Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Christian Louboutin AW15 – top picks

Christian Louboutin is having a bit of a punk moment this season and his liberal use of black patent leather, studs, red suede and leopard print is ticking many of my boxes (so to speak). As you know by now, my love of leopard print doesn't waver with the seasons. Fashion might be constantly falling in and out of love with it, but for me it is a staple. It is, however, notoriously tricky. Not all leopard prints were created equal – the colours, pattern and fabric have to be just right or else it looks cheap. It's hard to pin-point exactly what it is that constitutes the perfect leopard print but I can tell you in an instant if it is a hit or a miss.

Likewise, anything with studs can go from cool to tacky in the blink of an eye, regardless of the price tag. I've seen high street stores get it right and designers put a hefty price-tag on something that looks cheap and nasty. So, despite loving the flavour of Louboutin's AW15 offerings, not everything is on my wishlist. The selection above is my personal pick of the bunch and I would be more than happy to see any of these babies under my Christmas tree...

Clockwise from left:
  Top croche suede over-the-knee boots £1,695 – 120mm
  Anjalina studded patent-leather pumps £545 – 120mm
  Toerless Muse suede pumps £625 – 100mm
  Troubida leather sandals £795 – 120mm
  So Kate leopard print pumps £525 – 120mm

All available from www.net-a-porter.com

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dinosaur Pile-Up at The Dome

Wednesday 11th November 2015
The older I get the more opinionated I am about live music venues. When I was younger I didn't think twice about it. If a band I liked were playing, I would make damn sure that I was there – whatever the venue, wherever the location. But with age comes experience and, subsequently, venues are now subject to the following checklist: acoustics (actually, this one has always mattered), location, proximity to a good restaurant, bar (what do they sell and how long do you have to queue), and of course familiarity – when you have been to the same venues enough times you know exactly where to stand for the best view.

However, sometimes you get a reminder that hits you like a punch in the face that the venue means nothing – it's all about the band. I've mentioned before that I have seen some great bands rock some truly crappy venues and others have no chemistry at all in the very best, and last week was a good reminder of this.

My husband bought us tickets to see Dinosaur Pile-Up when they first went on sale. I wrote about their show at The Hope in Brighton here, and we saw them again at Camden Rocks this summer; they are incredible live and needless to say the venue didn't matter. In fact we hadn't even heard of it, which goes to show we haven't exhausted every avenue just yet. On inspection of a few online photos, my husband informed me that The Dome at Tuffnell Park looked suspiciously like a village hall. Not very rock 'n' roll....

However, Tuffnell Park is pretty close to Camden and Camden is home of Hache (the king of all burger joints), so 'proximity to a good restaurant' was one thing I could check off my list. When we arrived at The Dome it was indeed very reminiscent of a village hall and (as we drunk flat pints of beer and admired the frilly curtains) I became increasingly certain that this stage had probably been home to its fair share of nativity plays over the years. By this point I was starting to feel the beer/burger bloat and was more than a little tempted to try and track down the cupboard full of chairs that had to be there somewhere in case of an impromptu PTA meeting...

Enter Dinosaur Pile-Up. And with one chord I was awake. I already knew this band was something special live, but that night they performed some kind of magic. They sounded great, they looked great (The Dome actually has some pretty impressive lighting, presumably for helping guide Jesus successfully to Bethlehem) and they inspired the kind of passionate reaction that results in mosh-pits and crowd surfing. I don't think the security quite knew what to do, they looked a bit bemused by the whole thing.

The band's latest album came out last month and they included a fair few songs from this in their set, as well as a sprinkling of Growing Pains and Nature Nurture. The whole thing culminated in an explosive performance of 11:11 which united the whole crowd in its enthusiasm. The show was all consuming and it wasn't until the lights came up that I remembered where I was and had to laugh.

Looking at the Dome's website, upcoming acts include Cancer Bats and Graveltones, so perhaps it isn't quite the off-the-grid affair that I suspected. But in all honesty, the night wasn't about the venue, or its frilly curtains, or even my incredible dinner. It was about Dinosaur Pile-Up and the simple fact that a band this good can play anywhere and make it work – they could tear the roof off your fucking living-room.

