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Black Girl on the Front Row!

Tag: EMBELLISHMENT

SPOTLIGHT ON: ‘THE 24 HOUR PLAYS CELEBRITY GALA’… A SENTIMENTAL RETROSPECTIVE!

Dearest Afrow-Family, as I compose this, my newest post, somewhere, there is ensuing, a hive-of-activity, a buzz-of-excitement, a thrill-of-the-theatrical-chase! The location for the epicentre of this explosion-of-anticipation, is one of the cornerstone venues of the UK, if not global, Theatrical Arts arena, namely, our beloved Old Vic!

Yes, this weekend, will see well-known faces of stage and screen, join artistic forces and flex creative muscles with a tantalisingly team of writers and directors, themselves amongst the industry’s finest emerging and established talent, to produce ‘The 24-Hour Plays’, one of the most exhilerating, multi-discplinary rollercoaster-rides upon the Cultural/Creative Arts mustsee list!

Past years have seen a plethora of stars, old-guard and new, showcasing the best of edge-of-your-seat collaborations, somewhat metamorphosing into a combined vanguard, for the elemental nature of stagecraft. Such names as Josh Hartnett, he of the melifluously Robeson-esque tones, Sally Phillips, she of the razor-sharp witticims and Mackenzie Crook, he, the rascal of genuis comedy-timing, have deigned to take the bull that is the ’24 Hour Plays’ event, by the horns and subdue it over an evening of live performances, so palpably immediate, as to be ignited by raw flint!

This year’s participants, who will include the indefatigable, Clive Rowe, the understatedly sublime Tom Ellis, the creative powerhouse, who is Catherine Tate and a rising-star, with quite the most captivating screen-presence, Douglas Booth. The list of celebrities does not tail off and, consistent with the unpredictability of the process, will surely serve-up some of the most delightfully unusual casting combinations that the audience in-attendance might ever have the pleasure to see!

To compound the hub-bub, akin to that of a Hollywood premiere of a hotly-tipped, award-winning movie, is the fact that this year also marks the 10th Anniversary of the fundraising gala. No pressure then!

So what if, as an actor, you have to sit in a room with a prop, share it with other new faces, except that they’re not new faces, because you already know who they are, having racked-up, between them, a C.V the likes of which you couldn’t dream-up?! So what if, as a writer, you are to take that prop and reversecram a vignette, which will, hopefully, interlock seamlessly with all of the other five scenes?! What of the fact that you have to pull an all-nighter, in order to release said work-of-written-art?! Or even that there’ll barely be enough time for writer’s block?! Who cares, that it is all to be nursed-and-rehearsed, then presented infront of a kindly-donating audience of savvy theatre-going witnesses?! Oh and why should it be in-the-slightest bit bothersome that the Social Media-Readers can ride, side-saddle, with every second of progress?!

Forming, storming, norming and performing in a 24 Hour group-dynamic, for one night only?!

NO. PRESSURE. AT. ALL!!!!!

Well, having attended, myself, I know that it was pressure-filled, but that, evidently, this was the kind of pressure which caused the artists to yield control, dig deeper than ever before and share the journey towards the birth of theatre-like-no-other! I had the privelege of seeing the entire arc-of-vision, from backstage tours which allowed we band-of-happy-guests to see the performers working through scripts on their own, as well as being face-to-face with the very boards upon which so many greats had trodden, and which would soon become the home of skilfully-crafted creativity, with an intensely off-the-cuff edge!

The very year I attended, I remember walking with other guests, extremely gingerly, past an actor, himself, sat staring into the distance, as if in his own incredible world of moment-to-moment brainfreeze, interspersed with absolute recognition of his lines! It was, right then, that the realisation dawned upon me of being an honoured party to the condensed version of this ‘artist’s way’… and although, prior to the day, I had been enthusiastic about what was to burst its way into my psyche, it rapidly stepped onto my mental-plane and took subsequent flight!

My chosen outfit of a floor-length, champagne-coloured, spaghetti-strapped, ballerina dress, with draped bodice and an acreage of tulle skirt, had also flown all the way from New York City, and was accompanied by a matching pair of crystal-embellished high-heels, an iridescent, sheer pashmina, matching oyster-shell satin purse, with gold chain, a selection of pearl jewellery and a shower of Coco Chanel! My hair was gently encouraged into a delicate chignon, with a few wisps and tendrils, teased for texture… My chosen transport? A good old London Cab!

