero with exaggerated frill collar. Grey Matador style suit with wide-leg, high waisted jumpsuit, cropped jacket and Edwardian style blouse. Black trapeze dress with cape shawl and lace petticoat, with white scroll detail to front.


Gold Grecian style wrap dress with exaggerated ruched shoulder fastened with a white bow.

White mini-dress with layers of uneven tulle and square neck with black bow detail. Black jacket with military style bronze buttons. High collar white shirt with blue silk bolero jacket and sheer bodice fitted to hip. Gathered silk full-length skirt with navy tulle peeking through high slit.


THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Take some time to gaze at the mannequins in the window, styled and arranged amongst a fantasy of beautiful things. Like film stills to transport you to another place; suspend your disbelief. Like a fashion shoot, frozen, props perfectly arranged and models poised. Store windows capture a mood, they take us beyond the products on the shop floor to suggest a lifestyle, an idea. Santa Claus takes the tube, witches push prams filled with blackbirds, Marie Antoinette eats cake and sips tea; London has some of the most exciting window displays in the world. These pictures are from the display at the historical Liberty department store. Maxine Groucutt is head of visual identity, and has helped to create some truly stunning windows. For London Fashion Week in February 2008, mannequins dived into the deep end, as the windows became like the sides of a swimming pool tank. A month later, to celebrate the exhibition China Design Now at the Victoria & Albert museum, the displays were filled with vintage plastic toys. For Christmas, she transported us into a 19th century travelling circus, with magicians’ assistants, ringleaders, big top stripes and antique Pierrot figurines. “We wanted to convey the sense of visual splendour and excitement that is within Liberty itself” [Maxine Groucutt].


Photographs taken of the Liberty Windows in London’s Soho.



Featured artists: Ericka Beckman Dara Birnbaum Barbara Bloom Eric Bogosian Glenn Branca Troy Brauntuch James Casebere Sarah Charlesworth Rhys Chatham Charlie Clough Nancy Dwyer Jack Goldstein Barbara Kruger Louise Lawler Thomas Lawson Sherrie Levine Robert Longo Allan McCollum Paul McMahon Matt Mullican Richard Prince David Salle Cindy Sherman Laurie Simmons Michael Smith James Welling Michael Zwack


Laurie Simmons, Big Camera, Small Camera, 1977. Collection of the artist.

Our attention is demanded in all directions – billboards, electronic adverts, radio, television, magazines, newspapers, websites. In 1970s New York, there was a generation of artists overwhelmed and fascinated by this media saturation. Grouped together for the first time in this book and exhibition, Douglas Eklund celebrates The Pictures Generation. The images span a decade, 1974-1984, both celebrating and questioning mass media. Existing images are taken out of context, deconstructed, reconfigured, subverted. These individual artists are grouped together by a common voice, a common question. Perhaps it is time to question once again, in a world where private and public lives are forever merging. Twitter broadcasts our every thought, while some live vicariously through their Second Life. Reality television ensures even the most mediocre moments enter the domain of entertainment, from paying the bills to planning a party. The Pictures Generation is on show until August 2nd at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The book is available now.


COCO AVANT CHANEL Released this spring, the film Coco Avant Chanel visits the life of Gabrielle Chanel leading up to her success as a couturiere in Paris, from the music hall where she earned her nickname Coco, to the first hat shops she set up in Paris and Deauville. Chanel’s fashion designs became extremely successful during World War I, when her simple designs reflected the desire for more understated clothes. After working during the war, many


women wanted more masculine and casual clothing, which allowed greater mobility. In 1921, Chanel, by then a famous couturiere, launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5. Chanel used her celebrity to her advantage, styling models to resemble her, and modelling herself for the perfume’s campaign. In 1939, at the start of World War II, Chanel closed her doors, and would not reopen until 1953.

MADEMOISELLE COCO CHANEL The book Mademoiselle focuses on her later years, when Chanel’s return to Paris saw her brand re-established as one of the world’s most influential. This collection of photographs was taken by Douglas Kirkland in 1962. From the Ritz hotel to her apartment and atelier, we are given a glimpse into the world of the ‘formidable’ couturiere, about whom so much has been documented, and speculated.

