HIGH STAKES DENIM: SHARP TAILORING | CLEAN LINES

Tailored Denim is cool clean and smart. Clever cutting and shaping with little or no washing of the denim lends a casual touch to a high styled garment.  Mixing street denim with a brand name.

Designers: Left: Marques Almeida | Right and centre: Alexander McQueen

Clever shaping from Marques Almeida with added studding for a harder edge when combined with a bleached out denim begs the question - is it high fashion or street denim?   Here we repeat again the amazing Mcqueen's multi seam shaping and multilayered styling.  He gathers in the extra fullness with such panache making the shaping of what is a tough fabric into truly glamorous tailored pieces.

 

Designers (from left to right): Dior, Dior close up, Carolina Herrera, Sacai

Dior uses blue denim with flare - cutting an oversized sharp blazer in a combination of indigo shades to restate the difference between this and a standard jacket. Combined with this indigo and ecru cotton fringed skirt is a real must have combo.   Whilst Carolina Herrera and Sacai have concentrated on the simplicity of long line super shaped dresses.

Designers: Left: Cerutti 1881 | Right: Fendi 

Raw rigid denim with red selvedge is truly the signature of couture mens denim wear. Here from Cerutti. Simple tailored suits with subtle style differences look fresh in denim with a slight lustre.   Likewise, Fendi shows their flare for feminine yet strict tailoring by emphasising the style detail with bold contrast top stitching 

Designers: Left: Tibi | Right: Nina Ricci 

Full and light weight denims are formed into oversized pant suits from Tibi whilst Nina Ricci again demonstrates her genius for sharp tailoring and top stitching.

HIGH STAKES DENIM: TRUE GLAMOUR

Glamour jeans have become recognised by their over embellishment.  Anna Sui is known for her over-use of embroidery, beading and braiding on what is basically a simple denim jean or jacket.

Embroidered story telling makes this shearling trimmed denim jacket from Gucci a covetable piece.  Especially when combined with a bold tweed skirt. Super youthful styling but super expensive pricing!

Versace takes his glamour and flamboyance to the extreme below.  Using basic jeanswear shapes as a vehicle to elevate the idea of denim wear.

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Western shirt shape with denim shorts. And Jeans topped with constructed denim top. All encrusted and embellished with beading, appliqué and embroidery within an old fashioned seaside theme.

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Black denim from Versace again has been given the Western Matador treatment with studded decoration and gold thread motifs.  Clearly building on a western theme both in accessories as well as decoration.

HIGH STAKES DENIM: NOT SO SIMPLE JEANS N' JACKETS N' SKIRTS

High fashion Luxe Denim is elevated above the simplicity of the daily jean as we know it.  Luxe denim may follow original vintage inspiration, remodelling fit and form and adding personalised limited edition detailing.  It is the clever cutting, higher design form, embellishment and creativity that commands the high stakes price and desirability.   Couture and Ready to Wear brands are highly sought due to their limited editions and the almost rock star status of the Designer.  It is encouraging to note the extensive use of simple denim at couture and catwalk levels.  Thereby influencing the confection of high street denims.

Designers: Left: Tibi  | Right: Fendi 

Voluminous beautifully cut Tibi man style pants suits in dark barely washed denim takes blue denim into a formal fashion conversation.  Likewise with a formal dress from Fendi in unwashed lightweight denim where the styling details are imaginative and dramatically visible. 

Designers: Left: Alexander McQueen | Right: Oscar De La Renta

Flamboyant yet super clean cutting from the atelier of Alexander McQueen. The Atelier has focussed on visible seaming, multilayering and clever shaping bottomed out with kick frills of contrast fabric.  This is flamboyant longevity to wear with pride. Oscar de La Renta is showing less flamboyance, instead moves subtly from an original Levi style cut in jacket and skirt with a difference in slits and shaping topped off with paint splashed finish.

Designers: : Left: Stella McCartney | Right: Mary Kantrantzou

Stella's signature boiler suit having a nod to its denim origins whilst being simple is flamboyant in colour and gathering detail to contain the volume.  Attention to details of seaming and top stitched cording and most importantly the high quality non denim fabric are all signatures of Stella. Mary Kantrantzou has stepped right away from denim in both her use of performance fabric and brilliant colour blocking.  The nod to the denims is in the studding and riveting.  Her pieces sit alongside denims and jeans adding the sport influence rather than emulating them. 

