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    A Date with Dior

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    As Dior celebrates its 70th Anniversary the V&A puts on an exhibition that’s a feast for the eyes

    The Victoria & Albert Museum is one of my favourite in London, and not since the mesmerising Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition in 2015 have I been so excited to visit. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, the V&A’s latest offering certainly didn’t disappoint. So along I went with my close friend Lydia to see what it is all about. If you are going to get a membership to anything this year I would highly recommend one for the V&A; not only are you guaranteed instant and early access to any of the wonderful exhibitions they put on throughout the year, you also get access to the Members Room on the 5th floor (where you can enjoy a glass of wine and selection of nibbles with a view of South Kensington) and 10% off at the V&A store.

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    The fashion house Christian Dior was founded in 1947, shortly after the end of the Second World War, when designers started creating beautiful and extravagant garments away from the constraints of rationing and austerity. And boy, did the fashion house deliver. In its 70 years, the fashion house has had seven fashion designers who had a part in constructing its history: Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. All of which have left their individual mark on the brand but in-keeping with the classic and stunning silhouettes Dior has become famous for. If there is one word that defines Dior, whichever designer has been entrusted to represent the fashion house, it is Elegance.

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    I and Lydia sauntered in like kids in a couturier candy store and the moment you enter you are instantly greeted with an array of glamorous garments. To say it was a visual delight is selling it somewhat short. Each room you enter is loaded with stunning frocks; my favourites being those designed by Galliano but by no means insinuate the others were any less beautiful. So are we getting excited about fashion again? Are we yearning for the glamour, beauty and indulgence of the 1940s and 50s? For so long it seems to have been about how little you are wearing with the introduction of the Kardashians and the social media fame brigade.

    Now, I’m no prude but Dior exhibition aside, it certainly seems that the catwalk is beginning to focus on how to enhance and create new and interesting silhouettes (with designers like Iris Van Herpen, JW Anderson and Ashi Studio at the forefront of a new fashion movement) to titillate and bring back the joy of fashion; and less of stretching cut-out, viscose-like fabrics across bare flesh. Does that make me sound a bit pretentious? Probably, but hey, I for one am pleased fashion seems to be getting more creative.

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    As always, I digress. What more can I say about Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams apart from strongly suggesting you visit if you get the chance. With tickets selling fast a membership is certainly something to consider. We Londoners are lucky that we have so many museums and galleries that are completely free to visit and therefore think it’s important we support these institutions and make the most of them. Something I have made one of my 2019 goals, and what better way to start this years’ cultural and fashion journey than a date with Dior.

     

    Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is on at the V&A until September 2019

    You Oughta Know

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    How 90s/00s grunge, indie and rock are filtering back into 2019 fashion

    Ah, the late 90s/early 00s, an era I remember well having just celebrated my 35th birthday. It was a time when there was an influx of eager teenagers toddling off to university with a set of ideals and full of young ambition. University was more widely accessible than any other decade before it; and we we’re going to go and change the world (I studied Animation at university before entering hairdressing) with the help of the pop culture of the time.

    We had had the likes of Alanis Morisette, Muse, Oasis, Blur, Nirvana and Skunk Anansie to keep us suitably fired up and emote the angst we so enjoyed embracing. That, and according to our female inspirations we were going to verbally castrate any man that has wronged us through angry but dulcet tones. Our male counterparts were far more self indulged and allowed us to wallow comfortably in the world around us, scrutinising convention and desperately trying to set ourselves apart from the ‘norm’.

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    It wasn’t only the music we listened to but the programmes we watched on TV and film that further inspired us. Buffy the Vampire Slayer indicated girl power was rife (whilst remaining fashionably attired throughout every episode), Dawson’s Creek gave us a perception of love and was at a level of angst not even Party of 5 or My So-Called Life could compete with. It was so angst ridden we could barely understand what the characters were muttering about. And we loved it. Movies like Empire Records and pretty much anything written by Kevin Smith showed us a rebellion (albeit a sedate one) and ‘non conformist, don’t care’ attitude. But boy, did we really care what people thought of us.