Kirkland worked as an apprentice for Irving Penn before starting his own career, and took these pictures for the American lifestyle magazine Look. An introduction, and captions by Karl Lagerfeld are included; “images left behind are in the end stronger than truth and facts” [Karl Lagerfeld]. Published by Steidl.



Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, 6 Volumes. If Girls of the Playboy Mansion left you wanting more, this in-depth look into Playboy magazine and the life of Hugh Hefner spans six volumes. The collection includes the best of Playboy from 1953 to 1979, as well as autobiographical content from Hugh’s personal scrapbooks. Each volume also has its own pull-out centrefolds and behind-the-scenes photographs. Published by Taschen.


Main image: Lise Sarfati, Eva-Claire #02 Austin, TX, 2008. Second image: Lise Sarfati, Jennifer #01 Austin, TX 2008, © Lise Sarfati, Courtesy Brancolini Grimaldi, Rome.


Should you find yourself in Rome this Spring, be sure to visit Brancolini Grimaldi, where you’ll be transported to Austin, Texas, as seen through the eyes of Lise Sarfati. Preoccupied with youth and naivety, Sarfati’s work draws on Polish novelist Witold Gombrowicz’s ideas about adolescence, expressed in his book, Ferdydurke. Sarfati says: “What interests me about American teenagers isn’t the social dimension. It’s adolescence from a more general view, as a metaphor, a transition, a mirror”. Until 14 June.


HERBARIUM AMORIS This book showcases Edvard Koinberg’s photographs of plants, collected over the last decade. The images are beautifully simple, inspired by Carl Linnaeus’ enthusiastic writings about the reproduction of plants. Published by Taschen

Opposite: TULIPA-HYBRIDS Tulip This page: CLEMATIS X JACKMANII Jackman’s Clematis Following double: ALLIUM SCHOENOPRASUM Wild Chive © Edvard Koinberg


This re-release of Paul Graham’s A Shimmer of Possibility gives those who missed out on the first edition of 1,000 copies a chance to own all 12 of the original books in one. Graham follows everyday scenes and situations with great curiosity, their sequence becoming like film stills. Inspired by Chekhov’s short stories, Graham draws our eye to the ordinary, marking its importance with singular images on each page. The accompanying exhibition will be touring the world until 2011, stopping off at London, Paris, Hamburg, and Holland, so there are no excuses not to have a look. Published by Steidl.


DIANE ARBUS A SENSE OF UNREALITY This exhibition at the Timothy Taylor Gallery shows sixty photographs taken by Diane Arbus between 1957 and 1971. Born in 1923, Arbus led a blessed childhood; “I grew up feeling immune and exempt from circumstance. One of the things I suffered from was that I never felt adversity. I was confirmed in a sense of unreality” [Diane Arbus]. It was perhaps this upbringing that has led to her preoccupation with unusual subjects for her portraiture – ‘freaks’, circus performers, transvestites, and dominatrixes. Arbus became known for her ability to capture people at their least self-aware, in a natural and relaxed state. After Arbus’ suicide in 1971, her MOMA retrospective became the most popular solo photography exhibition of all time. This exhibition is on a far smaller scale, but includes work previously unseen in the UK.

Puerto Rican woman with a beauty mark, Diane Arbus.

19 May - 27 June.


BORIS SAVELEV 31 YEARS Russian Artist Boris Savelev shows for the first time in the UK in this exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery. After the demise of the USSR, Savelev’s photographs gave the world a unique insight into everyday life in Russia. 31 Years shows photographs taken between 1976 and 2006.

Girl in a Box 1981 Leningrad © Boris Savelev courtesy Michael Hoppen Contemporary

Until 30 May


ANNA-FAYE GILLESPIE Violet’s cover girl Anna-Faye is an illustrator living in London’s East End. She gives us a glimpse of her world, and talks skinheads, scrapbooks and coffee shops.

Where were you born? I was born in good old Belfast.

Who inspires you?

