Monthly Archives: May 2016

Play dress up!


(Photo:long evening dresses australia)In the sweltering weather conditions we experience nearly all year round, dresses in comfortable silhouettes could be like second skin. However, the retail sector hasn’t always offered us a wide variety. This summer though, there’s no dearth of options — wrap gowns, shirt dresses, fit and flare or anti-fit dresses in different lengths.

Dress to work

In her collection for Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016, Hyderabad designer Sonal Pamnani’s label The Meraki Project included a clutch of dresses. Titled ‘All Work and No Play’, the line showed how to add fun to clothes for workplace. “Dresses are perfect for work wear. They are comfortable and can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion,” she says.

The notion that dresses meant figure-hugging outfits one flaunts at formal dos have given way to more everyday dresses that suit our living, working conditions. “To be blunt, gowns flaunted at parties can end up looking silly if not chosen right,” says city-based designer Sunaina Sood. She roots for dresses in muls and cottons. “Choose one that befits the occasion and your body type and you’re good to go. To me, the pick me up factor for any outfit would be comfort,” Sunaina insists.

Comfort is the primer for Sonali as well and she feels this quality has driven the resurgence of dresses. “Women today are comfortable in their own skin, regardless of shape and size. That’s probably why we experiment with different styles,” she reasons.

A Delhi-based label that works with hand-woven fabrics, KharaKapas, which means pure cotton, has found many takers in its first year of inception, thanks to visibility on Instagram and other social networks. Shilpi Yadav, the creative director and brand owner, started Khara Kapas when she didn’t find the kind of clothes she’d love to wear in the retail space. “I grew up seeing my parents and grandparents wear locally sourced fabrics all year round. I’ve even converted some of their cotton saris into dresses. Having studied design and travelled extensively, I thought there would be takers for a line of chic clothes that spell comfort,” she says.

Wide appeal

Shilpi points out that maxi dresses have broken the belief that dresses only flatter teens and women in their 20s. She feels women above 30 understand and appreciate indigenous fabric and craft better. Shibori in indigo, ikat, Madras checks, south cotton, muls from Kolkata among other fabrics lend themselves to wrap gowns, ankle/knee/shin length dresses. “Dresses can also be used as separates and worn with ankle-length culottes and pants or with skirts,” she says. Shilpi is pushing the idea of dresses for special occasions with a festive line. She’s noticed that many of her buyers are from Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune.

Sonali seconds Shilpi’s view that longer dresses have found patronage among women across age groups. “These dresses in different prints and solids given women the option of wearing dresses without having to show too much skin,” she sums up.Read more at:short formal dresses australia

The Swimwear Chronicles: Phylyda

With experience working at Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy, plus a tenure as creative director at Paco Rabanne, Lydia Maurer was ready to branch out on her own, and launched Phylyda, a line of swim and resort pieces. Maurer relocated to Berlin in 2015 to work on the line (pronounced phil-le-da, from the Greek root phil, for leaf), and continues to put out cohesive collections of classic swimwear with all the technological features that allow the “modern day sensualist” to “dive into life.”

What’s your professional background?

I’ve spent the past ten years designing for different luxury maisons in Paris, such as Rue du Mail by Martine Sitbon, Givenchy and Paco Rabanne. Working for such incredible brands taught me everything and we were putting out fantastically photogenic pieces fit for women with ideal measurements. Growing more mature, I was drawn to working on something which would embrace the fact that our bodies are in constant change…that there is an enormous number of women out there that cannot find beautifully executed and well designed pieces in their size and I wanted to help change that with Phylyda, putting my craft to use for a purpose.

Have you always had a particular interest in swimwear?

I spent my childhood in Mexico City and getting out of town to spend long weekends at beaches or traveling to Colombia,,where my mother is from, was a huge part of my life and I have been carrying these inspiring images in me since. I feel that swimwear is the one piece of clothing that most people associate their best memories with and yet it’s also the piece women fear shopping for the most. I think that this is partly due to the fact that most cool swim brands have a very limited size range and a lack of interest in using the techniques that would make swimwear more flattering- particularly in larger sizes. Offering a range of separates that would foster a feeling of ease and great fit starting in the changing room became my single-minded goal.

What was the first memorable bathing suit you owned?

I remember I bought a super chic navy one-piece with white stripes at the top with a slight boy short cut and a low, square neck with tiny straps that was cut just right when I was 14 with my bowl cut, visiting family in Colombia! The suit was not at all practical for the tropics, nor like what my cousins were wearing, clad in the florals and flashier colors of the 90s, but I felt gloriously 1920’s glamorous. When I grew out of it, as it happens with one-pieces, it was a painful experience.

What was missing from the swimwear market?

