Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Elle UK talent competition

What does style mean to me? by Sylvia Sanchez    
Voici un article que je viens d'écrire pour le Elle UK talent competition. Thème: idée perso du style
 I thought I'd share this article I just wrote for Elle UK talent competition 

 (...The very notion of style is constantly challenged by the global fashion industry.
I can not think of a much perfect context than the Fashion Week we are
 in to write about ‘what does style mean to me?’
Style is out there and everywhere : it is a lifestyle choice and a personal attitude.
My favourite fashion icons all share strong consistency in their style.
From Coco Chanel who revolutionised at her time the ‘garconne’ look to
Carine Roitfeld and Emmanuelle Alt pioneering a new take on Parisian chic
and Kate Lanphear reviving NY cool with natural hype. What impresses me
the most is their immaculate detached attitude and unique ability to always
look resolutely post-modernist : a pure lesson of style.

I am an assumed ‘high-low’ fashion consumer, so to me, style has nothing
to do with social background, but more with an inner ability to clearly affirm
one’s personality and imagery. I love mixing and matching designer pieces
 with ‘gems’ from the high-street or vintage/charity shops.
For example, one of my signature style look these days (see picture) is composed
of a collector black Givenchy jumper with edgy golden studs that I dress-down with
skinny jeans, my black lace-up boots from Swedish Dinsko chain, an H&M vest,
Primark bag and vintage glasses. It is a very representative look of my personal style
 so far, because it has a discrete luxury and relaxed basic feel that is lifted with a
tough rock-chic element. I bought the Givenchy jumper two years ago
(such a good investment!) and I genuinely love the clash effect created every time
I mention the jumper is demi-couture mixed with high-street/vintage.

I apply exactly the same ‘high-low’ principle when it comes to cool-hunting to
put together other fashion looks or to source furniture for my flat, books about
 a certain topic, music from a particular genre etc…I find this exploratory style
 research very enriching and fun, as it always brings unexpected elements of surprise
that keep fresh an initial style idea, constantly re-inventing it to the next level.
The result of styling a personal universe is very satisfying. ‘Theselby.com’ is such a
great source of inspirational lifestyle displaying photographies of home interiors
and personal objects from international fashion personalities such as Julia Restoin-Roitfeld,
Erin Wasson, celeb chefs Sebastien Gaudard (literally introducing stylish fooding!)
or co-branding master Andre. It is very interesting to observe how their environment
and wardrobe reflect their personal style.

At retail level, I think style is in the whole experiential marketing proposition
that is evolving towards a much more personal approach where spaces are curated like
ideal homes juxtaposing ethical thought that consumers can relate to on the name
of S.T.Y.L.E. This phenomenon is exemplified by the concept-stores Merci (Paris),
The Shop at bluebird (London), Dover Street Market (London) and Colette (Paris) that
department stores are now bench-marking on to achieve a more authentic and
personally styled shopping experience…Le Bon Marché recently invited fashion blogger
Garance Doré to be a personal shopper, both Liberty (London) and Selfridges (London)
participated to the recent Vogue Night Fashion Event, taking place in different international
fashion capitals…and Matches first pop-up store at London Fashion Week Somerset House
interacts with customers blogging about the latest buzz on designers and style tips.

The multi-facets of style can also mean that their contradictions can be borderline – from
the very timeless essence of classic style to its ability to re-invent new style codes and
evolve into the most improbable design directions. This shows how much style is about
taking risks. A perfect illustration is the French ‘tradi-branché’ booming consumer
trend (in English ‘ traditional-trendy’). It has been pioneered by the likes of Chloé Sevigny
 and collective labels such as APC, Acne, Kitsune, Berangere Claire or Surface to Air that
all re-visit classic style bringing new marketing propositions inter-linked with music,
magazines, video-clips, Art exhibitions.

In parallel, the ‘Balmainia’ we are all experimenting with the return of 80’s shoulder
pads and glitterati offers new style directional codes, that are completely opposed to
the easy luxe from Hannah McGibbon or Vanessa Bruno, the rebellion from Alexander Wang
and the excentricity seen at Marc Jacobs or Luella and so on… but all appealing to
transgenerational global crowds and challenging notions of beauty and good taste
with contradictive styles.

Could this mean that the very notion of style, often pre-conceived as classic and timeless
is being much more challenged with personal individual attitude? Certainly more than
ever with classic basics re-invented by media style influences much more at reach
with online catwalk reports and personal street-style interpretations posted by all levels
 of the fashion blogosphere i.e. The Sartorialist, Garance Doré, Show me your wardrobe,
Sea of Shoes, Café Mode, July Stars, Suzie Bubble, The Cherry Blossom Girl, 
Mademoiselle Robot, Punky B, La revue de Kenza etc…?

With consumers being guided to shop across all spectrums of the fashion offer, Elle UK’s
latest ‘High-Street Guide’ brilliantly challenges personal style. The extensive polaroïd offered
on the best high-street buys and basics styling tips in the middle of London Fashion Week
directly connects high-end and high-street choices ... It is really refreshing to see how
fashion magazines manage to support the fashion commercial activity in the middle of
a recession by putting their expert editorial style flair to the service of designers,
buyers and the high-street picturing style’s notion in a ‘high-low’ fashion mode...)

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