Designers: Left: R13 | Right: Calvin Klein 

Mixing leather, denim and plaid in jeans influenced styling is a clever combo. Topped off with cowboy boots in metallic leather. Such creativity and use of fabric has resulted in a covetable outfit from the denim brand R13.  The creative catwalk collection from R13 has raised the profile of the main brand which is likewise one of the best in the business.  Hand dyed leather from Calvin Klein helps elevate his jeans line to catwalk status

Designers: Left: Dolce and Gabbana | Center and right: Chanel

Dolce & Gabbana bring their creative and unusual flair to what essentially could be a simple jacket and jeans combo - Nothing is simple from D&G!  Chanel is more elegant.  Shaping and top stitch seaming forms the embellished denim jacket into the puffed transparent skirt below.

Designers: Left: Paul and Joe | Right: Gucci 

Super creative hand made denim fabric, fashioned from a commercial jacquard fabric hand finished with stitching and fraying from Paul & Joe in what would be originally a work style jacket.   Whilst Gucci keeps it more simple with hand drawing onto his sheering trimmed trucker jacket.

Designers (from left to right): Junya Watanabe Man, Lye Lysianne, Junya Watanabe Man A Cold Wall, John Lawrence Sullivan 

Various top designers play with denim combining it with sport fabric in simple and not so simple jacket shapes for men.  Watanabe shows off her signature jeans patching and shiny coating for her mens collection. Adding cutting edge to simple loose jeans.

Sport and jeanswear are natural bedfellows demonstrated here very well by the creative use of visible zippers to embellish khaki cargos cinched with a studded military belt from Marques Almeida.

MY ARCHIVES Fashion Icons

Icons of denim fashion have stood the test of time and achieved the tricky balance between being renowned for classic and or vintage jeanswear and fashion denim.  

One such brand is Replay.  After the partnership split with Renzo Rosso of Deisel,  Replay became a more young fashion denim brand. This example is of their Mexican influenced mini skirt from their Brazilian franchise - embellished with naif handwork it is almost a work of denim art, the skirt being the vehicle for the creative embroidery.

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By contrast another denim fashion brand - Energie specialises in different cutting and fabric combos. It is a men's brand, this again shows my preference for mens jeans. In this case the extreme high waist or extreme dropped crotch, whichever works for you!  Cleverly combines tweed at the front and coated denim at the back with leather detailing and accessories. 

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MiH big cuff Phoebe jeans are creatively enhanced by the ripping and Shibori patching.  And to note that the Phoebe jeans from MiH always use red selvedge authentic denims.  Although my stated preference is for men's denim the exception is with MiH as they are the only girls brand that stays true to its roots and heritage of being an iconic 70's brand.  Using only the best ringspun and Japanese denim and concentrating on the fit that works best for the shape.

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What was once a vintage jacket with sleeves has with careful ripping and destruction, become a fashion gilet. 

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Fashion denim from MiH is exploring and promoting original denim design from the 70's.  Their Golborne road project showcased items from Bay Garnett from her 70's vintage edit.  Here is a bleached out and studded hippie jacket which would not have looked out of place in the original Kensington Market, so evoking memories of that place and time. And of the same vintage i have the indigo chunky knit from Geo Trowark who were one of the first knitwear companies to use indigo dyed yarn outside of the denim business. As indigo is such a quixotic dye it is very hard to work with and make fast. The answer is in the case of chunky knits - don't wash it.

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My one and main indulgence was and still is, the patched and pieced big jean from Junya Watanabe of Come Des Garconnes. Super creative and almost ugly in its beauty.  A piece to keep forever.

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MY ARCHIVES: Cool Cuts

Cool tailoring takes denim into high style and catwalk fashion.   Since the development of denim processes that minimise fabric shrinkage we are now able to style jackets and jeans such that they do not distort when cleaned or washed.