Even Slash knows it.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Moschino Barbie by Jeremy Scott

Today sees the release of Jeremy Scott's latest foray into the world of Barbie. (Have I really devoted two blog posts to Barbie in recent months?! Who'd have thought it...) The plastic icon has proven to be one of Scott's greatest muses, so it's no surprise that he jumped at the chance to dress her from head to toe in Moschino.

But Barbie doesn't get all the fun... oh no. If you fancy matching her, you can purchase eight life-size ready-to-wear pieces that are available exclusively from Net-A-Porter. Most of the pieces are as brash as you would expect from this collaboration, and rightly so. However, if your own look is a little lower maintenance than the woman of the hour, there's always the Barbie t-shirt – probably the item I want to get my hands on the most!

Barbie is certainly getting around these days (so to speak); the fashion world is embracing her with open arms, and I for one am pretty happy about this. Having been regarded as symbol of everything that is wrong with the world's treatment of women for so long, she is finally being embraced in a light-hearted way. A love of fashion doesn't make you frivolous or shallow, that is something that Barbie and I agree on. After all, feminist issues are far too big to be shouldered by Barbie alone...

Moschino Barbie Doll £100
Jacket leather shoulder bag £950
Gold-plated clip earrings £155
Barbie-print cotton-jersey t-shirt £185

See the full collection at www.net-a-porter.com

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Fashion Favourites – November 2015

I love bold accessories – a red handbag, bright pink lipstick, leopard print pumps – but if I'm honest, I am typically drawn to more neutral colours for my wardrobe. Luckily for me, this season there is plenty of black to be found in most designers' palettes, lifted by gold accents – the perfect combo. If I have to accept that yes, we really are officially headed into the depths of winter, then here are some of the new season's finest to make the whole thing a little more bearable...

  Crystal-embellished velvet mini skirt, £760 Balmain
  Prive 18-karat gold, pearl and diamond earrings, £2250 Jemma Wynne
  Small leather shoulder bag, £980 Gucci
  Suede and gold-plated watch, £215 Larsson & Jennings
  Printed cotton jersey t-shirt, £115 Moschino
  Croc-effect leather high-top sneakers, £85 Nike

Saturday, 31 October 2015

PLAYLIST: This Is Halloween!

The big day is here! My Jack Skellington pumpkin is carved, my costume is ready, and I've purchased a ridiculous inflatable pumpkin drinks cooler which is large enough to house an entire a crate of beer. All I need now is the right soundtrack, so I've put together a little playlist to get the party started... Happy Halloween!

This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson
Zombie – Family Force 5
Dragula – Rob Zombie
Wake The Dead – The Used
Blood – In This Moment
This Could Be Love – Alkaline Trio
17 Crimes – AFI
Hells Bells – AC/DC


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Trick or Treat! Halloween fashion inspiration

I think by now we all know how much I love Halloween; horror films, pumpkin carving, ridiculously over the top makeup... it's my kind of holiday. However, if your idea of fun doesn't include trawling eBay to put together a DIY costume, or purchasing half a gallon of fake blood, then here is a high-end Halloween fashion fix especially for you.

What happens when one of the most creative fashion photographers of all time joins forces with the king of the macabre? Magic, that's what. The beautiful dark kind of magic that is perfect for this time of year. I'm taking a look back at a 2009 collaboration for US Harper's Bazaar by two of my favourite people – Tim Walker and Tim Burton.

From Gucci, Gaultier and Givenchy, to custom Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen, and even a Rodarte-clad Edward Scissor Hands, the results were beautiful. This is Tim Burton's vision, wrapped in couture and brought to life by the incredible props that are synonymous with Tim Walker's work.

If you are in need of further inspiration, I have put together a selection of high-end Halloween accessories. Even if you aren't one for costumes, you can't tell me those Charlotte Olympia shoes wouldn't brighten up a day at the office! That being said, I am leaving my McQueen safely at home on Saturday night and have put together my costume for under £5. I'm afraid I have learned this lesson the hard way – mixing drinks can be trouble, but mixing alcohol with couture is much worse.

