Anthony Joshua’s boxing gym is the best fight club in Britain

Anthony Joshua’s “passion project” is a boxing gym like no other. I spent two months training at BXR, and this is what I learned

An Anthony Joshua-endorsed boxing gym had to be good. Not just good, but a knockout. The heavyweight of boxing gyms, if you will. So when GQ discovered that a new boutique boxing concept, backed by AJ himself, was opening on Chiltern Street, London back in February, the bar had been set to sky-high before I even stepped through the door.

The first thing you’ll notice about the “Anthony Joshua” gym, otherwise known as BXR, is the potent smell of leather and aftershave that circulates the sleek space. Split over two floors and decked out in dark wood, the vibe is more gentlemen’s club than gym. The walls downstairs are adorned with a mammoth TV and plenty of cool art, including a particularly eye-catching shot of Emily Ratajkowski. It’s here you’ll find Sweat By BXR, a set of three pay-to-train studios concentrating on boxing skills, strength and conditioning and cardio respectively, and the in-house clinic.

Upstairs is the member’s floor, which is where I spent the entirety of my intensive two-month training course. BXR challenges members to “train like a champion”, and that’s exactly what one, very unfit, completely inexperienced GQ staffer signed up to do. After meeting with BXR’s head honchos, it was decided that the best course of action would be one one-on-one boxing session and one strength and conditioning session per week, plus a couple of the group classes (of which there are usually three a day) thrown in for good measure.
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If head boxing coach Gary Logan can’t teach you how to deliver a punch of professional standards, no one can. Logan’s been training top clients (including a number of celebrities) since he retired from professional boxing. He’s one of those rare teachers that manages to pull off being incredibly strict and also making learning hilariously fun at the same time. But for all the laughs, in my first session, I discovered that boxing is a lot more complicated than it looks, and that any chances of us actually sparring sometime in the foreseeable future were pretty much nil. Another revelation was that it’s not all just in the arms – boxing is an amazing full body workout, and you’ll definitely be feeling it in your legs the day after a session.

Logan’s mantra – “it’s all in the details” – is one to train by. I realised very quickly that boxing is seriously intricate (Logan and the other BXR coaches refer to it as a martial art) and requires attention to very particular movements. Footwork, for example, is essential, especially if you want to pack a powerful left-hook. Another detail that Logan is completely obsessive about is keeping your hands up by your jaw at all times, and for good reason. Think of your gloves as your guard; no one wants to get smacked straight in the face.

After a couple of sessions at the Anthony Joshua gym, I managed to get into our stride. The better you get, the more fulfilling it becomes, and attending the classes in-between one-on-one sessions certainly made progressing week-to-week with Logan far easier. Some of the classes focus specifically on boxing skills, other are all about conditioning. Chris Baugh’s class in particular is a killer. Think rowing like a lunatic, kettlebells you can barely pick up and more motivational shouting than you’d hear from an overzealous preacher. That makes it sound awful, but it’s awful in the way that only a truly effective 45-minute workout can be.

Kettlebells featured heavily in the strength and conditioning side of our training programme. I was whipped into shape by James Collins, one of the multiple S&C coaches at BXR and a shining example of everything a personal trainer should be. Quite laid back in personality, but not afraid to put the pressure on with some hardcore active encouragement, enviably good-looking and most-importantly, a professional who really knows his shit. James is big on weights. I deadlifted, I shoulder-pressed and I curled, all in-between TRX suspension training, planks, elevated rear leg squats and every other conceivable form of horror dreamt up by exercise enthusiasts.

It was hard, but it worked. Within a mere month, I felt fitter, stronger and a whole lot less pathetic than I did at the start of the process. It’s not difficult to see why Anthony Joshua’s training programme – plus that of every other professional athlete – incorporates so much strength and conditioning work. Doing weights will massively improve your boxing, and for us mere mortals, combining the cardio and coordination aspects of fighting with strengthening activities is a straightforward route to optimum, attainable fitness levels.