Some many years ago Levi created some ultra cool off beat shapes in the "collectibles" Asia collection.  Beautiful shaped panelling, over stitching and big accessory details. Completed with red selvedge greenish indigo from a local Asia source.  What a pity it ceased - maybe they might consider a revival and share with the rest of the World!   

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Osklen's dropped crotch harem jeans look ugly but are super flattering.  The denim has comfort stretch and has a slight green cast due to the laundry tint. I am still not personally loving the ankle zip it renders the garment a bit too tricksy whilst the shape is not that at all.

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The masculine shaped Levi Red jean from many years back - for brave women - is a super rich green cast with an ultra high back and dipped front completed with side darts.  The Levi Red super swoop pocket stitching needs the massive back pocket. Pity they didn't use red selvedge denim as well!

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Remember the Levi twisted jean from the 1990's?  An icon that disappeared all too soon - taken out of the EU collection all too quickly. The denim was linen cotton with no stretch. It would have been enhanced with a little comfort.  The side seams were twisted and shaped into the dipped front ankle with the waist being high at the back and lower at the front.  A truly ground breaking original design from a Dutch product design company, which put Levi on the fashion denim map at that time.

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The M+F Girbaud "skirt belt" is another super creative use of denim.  Wear it over anything and everything which brings denim into every part of the wardrobe.  The cool detailing  and clever shaping makes it a really exciting garment to have at my disposal.   Additionally, every part of the tiny garment takes a vintage wash giving it even more attitude.

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MY ARCHIVES: Utility

Workstyle is integral with vintage given that the fist jeans were worn by both railroad workers and cowboys - both for heavy duty work.

The violet blue worker jacket is a real vintage item that i still wear when the mood takes me.  The flapped pockets and collarless style have a charm enhanced by the oddly restored cuffs- one contrast blue and the other missing and frayed.

My Kapital work shirt - not vintage but it is from the stable of super Japanese style.  Extreme dark crisp denim with white top stitching - a truly classic piece. Works with non denim clothing to add denim to everything.

 

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My G Star work style jeans whilst not old are a real favourite. The shape is great enhanced by  braces attached by original button carriers.  Additionally the denim fabric works in harmony with the renowned  G Star washing.

In combo with the AG little work jacket in a new indigo dobby basket weave the two make a real statement.  This jacket has 3 small flap pockets with the 4th being "blind".    Here is another item that works just as well with non denim clothing - avoiding the double denim look.

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Almost military style worker jacket with patch and flapped pockets, epaulettes and super practical side pockets. Heavy wear laundry treatment makes it soft and even more desirable.  There is no shame in loving a contemporary piece of "vintage workwear".  This time from Current Elliott.  Not a brand usually associated with the best of vintage but sometimes they can surprise.

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Diesel - an old favourite in brand terms and for specific items.  All my Diesel jeans are men's.  They demonstrate such attention to detail in fabric, cut and laundry they cannot be overlooked by a denim head.    These are the most comfy and flattering baggy jeans i own. Dropped crotch, perfect styling and superbly creative washing.  The look is old workwear but the reality is contemporary jeans style.

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MY ARCHIVES: Vintage

Vintage is and has been the driver for denim fabric and jeans ever since the middle of last century. It took a long time for denim jeans to break free from the original work ethic garments to become something more stylish.  However, it was and is the fabric that earned the name vintage in the beginning combined with the accessory detailing.

Since then all jeans brands have emulated the "vintage " look by replicating the old shade and fabric character as well as the garment details.  Some more renowned than others.   The simplest way of emulation is of course in the laundry - replicating the worn out appearance with complex laundry techniques.

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PRPS jeans here demonstrate their successful attempts at not only washing their jeans in a most authentic way but also using fabric from Japan.  The denim in the early incarnation of the brand was woven in Japan from cotton dyed with natural indigo dyes.  Difficult to find and difficult to process.   Natural indigo's adherence to the cotton as host is not permanent so the wash down became easy to replicate the vintage appeal. The first fabric was an amazing natural cross hatch heavy weight denim for men which as it washed down became better and better. The indigo lifting off the reveal the old style construction.

