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Some time ago I went through a phase where I was obsessed with getting neutral coloured clothes for my daughter, that is to say, no brightly coloured pinks, blues or yellows or anything sparkly, but more sophisticated greys, black and whites.  For some reason a calmer, palette appealed to me.  I felt there was no need to have cute cartoon characters on all of my daughter's clothes.  I found that the more high end European lines tended to offer children's clothes without the blinding colours or sparkles that most of the mass-market lines do.   Companies like Petit Bateau are notorious for classic, beautiful clothes and recently I was pleasantly surprised to come across some lesser-known companies with a similar aesthetic. 

I love the look of a Breton stripe and have quite a few tops and dresses with this pattern in my wardrobe. In the summer they add a particularly crisp feel and I treat them as a graphic neutral that goes with anything. This year I have been rocking a striped t-shirt from J.Crew with navy and white stripes. As I like the idea of a certain French simplicity and a pared down wardrobe you can imagine my delight when I came across Chance, a website offering a limited number of classic items of clothing with a distinctly nautical feel.

I have written about the use of plywood as a medium for making children's play structures and furniture before, and am happy to report that although my designs for the outdoor sandbox I planned to make this summer never came into fruition, someone else jumped on the outdoor plywood bandwagon and has produced this lovely line of wendy houses for children complete with child-sized furniture and textiles to go along with it. They are a fun and stylish addition to any garden and are available for purchase online here.

I am featuring the Prada show solely because it has become so directional and important in the industry - a benchmark which other designers and the high street will riff on in the weeks and months to come - if you will, that I could not in all good conscience omit to cover it although I am all "fashioned out".  I'm not saying I particularly like the looks, but I certainly give kudos to her creativity and influence.  

I am happy to see it was a tropical theme, albeit a very stylised version.  Without knowing the details, I would say pre-revolutionary Cuba of the 50s.  The show featured an unusual drop-shoulder profile and the shapes were boxy.  Cuban guayaberas with flippy skirts?  Don't see myself rushing to the shops to buy those I'm afraid.  The colours were very strong and bright with stripes grounded in black.  Shoes were platformed wedges - strange sporty, and the sunglasses extremely ornate.  Everyone seems to be talking about the unusual monkey and banana print but I don't love it.  Actually the way it repeats itself on the fabric like a mirror image like a rorschach test reminds me of what Alexander McQueen was doing with the patterns in his last collection.  I did however like the dresses with the figure on them marginally more.   Lord alone knows what those furry things the models were holding were and what purpose fur has in a spring/summer collection.

There were some pretty austere dresses at the end.  Again, I wouldn't have picked black as a dominant colour for a spring/summer collection but I guess that's why I'm here and why Miuccia is running the show.

My husband has three bicycles in our storeroom and rides one of them fairly regularly. They are sports bikes built for speed or rough terrain and he has the full kit to go along with them. Occasionally he will try to get me interested in joining him for a spin but the thought of pounding the roads wearing an aeronautically correct helmet while working up a sweat doesn't hold much attraction for me. That is not to say I wouldn’t be interested in going for a bike ride, as I loved to do when I was younger. It’s just that for the ride to be pleasurable for me, the aim would not be to beat the clock but to enjoy the scenery.

I had thought about purchasing such a pleasure bike some years ago, but never did. I love the lines of these Dutch style bikes which are being produced by Papillionaire, a Melbourne-based bicycle company and I would definitely take these for a spin.

Image: Papillionaire

Gwyneth paltrow is an actress, singer, mother, and all-round style icon. About a year ago she started a website called Goop (presumably her initials) featuring various topics near and dear to her heart including cooking, fashion, interior decoration and the like. When the website is updated, she usually publishes an e-mail and a few months ago I subscribed to get these e-mail updates. She has been criticised for the fact that her life appears to be too perfect and some of the items she covers on the website and in the e-mail are too aspirational and out of the reach of the ordinary person. I usually just skim through the e-mail perhaps clicking on an item of interest however I thought last month's Goop was quite fun and interesting. She focuses her attention on upcoming trends for the fall/winter season and enlists two friends who are boutique owners in New York to discuss with what they see as their key looks. This time in addition to the usual high-end products that she favours, some more reasonably-priced items have been included and she comes across as really sweet in the video that I have included above. It has long been rumoured that she actually is a really nice person.
Image: TKees
Image: Unknown

I had been wearing this pair of silver-grey Havianas for the past few years until recently. What I liked about them was the fact that, although there were not black or brown, they went with almost everything in my summer wardrobe and I treated them like a neutral. A few weeks ago my trusty Havianas broke while I was at the playground and I started looking around for a suitable replacement.  I was reluctant to purchase new Havianas as the only colour I consider buying was the same silver-grey pair I already owned.  Havianas have been ruling the market for the past couple of years without any serious competition, therefore imagine my surprise and delight when I came across these flip-flops known as Tkees by Trove. They have the exact low, unadorned profile I was looking for and come in a wide range of colours and finishes (their tag line is "wearable cosmetics for your feet"). Like cosmetics, they come in a spectrum of neutral colours of which are designed to match your skin tone exactly and have complimentary colours and tones called highlighters, shadows, blushers and lipsticks. They also look comfortable and flexible, which is another concern I've had with other pairs of flip-flops in that they are quite rigid and uncomfortable to wear. They also appear to have celebrities' seal of approval, which it never fails to help. I am seriously contemplating ordering a pair for next summer.
Image: Prada
So it's only since I've started this blog that I've realised that I have a real penchant for accessories, be they shoes, handbags and especially sunglasses.  I spied these Prada postcards a few months ago and they have been at the top of my summer wish list. It's not easy to update sunglasses; to make them different yet still flattering, but I think these manage to straddle that fine line. I love the juxtaposition of the clear frames, the unusual shape and they come in a number of different colour-combinations which means you can choose the look which best suits you, your colouring, your wardrobe or just your mood.  The squarer shape suits my face best. I just have to decide on the best colour combination for me.
Image: Patrick McMullan

