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

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

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

Image from
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

Thursday, 5 March 2015

London Fashion Week AW15 - runway highlights

New York, London and Milan Fashion Weeks have been and gone for another season, and with the fashion pack in Paris for the final week of madness, I wanted to share a few of my runway highlights so far. First up, London.

London is often regarded as the most creative and original fashion week (I would say that...) and ever since the legendary Christoper Kane brought Burberry back to our capital in 2009, it has continued to grow in status. (As a side note, I truly believe Christopher Kane should be knighted for wrestling Burberry back from the chavs, establishing it as a British icon to be proud of once more, and making it the most desirable ticket on the LFW schedule.)

This year sees the return of another British icon, Gareth Pugh, who has spent the last seven years showing in Paris and Milan. This is definitely cause for celebration and a good move on his part – there is no denying his dark aesthetic and almost McQueen-like theatrics belongs with the home crowd.

So without further ado, let's take a look at some of this season's most inspiring looks...

Gareth Pugh, AW15

Gareth Pugh's return to London was always going to be a dramatic one and, according to the man himself, inspiration was drawn from the equally optimistic and dark notion of 'sacrificing yourself to something bigger'. His own English heritage and sense of national pride was quite literally painted on the models' faces, who all sported dramatic St George's Crosses.

Ok, so we might not be recreating the makeup anytime soon, and the hats may be a little much for a Wednesday morning in the office, but the coats? The coats were beautiful, wearable and impeccably tailored. Another fabulous, dramatic show from the man whose genius was described as 'undeniable' by British Vogue back in 2007.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label AW15

Nobody is going to be surprised to see me include a little Vivienne Westwood Red Label. I love this woman and for very good reason. Yes, her show will always have an agenda (this time promoting the Green Party) and yes, her punk ways will always be evident in the styling (disheveled hair and makeup, skull jewellery) but don't let all that detract from the fact that Ms Westwood sure knows how to cut clothes for women. You only have to look at the drape of her dresses to see why women feel like women in her clothes.

On a personal note, she incorporated just the right amount of animal print to keep me happy. Whether it was to add personality to an otherwise classic look (above left) or in a stunning dress that screams sex in all the right ways, she was right on the money.

Giles AW15

Oh Giles, what can I say... you really know how to put on a show! Here's yet another British boy who can combine glamour, theatrics and the slightly bizarre and produce something truly magical. The collection was reminiscent of the early Giles Deacon dark aesthetic, combining Victoriana ruff-collars and corsets with gothic black lipstick. All of which were given added drama by an all-star cast of models, including Lily Donaldson, Jessica Stam, Kendall Jenner, Erin O'Conner and Edie Campbell.

The collection was actually very wearable, if you look past the haunting theme and examine the individual pieces. The tailoring was superb and I'm a little bit in love with the Miss Haversham-esque tree and jewel print fabric (above). Definitely one of my favourite collections this season.

Felder Felder AW15

I've had a real soft spot for Felder Felder ever since my good friend Sian and I queued in the cold for an hour to get into one of their shows. It was a hot ticket and we were the last people allowed inside before the doorman slammed the doors and turned the rest of the queue away! Needless to say I was hoping we would be rewarded with a good show, and we were. Since 2006, twin sisters Annette and Daniela Felder have been making industry waves with their feminine yet edgy designs and this season was no different.

The collection was inspired by 1960s German model Uschi Ubermaier and subsequently there were a lot of short skirts and sheer fabrics (presumably the versions that hit the shops will be lined). The fabrics were certainly beautiful. Black and teal are two of my favourite colours and, whether 60s or 90s inspired, I do appreciate a short hemline. One thing that I've only just learnt is that the Felder sisters are commited vegans, so not only are their clothes beautiful but they are cruelty free! Good job ladies.

Ashish AW15

If Vivienne Westwood screams sex in a classy way, this next show screamed sex quite literally, with the word emblazoned across the sweatshirt of the second look that graced the catwalk. Ashish had his reasons for this overt message, saying, "I think it is interesting that when a woman dresses sexily, she is labelled a slut. Which I find strange and offensive – it should not be the case. Everybody should be free to dress how they want without being labeled. I wanted it to be sexy and powerful – empowering."

Whether bright red thigh-high boots inspired by Parisian streetwalkers are the way to go about spreading this message is up to the individiual, but what I will say is that Ashish produced possibly my most-wanted piece of LFW. Nope, not the sequined underwear.... not the thigh-high boots.... it was that coat. A sequined parka with leopard print lining?! He may as well have sewn my name straight into the label.

All images from
© Rock & Runway

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