Paul Costelloe Opens London Fashion Week

Sunday morning I arrived bright and early at the Natural History Museum to peruse the opening collection of London Fashion Week spring/summer 2009. It was like a scene from The Wizard of Oz (if the yellow brick road had a tedious queue). There was an abundance of backcombed lion’s manes, a lot of brainless chatter and the obligatory heartlessness; despite the rare sunshine you could still feel the chill of vacuous eyes dressing you down (and then up again in different outfits). Also, much like Dorothy, when I finally reached the end of the road I felt a little fucked over; there were no goody bags.   

Whilst queuing patiently to have my satiable thirst for fashion quenched I was set upon by some overdressed relic with more self-worth than a lion ruling a jungle consisting entirely of earthworms. She force-fed me her companion’s business card like an angry gaoler would a suffragette and then insisted on telling me a tedious story about her collection of £40,000 worth of vintage clothing and her lavish LA parties. Being unemployed I received these tales of grandeur as well as the most adamant of suffragettes; it stuck in my throat and was hard to swallow.   

I don’t think she could decide which piece of her expensive collection she should wear so she removed all the zips and wore them instead. Her young ‘stylist’ friend’s (I think daughter) fake tan was so alarmingly patchy she looked like a jersey cow with impetigo. Not fully content with that eyesore she had scraped a year’s worth of crusty old eyeliner from Russell Brand’s unwashed linen and shovelled it around her own eyes (‘trowelled on’ isn’t the appropriate analogy here as that would have suggested some semblance of aim). A piece of red rag that was once perhaps a make-do curtain tie-back was oddly fastened around her forehead to complete the budget pirate look. You would trust her to be your stylist as much as you would hire a racing car driver who turned up drunk in a rusty mini-metro.  

Once I had endured the queue I felt fully deserving of the six mini bagels I unhinged my jaw to consume, and headed to the catwalk for London Fashion Week’s opening show of Paul Costelloe’s spring/summer 2009 collection…   

I was slightly distracted throughout by a lady with a ‘Sarah Jessica Parker does robotic alien-contacting headgear’ (see SJP SATC premiere hat). It was so much like a tinfoil antenna that the plasma screen started beaming in images of little green men. Still, good for her if she can get a signal on the tube.   

Costelloe’s collection consisted mainly of casual wear. Some of it was pretty cool. The overuse of rope made it a little bondagey but I liked the general cut and the excess buttons, though I think this stuff looks better on men (see Rex’s exit outfit Big Brother ‘08). 

I wasn’t sure about some of the drab khaki materials and baggy bottoms; he left room in the bum area of lots of his pieces, inflating them to look like a baby who’s been dipped in the swimming pool wearing its nappy.    

My other head-scratcher was the misuse of black feathers and beads. It was as if he was an accomplice in a mass raven murder and was gradually siphoning off the evidence. The feathers were so out of place and ruined what would have been otherwise nice, amicable outfits.    

Also, I am aware that high fashion and comfort can’t always holiday together but one outfit looked particularly itchy, and so not worth it. It was like a short grey mini-robe with a hood, and made out of this gauzey see-through cheap stuff. The only appropriate person and occasion for this piece would be a slutty lesbian brown owl on camp trying to be down with the kids and pork one of the other leaders. 

A neat little design trick he played with a lot of his stuff was that he designed it to create an hour glass female figure. On the models it looked a bit like a plastic bag tied to a pole and inflated by the wind but at least it gave them a nicer, less sub-human shape. So that falls on the side of good say I. 

So it was a military, puffy, feathery, urban mix which had some high points and some 60,000 thousand leagues beneath the sea points; there was definitely a sense of incoherence but perhaps that was the point. Whatever the case he sort of pulled it off.   

When he walked out at the end to take his bow he looked so much like a mad old professor that I think he may have created his collection with the use of the periodic table and a couple of test tubes. I was expecting a funny little camp fella in ridiculous garb: black rimmed specs with a strategically placed measuring tape worn as a scarf.    

Given the queue, the air-kissing and the odd robot woman it would be easy to dismiss it all as pretentious bull, to denigrate it completely on the grounds of its air-kissing and the rest of its shiny polyester veneer of social self-importance.   

But, this stuff will eventually filter down through the various levels of malnourished foreign kiddies to H&M and then to its final stop on my poor ass and no-other-choice back. Much like the annoying woman I encountered in the queue, fashion is difficult to avoid completely. I’m not exactly sans fashion myself. I do have style of some sort, and just because I’ve fallen flatter than the model’s chests, my life as empty as their plates and my cashflow as powerful as the penile blood flow of a sugar daddy pre-Viagra, does not give me the right to throw stones.

Also ever tried aiming a stone at a lampost?  I’d have very little chance of hitting one of the models then.

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