Well my attempt to cover not even all but just those shows which I thought might be the most promising, has left me broken down, worn out and exhausted! I now know why most editors do not attempt to review every show in detail but provide highlights. There is no way you can do that effectively within the time, London is over and Milan is already calling. This is not a strictly fashion site and so to dedicate so many posts and weeks to the coverage of fashion is not what we are about and I won't attempt it again. In the future, there will be fashion coverage, but I will provide synopses rather than individual reports unless the show is really spectacular. 

On the plus side, I have seen almost all of the collections sent down the runway or shown (thanks Tom Ford) so have a good idea of what the trends for spring 2011 will be and will summarise these later.
The darlings of New York presented a show which was almost universally applauded and which I thought left a lot to be desired.   Ladylike tweed was given a hard edge with neon green.  Slouchy shapes were used throughout.  I'm trying not to let my opinion of that video cloud my perception of the designers but perhaps, as with John Mayer, that's impossible and I will always inextricably link the two.

Gwen Stefani rocks, literally and figuratively.  I found myself wondering after I saw this show whether she actually designs the clothes herself.  It's funny that this issue is never raised with respect to her, but everyone always doubts Victoria Beckham's abilities as a designer.  I wonder why?  Anyway, West African (not Mexican as some other bloggers described them) prints made a strong showing to good effect.  I would have to say this, along with Marc Jacobs' offerings, was one of the few shows that was neither derivative or boring.  Loved the straw hats.

I quite liked this show.  I love the brights, the colour blocking and punchy patterns.  The designers managed to give what is usually a ladylike, fairly staid line a more fun, modern feel.
I am a fan of Tory Burch's 70s, preppy aesthetic but this show was a mixed bag (no pun intended).  I felt it worked when the shapes were more modern and there were some gorgeous striped suits, my enthusiasm for which was somewhat tempered when they were followed by some frumpy hippyish tops.  The skirt lengths were also not very flattering and read as frumpy.  There were some DVF-style wrap dresses and wide-legged trousers which left you in no doubt as to from which era she garnered her inspiration. 1970s I did like the colours she used, ones which have featured repeatedly over fashion week including, white, navy, yellow, orange and chartreuse. 
Images: Imaxtree
Let me first declare my interest: I am a longtime fan of Nanette Lepore and her show did not disappoint.  I thought it was good and her choice of colours was solid.
Images: Imaxtree
Lumberjack chic or what I would call a collection of "refined grunge".  Beautifully cut tulip-shaped skirts - chartreuse and browns highlighted by gold.  Structured dresses and coats with overlays that looked like wood. Not fond of some of the sleeve treatments or the  high-waisted, voluminous pants.
Images: Imaxtree
Reviewing the shows has been more tiring than I thought it was be; I hadn't expected to see so many of the same trends, albeit interpreted in various ways, over and over again.  After a few days, I will freely admit it was all becoming a bit monotonous.  The good thing about this however is that when you see a stunning collection, it takes your breath away.  And that's precisely what happened when Marc Jacobs showed his collection on Tuesday.  After days of fairly bland shows, you knew immediately that this was something different.  This collection was undoubtedly very forward-thinking and will be copied up and down the high streets come spring.  The theme was definitely the 1970s and he featured beautiful colours with textured flower corsages, wide-brimmed hats and a very different take on florals.  Crochet made an appearance via a bikini and there was a nod to transparency however you could not accuse this show of being derivative from any other at fashion week thus far.  

Without a doubt the most exciting collection of fashion week.

Images: Imaxtree
The styling here unfortunately threatened to overshadow the clothes and not for the first time.  Band-aids on faces, chokers that said "Ride Me", model twins and prom dresses on acid.  There were some cute floral prints, as well as several nautical looks (best described as nautical hooker) which seemed to appear out of nowhere and were so specific they appeared to be costume rather than fashion.  The show culminated with several fluorescent, tiered ball gowns accessorised with clear stripper platforms.  Betsey herself has described the clothes in this collection as a "schizophrenic mix" and I would agree.
Images: Imaxtree
A mature collection.  Either the scarves are the clothes or they're covering everything. Red and navy. Floral spring swimsuit and dresses.  Flirty flounces.
Image: Imaxtree
Unisex presentation which I would classify as preppy cute with a twist. A good collection with strong nautical inspiration and pops of floral throughout.  
Images: Imaxtree

Derek Lam's collection placed a lot of emphasis on blue denim and icy white which some graphic sheaths.  The silhouette continues to be boxy and chartreuse made an appearance.  I loved the footwear and think I appreciated the accessories more than the clothes though the clothes weren't bad either.
Images: Imaxtree
And the Euro-fabulous fashion continues with Custo Barcelona's menswear.
Images: Imaxtree
While the men's and women's clothes were shown together, I have split my posts into two as so many looks were sent down the runway.  Euro-fabulous feathers on shoulders and the usual high-colour, patterned collection with feathers featuring prominently.  I think it works and really enjoyed the  bright, happy collection.

Menswear to follow.
Images: Imaxtree
While the round glasses were a little comical, Tracy Reese sent a fun, hippy collection down the runway.  Between the big, floppy-brimmed sun hats, caftans in wonderful earth tones, and crochet dresses there was a definite 70s vibe to the clothes.