Well I'm really bored at home and in denial about the fact I am going to Nepal tomorrow, so I thought I would indulge in a bit of rhapsodising about one of my favourite designers, Anne Valerie Hash. She's one of those designers who I found that I liked after years of casually admiring her clothes. It's like having spent years with this guy you's always liked as a friend and then one day you sit up and go, "Oh my god, I love him!"

But, erm, anyway. I like the romantic-but-not-frilly vibe of Ms Hash's designs. I like the way she uses ruffles and lace and does all kinds of balloon-y, puffy things that are not in any way infantile, but rather beautiful in a dark and feminine way. It's kind of a intellectual french schoolgirl-gone-awry effect. Kind of Coco Chanel crossed with Miss Havisham.

All of this sounds very esoteric, but strangely enough, the effect is really that of seeing something very familiar (French classics like a black chiffon blouse) done in an unexpected way. It's all very quintessentially French (I keep thinking of nonchalantly chic Parisians like Lou Dillon and Amira Cesar when I look at her clothes), but it's not just a boring revamp of classics.

Her clothes are definitely put together in a theatrical way, but the overall silhouette makes you rethink how you out your clothes together, and taken apart, each piece is very wearable.

Anne Valerie Hash shows during Paris couture week, which I suppose is a smart move for getting more eyes on you, since less people show during couture week. And I also like to think about it as a statement about her craft, that her clothes are not really about the disposable trends of ready-to-wear. There are tonnes of groundbreaking designers who show at RTW that I love, but I think definitely the fact that Ms Hash's clothes are not plastered all over magazines give them a certain discreet charm, like it's a secret of mine.

This is from her latest fall/winter 2006 collection, which isn't one of my favourite collections by her, but lovely nonetheless.

I absolutely covet all her chiffon blouses, and cropped jackets and those destroyed looking dresses. Not crazy about those bloomer pants (ah lians seem to like those though) which have a rather disturbing diaper effect.

And I love the detail on this piece -

And her shoes are divine. The platform/wedge/elephantine shoe thing going on now is pretty cool and done very nicely by Gucci and of course, Christian Louboutin, but these are my favourite renderings so far.

The two-tone vibe (again) very Coco Chanel no?

And here are some looks from her spring/summer 2006 collection, which have a darker, more austere, kind of Matrix-y vibe.

I love her signature mannish overcoats, which looks great with her pretty, undone dresses.

I don't like the rampant use of leggings with every bloody dress these days, but I do admit that done right, it's a very edgy/sophisticated look, like in Versace this season. Here, it works for me sometimes, and then sometimes I just think it's gimmicky.

This is for me, a nice mix of textures -

And then out of nowhere you get this great romance of a dress -

Okay more looks from her previous collections, these ones from her fall/winter 2005 collection, which was the turning point collection for me. I have a turning point collection for every designer, when my opinion goes from "not bad" to "genius".

And finally, some earlier looks from 2004. Hash started out reworking menswear for women so her earlier forays into pretty are really quite, and look pretty timely now too.

It's hard to work a look like that into everyday looks, but with images like that my mind as I get dressed every morning, it's inspiration enough to not just put on a school PE tee and my FBT running shorts (which I can feel sometimes when I get up at six for school).

Pictures taken from Style.com and Vogue UK


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