The show, itself, was…well…out-of-this-world! Filled with emotional highs, lows and turning points…and that was just the introductionEvery excited synonym, possible, sat upon the lips of the adrenaline-fuelled audience. We all knew what the rules of the ‘game’ were, but the improvisational quality of the experience meant that all of the rules had been jettisoned out of the fourth-wall window.. We all knew that too! No longer were we ‘audience members’, but, fellow participants.. Co-creative-cathodes, emitting empathetic energy! Thus, when one actress forgot her lines, looked out at us, declared, ‘Oh, I can’t do this’ and proceeded to retrieve the script and read, verbatim, through the scene, she received rapturous applause, not, as one might think, because she had been defeated, in any way, shape or form…but because she had made an absolute triumph of the moment, and enjoyed the freedom of being able to do so! In this context, it all made utter sense and gave rise to a certain bonding, such as I haven’t experienced in quite the same way since. The post-show party was an entirely relaxed, yet, highly elegant affair, with artists and guests mingling and dancing away until way into the wee, small post-24-hours hours!! I have no doubt that 10th anniversary celebration of this uniquely glitzy gala will be even more impressive, especially being held at the luxurious 5* Rosewood Hotel!

 Whilst embraced by glamour, The 24 Hour Plays model, is an ingenius medium, through which we are blessed to see expressed, what I believe to be at the foundation of all great experiences… At the root, is the courage to fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants (be they of the exquisite YSL cigarette-silhouette, or a nonchalantly loose-legged, denim-flared DKNY variety), and to have faith that, not only is there potential for all of those experiences to come together for the good, but also, that these combined episodes, en-route, will contribute to an amazing ‘mosaic-of-moments’, which we, with true feeling, can all call ‘real life’.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to support The Old Vic by snapping up one of the few remaining tickets, getting your best bib ‘n’ tucker on and going… Black Cab, optional, of course!

©AFROW2013-2019  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

http://www.oldvictheatre.com/the-24-hour-plays-celebrity-gala/

www.rosewoodhotels.com

MFW: I’M READY-TO-WEAR ‘ERMANNO SCERVINO’!

Picture it…

…Backstage, models sit calmly, hair being tailcomb-teased, face being made exquisitely, Terry Barber-ready, whilst front-of-house, conversations clatter like talking-typewriters! Suddenly, a cry of ‘EHH-OHH!‘, loosely-translated as ‘SILENCE!‘, splits the air into pin-drop reverence…

 Now, imagine a host of supermodels, amongst them Alek Wek and Karolina Kurkova, leading a runway of risng-stars, with the aplomb of their 90’s predecessors and you’ll understand the significance of the Scervino brand. If you even dared to blink, you would have missed an almost endless-string of timeless looks, worthy of their own reference encyclopaedia! Whilst we had seen the ‘Pastel/ Metallic/ Midi-Maxi Length/ Column-Hourglass/ Embellishment’ stories, favoured in the vestments of fellow MFW designers, Scervino interpretations seemed to renew them.

For example, skirts took on ice-skater-like proportions, pleats were more than couture-concertinas, reframed as flitting-gaudets… and embellishments, whilst beaded and embroidered, were off-set in position and oriental in theme. Metallics were not simply silver, but gunmetal and gave a more experimental edge when used in conjunction with the traditional silhouettes. Yes, lemon, taupe, mint, black and white all featured, however, peacock added strength to blues and something in the way that peach was colour-blocked, gave it the power of a full-on-primary. Fabrics perused PVC, took a departure into denim, suede injected a new joie-de-vivre to the vestments and silk-taffetta was accompanied by satin-trim, which was a signpost, not only  to the superb eye-for-detail on display, but also an attention-to-distinctive-detail.

It is with this in mind, that I take you on a whistle-stop tour of the most unique moments.

PVC won my ‘Return-of-the-mac’ prize for being a funky piece of outerwear, printed in lemon-hued houndstooth! The award for ‘Best Use of Embellishment’ was a split decision between a taupe, tailored-jacket with cluster-beading, set on the inner-edge of the tuxedo-collar (which, incidentally, did win ‘Best Placement of Embellishment’), and a stunning gun-metal-coloured sweater, with a silver-bead-encrusted accent around the crew-neck.

The ‘Prize-for-Prettiest-Pleating’ had to go to an amazing, chalk-white, column-dress, gathered from shoulder-to-waistline, with its pleating gathering pace to the hem…all cunningly-accompanied by a thigh-high split, for epic Grecian glamour! Coming in a close second, was a black, hour-glass gown with crystal-embellished gaudets at the tail.