I think that the swimwear market is very segmented: there are the very expensive luxury brands which only offer small sizes and then there are specialized plus brands whose product isn’t chic, qualitative nor modern. What I find least of all modern is this lack of choices in terms of fit and size, and the need to label things as plus size or straight size. Everyone offers ‘Mix & Match’ pieces but this concerns colors or prints and maybe a choice between XS-XL — What about women with larger busts that need support for example? What about women who have a small bust and large hips or vice versa?

How do you integrate technology into your product?

At Phylyda, offering beautiful, comfortable pieces with a truly great fit is my main design priority. Traditional lingerie craftsmanship plays a major role in my collection as it enables us to give maximum support, but technologies such as bonding and ultra-sound techniques offer great complementary benefits, enabling us to avoid thick seam allowances wherever they seem less flattering throughout the collection. Thus, some of our pieces are truly seamless with bonded edges, and others have laser cut and bonded details and tapes which playfully integrate a classic lingerie appearance. Our signature ultra flat, and soft, thermo-welded clasp with three adjustments offers a perfect fit for our bra-sized pieces. Bonded shoulder straps offer firm support with a super smooth look. For the fabrics, they are distinctly sensuous and not too techy, while not compromising on exceptional sculpting, fast drying and SPF 50 properties. I also sourced a lining made of a microencapsulated fiber, containing caffeine which enhances skin texture. This is particularly great for some of our rash guards and bottoms!

What’s it like to run a fashion brand out of Berlin?

My father is from Germany and I had been living in Paris for 16 years and felt like it was time to reconnect with my origins and to have some family support on hand to dive into my new venture! Berlin is one of the most innovative cities in Europe and it has a dynamic cultural landscape which feeds me enormously. With all its talent and space, Berlin has been a really great base for me to focus on Phylyda. I have found great collaborators and a few good ateliers which are particularly convenient when developing new ideas and when it comes to manufacturing or sourcing. And I’m only 1,5-2,5 hours away from the more classic fashion capitals like Paris or Milan.

Where are you manufacturing the product?

All pieces are made in Italy and Portugal.

Are any retailers on board at this point?

We are starting the sales for our debut collection with our showroom, Barefoot Chic in New York this coming week and then in London and Paris in early July. We will launch the Phylyda online boutique/shop in November.

What are the collection’s key styles?

To facilitate finding the right fit, I grouped all sizes into three body-type categories which speak to specific proportions of the upper and lower body: Petite, Curvy and Voluptuous. Key styles include our Ariane or Bea bikini bottoms which solve the problem of having to compromise between breast support, tummy coverage and a proper bust length adaptability. They can be combined with any top of the collection to provide a contemporary alternative to a traditional one-piece. The Laurel swim dress is a top that provides the comfort of a one-piece while leaving you the choice of bottom style. Concealed hooks will attach to seamless high waist bottoms, creating a single piece. Key tops for Petite women would be the light triangle, Jo, or underwired Kate, which is a discreet push-up top engineered for the most Petite amongst us. My personal favorite for Curvy women would be the plunge neck triangle top India with its tubular straps and it lends great support thanks to its larger under-bust band! For Voluptuous women, I love the balconnet bandeau Pia with a large adjustable underbust band and dainty detachable straps. Rash guards protect shoulders from harmful UV-rays during water sports or shore-side kid-watching. The collection boasts two versatile styles: Mimi, a flattering V-neck wrap top with integrated adjustable bra, and Costa, an athletic top with semi-removable sleeves, featuring our intelligent lining to indulge your skin with smoothing extra care. Versatile sashes can be styled around the waist, neck or shoulders for cocktail hour. The Laurel swim dress features an integrated shelf bra with removable thermo-welded shoulder straps to provide the perfect bust support for every activity.

What’s the story behind your prints?

This idea came about pretty early on in my design process. I was finally able to sketch more generous women’s silhouettes and these sinuous lines inspired me. At the same time, I was inspired by Kimonos from the 1950s so I took these ideas and asked a dear friend from Studio Berçot, illustrator Ayumi Togashi to develop them with her own unique brushstrokes.Read more at:formal dress shops brisbane | formal dresses online australia

Kiwi hairdresser trolls red carpet

Kiwi hairdresser trolls red carpet 

(Photo:cocktail dresses online)Elegant models adorned with frizzy, coloured wigs were a sight to behold amid the usual glitz and glamour on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet.

The man behind it, Kiwi Patrick Cameron, has come a long way from Taranaki to mixing and mingling with stars on the other side of the world.

Known in the hairdressing world as the long hair maestro, he has just finished work on his latest project – ten tall, colourful wigs that featured at the teaser of the DreamWorks film, Trolls.

The animated film features the voice of Justin Timberlake as Branch, a troll who’s going on a “journey of discovery” alongside Princess Poppy, voiced by Anna Kendrick.