I find friends really inspire me, Zoe Baker is an amazing illustrator. I also love looking at well known illustrators such as Charlotte Delarue or Charles Anastase, who I find incredible. Looking at other people’s work in the same medium is important as it pushes you to work to their level and even further with what you are doing. I try to love others’ work rather than envy what they do, it makes life easier!

What’s your favourite place in London?

God I love London as a whole, for some reason I am loving old council blocks, with their old faded colours and washing hanging outside. At night in the summer on a bus going over the Thames I fall in love with London all over again. But my place that I LOVE is the Scooter Cafe in Waterloo. Their hot chocolate is AMAZING!

What is your current obsession?

Collecting old photos. I have done for years and have quite a big collection now. I find them really good to draw from. Also I have a collection of pictures that I love from magazines and papers in lots of scrapbooks, again that I have been building up for YEARS. It’s funny looking back on the things that you used to find interesting.

What’s your favourite book?

My favourite book....emmmm. Well I am dyslexic so I have a real problem with reading! My attention span is SHORT! I tend to start a lot of books and have about 5 on the go and then never finish them! However a few books have pushed through and I have actually finished Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. It’s interviews with everyone from the start of the punk era. It was banned for years because it was so extreme. It’s a good read, don’t let the title put you off. However I am reading one at the minute which is mental called The Master and The Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov...Crazy!


What’s your most cherished piece of clothing? My navy Fred Perry polo dress. I am kinda going through a mini obsession with mods/skinheads! You know the whole Quadrophenia and This is England thing.

What is your favourite quote?

One is “today- ridicule, tomorrow- really cool”, by Nathan Barley, I just find it really funny! But the one I love most is “love many, trust few, but always paddle your own canoe”. My great auntie wrote this out on a wee piece of paper to me before I moved to London. It’s a kinda special quote for moi!

Hopes for the future?

To become a successful illustrator! But my dream is to open my own wee coffee shop (I love coffee!!!) with a studio/ workspace out the back and hold wee workshops etc! Fun times!

SARAH LOWN Where were you born?

I was born in Hartlepool, North East England.

Where do you live now?

I currently live in Greenford, West London.

Who inspires you?

I love Toulouse-Lautrec’s work, it’s so passionate and invites the viewer in to the debauched and undercover world of the Parisian brothels. In terms of fashion, I’m really inspired by the works of Alexander McQueen and also Philip Treacy’s hats; I love sculptural and architectural forms in design.

What can we expect from your graduate collection?

Sarah Lown graduates in June from Central Saint Martins’ Womenswear course. With these sketches she gives Violet an exclusive insight into her final collection, before it has even been constructed. Sitting beside her sewing machine in the Charing Cross Road studio, we talk London, Oscar Wilde and ghosts.

The final collection was inspired by Victorian costume and dress. I’ve always loved this era, and I’ve combined their style with Art Nouveau details found on old buildings. I also love to have a glamorous aspect within my work, such as elaborately decorative fabrics, feather trims or sparkling embellishments here and there.

You’re also incorporating Oscar Wilde quotes? Yes. As he lived in the era I was researching I thought it would be quite nice to pair each outfit with an inspiring quote. I wanted to make the viewer imagine each outfit being worn in a situation where the quote would be used, such as; “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life,” said wearing a delicate sequin fringed top and silk pleated trousers.

What is your favourite place in London? Two of my favourite places in London are Trocadero in Piccadilly, and Ben Crouch’s Tavern - a gothic themed pub just off Oxford Street.

What is your favourite book?

I have a large collection of books on ghosts, I love books on the supernatural and scary things.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? I have so many favourite items of clothing so this one is hard, it would probably have to be my Christopher Kane pink velvet halter dress.





Rehana will graduate this year from a in Fashion Design with Marketing at Central Saint Martins. Violet caught up with her as she finished her toiles, and took a sneak peek at her collection sketches.




Where do you live?

I was born in Camden. Central London is where I study, play and continue to live.

Who inspires you?

Hard working, happy people. Those who always push to be better. I hate to be inefficient when there is always so much to do.

