Monday, February 11, 2008

Vale Quis Sum!

Quis Sum has decided to hang up her hat!

I have decided to give up my blog, Quis Sum's Guide To Fashionable Living, in order to focus on other projects. I would like to thank you very much for your support and for reading my blog for all this time.

All the best,

Quis Sum

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Valentino In Ten Interesting Facts

The legendary Italian fashion designer Valentino retired this year after a career spanning more than four decades. To mark this fashion landmark, here are ten interesting facts that you may, or may not, know about the designer.

1. Valentino moved from his native Italy to Paris at the age of 17 to train in the art of couture.

2. After training, he worked for many of the major Parisian fashion houses of the day; Jacques Fath, Balenciaga, Jean Desses and Guy Laroche.

3. After his sojourn in Paris, Valentino returned to Italy in 1959 and set up in Rome.

4. Soon after his return to Rome, Valentino met the man who would become his longterm business partner: Giancarlo Giammetti. Giammetti would prove fundamental to the success of the Valentino fashion house through his shrewd business acumen and by allowing Valentino himself to focus solely on the creative side of the enterprise.

5. Valentino's first Italian show was actually in Florence. At that time, Florence was the centre of the Italian fashion industry, thanks to a long history in the production of expensive silks and the location of some of the top Italian fashion houses of the time in the city. It was Valentino, and really Valentino alone, who in successive years was able to show successfully in his adopted hometown of Rome due to his international renown and following. His Florentine show marked the beginning of his success.

6. Valentino marked 45 years in the fashion industry in 2007 with a series of lavish celebrations in Rome from 6th-8th July. These celebrations included a major retrospective of his work in the Ara Pacis museum in Rome. This exhibition then continued until the end of October 2007.

One of Valentino's most famous clients, although he has had many of these, was Jackie Kennedy. She was a regular client from 1964 and Valentino designed her wedding dress for her marriage to Aristotle Onassis.

8. Valentino was the first major Italian designer to show regularly at the Paris Haute Couture shows, something he did for the last time on 23rd January 2008. Many of his dresses through the years have been in his trademark red - rosso Valentino.

9. An equity fund, Permira, took control of the Valentino Fashion Group in 2007. Previously, it was owned by Marzotto Apparel and, before that, by HdP. It remains one of the few fashion houses not owned by one of the major three fashion groups; LVMH, the Gucci Group and PPR.

Valentino was awarded the distinguished French decoration, the Legion d'Honneur in July 2006. This award was followed this year by the Grand Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris for his services to Parisian fashion. He had already been awarded the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Apologies From Quis Sum

Here at Quis Sum's Guide To Fashionable Living we have been having some server issues. This has prevented us from posting on Valentino as advertised. We would like to apologise for this and we hope that you will check back next week for the post on Valentino and all the latest news from New York Fashion Week.

Quis Sum

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feed The World, One Bag At A Time

Photograph copyright Louisa McKenzie.
These days, we should all really be thinking of going plastic bag free, or at least, reducing our consumption of plastic bags. One great way to do this is to have one or more fabric bags to hand when you go shopping.

If you are looking for such a bag, there can be no better choice that the FEED 1 bag. This bag is an initiative of the UN World Food Program. In addition to being environmentally aware by lowering a user's consumption of plastic bags, each purchase of a FEED 1 bag has the added benefit of giving $20 directly to the World Food Program to feed one hungry child in an underdeveloped nation for the entire school year. Often, it is the lack of enough money to feed the child whilst at school which prevents a child attending school. However, the UN World Food Program states that,

"When boys and girls are given a free, nutritious meal in school, research has shown that attendance increases by 100% and performance improves greatly."

For many children, the meal provided at school is the only meal they have every day. It is therefore of vital importance.

The FEED 1 bag is reversible, with a burlap outer printed to resemble a bag which contains feed. The "inside" is white cotton and has the same print. There are three handy pockets on the white side, one in the back and two in the sides. These side pockets are ideal for bottles of water, sunglasses etc.