Unlike the stumpy, creature-like plastic dolls the movie is based on, Mr Cameron’s creations featured atop more elegant models to exude a stylish, albeit colourfully playful image.

“When we think of Trolls we often think of ugly little creatures, but these were quite beautiful girls,” he said. “It absolutely took Cannes by storm, these girls came out and they stopped traffic.”

Adding to the furor at the event in the French city was the arrival of the celebrity duo on a speedboat.

“Just the absolute chaos and madness that ensued was incredible, it was really fun to see.” Mr Cameron, who has a reputation as a stylist on board with the latest trends, said this project was not in line with his usual work.

Typically the high-flying stylist can be seen travelling the globe to exotic places such as Malta, India and Russia. He has styled shows for huge events including one for 6000 at the Kremlin in front of Mrs Putin and frequently works with big hair brands such as Wella.

“This [Trolls] was completely left-field, it wasn’t about trends or fashion at all, this was about fun,” he said. “I saw parts of the movie, they showed me little bits and pieces, I fell in love with these little characters.”

Mr Cameron said each wig took about three to four hours to style.

He backcombed each one carefully, sewing it together to hold the shape, adding a layer of hair at a time, with a hand-knotted edge to give it the illusion of a real hairline.

Mr Cameron said one piece, the multi-coloured wig had to get specially ordered and cost about $2500.

“You don’t want to make a mistake,” he said.

The day before the event he also had to trial the wigs on each of the models, and on the big day spent about seven hours getting all the models ready for the red carpet.

Mr Cameron, who initially trained as a graphic designer and worked on window displays, said if you’d asked him 30 years ago where he’d be in the future he’d never expected the success he’s had.

“I fell in love with hairdressing and fortunately it fell in love with me.”See more at:marieaustralia

Your most intimate financial secrets laid bare

Curious about who might have been snooping on you? Check your credit file. 

(Photo:long evening dresses australia)Imagine a big manila folder with your name printed on it. Open it up, and you’ll see your age, aliases, occupation and former occupation, employer and previous employer, current and previous addresses, and driver licence details. So far, so creepy. But that’s only the front page. If you dig deeper, you’ll find detailed information on your most intimate financial secrets.

Was last month’s phone bill a smidgen overdue? It’s right there, in red ink. There’s no hiding your desperate attempts to shuffle debt from credit card to credit card, and that hire purchase from two years ago stands out like dogs’ balls.

Here’s the kicker: All this information is being sold to third parties, who will then scrutinise it and pass judgment upon your financial habits.

It’s called your credit file, and it’s time to get acquainted with it.

Credit bureaus keep all this information on record. Whenever you apply for any sort of loan, the bank or finance company involved will check out your file to see if you’re good for it.

Under the Privacy Act, you have every right to see what personal information they’re holding.

I highly recommend doing so. First, it’s a reality check. Lenders need to do this because it strips away the illusion. The beautiful house in the leafy suburb could be mortgaged to the hilt, the sports car leased, and the flashy suits run up on overdue credit cards.

Seeing it all laid out in front of you, right down to every monthly transgression, can be confronting.

Next, it’s free, and free stuff is awesome. It used to be a bit of a hassle getting hold of your file, and cost heaps to get it in a timely fashion. Now it takes all of five or 10 minutes. It won’t cost you a sausage, although you can pay $10 if you’re in a desperate hurry to get your hands on it.

There are three main credit bureaus. Make sure you request a report from Veda, Centrix andDun & Bradstreet, as they all have slightly different information.

The most crucial reason for checking is that there could be mistakes that need to be corrected. Lenders are often slack about updating information with the bureau. That means an old debt that you cleared 18 months ago could still be dragging you down.

This isn’t some rare event either – things slip through the cracks all the time. Be sure to check in at least once a year, or before you’re applying for a loan.

The worse your credit score, the higher the interest rate you’ll have to pay. That’s if the lender will accept you. If they don’t, you’ll have to go down to the next tier, which is basically loan sharks if you’re near the bottom already.

Even if you’re allergic to debt and know your credit report will be as pure as the driven snow, it’s still crucial to check in regularly.

That’s because you can see whether anyone is stealing your identity by applying for finance under your name. Again, this stuff really does happen. If you’ve got great credit, people literally want to be you.

Go have a close look at your file right now. You can guarantee the money men and women will be.Read more at:formal dress shops sydney

Your Life Changing Guide to Using Shampoo


(Photo:bridesmaid dress)When it comes to choosing the correct shampoo for your hair here are some questions you should ask yourself.

1. What is my hair type example greasy, dry, fine?

2. My budget?

3. Do you have colour in your hair?

4. Are you more in to natural based shampoos example sulphate free

So I always try and rotate my shampoo quite regularly, every two to three months as I feel it’s always good to change up your hair care routine and also there are so many different ones available we have so much choice and I totally appreciate that! You could stumble upon the perfect shampoo for your hair that will make all the difference.