Clockwise from left:
Spiderweb body by Victoria's Secret
Harness skull ring £235 by Alexander McQueen
Lace skull box clutch £1395 by Alexander McQueen
Kitty flats £365 by Charlotte Olympia
Victorian jewelled skull ring £265 by Alexander McQueen
Claw-print zipped pouch £80 by Undercover

You can read more of my ramblings on Tim Walker and why his work is so special here.
All Tim Burton images via Harper's Bazaar © Tim Walker

Thursday, 22 October 2015

AW15/16 boots for every occasion...

There are very few things that get me excited about winter, I'm a summer girl through and through. But, as always, fashion has a way of making even the gloomiest times of year that bit more enjoyable, and boots are undoubtedly one of my winter highlights. (I actually wrote a whole post about my Top 5 Sartorial Reasons to Appreciate Autumn/Winter a few years ago, which you can find here.) With this in mind, here is some of A/W15's finest footwear to brighten a rather miserable Thursday morning...

1. Corsita ankle boots, £825 Christian Louboutin
Black, leopard print and that classic red sole... yes please.

2. Chiara suede ankle boots, £650 Sophia Webster
I'm beginning to feel like I should be getting paid to do Sophia Webster's PR! But seriously, she can do no wrong in my eyes... what can I say about these boots other than I want them. Now.

3. Leather ankle boots, £695 Christian Louboutin
If ever a shoe with a spike heel was going to be called practical, this would be it. They're smart and sensible, but leave it to Louboutin to ensure that they are still sexy. 

4. Embroidered suede boots, £835 Balmain
The price tag is the only thing stopping me from running out and buying these right now! It's nice to see something a little different from the typical biker boot that gets re-hashed each season, and something tells me these would be as comfy as they are beautiful.

5. Studded ankle boots, £885 Givenchy
These leather boots are perhaps a little more practical than the suede options and (I suspect) more than a little inspired by the Chloé Susanna boot. A great option for keeping your toes dry during London's rainy winters. 

6. Crystal embellished suede ankle boots, £825 Dolce & Gabbana
Another suede option here, but given a D&G twist with that beautiful pearl embellishment on the heel. The detail elevates this from a classic ankle boot to something a bit more special.

Friday, 25 September 2015

New York Fashion Week SS16 – Runway Highlights

Yes, it's that time again already... another month of bi-annual fashion madness is well underway, and seeing as we are two weeks in, I decided it was about time I started compiling my runway highlights. First stop New York.

One thing that pleased me about the New York shows was the amount of monochrome, navy and grey on the runways. Plenty of designers gracefully sidestepped the spring cliches and should be applauded for that! Don't get me wrong, if florals and pastels are your thing there were certainly designers that catered for you, but I was very impressed with the amount of labels that included quintessentially autumnal palettes and fabrics in what are undisputed spring styles.

Enough of my rambling, here are are a few of my highlights from the New York Fashion Week runways....

Diesel Black Gold SS16  –  ©Indigitalimages.com

Andreas Melbostad's latest Diesel Black Gold collection was definitely not filled with cliched spring/summer looks. The use of white fabrics, particularly broderie anglaise, left you with no doubt that this was indeed a spring/summer collection, but the predominantly black and navy colour palette (not to mention the use of studs and leather) gave the pieces an edgier feel. Let's face it, any designer who works boots and biker jackets into their summer looks is always going to have my vote...

Jeremy Scott SS16  –  ©Yannis Vlamos/Indigitalimages.com

There are collections that look like they could legitimately fit straight into your wardrobe (see Diesel Black Gold) and others that make you lust after things you never even knew you wanted. Jeremy Scott is just that kind of designer. The Creative Director for Moschino has the ability to make the outlandish desirable. (Remember that McDonald's collection? How the heck do you take an icon synonymous with all things cheap and tacky and make me want to dress in it from head to toe?!)

The spring SS16 collection had a definite sixties feel to the styling – beehives, winged liner, matte orange lips – but the prints were what really caught my eye. According to Scott, the ray-guns and a-line shapes were a homage to sixties B-movies and sci-fi.

This was by no means as outlandish as some of his Moschino offerings – when you break the collection down the individual pieces are actually very wearable – but they are certainly just as much fun. And true to form, he has left me lusting after the unexpected. Who could have predicted that a ray-gun print dress and whale net tights would be at the top of my wish list!