Availability of the bags varies worldwide. FEED 1 bags are available at Harrods in the UK and online through Amazon. For more information, please see the Program website:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spring/Summer '08 Haute Couture Report

At the Spring/Summer '08 Haute Couture shows in Paris, we were once again treated to a series of shows which perfectly married those two fundamental elements of couture: sublime creativity and impeccable execution. Here is our "in a nutshell" guide to the shows:

Anne Valerie Hash - daring, mostly sheer fabrics used to great effect through layering, brightened by well chosen surface embellishments.
Armani Privé - another tailoring masterclass: this time exploring figure hugging and feminine themes whilst retaining a classically chic aesthetic. Flawless drape, perfect embellishment, magnificent use of fabric.
Chanel - fittingly for a collection shown around a giant, sculpted classic Chanel jacket, this collection was an homage to that mainstay of the Chanel brand. Many variations on the classic, in terms of length and cut, in a more muted palette, along with a whimsical approach to eveningwear.
Christian Dior - an imagination unlike any other. Exaggerated 60s silhouettes, acid bright colours and animalesque fabrics, glorious embellishment. Perhaps too much at first glance, becomes divine as always on a second.
Christian Lacroix - bold colours and patterns, along with bold mixes of patterns. Impeccable tailoring mixed with expert drape. Lacroix will never be to everyone's taste, although he is to mine, but the skill and execution is undeniable.
Jean Paul Gaultier - under the sea inspiration evident throughout: coral and seaweed prints, wet-look fabrics, giant sequins like scales, seaweed-esque fringing. Yet, in many respects, very wearable.
Givenchy - impeccable tailoring, harnessing flared skirts and nipped waists, along with longer-line jackets and drainpipe trousers.
Elie Saab - eveningwear from the eveningwear specialist. Sparkle and drape in a variety of light colours.
Valentino - Valentino's last couture collection before retirement was a fitting celebration of all that has made his long career so successful and that has made him peerless as a master of drape. Check back next week for our special on Valentino.
Versace - Versace did not produce a runway show but instead presented a capsule by appointment. A particularly impressive selection of red-carpet worthy eveningwear in magnificent colours with a rather wonderful use of cut.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coming Up On Quis Sum


This week sees the Spring/Summer 2008 Haute Couture shows in Paris. Check back later this week for all the news and reviews.

Five Rules For Vintage And Second Hand Shopping

Vintage has been a huge trend in fashion for a while now, and shows no signs of abating, for good reason. Today’s mass-market, quick turnover, high street fashion industry is creating a vast homogenisation of that sector of the market which is beginning to bleed into some sectors of the designer market. There are few alternatives, therefore, for those who want to be more individual in their dress. You can spend thousands on those designers whose work remains more distinctive, you can customise your own clothes, or you can go vintage.
Another great resource is the charity shop. There has always been a certain unnecessary stigma attached to shopping in a charity shop, although this has grown less in recent years, with the advent of ethical and ecological awareness in shopping. Buying from charity shops is just another good way of recycling. If you look at charity shops in certain areas, you have a good chance of finding excellent, high quality items, often never even worn.

However, if you are going to take a foray into the second hand market, there are five key rules which you must remember:

1. would you buy the item if it was new? This is a key question to ask yourself. There is just as little point buying second hand something which you are never going to wear as there is buying it full price. The only exception to this rule is if something is so cheap i.e. up to £10, that it really doesn’t matter.
2. pay attention to the quality of the object. Inspect seams, collars and underarms in particular. Take note of any pilling on knitwear. See if the price has been adjusted accordingly. If it hasn’t, then leave the item.
3. look out for accessories. Charity and second-hand shops can be a particularly good resource for belts, bags, scarves and jewellery. These items can brighten up or completely change an outfit.
4. don’t go into one of these stores looking for a specific item. Rather, let yourself be open to whatever there is. Regular trips are also recommended, because stock can change very quickly and is always varied.
5. try before you buy, especially with clothing and footwear. You cannot return items to second-hand stores and get your money back.

Remember, if you need to make way in your wardrobe for your purchases, you can donate your old clothes too!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fashion Forecast

For Quis Sum, fashion is not about trends per se, it is about taking what is out there and injecting this with your own spirit. However, it pays to know what is out there to pick and mix from.
Key ideas for the upcoming season are:
1. Future florals - Balenciaga's lavish florals, some culled from the archives, exaggerated and mixed with sculpted silhouettes are the epitome of this, but abstract florals could also be found on many other runways
2. Fifties' silhouettes - ample skirts and nipped in waists
3. Electric brights - colours from all over the spectrum, but the brighter, the better
4. "Tribal" prints - the influence of traditional American, African and Asian prints