How would you describe your designing style? I love finding beautiful imagery, objects and fabrics that have the ability to give me clear, inspiring design ideas. Colour and fabric choices are hugely important to my designs, as is achieving subtlety and fluidity in cut, shape and details.

What has informed your final collection?

My final collection is based on an installation using reclaimed windows and doors from dissipated dynasty houses. My collection aims to use the beauty of the old to create something beautiful in the present.

What do you love about London?

I love living here and just being in this city. It’s home, so there’s always a familiarity, and yet again, as a constantly changing place, there’s always something new, plus there are so many great restaurants here.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? I love my cardigans. They’re big and slouchy and I feel I can live in them. Especially great to wear when the weather’s grey.

What are your hopes for the future?

Well, clean up my room, cook something, and finish a painting I started last summer.

This double: Rehana’s collection for Summer 2007 Modelled by Annie


Violet meets Viktor in the final stages of preparation for his first collection. He graduates this year from Womenswear at Central Saint Martins.

Where were you born?

I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but I’ve lived in London for the last four and a half years.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by the Italian Countess Virginia de Castiglione, for being first with experimenting with her identity in self portraits. For 40 years she posed in different costumes and make up. The result of that is some extraordinary and inspiring images.

How would you describe your designing style?

Hard question, maybe I can answer that better after this collection, but I always try to make clothes with an interesting cut but with a quite feminine silhouette.

What has inspired your final collection? I was inspired by African tribes.

What is your favourite place in London?

I love the little communal garden behind Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, it’s like a secret oasis in the middle of central London.

What is your current obsession?

I have Those Dancing Days by Those Dancing Days on repeat, uplifting when you need a little extra energy working late at night, and I can’t get enough of cereal bars since my first year assistant introduced them to me.

What is your favourite book? Death in Venice.

Your favourite quote?

“I like today and perhaps a little future still, but the past is really something I’m not interested in. So, as far as I’m concerned, I like only the past of things and people I don’t know. When I know, I don’t care because I knew how it was” [Karl Lagerfeld].





MATTHEW JOSEPHS Matthew will graduate from his Womenswear degree at Central Saint Martins this summer, with a collection inspired by Japanese culture.

Where were you born? Rotherham in Yorkshire.

Where do you live now?

Between Elephant and Castle and Camberwell.

Who inspires you?

Drawings of all kinds. I like Aitor Throup’s drawings, I love my tutor Howard’s drawings, and obviously Egon Schiele, Molly Grad’s drawings....

How would you describe your designing style? In all honesty...I design for myself, it’s style over substance.

What is your final collection inspired by? Japanese culture from the Edo period through to now, Anime, gothic Lolita, Geishas, Samurais. It also seems to have taken a hip hop turn somewhere along the line.

What is your favourite place in London?

The Central Saint Martins site on Charing Cross Road. I’ve had an amazing time here and made the best friends. It’s such an inspiring place to be, it looks awful but in a good way. It’s historical and such a shame it’s moving to King’s Cross.

What is your current obsession?

This anime series called Death Note is part of the inspiration for my collection.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? A mohair draped Rick Owens jacket with leather trim from A/W 07, also my knitted Aztec print catsuit by Gareth Pugh from F/W 08…oh and my crystal socks also from Gareth Pugh, they’re from S/S 08.

Your hopes for the future?

To do what I enjoy and hopefully get paid for it.



Top, Marni from Bang Bang Cardigan, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Jeans, Cheap Monday Boots, Dr. Martens Scarf, Hurwundeki Modelled by Christopher

THE BROKEN HEARTS Amber and Nisha are The Broken Hearts. Their debut album, Broken Hearts Mystery Theatre is at finishing stage, and their next single Count Those Freaks will be out later this year. They also have a weekly radio show on Q radio, and work in vintage store Beyond Retro. The girls gained attention by sourcing matching vintage clothing, transforming old costume and dead stock into striking new outfits. Their eye for reinvention and unique sense of style has landed them an ongoing collaboration with London’s Beyond the Valley, with whom they launched their first clothing collection during February’s London Fashion Week.


Where do you live?

Favourite book?

Who inspires you?

Any plans to design another clothing range?

We both live in the East End - Bethnal Green and Old Street. We’ve been here quite a while and can’t see ourselves leaving any time soon! There’s a great history here, especially all the old music halls such as Hoxton Hall and Hackney Empire.

For the capsule collection we designed for Beyond the Valley we were influenced by costumes from the golden age of the circus sideshow, with a sinister edge inspired by Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks.

What can we expect from the album?

The album is a collaboration with the musician Whitey. It’s pretty eclectic – it features everything from tap dancing (used as a drum beat) to surf guitar and even a Charleston brass ensemble.

What is your favourite place in London?

The Wellcome Collection is amazing – it’s one man’s collection of medical paraphernalia throughout the ages. They have fascinating exhibitions and an incredible gift shop full of the best books about the best bits of London history. Also Davenport’s magic shop is really hard to find – it’s actually underground – but once you find it, it’s filled with appearing flowers and vanishing canes, it’s fantastic. It’s been supplying tricks and illusions since 1898.

What is your current obsession?

The circus is always a big inspiration in pretty much everything we do! We’ve just made a short documentary about circus and performance in the UK. We interviewed various performers, including the family who run the Tower Circus inside the Blackpool Tower. It premiered at the East End Film Festival in April.

A book called The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton by Dean Jensen, about a pair of Siamese-twin vaudeville performers from the 1930s. We even ended up naming a reversible cape in our collection after them.

The collaboration with Beyond the Valley is ongoing, so we’re just about to start thinking about Spring/Summer 2010. It’s amazing being able to create all the pieces we’ve been visualising for years!

What do you love about vintage clothes?

We love the sense of history that you get from every garment, and that each piece is unique.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? We’ve been lucky enough to have the legendary shoe designer Terry de Havilland handcraft us some exquisite couture shoes! One pair in particular are amazing platform stilettos made from blood-red python. He has also been making us some custom Broken Hearts shoes with hearts on the ankle straps. They’re available by appointment only from his studio on Kingsland Road (

A few top songs from your radio show? Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte Busy Line – Rose Murphy Sure Shot – The Beastie Boys Come-on-a-my-house – Rosemary Clooney Six and Three Quarters – Ipso Facto

Broken Hearts Mystery Hour, Sunday evenings at 9 pm on QRadio.



Silhouette, aka Helena Gee, will release her debut single Masquerade on Monday 18th May. Violet first fell for her when she fronted all girl indie band The Ivories, but Helena has since branched out on her own. Be sure to have a listen to her Myspace page for a taster of the great things to come.

What is your current obsession?

Where do you live?

1. Life Kills - Human League 2. Secret Fires - The Gun Club 3. Johnny, Remember Me - John Leyton 4. Live Bed Show - Pulp 5. Blue Boy - Orange Juice

I have just upgraded to the ever so slightly cleaner air of Newington Green. All I see is women breast feeding and all I’m doing is drinking Turkish beer.

It currently feels like I’m obsessed with money because I have none and it is taking over my every thought. Not fun.

Top 5 songs at the moment?

Who inspires you?

Gemma from KASMs. I share a flat with her and she is infinitely cooler than me on every level.

What is your favourite place in London?

Time For Tea in Shoreditch - it’s a friend’s house which remains completely in the forties. He occasionally opens it up for afternoon tea in the summer. 124 VIOLET


KASMs are Rachel, Gemma, Scott and Rory. Their first two singles sold out within weeks of their release, and Violet caught up with them as they finished recording their debut album Spayed. KASMs are known for their live shows, when lead singer Rachel flits between nursery rhyme sweetness and haunting screams as she writhes across the stage.

What can we expect from the album?

a large wooded area and I always feel tranquil in the woods. Rachel: Dalston, I dig the afro hair shops.

What is your current obsession?

Gemma: I am currently obsessed with the band Not Cool. Rachel: I’m really into Male Bonding. They are too cool, so cool in fact that we named our next single after them. Hot boys!

Gemma: an introduction to your favourite new band KASMs.

Who inspires you?