And if you’re more of a lover than a fighter, don’t worry: you don’t have to be into boxing to train at BXR. Sure, pugilism is the focus, but it’s by no means a prerequisite; there’s more than enough state-of-the-art equipment to suit gentlemen who don’t fancy slipping on a pair of gloves. Plus, there’s the Sweat By BXR classes, which include the country’s first versa-climber class and S&C training. That said, once you’ve seen people of all ages, shapes and sizes holding their own in the professional-sized boxing ring, you’ll be sure to catch the adrenaline-fuelled bug and want to give it a go yourself. You might even catch a glimpse of AJ. During our time training there I spotted Ellie Goulding, Hector Bellerin and Victoria’s Secret models Sara Sampaio and Maryna Linchuk, who are both on the committee along with Eddie Hearn and Mark Ronson.

There’s been a full-on boxing renaissance of late, and after training at BXR, it’s easy to see why. For one, this is the kind of exercise that even the biggest “sportsphobe” could get behind. It’s a world away from the hamster-wheel feeling of the treadmill. You’re actually learning a useful self-defence skill, and it really puts your brain – as well as your body – to the test. Despite the cutting-edge kit and exceptional coaches and trainers, possibly the best thing about BXR is that, unlike some of London’s other luxury uber-gyms, it’s all about training to become stronger, fitter, better; not just slimmer or more muscly.

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BXR is all good vibes. No matter what level your sparring skills are at, if you’re ready to work hard – and have fun while doing it – you’ll fit right in. From the trainers to your fellow fitness-seekers, everything at BXR is about support, encouragement and achieving your personal best. Working out at the Anthony Joshua gym has been a serious learning curve; after two months of training we’re completely sold on boxing the BXR way. For now though, we’ll be leaving the heavyweight fighting to AJ.

Head boxing coach Gary Logan’s top tips:

1. How to hold your hands

“You’re always looking to protect yourself as well as hit someone. Keep your right hand by the side of your jaw and your left hand in line with your left shoulder so that you can jab lineally and directly at your opponents head.”

2. Foot positioning

“Balance is one of the most important factors in boxing. In order to throw any shot on balance, your knees must be flexed, and your feet should be at 10 o’clock.”

3. How to defend yourself

“The third most important thing in boxing is how to defend yourself. You need to embrace the fact that someone’s going to punch at you. Should you ever have to use boxing as self-defence, then remember that all drills need to be done while looking at your opponent. If you flinch and look away there’s no damage limitation there, and you’re going to get seriously hurt.”

Strength and conditioning coach James Collins’ top tips:

1. How to properly perform sets

“Always perform the exercises with perfect form – you have to earn the right to progress – and perform all sets to failure. The latest research shows that no matter what adaptations you’re trying to achieve, be it strength or power, you need to go to failure or very near failure. So if you can do 12 reps, you’re probably not lifting a heavy-enough weight. The minute it feels manageable, you need to up your game. Strong muscles burn more fat than lots of high reps and cardio.”

2. When to workout

“Don’t do resistance training on an empty stomach or straight after waking up, cortisol levels are too high, blocking adaptive hormones.”

3. Do short sprints for maximum results

“Perform sprints instead of long, slow continuous cardio. Sprints don’t have to be an hour long. A quick five minutes in your resistance training warm-up or at the end of a session will suffice. Get on the bike or the running machine and try 30 seconds full-throttle followed by 30 seconds rest, then repeat six times.”

bxrlondon.com

 

This article was published on GQ.co.uk 

The Vault at Milroy’s is the best subterranean spot in Soho

You’d be forgiven for assuming that Milroy’s on Greek Street,Soho is just another shop. Sure, the fact that it’s the oldest whisky shop in London gives it that extra bit of pizzazz, but a quick glance inside reveals nothing more than a decent off-licence-cum-tasting-bar packed with whisky connoisseurs catching up over a glass of single malt.

However, head to the back of the shop and you’ll see a large bookcase. Press a button, and said bookcase swings open to reveal the blue-lit stairs that lead down to The Vault – a hidden 55 seat basement bar where you can find some of the best cocktails in London. The dimly lit, cosy little room feels like one of London’s best-kept secrets, despite the fact that this established bar is usually packed with the same sort of clientele as every other London haunt – city boys, well-dressed couples and plenty of media types. One of the house rules is “no d*ckheads allowed” – stag parties are (also) banned – so you won’t find any unpleasantly raucous behaviour here. The vibe is relaxed, friendly and cheerfully intimate. This speakeasy-style bar feels like a little clandestine world of its own, a den of debauchery far removed from the bustle of the cobbled streets above.

Superb atmosphere aside, it’s the new cocktail menu by bar manager Chris Tanner, who joined the Vault from another of Soho’s speakeasies (Milk and Honey) that’s really worth rhapsodising over. Classics are often best left untampered with, but the smooth, subtle Coconut Butter Old Fashioned (£9.50) – featuring cardamom in the place of orange rind – tastes even better than a perfectly made original. The Porter House Punch (£9.50) is fruity and refreshing, as is the tropically flavoured Kingston Cocktail (£9.50) – made from kummel, Jamaican rum, allspice orange juice and lemon. If you’re the kind of man who, prefers a long drink after a long day, then we’d suggest the delicious Echo Park (£9.50) – gin, ginger, saffron, fennel and honey blended and served in a tall glass with lots of ice.

The standout drink however is the Japanese Rose Garden, made from Nikka by the barrel, cocchi rose vermouth, mirto rosso and chambord (£11.50). Not one for the faint hearted, this utterly fantastic, lethally potent cocktail’s ingenuity lies in how well the specific blend of ingredients showcase the Japanese whisky. Hardly a surprising achievement from a specialist whisky shop and bar, but impressive all the same. The bartenders are also happy to go off menu, and can whip up any conceivable cocktail if you so wish, but this just isn’t the kind of place you’d order a mojito in. The staff are in general very attentive and keen to help with the menu, but the only minor criticism we’d charge The Vault with is the amount of time you have to wait between ordering and receiving your drink. This isn’t the bar for the sneaky after-work “quickie” type of tipple.

The Vault is intimate, unpretentious and feels refreshingly authentic in a city of cookie-cutter cocktail bars. This is the place to take a date or to catch up with friends over a conspiratorial cocktail away from the frenzy of London. Just don’t expect to be able to stand up straight after sampling several of Tanner’s whisky wonders.

3 Greet Street, Soho, London W1D 4NX. thevaultsoho.co.uk

Battle of the Bottomless Brunches

Saturday and Sunday are days of rest, or days to brunch, or days to drink away the night before’s hangover. London restaurants appear to have answered our prayers and now more and more establishments across the city  are offering bottomless – as in, drink as MUCH as you possibly want – brunch deals to entice us out of our beds and into their banquettes.

Over the last couple of weeks I have tried not one but two of these wondrous inventions, each for a different friend’s twenty-fifth birthday (yes, turning half a century means that we are now sophisticated ladies who lunch – rather than club – for birthdays). Both restaurants are classic British/ European, and both offer up unlimited prosecco alongside their Saturday lunch menus. I compared the two in an effort do decide who, out of Almeida in Islington and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf, ultimately does bottomless brunch best.

The Almeida 

The Almeida was recently listed in the top 150 restaurants in The Daily Telegraph’s Good Food Guide and having eaten there, it’s not difficult  to see why. The space itself is fantastic. The room is light, airy and sophisticated, with contemporary wooden furniture and a semi open kitchen. Plus they have white table cloths, which I’m a total sucker for. It’s chic but welcoming; the ambience is improved even further by the tinkling of jazz that wafts across the room from the grand piano. At the Almeida the vibe is bottomless ‘lunch’ (rather than brunch); you pay £20 for two courses or £25 for three and then unlimited prosecco is £15 on top of that. Given the quality of the food, I’d say this is very reasonable. The kitchen is run by Tommy Boland- before the Almeida he was head chef at Tom Aitken- and his experience is reflected in the food. Starters included roasted pumpkin soup with venison sausage roll, salt cod bavarois and scallops, whilst mains range from crispy piglet belly to steamed pollock. I ordered the pan fried sea bream fillet with onions, which was excellent. Although I could not even contemplate a desert those who could said they were delicious, in particular the baked cheesecake and the chocolate and hazelnut pave. Aside from their wonderful food, Almeida boasts an amazing wine list and they do a fabulous espresso martini to boot. The service was excellent, and in all honesty there wasn’t anything really to fault.