In conjunction with my normal shampoo routine, I always use a clarifying shampoo once a week. Clarifying Shampoo is used to strip the hair of build up from either products like gels, oils, serums or just oil build up if you have very greasy locks.

A Clarifying Shampoo is life changing!! Ladies after you use it your hair feels squeaky clean and super clean.

The one I really like is Pantene Clarifying Shampoo it really affordable and I just seen it was voted in the latest issue of Vogue’s top 100 products!

Do not use this daily as you can strip your hair too much making it dry but once a week one shampoo is enough.

Sulphates vs Sulphate Free Shampoo’s

Lately in the beauty and hair world there is a lot of focus on Sulphates.

Sulphates are chemicals that are used typically in cleaning for example in cleaning products and detergents.

So many of us now are very health conscious, I think most people choose Sulphate Free products to minimise any chemical intake, on our skin and hair also they are more eco-friendly and carry out no testing on animals.

My view is I think both serve purpose and again we are so lucky to live in a world with so much choice and I feel it’s completely up to the individual. I use both to be honest.

Sulphates are an active ingredient in a product for cleaning purposes, they are what causes your shampoo to foam up when you wash your hair.

When you use Sulphate Free shampoo you may find they do not lather well that is because of the lack of Sulphates in the product. However it is thought to be better for your health.

Latest studies have shown that Sulphates can cause scalp irritation and can cause colour to fade faster and make your hair dryer in texture so always good to try out Sulphate free shampoo to see if you feel a difference.

The price tag on Sulphate free shampoo is for sure more expensive however they can be worth it if you suffer from a skin condition like Eczema or Psoriasis and p.s your worth it

Hairfairy Studio, located on Wicklow Street in the heart of Dublin’s most exclusive area is the brainchild of Irish born Aoife Kennedy, who offers everything from colour correction to balayage and deep conditioning treatments while bringing a unique and exclusive salon experience to the high-spending females in the region.Read more at:formal evening dresses

Bella Hadid and Ginger & Smart’s Flying Nun land at Fashion Week Australia

Ginger & Smart have long been the toast of the fashion world but now, thanks to their resort 2017 collection, sun-smart advocates should praise the brand for championing oversized hats for the warmer months.

The label, a creation of sisters Genevieve and Alexandra Smart, kicked off day two of Fashion Week Australia with hats that would upstage The Flying Nun. In hotels you can activate a “do not disturb” sign and, come spring, Australians can do the same by pulling on a wide-brimmed design by Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard.

The milliner was recruited by Ginger & Smart for its showing of new season resort wear and, if the floppy fedora trend takes off, Flemington may have to expand The Birdcage and hat-loving Jay Kay of Jamiroquai may be coerced out of retirement.

Under the hats were ornate lace swimsuits, light-weight bomber jackets and raffia slides. Sheer pants and colour-popping dresses looked ready-made for the sun decks of Capri and streets of Seminyak.

For the young holiday makers, New Zealand’s Georgia Alice showed her first Fashion Week Australia collection, complete with long-sleeved linens, oversized sateen smoking jackets and metallic pantaloons. The show, set in a loading dock, was more akin to Kuta after dark with strobing lights and models moving at a frenetic pace down the runway.

The dark horse of the day was little known label Misha that bought in reality TV royalty-turned-top model Bella Hadid to open and close the show. Established in 2013 by Michelle Aznavorian, the label has earned a cult following among Hollywood stylists whose clients include Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashians and Ariana Grande.

Back home, Myer has been quick to snap up Misha, and it will join the department store’s stable imminently. The looks, predominantly in shades of black and blush, varied from sexy to subtle with a few wardrobe staples thrown in.

While Fashion Week is usually a theatrical arena, it was refreshing to see the perfect pair of black pants come down the runway, albeit on an emerging supermodel like Hadid.

Aznavorian’s aesthetic also has the answer to every busy woman’s most loathed question: “What can I wear to to my friend’s wedding?”

Home-town hero and favoured designer of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Dion Lee closed the day with an edgy show sponsored by Bloomberg, 28 floors above ground.Read more at:sexy evening dresses | cheap formal dresses australia

Amber Rose Announces Second SlutWalk Los Angeles

Amber Rose 

(Photo:formal dress shops brisbane)Mother, philanthropist, feminist and entrepreneur Amber Rose announced that her second annual SlutWalk Los Angeles will take place Oct. 1 in Downtown Los Angeles. Her non-profit foundation also launched a CrowdRise campaign in hopes of making the event even bigger than her first successful SlutWalk Los Angeles, last October.