DKNY SS16  –   ©Marcus Tondo/indigitalimages.com

From the bizarre to the classic.... the DKNY collection really tapped into my love of pinstripes. Right from label's inception, Donna Karen's classic aesthetic has always been geared towards providing long-lasting wardrobe staples rather than 'throw-away' fashion. For the SS16 collection, designers Dao Yi-Chow and Maxwell Osborne have drawn inspiration from the early 90s pin-stripe power suit. The result is a collection that references the aesthetic and utilises the fabrics to create new shapes that are far more exciting than the original suit itself.

Givenchy SS16  –  ©Monica Feudi/Indigitalimages.com

My first glimpse of the Givenchy SS16 collection came via makeup artist Pat McGrath's Instagram feed... and what a memorable look! She used lace applique and masks to create striking looks for selected models that were unique and fiercely tribal.

Celebrating his tenth year at the helm, Creative Director Ricardo Tisci explained that the show was "a celebration of life, pure love, different religions and all people." Showing in New York for the first time (to coincide with the opening of a New York Givenchy store) the show also coincided with the 14th anniversary of 9/11, and tastefully acknowledged the event with a rendition of Ave Maria whilst Ground Zero was lit up.

This was another largely monochromatic collection and ranged from every day pieces to classic gowns. The theme of 'pure love' translated into several dresses (such as the one above) that felt almost bridal. Despite all the beautiful clothes it was probably the boots (above left) that really stole my heart.

Overall it was a beautiful collection, and in an era when Givenchy is now so frequently uttered in the same sentence as 'Kim Kardashian', it is reassuring to know that this allegiance has done nothing to diminish the integrity of the Parisian brand. Elegant and timeless – long may Givenchy remain synonymous with its true ambassador... Audrey Hepburn.

Marc Jacobs SS16  –  ©Gianni Pucci/Indigitalimages.com

I'm going to bring this post to a close on a lighter note, with the show that closed New York Fashion Week – Marc  Jacobs. If Jeremy Scott paid unquestionable homage to the sixties and DKNY to the 90s power suit, the inspirations here were a little less clear. From Americana (plenty of red white and blue) to movies, Jacobs certainly indulged in his taste for the nostalgic. Personally my favourite look was the one above featuring the swans - an inspired mashup between Sgt Pepper style military and air hostess chic. Letterman jackets also appeared with a nod to pop culture through the incorporation of the Playboy bunny logo, and gowns were given a unique twist with pop art style prints.

Located at the Ziegfield, this definitely sounded like a show to experience, with popcorn, cigarette girls selling candy and ushers handing out Playbills. The models walked a red carpet half a block long before entering the theatre where the outside events were viewed on the big screen. A memorable close to the week!
Next up, London....

You can find more images from all the shows at www.vogue.com/fashion-shows


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Sophia Webster meets Barbie...

I think it's pretty safe to say that I have never been a Barbie girl (in fact if we are referring to the childhood years I was definitely more of a dinosuars and Transformers kind of girl), but leave it to Sophia Webster to make me want to live life in plastic.

Her collaboration with Barbie makes complete sense – the resultant shoes are effortlessly true to both icons. The are instantly recognisable as Webster's designs, yet the plethora of pink and use of perspex are unquestionably Barbie. Pink high heels not your thing? No problem. The collection comprises nine pairs of shoes – three of which are heels – but there are also two pairs of trainers, one pair of flat sandals and three children's pairs.

"Creating a shoe collection for Barbie has always been my dream project, but getting to be a part of her embracing flats for the first time made it extra exciting, and deeply personal," Webster has said to Vogue. "I love that this concept strikes a balance between dreams and reality - the idea of getting Barbie in some hi-tops and setting her loose in East London instantly appealed."

Available from Selfridges worldwide and www.sophiawebster.com


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fashion favourites – August 2015

Summer doesn't have to mean florals and pastels and, conversely, tweed doesn't have to be reserved for winter. In fact with London's temperamental weather, clothes that work all year round are a pretty good option. So, with that in mind, here are some of the latest pieces to hit Net-A-Porter and set my heart racing...