    90sblog2You were defined by the genre of music you listened to, or the programmes you chose to watch and subsequently became part of that ‘tribe’. Whether you were a goth, skater, grunger, indie kid or the dreaded ‘emo’; you belonged to some sort of tribe. As humans we all want to feel like we ‘belong’ to something and this was made clear through what we wore and the hair styles we sported. It is this particular sub-genre of the 90s (the return of house music, warehouse clubbing and pill popping is a separate blog in itself and hasn’t quite filtered into fashion yet, although is certainly being executed) that is making a re-appearance in how we, in London, now style ourselves.

    Whether it is slouchy, rolled up, stone-washed jeans or ribbed over sized sweaters teamed with Doc Martens boots or Adidas trainers, 90s fashion is everywhere you look. It is in modern pop culture, a perfect example being the hilarious new Netflix series Sex Education; where it has been styled to appear set in the 90s yet has all the modern references and technology of 2019. From high street brands such as Zara and Urban Outfitters to the spring summer catwalk; with a nod to the 90s in both the Celine ready to wear collection and the Luis Vuitton ready to wear collection (which has opted for bolder prints and oversized jackets).

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    Make-up wasn’t contoured in order to create a ‘new face’ with the goal of looking like the perfect doll we now see on social media. My mind casts back to an Instagram post I recently saw of Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski for Vogue and I can safely say I struggled to identify who was who. Throw Dua Lipa into the photo and then I really would struggle on differentiating one conventional beauty from the other. Matte make-up was everywhere, slightly smudged eyeliner (thanks Alisha’s Attic) and earthy toned lipsticks to take women away from the glossy, perfect and groomed looks which could indicate too much interest in their appearance. It wasn’t only the women of the era but Placebo and My Chemical Romance introduced us men to an androgyny we gleefully embraced, smudged eyeliner connected us all. The more smudged the more angst-ridden.

    winonaAnd now to hair; being a hairdresser I should probably get around to addressing this. Young women weren’t afraid to cut off their hair to empower and represent their stance on femininity and feminism in the 90s. Winona Ryder and Natalie Imbruglia introduced us to a striking androgyny with the styles they wore proving that you can still stake claim to your femininity without conforming to long, ‘feminine’, hairstyles. It also represented a cool, relaxed vibe and hair was styled to look ‘undone’ and effortlessly nonchalant. These styles, teamed with a fringe (the shorter the fringe, the more alternative and rebellious) are more evident in fashion at the moment then since the 90s itself. Men’s hair was longer and purposefully unkempt. Where it now differs is the stark irony of having that ‘undone, slightly unkempt’ look when we are more into hair care and healthy, shiny locks then we have ever been. Amen to that!

    So although in style we might be emulating a 90s indie kid we are now washing our hair and creating the relaxed, tousled wave with the help of salt sprays and styling wands; not just leaving our natural grease to do the work. However, it does mean you can get away with hair that is nearing critical wash time with a douse of Dry Shampoo and a scarf wrapped around it in a bow (little style tip for when you want to put off washing your hair for one last day). We also contrast with the 90s when it comes to hair colour; far more natural tones are in with coffee coloured brunettes and sun-kissed golden blondes featuring heavily…we love the 90s but the 3 inch roots with over processed murky ‘crazy colour’ ends are now passé. It’s more about adopting the 90s highly emotionally sensitive, inner turmoil yet nonchalantly chilled vibe rather than looking like you walked straight out of Clueless.

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    However you choose to represent it, whether be it in hair or clothing, it is safe to say that 90s is definitely still in the air at the moment and I for one am thrilled. So thrilled I might go write a poem/song/sonnet about how society is being sucked into one giant black hole and we are all transient beings while I listen to Alanis and scribble profanities across imagery of ex boyfriends. Also, slouchy 90’s jeans are super comfortable.