        One Canada Square

Now on to One Canada Square, situated literally in the lobby of the sky scraper that is One Canada Square, a stones throw away from Canary Wharf. Despite the rather unorthodox setting, the interior decor is very nice (it’s done by the prominent architects David Collins Studio), with a heavy focus on dark wood and green marble. It felt both art deco and yet contemporary at the same time, and this together with the loud buzz of voices typical to a French brasserie made for a very atmospheric experience. There’s supposed to be live piano here too, but sadly the grand piano remained untouched for the duration of our lunch. The Saturday menu here is actually billed as a ‘bottomless brunch’ and the dishes had a distinctly more breakfast-y feel to them than at the Almeida. As with the Almeida, you pay £20 for two courses or £25 for three, only here the ‘bottomless’ aspect is extended to include bloody Mary’s, wine and mimosas, as well as prosecco, for £20. The menu was more brunch-like and also more informal than at the Almeida; starters included soft shell crab ‘Benedict’ with jalapeño hollandaise, leek and sweet potato rosti with avocado and poached egg (which was amazing) and cured trout. The mains were lovely; most of our party ordered the squid ink linguini with crab, although the cep tortellini looked spectacular and my fishcake- whilst entirely predictable- was very tasty. The deserts also erred on the side of ‘classic’, the  sticky toffee pudding with corn flake ice cream was definitely the best of the three choices on offer. My only complaint would have to be in regards to the service, which was OK. The staff were perfectly nice, but our waitress looked at my vegan friend as though she had three heads when ordering her food (despite having phoned up a week before to let them know of her requirements) and asked what vegan ‘exactly means’. All in all I would say that the vibe definitely was not as welcoming as at the Almeida.

Verdict

Whilst I had a fabulous time at both establishments I would say that, all criteria considered -food, ambiance, decor, price- the Almeida did the best bottomless brunch. Not only was the Almeida ever so slightly cheaper, it actually had a far classier and more authentic feel to it than One Canada Square. That being said, whilst the food at Almeida was certainly more exciting, I have to say that it was not necessarily better tasting than the brunch menu at OCS. Ultimately, I would recommend both to any avid bottomless brunch hunter, but I’d certainly head back to the Almeida first, if only for those beautiful white table clothes!

Fashion Month Round Up #AW16

Fashion month has finally come to an end, heels will be hung up and editors will be back at their desks.  Now it’s time to look back on all of the collections shown in New York, London, Paris and Milan so as to pick out the very best of what the designers had to offer. I’m going to take you on a whirlwind tour through the very best of what fashion month had to offer, from the ubiquitous trouser suit to a plethora of velvet, to cut through all that fashion noise and present my ultimate personal highlights.

New York

One of the most talked about shows of the season was undoubtedly Marc Jacobs, not only because he had Lady Gaga walk the runway, but because the clothes themselves really were spectacular. The show had a haunting, gothic feel to it with models made up to look almost like extras from the Addam’s family. That’s not to say they didn’t look fabulous, marcj jacobs nyfwthe dark lips and 20’s style finger-waved hair (with loose ends that gave the look a modern edge) offset the collection beautifully. There were laser cut skirts, oversize jumper dresses and lots of fur. The collection had a distinctly Victorian feel to it, with an abundance of lace doiley style necklines and pussybow blouses, but this nostalgia was paired with something all together more modern, such as the dark denim jacket covered in appliqué and adorned with chains. The resulting look was one that appeared part Miss Havisham, part steam punk princess and part flea-market finds. There were monochrome polka dots, long coats embellished with sequins and coats covered in feathers (as modelled by Kendall Jenner), but the pinnacle of the collection was undoubtedly the fabulous, fear inducing, sky high platform boots worn with everything.

