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Arbiter Elegantiarum – Corrie Nielsen at London Fashion Week S/S 2012

In Fashion on September 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm


All photography by Christopher Dadey

I watched Edward Scissorhands when I was probably too young. Actually, I would say definitely, I was too young. Unlike E.T. which left me in tears, Sir Scissorhands left me in a dream like shock. Firstly; I was in love with Edward, which meant that Danny Larusso was out, and secondly; I had so much empathy for the love/scissor situation, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. Most importantly however, the music and atmosphere of the film seemed to sail me away on a darker ship of imagination. It was the beautiful misery, the comfort with gothic/death/love and lust, and the ethereal snow globe in which Burton placed all of his characters.

The theatrics is one of my favourite aspects of London Fashion Week. If you are left with a resounding feeling, the designer has ticked some serious boxes. Lust is only half of high fashion, the other feelings are those that set you upon a ship to some form of inspiration. My very favourite sort of feeling (see: Scissorhands), is that of slight discomfort, awe and the wonder that you’ve been left within the story for a while afterwards.

I wrote about Corrie Nielsen’s A/W 2011 collection (for Amelia’s Magazine), after attending her show in February:
Then two show stopper dresses came out. One nearly pure, off white with a hooped top skirt, corseted top, long train and beautiful headpiece, wrapped around the model’s blonde hair. With ballet satin encased feet, this was ghostly, heavenly and adventurous in one. It appealed to me through its theatre, gracefulness and just off purity. The dress had character, frivolity and fantasy wrapped up. Spiced up innocence, a thrown out of her castle, princess. What did she do to be ejected? For me, although more Elizabethan perhaps in design than Victorian, this was Hardy’s; Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Walking over the hills, her boots worn through, her daze; a story.

For me, Corrie Nielsen completely captures the sort of fantasy, gothic and historical referencing I adore. Therefore I was exceptionally excited to see her S/S 2012 show. My review follows after this short video by me (thus not terrible amazing quality). Click on this post’s title to see it full sized.

The congested lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, dimly lit and sensual, watched from above as the audience filtered in and sat on their pews. Expectation could be felt smoothly across the top of the room, like a stiff, important foam atop a coffee. The morning of the first day of LFW S/S 2012, this was just the beginning. Eventually, the lights dimmed further, backs straightened and noses rose up.

Oriental, slow and sombre music, mixed together with the tweet of spring time birds.

A model walked out slowly, dressed in a structured black buttoned jacket. Her hair centre parted and eyebrows thick. The music’s slow and purposeful sound, was matched by the footsteps. Following her, was a model in a white, very high necked, sheer balooning sleeved shirt, a white waistcoat and white high waisted tapered trousers.

The latter – almost angelic, yet highly composed – outfit perhaps most clearly displayed Corrie Nielsen‘s inspiration for her collection; Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture Of Dorian Gray. The text – dealing with beauty, lust, immortality, horror and dark corruption – has been mixed with Japanese influences to create these refined long, tailored jackets, pleating and powerful shapes that both sway with their architectural prowess and float with femininity.


All photography by Christopher Dadey

The looks that followed were coloured black, white, navy, pewter, light green or shiny gold. Corrie Nielsen is simple in her colour palette, rather making statements through the shape of her pieces. Sometimes with a dash of flowered detailing, they are always smartly structured, and often oversized in some aspect; whether through the sleeves, ruffled or loose necklines, or long, long length. Oriental silk wrapped around the shoulders and torso of one model and the trouser suits were made slighly loose, soft and feminine, helped by the shorter, floaty sleeve and despite the bustled, formal necklines.

As the show progressed peplums started appearing. Necklines remained high and voluminous, structured shapes still dominated, working perfectly with the strong eyebrows and pretty, Japanese inspired, loose buns. My favourite dress of the show was exceptionally strong in shape and yet vulnerable, in that it was white and strapless. It looked boned from the top to the bottom, but doll like. It was a dress of contradictions, yet worked like a powerful shot of feminine strength. Unapologetically intelligent, elegant and beautiful.

“But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.” The Picture Of Dorian Gray

Pencil skirts, abundance, silk and structure, mixed with elegance and beauty. The lady I saw in the winter hills of Nielsen’s A/W collection, is now in a more delicate, less whimsical surrounding – yet equally powerful. Still she nods to Victoriana, but now she has travelled and has a certain knowingness that has more of a late 30s/early 40s feel – a woman contemplating, but you’re not sure what about. The darkness of Victoriana, also has the added element of magic, secret whispers and mystery, aided by the obvious Japanese influence and sharp tailoring.

“You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.” The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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  1. Beautifully expressed, you really ‘get’ the Corrie Nielsen aesthetic!
    Fiona Fletcher – Stylist & Make-up Designer for Corrie Nielsen

  2. I’m so pleased you think so, thank you Fiona! Well done on such a fantastic show, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Helen, Editor

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