The Amber Rose Foundation’s goal is also to expand this event dedicated to women’s empowerment and fighting against victim blaming to other cities across the globe. Additional sponsors devoted to supporting women will be announced soon.

“As you can see in the news every day, from sexist remarks on the campaign trail to sick sexual abuse in schools and corporations, the fight against f*cked up, unacceptable behavior is really just beginning,” said Amber Rose. “Last year thousands came out to support women facing these problems every day and to say loud and clear, ‘My Clothes Are Not My Consent!'”

SlutWalk Los Angeles will be hosted by The Amber Rose Foundation, a non-profit organization Amber started to support her core mission of uplifting, empowering, and enhancing the platform of women around the world. The money raised from donations will be used to bring this event to life with on-site services such as HIV testing, counseling, sexual awareness booths, food and merchandise vendors and a host of other services. But most importantly, donations will support the foundation and organizations across the country of women who have been subject to slut shaming, sexual assault, and even rape.

The 2015 SlutWalk Los Angeles was wildly successful, becoming a top news story internationally and garnering 60 million impressions. Many people learned about the SlutWalk movement for the first time during this event including signature slogans such as “My Clothes Are Not My Consent” and “My P*ssy, My Choice.” Amber also made news by publicly sharing her personal story of slut shaming she experienced for the first time on stage-a moment that left her, and most of the crowd, both in tears and inspired. The October 2016 event will expand to include more entertainment and special guest speakers, a fashion show, art installations, and more counseling and education opportunities.

Of course, the day’s center piece is still the SlutWalk itself, modeled after the global movement that originated in Toronto in 2011 after a police officer told a group of college women that if they wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted, they shouldn’t dress like “sluts”. This statement sparked an outrage that lead to a full attack against victim blaming, sexual violence and gender inequality. In Los Angeles, women and their supporters will be invited to march and speak out to kick off the day’s events.Read more at:cheap formal dresses melbourne

Make-up artist set for Sydney fashion stage

Funk It Up co-owner Corissa Ivory's excited to take part in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney.  

(Photo:formal dress shops brisbane)BUSINESS in an unsteady market is not always glamorous, but some thrive because glamour is always in demand.

That’s the reality for make-up artist Corissa Ivory, who has transformed many lives, as well as her own, since she and a partner started Funk It Up eight years ago.

The woman of many beauty-enhancing talents, who switched from a life working in transport, has seen a dramatic increase in book-in and walk-in clients – from one to 15 a day – since moving to her North Mackay store.

“My business partner, Kara Johns, and I have about 1500 clients,” Ms Ivory said. “When we first started, we purchased a container that could nicely slot in 500 client cards… Now we have three boxes.”

Ms Ivory said Funk It Up had adapted to the uneasy market and expanded to cater to men and children’s birthday parties.

“I have a lot of husbands who come in with their wives to get their eyebrows trimmed,” she said.

“For the kids, we wanted to think outside of the box, to bring mums into our new space… We do a mini pedi, a mini mani and play Pass the Parcel.

“It’s a chance to really pamper the kids, and they love it; (we) probably have about one to two birthday parties each weekend.”

With Funk It Up flourishing, Ms Ivory is now set to take part in a major fashion show – crafting the faces of those on the catwalk at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.

The celebration of fashion and culture is one of the nation’s key attractions for innovative fashion designers, red carpet celebrities and retailers.

Ms Ivory will help create model looks for two designers during the five-day event, on May 18 and 20.

“I will be going down as part of the Harlotte Cosmetics team… I have stocked their products for years,” she said.

“This is the exciting stuff, and it will be my fifth major runway fashion event.

“One of the designer’s focus is winged eyes, sharp brows and glow.Read more at:plus size evening wear

What your mama gave you

Take out that Banarasi dupatta from your mom’s treasure trove and wear it in style. We tell you how…

This Mother’s Day, flaunt everything your mother gave you. Not just those irreplaceable genes but everything from your mom’s wardrobe – vintage embroidered batwa, a timeless watch, Banarasi sari… But before you sport these nostalgic hand-me-downs, learn the trick of blending the right amount of ‘old’ with contemporary trends.


Bring the grandeur of your ancestral Banarasi brocade into the limelight. To break the look and give it a voguish appeal, team with a long or short jacket or trench coat. The jacket secures your pallu in place and makes you stand out in a crowd of sari-clad women. To add to the uniqueness, fling the dupatta around your neck like a stole and make a statement. Complete the look with a cool braided updo so that the attention is on the ensemble.


Beautiful heritage pieces like mathapatti and haathphool are often handed down from one generation to the next, but we usually don’t get the chance to wear them. The next time you attend your best friend’s wedding, wear that antique headpiece with pride. It goes fabulously with a zardosi lehenga. Or, be avant-garde by sporting the mathapatti with a gown or a fusion ensemble. Stick to dewy, minimal make-up.


If your mom is a hoarder of balloon-sleeved tops, powder-pink and white slip dresses and skirts with details of vintage petticoats like small rosettes, crochet lace, tiny polka dots and pinstripes, you must snag her wardrobe right now! With ‘innerwear as outerwear’ being the biggest fashion trend of 2016, these ensembles exude a certain coming-of-age fun and an easygoing vibe. Plus, they add a touch of romanticism. You can always give these timeless pieces your own twist. Wear a white hakoba skirt with a quirky, printed crop top and add a fun factor to that one-piece pinafore dress with a pair of lace-up pumps.


Do you have a blouse with pleated sleeves in your mom’s vintage trunk? Sport it with a cotton or organza sari, rich with Mughal, floral motifs and Paithani designs. Highlight the rich and vibrant history of Indian craftsmanship while keeping the look fresh and contemporary. A bindi and a pair of Kolhapuri heels, and you’re ready to turn heads.


Denim will always be a wardrobe essential though styles may vary from decade to decade. Jump on the denim bandwagon by wearing your mother’s treasured maxi skirt. For a fashion forward appeal, adorn it with flowers intricately rendered in silken thread, accented with traditional ‘badla’ embroidery. The key to pulling off this look is how you style the skirt. Pair it with a classic striped shirt and avoid any extra details like fancy buttons or frays. Give the look a laid-back, sporty vibe with white canvas shoes.Read more at:cheap formal dresses melbourne | plus size evening wear

Jamie Hawkesworth: Off the Cuff


(Photo:unique formal dresses)Recently, waiting outside a magazine editor’s office, I picked up a publication produced by the newly reinvigorated Spanish luxury brand Loewe. An unassuming grey linen cover is wrapped in part by a colourful folded poster, an almost abstract image of contrasting textiles. Alongside an interview and a quote from Wordsworth, the tall, sober pages contain a 14-image essay that combines black-and-white with colour photographs; constructed studio images with others in a documentary style. Some are peculiar, wet landscapes, contrasting with rich, intimate interiors, a kind-of portrait and some sort of fashion photographs.

Schoolboys are playfully balancing bags on their heads like silly helmets or hiding under patterned beach towels in a studio. The emotional measure of the book is gentle, warm and kind, and this overrides the lack of ‘sense’ being made. I am reminded of how I felt when I first saw Julian Germain’s wonderful For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness, published a decade ago. I think this is the loveliest photography book I have seen this year – not that it is likely to be understood in those terms.

This promotional catalogue, or lookbook as they are known in the fashion industry, was produced in an edition of 1200 to be sent free to clients and media outlets to showcase Loewe’s Spring Summer 2015 collaboration with textile designer John Martin. There has been a marked decline in the production of lookbooks since their heyday in the 1980s and ’90s – online catwalk reporting put pay to the costly production of these exclusive yet disposable publications.

But when I first came into professional contact with the fashion industry in the late 1980s, I was particularly transfixed by Bruce Weber’s lookbooks for Versace and Nick Knight’s for Yohji Yamamoto. Though very different in their photographic approaches, both men were pushing the limits of their particular angles on fashion photography. Weber constructed dream-like histories to fill cultural voids, while Knight went on to take the form to exquisite heights of specialist production values with his work for Martine Sitbon and Jil Sander in publications that are now virtually impossible to find or see.

Shortly after stumbling across the Loewe publication, a rare example of a contemporary lookbook with similar aspirations, I saw an arresting advert in a fashion magazine for the young and much-lauded designer JW Anderson. A ring of healthy looking young women in a sunlit field, waving to photographer Jamie Hawkesworth, his shadow falling long into the scene. The emotional charge of the picture felt almost too real to be a fashion advert. They looked like they really were waving to the camera, really were enjoying themselves. The shock of apparent emotion in a context that has become increasingly dour and poker-faced in recent years was something of a ‘stoop to conquer’ tactic.

Both the Loewe lookbook and this JW Anderson advert were photographed by Hawkesworth, who had first picked up a camera in 2007 and graduated in 2009. His trajectory has been extraordinary, and to my mind, a delightful fairytale of just rewards.

Despite my peripheral engagement with the form, I feel invested in fashion photography and disappointed by its recent demise. Hawkesworth’s editorial work offers me hope. Since working on my first editorials in 1989, arguably the tail end of a particularly exciting time in London’s publishing history, I’ve seen a genre I often felt intellectually and emotionally excited by whither into the closed loops of repetition and reference culture. I thirst for new voices, for an unknown visual sophistication, busting stereotypes, new approaches to talking about aesthetics, styles and culture. It’s something that fashion photography does so well, but to my taste, the pickings are slim these days, with more at stake and less risks being taken.

I admit didn’t really get the fuss about Hawkesworth when he first started to make ripples in 2010 with his portraits shot in Preston Bus Station (a centrepiece of Brutalist architecture set for demolition ahead of a successful campaign to have it saved and listed), and his signing to Julie Brown’s M.A.P agency, but I have been won over by the ongoing developments in his work. His curveball subjective documentary approach melded with an unashamed research-based practice that should not work in the conservative world of fashion photography, but is actually going down a treat. I have been watching him grow, artistically, in public, and a combination of his rigid sense of what is appropriate, along with an impressive cohort of collaborators, has made for fascinating watching.

Talking to Hawkesworth in his darkroom-cum-office where, it turns out, I used to live next door around 20 years ago, I am struck by how his ambition is driven by a wholesome, experiential curiosity, which has more to do with a fascination for the medium and his subjects than to dominate in his field. He shares his passion candidly, totally unguarded, carried along with our shared enthusiasm, overlooking any mention of his new book (featuring work shot at Preston Bus Station, published by Loose Joints) coming out a few weeks after our meeting.

Hawkesworth grew up in Ipswich and studied forensics at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. The recording of constructed crime scenes put a (digital) camera in his hands for the first time, but after a year on the course he realised that the legal emphasis of the subject area was not right for him. He failed that year, and while reconsidering his future that summer, a friend who was studying photography at Norwich introduced him to Johnny Stilletto’s, “amazing to look at”Shots from the Hip. His excitement about the book and the idea of street photography led him to put together a portfolio that summer and apply to transfer to the photography course at Preston. He gained direct entry to the second year of a course that put an emphasis on the use of analogue cameras and so, having missed the introduction to 35mm, he was introduced to medium format and the Mamiya RB 67. “It sounds cheesy,” he recalls, “but I fell in love with photography, and from that moment I spent every second that I could on making pictures. I had a girlfriend at the time and I didn’t see her at all, I just got my head into photography and that was it. It came completely out of nowhere.”

He has used the same camera and lens combination since and only works with film. Next came the college library, where he started looking at Nigel Shafran and Jem Southam and various British documentary photographers. He experimented in the studio with flash and whatever he could get his hands on, but at that stage he was still only working in black-and-white as there were no colour darkrooms at the Preston campus. When he began seeking out some work experience, he was advised to approach commercial photographers, despite his natural disposition towards the documentary tradition, whose practitioners tend to work alone.

Taking the initiative, he spent his spare time in London interning for Nik Hartley who, in return, taught him how to colour print. Through Hartley he met Dan Burn-Forti, who demonstrated how “to appreciate everything equally – everything has the potential to be an image and for you to put your eye on it”. When I ask Hawkesworth to expand on this, he replies, “When I’m out on my own and I’m reacting to what catches my eye in the most basic way – when I see something, anything, anybody and there’s something about them I want to photograph. Not trying to comment on anything, there’s just something I like about that object or that person or that colour or the way that something falls on something else, just the way it catches my eye – it doesn’t get any deeper than that.”

His tone is almost apologetic, yet his frank self-awareness is refreshing where the common tendency is to dress stuff up with pseudo academic jargon. This is due in part to a trend in photography education to establish reasons for making photographs in relation to ‘meaning’ or ‘the critical discourse’ which simply does not suit everyone. This emphasis on the cerebral can be hard to reconcile for the compulsive, the habitual and the amateur, disenfranchising important modes of photographic production.

I am reminded of an awkward ‘in conversation’ I chaired at Kassel Fotobook Festival with another brilliant innovator, Viviane Sassen, who exhilarates fashion photography with her light sensitivity and exacting formalist plays. There seemed so little to say about her photographs that the pictures have not already alluded to. Her non-linguistic communication form is dependent on so many subjectives, and despite my efforts she would not be drawn to extrapolate. Talking about a great photograph rarely makes it any better… Often times talking about an image can detract from it’s initial enigma, there is a reward in not knowing, in feeling your way through something, in allowing something to resonate personally rather than generally.

One of Hawkesworth’s tutors at UCLAN was Adam Murray, co-founder of Preston is my Paris (who first published the bus station work in zine format), who has a wide-reaching understanding of what fashion photography might be, framing it from a sociopolitical perspective, the emphasis being on vernacular culture. Hawkesworth remembers how important it was for him when Murray described his pictures of teenagers, taken every day while walking to college, as relevant. Not a removed construct or photography-about-photography, but seeking to establish his own connection with his immediate, lived experience.