Now onto Calvin Klein, where the collection was expectedly chic, smart and urban. True to form, Calvin Klein produced plenty of masculine silhouettes but also plenty of ultra feminine, seriously sexy looks such as the silky shift dresses, some of which featured fur. A personal favourite of mine is undoubtedly the brand’s latest take on the LBD, this time with a plunging neckline and decorative fluffy shoulder pieces (below left). The camisole featured rather heavily- unsurprising for a brand so synonymous with lingerie- and there was lots and lots of black. The overall feel of the collection was smart and slick but with an ‘undone’ edge, stitching was left purposefully unfinished and threads were left trailing. Another key look worth mentioning is of course, the two piece suit. As you will see, the trouser suit will be everywhere come Autumn, and Calvin Klein’s offering- with slouchy trousers and a tailored oversize jacket- looks set to be one of the most popular.

Whilst going through New York’s highlights, I’d also like to give a quick mention to Edun, the ethical brand that seeks to promote trade in Africa. Creative director Danielle Sherman’s collection included long coats with white blanket stitching, printed silks, a gorgeous pinstriped floor length skirt, pops of yellow knit amongst darker colours and most impressively, the fringed multi coloured dress and coat.

Lastly, let us turn to Ralph Lauren were- unsurprisingly- quintessentially American looks were the order of the day. The start of the show heavily featured neutral colours; there was ralph lauren goldlots of oatmeal, different shades of brown and that generally preppy vibe so synonymous with Lauren that one almost expects the models to pop off to the stables straight from the runway. The conservatism of polo necks and smart trousers and of shirts and ties worn with waistcoats was off set by the abundance of fringing reminiscent of the wild wild west. There was lots and lots of texture, from the light brown suede two piece suit to tweed, tartan, cashmere and velvet blazers. Velvet featured heavily, and one particular favourite was the black dress with lacy capped shoulders and decorative neckline as seen on Taylor Hill. The juxtaposition of the conventional and the more ‘rock and roll’ so clearly present in the show reached its pinnacle with the final look, a jaw-droppingly wonderful combo of billowing gold skit and black polo neck.

London

There were so many wonderful shows in my home town that I’ve been hard pressed to condense my commentary to just a mere few labels. However, some collections were so truly outstanding that they deserve attention, most notably Alexander McQueen. Creative director Sarah Burton really did pull out all of the stops; the numerous floor length sheer gowns were so staggeringly beautiful that they appeared as other-worldly as garments can get. The embroidery, the bead work, the ruffles and the feathers gave the collection an overtly feminine, ethereal tone; even the tailored pieces had a sexy edge. There were butterfly, lipstick and floral motifs adorning pieces that were neutral in tone, which gave the collection an air of late night sophistication, rather than comical excess. The pieces- especially the dresses- were undoubtedly glamorous, completely Gatsby-esque and totally gorgeous. I want them all.

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As the pioneer of the digital print revolution, Mary Katranzou had big expectations to live up to for aw16 and her collection most certainly did not marydisappoint. There was a lot of embellishment and a lot of embroidery, much of which featured star, horse and heart motifs, in which the show’s inspiration- ‘love’s young dream’- was evident. There was a joyful abundance of colour, from multi coloured furs to heavily patterned coats and skirts. As with many of the other collections shown in fashion month, there was more than just a int of Americana and there were also A LOT of pleats.The resulting aura was one that was romance meets rodeo, encapsulated in the final look- a full length embroidered dress. Butterflies featured heavily, indeed my personal favourite has to be the sheer dress with full skirt and large butterfly motif. Here, and elsewhere there was a lot of sheer fabric, lots of lace inserts and let us not forget the fabulous ballet flats- some plain, some striped, some star patterned- all covetable.

Another of my favourite London shows was Topshop Unique (obvs) which had editors and ordinary folk alike salivating at the mouth. There was lots of clever layering, quite a bit of peter pillotoleapord print and once again, a surplus of black velvet. One of the particular highlights was the gorgeous black velvet dress worn by Taylor Hill, as were the coats and jackets.  The Peter Pillotto collection was similarly impressive as- in embracing a kind of nordic romanticism- it appeared at once ethereal and  practical. One of the designers- and namesake of the brand- Peter spoke of this Viking influence, saying that “we translated these poetic motifs into chenille embroidery”. The detail present in this collection is just mind blowing, from fabulous delicate embroidery around the toggles on a fur coat to swirling patterns intricately woven into tops and skirts (see left).It looked almost hand drawn, and complemented the pale, wintery colour palette perfectly.

Milan

The Gucci show has been one of the most talked about of the season, and given that colour gucci starsand eccentricity were order of the day, it certainly isn’t hard to see why. As with the Dolce & Gabanna collection, the ‘princess’ ideal took centre stage. The ultra feminine collection was largely made up of ice-cream colours; a pink fur coat was paired with pink tights and a pink bag, the lady-like button down dress in a pastel shade of turquoise was worn with a hat, tights, bag and strappy heels to match, the crazy yellow ‘big bird’ style coat paired with yellow headscarf, bag, shoes and tights . Creative director Alessandro Michele- who has been at the helm for a year- revels in juxtaposition and this was obvious in many of the pieces. The pink and green of the brocade coat with furry lower arms was paired with a shocking turquoise double breasted collar and fabulous red accessories. The funky unexpectedness of it all stopped it from appearing sacharine, as did the geek glasses paired with looks such as the tweed jacket and checked trousers. There was, of course, the obligatory trouser suit, but this time in a bold red with black detailing. There was of course some more sombre looks featuring lots of tailoring that appear more wearable, such as the grey two piece with slouchy bottoms  (baggier trousers are de rigueur this season). However it was the wacky, girlish elements of the show that won me over, with my absolutely favourite dress (right)- featuring billowing skirt, pastel colours and star applique over the boobs- summing up the feel of the collection nicely.

The Emporio Armani show- called ‘New Pop’- was notable largely because of the way it
totally embraced modernity. The collection was rife with allusions to technology; digital designs featured pixelated prints and geometric appliques, and futuristic looking fabrics such as PVC were everywhere. Also present were tailored jackets, metallic pumps, black velvet and pink and black stripes. There was a laid back athletic feel to some of the pieces, especially to the hoodies as seen as part of the menswear. the line felt incredibly youthful and served to remind audiences of the integral part the digital revolution has played in shaping our current fashion industry (need I even mention the word Instagram?!).

At Versace Donatella once again embraced female strength and sexuality with an ultra wearable, versatile collection that celebrated the super model. Versace were at the centre versace blue suitof the ‘supermodel’ trend in the 1990’s, and Dontella has brought this legacy up to date by having top models from Kendall to Jourdan to Gigi all walk in the show. The collection was suitably sexy and featured abstract baroque prints, silk shirts, leather and mini dresses. Dresses with uneven hemlines featuring yellow and blues were paired with fabulous grey boots, and the gorgeous wet look grey coat lined with pink fur paired with a mint green slip dress. One stand out look was the leather jacket and skirt in cornflower blue modelled by Jourdan Dunn, as was the fabulous two piece suit in the same colour worn over a cropped polo neck. Another highlight was the sexy nineties style spaghetti strap pink slip with a cowl neck, which literally screamed Carrie Bradshaw. Beyond pastels there were several navy coats with leather detailing that really would look as chic in the streets as they did on the catwalk.

bottega venetaThe Bottega Veneta collection was similarly impressive, but it embraced a totally different ethos than most of the other designers. Creative director Tomas Maier said his collection was about “personal luxury” and the clothes are indeed all very wearable and would fit seamlessly into the stylish working woman’s wardrobe. The collection was very simple- a far cry from the excesses of the other shows- and featured slim fit trousers, cashmere, pleated skirts and leopard print outerwear. Wool featured heavily, and the clothes came to take centre stage as the handbags so synonymous with the brand were shrunk down considerably. The stand out pieces were the dresses with sheer long sleeves, built in bralets and beautiful pleated skirts. These came in navy, pale lilac, caramel and nude and at once evoke both sensuality and practicality.

Paris

There was so many wonderful collections shown in Paris that I’ve had an incredibly difficult time picking out my highlights. The Valentino show was undoubtedly special.valentino Inspired by today’s industry and by the figure of the dancer, the collection featured magnificent ballet dresses, sequins, ballet shoes and a heavily adorned sheer dress that can only be described as a masterpiece (right). The Louis Vuitton show also harnessed the fast pace of the fashion world by encouraging retrospection. Creative director Nicolas Ghesquière modernised old pieces and made them seem relevant to today’s changing tastes; vintage scarf prints became little dresses and leather and mohair featured heavily. Whilst this collection was deemed relatively wearable, coming from experimental Ghesquière, there were still a few stand out pieces that would most certainly not be for the faint hearted. I especially love the shiny trousers in bright red, but admittedly, I’m not sure if it’s a look I’d be able to pull off.

The Stella McCartney collection was, like Valentino, typically feminine. The shapes, stella mccartneywhilst wide, were womanly and the printed silk trousers, pleated gold skirt, and jumper with a ‘woman power’ slogan on it were every bit the kind of pieces we have come to expect from Stella. Faux fur and faux leather were featured heavily, as were beautiful lacey slip dresses which, like so many of the other designer’s offerings, featured sheer fabric and pleats. The quilted over-sized puffer jackets- in rust, black and navy-  proved very popular as they are at once stylish and utilitarian, perfect for the busy urban woman. Stella managed to combine two of the hottest trends to emerge from fashion month by showcasing a black velvet trouser suit, which is sure to be on the ‘most desired’ list of every woman in fashion. The cropped bomber jacket was also a stand out piece, given that every fashionista worth his or her salt knows how big they are set to be over the coming year.

As much as I loved the emoji’s that featured heavily throughout the Chanel collection,  my favourite show had to be Balmain, and not only because of the all-star line up, but because gigi balmainone again Olivier Rousteing has produced the most fabulously opulent, intricate collection this world has ever seen. In a particularly clever marketing coup, the models wore wigs- Kendall Jenner was blonde, Gigi Hadid and Rosie Huntington-Whitely were transformed into raven haired goddesses- which ensured that the collection was plastered across magazines and newspapers globally the following day. Unusually for Balmain, pastel shades figured strongly, and both Kendall and Gigi were clothed in a soft powder blue. As always, it was all in the detail at Balmain. Shoulders were pointy, frills and other decorative features ubiquitous and peplums rigid. Many of the pieces were clearly influenced by lingerie, Karlie Kloss modelled a gorgeous baby pink bodice with sheer lace frilly trousers. The dressing gown style long striped coats as seen on many of the models were worn over the shoulder a la Kardashian, and the more conventionally ‘Balmain’ pieces featured the signature black and gold colours, as well as heavy pearl embellishments. The whole collection was so feminine, so regal and downright baroque in its aesthetic, this time Rousteing managed to out-Balmain himself.

Whilst Balmain in all its grandiose was my favourite show, one of the pieces I love best- for all it’s simplicity- is a jacket by Vetements. The  anti-authority, youthful collection produced by Vetements embraced the casual and the world has not been able to stop AW16CG-Vetements-047-xlarge_trans++-gaKsLgbA6-uokDv4MbJV2o9fJk1VK1SIba-RpWNnOUtalking about it since. The show embraced irreverence; swear-words and ironic outrageous slogans (“You Fuck’n Asshole”, “Justin4ever”, “UltraSkinny” ) featured heavily, as did uniforms, some ‘naughty school girl’ style, others made up of plaid suits with slouchy bottoms.There were plenty of references to goth culture and to heavy metal, and the oversized silhouettes and baggy hoodies synonymous with the brand made several appearances. THE jacket (right) ticks both of those boxes, and in red and orange- worn slouchily off the shoulder on one side-  is just so fucking.cool in that it is at once high fashion and also extremely practical. The designers played with proportion; a key look was a shrunken purple hoody worn over a maxi skirt. All in all the line is so different precisely because in a world of high fashion, the label has embraced sweats and street wear, and by showing men’s and women’s wear together, celebrates modern androgyny. Velvet made yet another appearance, this time in the form of a gold coat, but beyond this Vetements- as a tough, unorthodox cult brand- certainly did operate under the rules of subversion.

So there you have it, a quick fire round of all of my fashion month highlights, from my favourite shows to my most desired pieces. One thing’s for sure, everyone will have at least one piece of velvet in their Autumn wardrobe, and we can definitely expect heavy adornment, sequins, appliqué and embellishment to hit the high street later this year. Whether I’ll be embracing the feminine gothic aesthetic, the tough street style vibe, the super girly lingerie inspired look or the busy working woman’s wardrobe remains to be decided.