‘Best Floral Motif’ was shared (I know, I know, there should only be one winner..but, my made-up competition, my rules!)…. The two stand-out creations were an oriental spray-of-orchids, perfectly-placed upon a strapless peach dress, in a diagonal formation, from empire-to-hemline and a peacock-blue, fitted, scoop-necked, mini-dress, with florals, off-set, on either side of the bodice, spilling into the skirt. ‘Best New Silhouette’ was a shoe-in, for a black, lace, nehru-collared cape with asymetric-opening and credit for ‘Best New Fabric’ could only go to……DENIM!!! The ink-blue offerings of v-necked crop-top, short-pant and denim-lined, white jacket were utterly irresistible!

We’re nearly there now, so, drum-roll please… because it’s time for ‘Best-In-Fashion-Show’…….which was…wait for it……the glorious  Jackie-O-inspired, midi-length, silk dress and collarless-overcoat ensemble, both in that lightning white, effortlessly worn by the magnificent Alek Wek!!!! Congratulations!!!

So, there you have it, fashion-friends….A  whirlwind tour of a tour-de-force collection, which gave us a collation of attire, reprising the traditional with a directional twist.

It’s safe to say that I absolutely adored what I saw…and if you want to reconnect with looks of vintage-modernity, then the designs of Ermanno Scervino are a great place to start!

©AFROW2013-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

MFW DAY 3 OFFERS COOL SOPHISTICATION FROM BLUMARINE…

If, like me, you are an aficionado of the home-makeover/ home-build genre of t.v. programmes, then you will already be aware of a clever little design-touch of adding mirrors, to give the illusion of increased space…

Gucci employed the method upon their catwalk and Blumarine went that extra mile, in constructing a floor-to-ceiling, mirrored wall, which subsequently made the low-lit, u-shaped runway look as if it went on for miles!!!

‘Sophistication’ was the buzzword, with a little bit of ‘edge’ thrown in to keep things cool! What better musical metaphor to use for the show, than to feed the mesmerising voice of Moloko’s Roisin Murphy into the vast space.

The stories came thick-and-fast, beginning with razor-sharp tailoring to be found in calf-length cut-offs, body-skimming skirts and a striking white jacket with slash, asymetric-opening and deftly-defined shoulders. (Now, we are not talking about power-dressing of the 80’s, here, more  an understated authority of the noughties, which we can all work!). The neutral black companion was heralded by a ‘sheer’ theme, depicted in delicate, cap-sleeved tops, apt for summer days, and a neat, leather, knee-length pencil-skirt, perfect for a balmy evening. Nigh-on floor-sweeping dresses, both sleeved and sleeveless, were luxurious, being débuted into the collection, with the contrasting white, floral, motifs overlaid onto the fine fabric.

Indeed, this was a neat segway into the ’embellishment’ element of the show, which saw the first inclusion in any presentation, thus far, of a butterfly, on a sparkling, knee-length dress. Later on, the design would be developed into a ‘metallic’ rendition with sequinned wings, strikingly-placed upon gossamer-gowns, to retain a lady’s modesty! Another welcome thematic entrée to Milan Fashion Week was the ‘polka-dot’, depicted in silver and, once more, overlaid to impressive effect, onto a black maxi-dress. This led into a stunning column-creation, featuring a fish-tail hemline, which was wittily accentuated by fastidiously-fastened appliqué in fabric, cut to mimic scales.

However, an iridescent-gold, knee-length dress, styled with a darkly-hued, tailored jacket, served to retain the harmonic adaptability of the trends, whilst also underpinning an enticing design-edge. This mood matured through an unusual, ‘paint-splash’ print, in red, white and black and would mark the beginning of a carefree, celebration of colour, revealed in a burnt umber, scoop-necked number and a garment so dazzlingly yellow that, aside its fitted, silk nature, you would believe it to, literally, be a sun-dress !

The finale wowed with sequin-studded bodices, which, when reprised against the sheer-black backdrop, would fill the pass with walking constellations and the ravishing, white feathered variation which followed, gave a goodbye-embrace to embellishent.

In all, the collection embodied inspired designs of accomplished dexterity, with looks as suited to the red-carpet, as they are the edgiest of streets-scenes…and if that sounds like you, then ‘BLUMARINE’ might just be the next label you put down, in capitals, upon your show-shopping list!

©AFROW2013-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED