Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday Fashion Fix: Sophia Webster

Today's Friday Fashion Fix is dedicated to the rather fabulous Sophia Webster, whose shoes I had the privilege of drooling over at London Fashion Week. Her designs are stylish yet fun, and she is not afraid to work bold colours and patterns. So far, so good!

Sophia studied at the Royal College of Art and Cordwainers before moving on to work for Nicholas Kirkwood as a design assistant. Kirkwood also acted as a mentor, and after two years he helped her to launch her own collection, which has already been picked up by the likes of Harvey Nichols, Saks and Net-a-Porter.

Describing her current collection, Sophia says, "Spring/Summer 2013 is inspired by the traditional dress of the Hmong people, Yayoi Kusama and deconstructed Aztec prints, all with a tropical West Palm Beach feel."

My favourites are probably the Aztec open-toe boots above – the pastels are perfect for spring, but the strong lines and use of black prevent them from being too cute.

In light of the uncertain economic climate of recent years, accessories have become increasingly important to consumers who are a little more cautious with their spending. The budget might not stretch to head-to-toe couture, but would anyone even notice the rest of your outfit in a a pair of heels as fabulous as these?! Probably not.

Expect to see a lot more of Sophia Webster, this lady has a bright future ahead.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Gaslight Anthem at Brixton Academy

My story from Monday night begins in the same way that so many of my stories seem to – I’m in a packed out Brixton Academy, beer in hand, waiting with anticipation for a band to come on stage. This time it’s The Gaslight Anthem, a band who has graced my iPod for a few years now and who I’ve been lucky enough to see on two previous occasions. (The most recent of which was at a rainy Download in 2011, and put it this way, if a band can make you forget that you’re knee-deep in mud you know you’re onto a winner.)

Hailing from New Jersey, and headed by frontman Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem released their debut album Sink or Swim in 2007. They followed it up in 2008 with The 59 Sound, and the same year made British music history as the first band ever to appear on cover of Kerrang without the magazine having previously written about them. American Slang, released in 2010, took a different approach to song writing according to Fallon, who citied influences such as Rolling Stones and Derek and the Dominoes. (This man has taste.)

The thing that made Monday night so exciting for me was the extent to which I’ve been enjoying their latest album, Handwritten, which was released in July. When a band have four or more records under their belt, you tend to be crossing your fingers and hoping for the old stuff – the songs that made you fall in love with them in the first place. The Gaslight Anthem however, consistently impress me with every new album, and there are songs from each one that I love in equal measures. So although I was hoping to hear earlier songs like 1930 and The Backseat (in fact pretty much anything off The 59 Sound!), I’ve fallen hard for some of the songs on Handwritten and was eager to hear something new.

I got my wish and highlights from the new record included Mulholland Drive, Too Much Blood and Keepsake. Their performance was flawless as ever. There’s no messing around with these guys, they keep the chat to a minimum and just play a damn good set. Their laid-back attitudes and the pure enjoyment of what they do always seems to bring out the best in a crowd, it’s infectious and Brixton was literally a sea of smiles.

I think that what I, and so many others, love most about The Gaslight Anthem is their ability to tell a story. They really paint a picture with their songs and have a beautiful nostalgic quality, and that is what sets them apart from the teenage angst favoured by so many bands. (Although don’t get me wrong, I can still handle a bit of teenage angst too!)

They seamlessly blend folk style and storytelling with a New Jersey punk attitude. Even when they first emerged on the scene, you had a strange feeling that you had been listening to them your whole life. Not because they are in any way boring or predictable, but because they are genuine and exude a certain confidence in what they do that just feels right.

If you have seen them before you will understand why I was so happy on Monday, and how even the nightmare journey home that didn’t see me stumble into my bed until 3am couldn’t ruin my night. I have been told they have been getting some Radio 1 airplay lately, and quite honestly they deserve every bit of success they get (although please god, spare them from the ridiculous Kings of Leon style saturation of the airwaves...).

But if The Gaslight Anthem have managed to escape your radar up until this point, my advice is very simple: go and find Great Expectations and turn it up. Loud. You won’t regret it.