I ask how it feels to Hawkesworth to approach people in the street. “I feel a bit sick when I go up to someone and ask to make their portrait, though nine out of 10 people say yes. When I was in Preston, I would have the tripod with the RB, and I figured that if I said something very specific about a person, drawing attention to an item of their clothing rather than just saying ‘you look amazing’, they were more likely to say yes.” As a tall, caucasian man, Hawkesworth has that air of authority, backed up by his approachable good looks and soft brown eyes. His unthreatening physical presence reminds me of Daniel Meadows or Albrecht Tübke or Derek Ridgers or Martin Parr – maybe there’s a physical type suited to this kind of street work. It seems the genre is dominated by male practitioners, something of a condemnation of our gendered public places. He had not considered his position as being one of male privilege, but is aware that as he gets older he might not always be able to make these approaches.

Taped up on the wall of Hawkesworth’s darkroom is a large, typically golden print of a young girl with perfectly disarrayed hair. Taken on one of his many self-initiated wanders into Britain’s everyday exotica, he saw her come in last at a pony trial in Shetland. He also has this picture framed up at home because it reminds him to, “just go, because you will always find something. If I ever found myself sitting at home thinking about things to photograph, I’d say to myself, ‘This is ridiculous, I just need to go out and take pictures.’”

He could not believe his luck when he received his first commission from The New York Times’ T Magazine, to photograph Swedish potato farmers. However, as these kinds of assignments are infrequent and probably would not sustain a practice, there needed to be other ways to apply his approach. Recently, the predominant trend in fashion editorials was a pseudo-documentary style championed by Alasdair McLellan, with models posed so as to appear ‘real’ – an approach that began as an Anglicised version of Bruce Weber’s sentimental take on America. Hawkesworth’s work had the potential to take the model agency and a layer of pretense out of the loop, an opportunity spotted by French stylist Benjamin Bruno.

“For a long time, I couldn’t photograph models,” he says. “I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I had to work with people from the street. I think I had to learn to understand what I like about things. Then I got to work with Benjamin, for Man About Town, and he was up for going off and dressing the people that we found. So we went to South Shields with a bag of clothes and this was the first fashion thing I’d done.”

He points to an image of blonde teenage girl strangely defiant in a masculine cobalt ensemble. “It was the first time someone said, ‘OK we’ve got an amazing character, let’s take it somewhere else…’ She had a flowery dress and we asked her to put the blue suit on, and that was a pinnacle moment for me; I realised you could completely fabricate something else.” Pulling out another magazine he tells me the amazing story of how T Magazine flew two street-cast youngsters and their fathers out to New York to work with senior American stylist Joe McKenna. This unlikely combination featured on the cover in October 2014.

The lack of self-consciousness often encountered in street-cast subjects can lend a candour to an image, and can carry all kinds of outlandish outfits in a way that is harder to achieve with professional models. The importance of the choice of models – the casting – should not be underestimated, and not only for their looks. This also plays out in the ways Hawkesworth and Bruno direct their subjects.

There is often an oddness about how they ask a subject to stand, which Hawkesworth sees as a counter-intuitive gesture. “I take it a million miles away from what I’m comfortable with, but then it goes full circle and brings it closer to the documentary tradition.” This can make the subject complicit with his own appreciation of awkwardness… where the conspicuous unlikeliness of the outfit and the pose makes the whole thing make a sense. He ventures that “the more extreme it becomes, the more authentic it appears. When I was making a fashion image with Ben, everything started to make sense in a strange, heightened way. ”

That encounter with Bruno in 2011, two years after graduation, should not be underestimated. It also brought Hawkesworth to the attention of M/M (Paris) who were art directing Man About Town magazine at that time. M/M (Paris), AKA Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag, are without doubt one of the most influential forces in fashion’s visual culture in the last 20 years and, like Hawkesworth, they have a reputation for defining their own parameters. They were tasked by Loewe’s creative director, J W Anderson, with overseeing art direction at the brand, and the opportunities they have offered Hawkesworth immediately propelled him into the limelight. Initially they would only lay out his pictures of people modeling clothes, but while on their trips together, other material invariably presented itself while hanging around waiting for potential subjects to show up. The combinations of scenes and stuff and people in his work has led to all kinds of unlikely juxtapositions. A personal favourite is an old-fashioned pram, the antithesis of the contemporary techno-buggy, laden with candy floss – a scene way more weird than any fiction. Hawkesworth gets a certain satisfaction in placing these moments of street poetry onto the staid pages of fashion magazines. As our meeting winds down, he reaches for a copy of American Vogue, where one of his recent Miu Miu adverts juxtaposes a model with an angular dead-looking tree. This is prime fashion real estate, and all images are stage-managed accordingly, so there’s a satisfaction in sneaking a lowly, eccentric-looking tree into the mix.

We’re flagging now, the heat of the afternoon has left us thirsty and talked out. As we head out for refreshment, a pile of contact sheets catches my eye. Unguarded, he talks me through this latest experiments. Despite being made with the same camera/lens combination, this is nothing much like his previous work, except that his curiosity has got the better of him again.See more at:long formal dresses