Printed cotton jersey top, £150 Balmain
Plaid boucle-tweed mini skirt, £635 Miu Miu
18-karat gold diamond ring, £3,450 Shaun Leane
Leather shoulder bag, £945 Alexander McQueen
Leather belt, £290 Gucci
Suede and mesh sandals, £585 Aquazzura
Safety pin 10-karat gold earring, £120 each Iam by Ileana Makri

All items available from www.net-a-porter.com


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street style

I visited the London Imperial War Museum's Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style exhibition a while back and felt it was worth sharing, despite the fact that my recent schedule means that it has taken me a while to sit down and write about it. The exhibition explores how rationing affected the way that women dressed during the war and how the limitations led to incredible creativity. In was VE Day weekend when my friend Chloe and I visited, which made the content all the more poignant.

A female member of ARP staff applies her lipstick, Kingston House 1940 © IWM

This fascinating collection of clothes, accessories, photographs and film clips, offers an insight into the reality of day-to-day dressing during the wartime era. It's a wonderful opportunity to see the uniforms for the women's branches of the armed forces. I've seen them many times in photographs, (my grandmother was a Wren), but up close you can see the level of craftsmanship that went into them. The military uniforms are actually incredibly well cut and stylish, with great attention paid to details like buttons and seams.

Farm workers and factory workers had more practical outfits, swapping pencil skirts for trousers and overalls, but what struck me most was the effort that women still made with their appearance. Even if their clothes were practical and non-negotiable, their hair was still neatly styled and many had a face of immaculate makeup that would put me to shame on a Monday morning!

During WWII there was a genuine concern that letting physical standards slip was a sign of low morale and, while I'm sure there are women who would challenge this notion, I think many of us can relate to the idea of wanting to look and feel our best during challenging times. I know I literally paint on my game face on the days that I need a boost  – it's just as effective and far more appropriate than Dutch courage in most situations!

It is inspirational to see women with so much pride, dignity and glamour during war time, and particularly important to remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in a world without rationing. It must have been so challenging to maintain a personal style without the luxury of treating yourself to a new outfit or lipstick once in a while, but the upside to austerity is that it certainly breeds creativity. Amongst the accessories on display at the exhibition are a pair of earrings that are believed to have been made from the windscreen of a crashed German aircraft.

An example of how British women dressed in wartime utility ©IWM

The displays also include examples of the 'Utility' clothing that was introduced by the government in 1941 to keep clothing prices down, producing items that were cost-effective, hard wearing and made the most of the materials available. Naturally the public were sceptical initially, but opinion changed when the clothing proved to be stylish despite the low cost. This became the first time that high-end designers created clothes for the mass market, which undoubtedly paved the way for designers' diffusion ranges that we see today.

Wartime was not only tough for consumers but understandably for retailers too, who had to come up with their own creative solutions – one of which was the gas mask handbag. Presumably if a stylish lady was going to have to tote round a gas mask on a daily basis it may as well look like a cute handbag! Even beauty companies like Coty diversified, contributing to the war effort by producing army foot powder and anti-gas ointment alongside their heavily taxed face powders.

Respirator Carrier Handbag © IWM

One of the most surprising elements of the exhibition was the amount of colour and print included. I can only assume that this is because, much like the images I have included here, our visual references from the era are typically in black and white. It is easy to forget that in fact a vast array of prints were utilised.

On a historical level it is a very interesting exhibition, however it is on a human level that it really comes into its own. Seeing women who faced a terrifyingly uncertain future, separated from their sons and husbands, adapting to work in a manner that many had never had to before, filled me with a sense of pride and awe. We all need the occasional reminder of how lucky we are to live in a free country, and to see these women accomplish so many things with a brave and beautifully painted face? To me that's real inspiration.

Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style at the Imperial War Museum, London until 31 August 2015

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Once upon a time in the West...

Round Up Leather Sandals, £695

I love Charlotte Olympia for the same reason that I love Sophia Webster – she combines fashion and humour to produce accessories that make you smile and drool in equal measures (now there's a delightful image for you!). We all know that there's a fine line between fun and tacky, therefore I'm continually impressed that these ladies can incorporate flamingos and cats or pineapples and chili peppers into their work and not lose any of the glamour.