Monday, 15 October 2012

Top 5 sartorial reasons to appreciate Autumn/Winter

Well my holiday is officially over and I must admit I have a touch of the post-holiday blues. It's never much fun coming back to reality, but for a sun-worshipper like myself, it's even harder to make the Florida to England transition at this time of year. I swear I left England at the end of summer and returned two weeks later in the depths of winter! Returning to this country's heavy rain and arctic temperatures (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little) has been pretty painful, so in an attempt to cheer myself up, I’ve come up with a list of my top 5 sartorial reasons to appreciate Autumn/Winter.


From left to right: Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Biba at House of Fraser

Particularly fur coats, or should I say faux fur coats (the real deal is neither financially or morally appropriate for me). These take up a large portion of my wardrobe space and I’m always happy when I can start wearing them again. Admittedly I’ve been called Bette Lynch for wearing my leopard print coat and asked whether I skinned the polar bear myself for wearing my white one, but I couldn’t care less! Fashion will continue to fall in and out of love with them but I remain faithful – fur coats rule. And Alabama would agree. Alternatively for the best military coats this season look to Burberry and for a classic style with a splash of colour try Alexander McQueen or Zara.


From left to right: Zara, Alexander McQueen, Dr Martens
Oh how I’ve missed my Dr Marten's over the summer, and that fabulous smug feeling I get when it rains or snows and my feet are warm and dry. I’ve been that girl wearing ballet pumps in a torrential downpour many times before, so you’ll have to allow me a little smugness. Also on the wish list this season are a pair of biker boots and some new shoe boots, of which a girl can never have too many pairs!


From left to right: Chanel Extreme Shine Nail Laquer, Dior Vernis in Purple Revolution,
Yves Saint Laurent in Rough Pop Art, Nails Inc. London in Mount Street
After a happy summer of corals, pinks and oranges it’s time to return to my winter wardrobe of black, plum and classic red. There’s a bit of a goth revival going on at the moment which suits my addiction to black nail varnish perfectly. My one rule is to reapply regularly – chipped black nails just aren't appropriate once you've left school! Chanel, Dior and YSL are always good quality and up to date with the new season's most desirable colours. But I'm actually a big fan of cheaper brands such as Revlon, which always has a nice range of colours that generally only require one coat to stay chip-proof for days.


Left to right:,, Jonathan Aston,
The unpredictable English weather and a refusal to spend every day in jeans means that good hosiery is often a girl’s best friend, and it is something that the great British high street is actually very good at – I’m thinking Pretty Polly, Jonathan Aston and good old Topshop. If you can brave the Oxford Street store madness then the selection available is well worth the effort. Topshop are a real favourite of mine as they actually make tights in a small, medium and large rather than limiting you to just a small/medium and medium/large option like most brands. And don’t even get me started on ‘one size fits all'! It just doesn’t.


From left to right: Coral cut-off gloves and teal snood from Accessorize, grey beanie from
It’s quite possible that my obsession with scarves, gloves and hats stems from a job I had in Accessorize ten years ago – a discount of up to 75% meant that my wardrobe has never been filled with so many accessories as that era. Accessorize are still great for winter woolies and this season my favourites from their Winter Shop include the very cute coral bow cut off gloves pictured above and their chunky snoods.

Finally as a bonus I’m going to add sunglasses to the list. There are still opportunities to wear them in winter, even in England, and they are a nice reminder that summer will eventually roll around again. Plus I broke my own cheap sunglasses rule on holiday and brought a beautiful pair of Ray-Bans, which if I can avoid breaking or losing, will be in my wardrobe for many years to come.

So there you have it! Five very good reasons to appreciate the changing of the seasons. I may be happiest in hot climates, but having spoken to a girl in Orlando about how she never gets to buy nice coats, I must admit I would be a little sad not to have the chance to adopt autumn/winter’s finest. And anyway, there's nothing quite like a good old British winter to make you truly appreciate the sun.
© Rock & Runway

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