Gemma: Alan Moore, Iggy Pop, Ian Svenonius, Lydia Lunch, Julia Davis - basically outspoken people who don’t give a crap. Rachel: J Mascis because he is a genius and has beautiful silver hair, Anna Karina because she’s a babe and Bob Nastanovich from Pavement purely for the fact he used to drive a bus.

What is your favourite place in London?

Gemma: My favourite place in London is Abney Park cemetery. Not because I am in any way obsessed with death but because it is

Top 5 songs at the moment? Gemma: Dead Kid City - Not Cool Flags of Various Nations - Not Cool Limbs are for Liars - Not Cool Desks - Not Cool Sneaks - Not Cool

Favourite quote?

Gemma: “I know what a parking meters are” (sic). VIOLET 125

HMS HANNAH MARGARET STEWART Hannah Stewart is the newly appointed head buyer at Beyond Retro. Her job takes her around the world, and has only made her addiction to vintage clothing even worse. An entire room of her flat is devoted to her collection, a dressing room filled with mounds of tulle and vintage lace. Tables are cluttered with antiques and oddities, and dresses hang on the wall, along rails, and tumble out of her gentleman’s wardrobe. Hannah has an infectious energy, and her dedication to perfecting her own style puts those around her to shame. Always perfectly groomed and turned out, she goes to bed in vintage negligées and does the groceries in fifties swing dresses, petticoats and white tights. With pale blonde hair in raw blue silk, she adorns herself with broken watch parts, like a modern day Alice in Wonderland. Hannah lives above The Victoria pub in Mile End, a breeding ground for the best new bands, and hangout for London’s coolest misfits. Hannah is the one responsible for the 1950s pin up collages which cover the walls of the ladies loos, as well as the huge vintage blow driers which hover above the toilets themselves.



Where were you born?

I was born by the seaside in Devon.

Favourite memory of the past?

Being with my granddad, making weird creatures from used cereal boxes and toilet rolls.

Who inspires you and why?

The glamorous people of the past, Marilyn, Grace, Katherine, Audrey, Liz, Jean, I love them all.

What is your favourite place in London?

It would have be my first home in Stepney Green, I lived there for 3 years and it was the most amazing time. A collection of creative people living under one roof, it had its ups and downs but the parties were the most memorable.

What is your current obsession?

My cat Herbert; I never seem to be able to get enough of him. I swear he is the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

Do you collect something? Pocket watches and swimsuits.

Your top 5 songs now

Crimson and Clover - Velvet Underground John I’m Only Dancing - David Bowie Justify My Love - Madonna Womanizer - Britney Spears Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

What is your favourite book?

Lolita, I have read it three times and every time I have enjoyed it more.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing? My most cherished piece of clothing is a 1940s satin nautical swimsuit; if an item of clothing could sum me up this would be it. I found it at the bottom of a trunk in a bric-a-brac shop in my hometown.

What do you love about vintage clothes?

The element of surprise; you never know what you will find.

When you’re picking for Beyond Retro what are you looking for at the moment? We have been hoping to find floral bodycon dresses and spandex. It’s all about the spandex for us at the moment.

Favourite quote?

“I don’t want to make money. I just want to be wonderful” [Marilyn Monroe].

Hopes for the future?

To see as much of the world as possible.





night the bruise under your fingernail a cat a dead television screen a shadow a power cord the hands of a clock depression recession timeless an ink spot a top hat a lace petticoat


STOCKISTS Absolute Vintage

Annie’s Vintage

Bang Bang

Beyond Retro


Cheap Monday

Comfort Station


Dr Martens

East End Thrift Store

Helmut Lang


Johnny Loves Rosie

Lancôme Paris



Mint Vintage

National Theatre

Oscar De La Renta

Public Beware

020 7053 2185



020 7630 7406

Retro Woman


Sam Greenberg

Shu Uemura

So High Soho

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel

The Girl Can’t Help it

This Shop Rocks

020 7739 7667


Visa Swap

Viktor & Rolf





Violet Magazine #1 The Japan Issue Limited Edition run of 20 copies - buy one now at Any queries contact j...


Violet Magazine #1 The Japan Issue Limited Edition run of 20 copies - buy one now at Any queries contact j...