Today I want to share a few items from Charlotte Olympia's It Happened Out West SS15 and Down Mexico Way Resort collections. From cowboy heels to a chili pepper clutch, this woman really knows the way to my heart....

Chili Pandora Perspex Clutch, £825

Celebration Meredith Linen Sandals, £9925

Bandana Pandora Perspex Clutch, £695

Smokin' Perspex Shoulder Bag, £1,645

For lots more fabulous accessories, including piñata, taco and sugar skull bags, head over to www.net-a-porter.com

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Alexander McQueen: special edition scarves

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty broke the record for the most-ever advance sales for a V&A exhibition. It is bigger than its predecessor at Now York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and has been hailed as a must-see for lovers of fashion. I'm curious to go, now that the initial hype as died down, because although it is aesthetically impressive by all accounts, some questions have been raised about the lack of context that the curation provides. I'm reserving judgement until I have seen it for myself, however I'm fairly sure it will enchant me in the same way as the Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore exhibition at Somerset House.

In the meantime I wanted to share a couple of things that have been created as a direct result of this exhibition's magnitude. Firstly, Alexander McQueen's special edition scarves. The iconic McQueen scarf has been reinvented for this collection and each one displays an iconic piece of the designer's work. When laid flat the items are seen in all their original glory but worn as a scarf, the colours and patterns transform into something completely unique.

The Widows of Culloden scarf references McQueen's AW06 show inspired by his Scottish roots, and the It's Only a Game scarf references his SS05 show inspired by the 1975 film Picnic At Hanging Rock.

'Widows of Culloden' and 'It's Only A Game' scarves

From fashion to food, here's an entirely different way to celebrate some of McQueen's most iconic pieces. You might recall my trip to the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge to sample their fashion-inspired afternoon tea, where the exquisite desserts each reflect an item from the current season's catwalk. Well Prêt-à-Portea is celebrating Savage Beauty in its own delicious way – with a biscuit creation of the iconic armadillo heels and a stunning version of the butterfly hat created by Philip Treacy for the SS08 McQueen collection, made of chocolate mousse covered in sugar butterflies.

The Caramel Rooms at the Berkeley Hotel

And as if that wasn't enough McQueen for one day (is there such a thing?!), you can also purchase the book to accompany the exhibition. I think this will be my downfall, I really struggle to resist fashion coffee-table books....


Friday, 17 April 2015

Silverstein at the O2 Academy, Islington

Two weeks ago I received an email reminding me about my 'upcoming event', Silverstein at The Islington Academy. Erm, what now? You would think I would remember purchasing tickets to see one of my favourite bands, but no... and it wasn't until I had trawled through my emails that I finally remembered the slight credit card-bashing ticket-buying spree I went on last November, that included none other than Silverstein in Islington. So a big thank you to me from the past for buying such a wonderful present!

Canadian post-hardcore band Silverstein are currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of their second album Discovering the Waterfront (featuring the classic My Heroine amongst others) by playing the record in its entirety. As if that wasn't enough, they are opening shows with a handful of their most beloved from across the band's back catalogue.

So last Thursday, after a classy dinner of burritos and beer in the park, we went to Islington and found a pretty packed Academy waiting for us. (Word to the wise, if you can nab a spot at the back by the bar you can enjoy unobstructed views and easy drinks access.)

Making friends in the park...

The last time I saw Silverstein was at the Underworld when they were promoting their latest album This Is How The Wind Shifts (you can read about that night here) and I said that it was the most excited I had been about a gig in a long time and that it would be very tough to beat. They set the bar high but yet again they killed it!

They opened on a high-energy note with Smashed Into Pieces and Massachusetts, followed by a mix of old and newer material including Sacrifice, Bleeds No More and my personal favourite, Vices. I think everyone in the room was singing along to every word, no surprise really considering this band's knack for combining amazing music with ridiculously catchy lyrics. Silverstein kept the momentum going whilst working their way through the entire of Discovering the Waterfront, finishing on a high with Call It Karma. A perfect night.