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This Old Japanese kimono re-worked demonstrates the combo of fragile indigo striped cotton and denim gauze. This item is almost impossible to wear being too fragile. But i occasionally succumb to temptation however, its better to hang as display. Still in Japan the Evisu jeans brand has become iconic.  Less popular here in Europe than in Asia. I love the tongue in cheek take off of the Levi name and logo.  After ( i believe) unsuccessful court cases it thankfully still exists. Super creative yet staying true to the vintage ethic both denim and accessories in the Evisu collection are vintage replicas whilst the shape is more modern to fit what our bodies and lifestyles have become.

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Levi Capital E items both jacket and jeans seen here, can still be found if you are lucky enough but at a seriously high price.  They are now collectors items.  So when you wear them don't leave them at the coat check.  

The iconic details is what we love the garment for:  front tucking; Capital E on the tag; ring ring old yarn denim; seam puckering and mottled denim surface; red selvedge seams and pocket details.  And of course still being able to wear a pair of jeans or jacket that is maybe 100 years old! 

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The natural worn in worn out effects in the Cap E jean makes them especially lovely to wear.  Even if the wear creases and rips are in the shape of the previous owner!

You can see here the superb old denim fabric, slightly crinkling with age and constant washing and seam pucker details with the front tucking that make such a garment a true icon.

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My Fiorucci skirt is a really old favourite. Made from even older distressed and recycled denim panels, revived with plastic and ceramic craft beading.  The piecing and patching of pre-worn jeans pieces helps to create the romance enhancing its desirability.  Made in the 1960's yet it is just as relevant today.

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Re-worked vintage denim jacket. Creative licence has been taken in re-working such and old piece.  Even though the appliqué and embroidery are of now as is the sleeve fringing the result is a grand replica of western decorated denims.  And it fits!

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MY ARCHIVES OVERVIEW

Being a natural squirrel has helped over the years in my quest for the best denims both old and not so old.   I have hoarded so much from all over the World, over my many years in denim that to choose the best is hard.  Being a denim fabric head draws me to the denim first, style second.   But for me the most successful are those pieces where the denim and the shape work in harmony. So here I share my archive edit of pieces significant by their detail; the denim fabric; their shape; their shade and their aged worn effects.

What is wonderful about being a blue human in the 21st century is the lack of inhibition in dressing without censure.  This has enabled us all to be free of dress codes to be who we want in terms of our personal expression to the outside World which in denim dressing is as exciting as it gets.   

The iconic brilliant indigo blue resulting from multiple washes is a truly special colour. It has an enduring romance like no other colour.  But that is a longer story. The pretty bright blue is here combined with random rips and tears in this Paige oversized shirt.  No so old but nonetheless a great easy piece. This tiny "skirt belt" is an example of creative thinking from M+F Girbaud from around 20 years ago.   Along with Osklen from Brazil dropped crotch riding jeans in tinted green casted indigo they are both examples of good denim and cutting.

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Icons such as the Cap E Levi jean jacket have always held a romantic attachment for me. Not only for the tucked front detail but also for the old ring denim - nothing like it !!   Combined with the high low contrast at the twin needle seams makes for the most special garment ever.

Natural Indigo is what drove the acquisition of both the Geo Trowark oversized chunky knit and the Japanese work bag, complete with rips and repairs = lots of memories.

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Clever cutting and creative stitch details were what Levis were doing for their Red collection in the Far East way back in the early part of this century.  What a pity such items of beautiful design did not stay long in their offering.

My Fiorucci vintage skirt is a real treasure from the 1960's evocative of the Kensington Market and Biba era, the hippie beading and recycled denim panels combine to make the heart flutter.  So sad it no longer fits!!

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Overdyed original workshirt in indigo herringbone.  Simple function at its soft best.

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Combine MiH huge cuffed ripped and Shibori decorated Phoebe jeans with Free People's crazy Mexican western boots.

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The right details will sell a garment any time.  From the back buckled Cap E Levi jacket; to the contrast cuffs on the work jacket; giant button and edge stitching features on the Levi Red jacket; oversized back pockets and true green shade on these Levi Red jeans; Original vintage work style jeans.