At the end of the show we were all on beer-fuelled high and went to meet front man Shane Told, who was happily taking photos and chatting to fans. This is surprisingly rare for a band that can easily fill a venue the size of Islington Academy and gave me a new found respect for a band that I already love. Thank you Silverstein for another epic show, here's to the next one!

My good friend Christopher and I after far too many beers, with a patient Shane Told...


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sophia Webster Spring 2015 collection

Spring is finally here! I'm still wearing a coat and my 'I Hate Winter' hat (both literally and metaphorically) but the daffodils are making an appearance and reminding me that summer will be here before we know it; daylight until 10pm, short-shorts, sandals, picnics in the park, Pimms.... bring it on.

Yesterday was not only notable for a solar eclipse (such as it was in London), but it was also the spring equinox – midway between the longest and shortest day of the year – marking the start of the far superior half of the year in my opinion. To celebrate the arrival of spring I wanted to share the new collection from shoe designer extraordinaire, Sophia Webster.

You might recall me drooling over her designs for the first time at London Fashion Week in 2012 and since then she has most definitely achieved the success she deserves, even collaborating with Victoria's Secret - a match made in fashion heaven.

Her SS15 collection is as bold and beautiful as you would expect, although this time Webster decided to retain the girly aesthetic she's known for but crank up the attitude. The result? A jungle rave presentation held in Southbank's vaults and a fabulous collection of neon footwear featuring her typical Aztec designs in addition to animal print, bold florals and... bananas.

The wonderful thing about Sophia Webster footwear is that although her designs are wild, her aesthetic is always beautiful; the shapes of the shoes themselves are always perfectly proportioned. (I will never understand the recent ugly shoe trend, please please leave the unflattering chunky soles and awkward heel heights in the past where they belong.)

Below are a few of my favourite designs: beautiful Rousseau inspired tiger print heels, pineapple heeled jellies and banana print flats.

Rousseau Jungle



To see more of Sophia's fabulous designs (and equally fabulous bags!) head over to www.sophiawebster.com

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Benefit's Curl's Best Friend pop-up parlour

Image from telegraph.co.uk
Last week my good friend Chloe and I arranged to meet up after work for a drink and long overdue catch up, and we thought what better place to do so than at Benefit's pop-up parlour in Soho! For one month only, Curl's Best Friend is open and offering three floors worth of pampering, cake and cocktails.

The ground floor is reminiscent of a 1950s salon; pink, kitsch and impossibly girly. We were greeted by the lovely Jordan (owner of the most fabulous sparkly tuxedo jacket I have ever seen!), who found us the last remaining table and delivered impeccable customer service, despite the fact we had no appointment and were really just there to see what it was all about.

We were soon drinking bubbles and eating popcorn (having talked through what really should have been dinner time) before Jordan returned to give us the guided tour. Curl's Best Friend is a celebration of Benefit's new Roller Lash mascara, hence the 50s salon theme, but they have also offered a shout out to the best selling They're Real mascara. The second floor, otherwise known as the Noir Bar, opens at 7pm and has a much darker more edgy feel, with decor to match the cult classic's black and orange packaging.

The first floor is home to the beauty parlour where you can choose from a brow wax and tint or a blow dry from the parlour's resident hair stylists. Chloe and I both sat down with a fantastic Benefit makeup expert and were recommended a variety of Benefit products and showed how to apply them. Naturally this included the star of the show, the Roller Lash mascara.

The brush is revolutionary, hooking the lashes and separating, lifting and curling them. By this point the lovely Alison was working on top of makeup I had applied at 7am that morning so it was a little hard to establish the true benefits, but after application to one eye I could certainly see the difference. My lashes definitely had a serious curl. In fact this mascara is supposed to be so effective that you can ditch your eye lash curlers for good! I'll need to try it again to give a fair assessment, but I think it's safe to say that anyone trying to prize my Shu Uemuras out of my hands will have their work cut out...

The attention to detail at Curl's Best Friend is fantastic and to be expected from a brand like Benefit, that always manages to combine makeup and a sense of humour to create something fun yet glamourous rather than tacky.

Curl's Best Friend will remain in Soho until the end of the month before going on tour around the country. I definitely recommend checking it out, whether you want to try out the new mascara over a cocktail and a cupcake or fancy a blow dry and bubbles before a night out.

For bookings call 020 3620 4747 or download the Curl's Best Friend app
Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-11pm, Noir Bar from 7pm
26 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 5DE



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

'Guy Bourdin: Image Maker' at Somerset House

Charles Jourdan, Spring 1979 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014/Courtesy A+C

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker has entered its final week at Somerset House and if you love fashion photography this is one exhibition you don't want to miss. Frequently hailed as one of the greatest fashion photographers of all time, this protégé of the great Man Ray was certainly one of the most fascinating.

The exhibition features over 200 works, including previously unseen material from Bourdin's estate. Exhibition prints, layouts, polaroids, contact sheets, transparencies, paintings, sketches, notebooks and even film, are combined to offer a comprehensive look at the work of one of the 20th century's most iconic photographers.

Alongside Helmut Newton, Bourdin's work graced the pages of French Vogue for several decades, heavily influencing the generations of fashion photographers who would follow in his footsteps. Bourdin was formerly a painter and his photography skills were entirely self-taught, allowing a freedom when shooting fashion products that perhaps explains how he took the genre and turned it on its head. Where the product and its promotion were previously at the heart of fashion photography, for Bourdin they were of less importance than his own vision and the image as a whole.

Bourdin created something new. His photographs were amongst the first to capture a brief moment of a more complex narrative, then place the product within that moment. These narratives range from the provocative and glamorous to the surreal and mysterious. The most memorable are dark and disturbing, often hinting at something sexual and violent. The women in his images frequently appear to be dead or injured, resulting in criticism and claims that he objectified women.

Pentax Calendar, 1980 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014/Courtesy A+C

French fashion designer Charles Jourdan worked with Bourdin on his advertising campaigns for many years, and it is some these images (and an accompanying film), that you see first when you enter the exhibition. In 1979 Bourdin shot a campaign called 'Walking Legs', which entailed driving around quintessentially English landscapes and shooting Jourdan's shoes on two mannequin legs in various poses. It is incredible how just the lower legs and shoes can hint at a much bigger story, allowing the viewer to interpret each image in their own way. It is also interesting to see how well Jourdan's designs have withstood the test of time. In some images the quintessentially seventies cars in the background look as dated as you would expect, while the shoes have lost none of their appeal!

Charles Jourdan, Autumn 1979 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014/Courtesy A+C

Bourdin was a perfectionist and subsequently he was heavily involved in his layouts for French Vogue. It speaks volumes of the regard in which he was held that the editors allowed him to see his work through from conception to completion in the magazine. Despite his strong vision and need for editorial control, it is interesting that he had little desire to preserve his work, even reportedly once requesting that it all be destroyed upon his death. He rejected the Grand Prix National de la Photographie and refused various exhibition and book offers. The first book of his work wasn't published until a decade after his death.

Vogue Paris, May 1970 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014/Courtesy A+C

It is Bourdin's unwavering vision and limitless creativity that makes his work so appealing and memorable. He was an artist and a storyteller and the reason that he succeeded in fashion photography is because his stories were strong enough to sell products. Most impressive is the fact that he was successful in this field despite an apparent disregard for conventional notions of beauty, good taste and the traditional portrayal of products.

Many of the images in the exhibition are difficult to decode and open to personal interpretation. It is impossible to view Bourdin's work without attempting to fill in the blanks, asking 'who is the girl in the picture and what is her story?' These images are compelling; some are overwhelming in their beauty, while others they are so uncomfortable that you have to walk away.

Bourdin has inspired many of today's great fashion photographers including my personal favourite, Tim Walker, whose images are equally fuelled by stories that take priority over the product being sold. However if viewing Walker's most memorable work feels like you are entering a dreamland, Bourdin's feels more like a nightmare. Dark, foreboding yet equally impossible to forget.

Charles Jourdan, Autumn 1970 © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014/Courtesy A+C

See Guy Bourdin: Image Maker at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, until Sunday 15th March. £9, daily 10.00-18-00 (last admission 17.15) and until 21.00 Thursday (last admission 20.15). For more information and tickets visit www.somersethouse.org.uk
© Rock & Runway

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