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LFW: BACKSTAGE AND BEYOND AT PAUL COSTELLOE

think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway READ MORE...
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CARMEN DELL'OREFICE TO OPEN SINGAPORE FASHION WEEK

Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
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BACKSTAGE AT JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA

This is what 'sex on a motorcycle' hair looks like! Well, it does to Jean-Pierre Braganza. For his SS15 show, 'Architectonic', he asked the Toni & Guy session team READ MORE...
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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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NET-A-SPORTER LAUNCHES 7-DAY BODY REBOOT

NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote READ MORE...
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WeSC & ALTEWAI SAOME LAUNCH HIGH END STREETWEAR

Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome READ MORE...
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MADE LONDON RETURNS TO MARYLEBONE

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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September 28, 2014

LFW: Backstage and Beyond at Paul Costelloe with Toni & Guy

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I think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway in his SS 15 collection of throwback dresses, skirt suits and coats, but his 'Angels' had just a bit of Bardot impurity to keep things fun. The look was 'ethereal and ladylike with a 60s twist' with nude faces and the hair manipulated into a wild beehive, sometimes tamed with a black velvet bow. 

The Toni & Guy session team, lead by Cos Sakkas, were a sight to see at work, whipping up the models' hair into a frenzy that made perfect sense once it was pulled into place. 

Want to get the look? Use these techniques and products:

  1. Prep hair with two layers of label.m Volume Mousse, blast dry and then work label.m Resurrection Style Dust from root to tip section by section
  2. At the nape of the neck twist hair and pin into a bun to act as an anchor for the rest of the shape
  3. Backcomb the top section of hair and pin the sides of the hair tightly back adding ends into the bun
  4. Create a side parting through the front and tuck behind ear securing with a bow and finishing with label.m Hairspray

Here's the Toni & Guy team in action, along with some shots from the show which I got to watch afterward. It was held at Simpson on the Strand in a beautiful room befitting the lovely collection:

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Speaking of blondes...this week I got to try the new label.m Brightening Blonde collection consisting of a shampoo, conditioner and balm. I'm always looking for ways to keep the brassy tones out of my blonde but naturally brunette hair, and after using the three products I noticed a difference in the colour immediately after blowdrying. There was an overall lift, and the different tones in my hair seemed more defined. Also, I love how the shampoo and conditioner work when using them in the shower - some shampoos don't feel moisturising even when they're formulated to be, but the Brightening Blonde made my hair feel soft immediately, and the conditioner was also surprising in that it was rich enough that I only needed the same small amount I used of the shampoo - usually I have to use two to three times that amount to get my hair smooth (probably helped along by the very moisturising shampoo!). The balm is lovely as well, and unlike some other products that might dull your colour when applied, this one doesn't compromise colour for softness - it keeps things light and bright. So I can happily say that Brightening Blonde is is a great range for blondes!

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September 25, 2014

My Perfect Cozy Autumn Sunday Brunch

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While I love the idea of going out to eat and catching up with friends, and having everything taken care of for you, there's nothing more enjoyable than creating your own wonderful Sunday brunch at home, just the way you like it.

Sundays are meant for relaxing. So, while it can be a nice thing to prepare an elaborate brunch for guests, when it's for yourself or a couple friends or family, you want it to be simple and quick so you can sit down and enjoy it. But that doesn't mean you have to compromise on the menu! I've chosen my favourite at-home Sunday brunch recipes (from Sweet Paul), with the autumn season in mind, that are delicious, healthy and easy to make.

ParmesanfrenchtoastSavoury Parmesan French Toast with Spinach 

 

Serves 4

6 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan + extra for serving
pepper
8 thick slices of good crusty country style bread
butter for frying
fresh spinach
olive oil

1. In a bowl beat together eggs, milk, parmesan and pepper.
2. Pour the batter onto a plate and dip the bread on each side.
3. Sprinkle a little extra parmesan on each side.
4. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the bread on both sides until golden.
5. Place on plates and serve with spinach, extra parmesan and an olive oil drizzle on top.

I like using this recipe to make a decadent sandwich for lunch sometimes. Add parma ham and rocket between two slices of the parmesan french toast with a smear of dijon for a posh ham and cheese toastie!

 

Breakfast bowl

Breakfast Bowl with Ramps, Asparagus & Lemon Herb Sauce

Serves 4

4 thick slices of country style bread, cubed (or substitute with cherry tomatoes like I do for a healthier dish)

12 stalks mini asparagus, cut in 3
12 ramps (leeks or spring onions can be substituted)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts + extra for serving
juice from 1 lemon
grated zest from 1 lemon
pinch of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Olive oil
4 eggs
vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 380F.
2. Place the bread (or tomatoes), asparagus and ramps on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. (While waiting you can start dessert, see below.)
4. Place herbs, pine nuts, lemon, chili and oil in a blender and blend until smooth. If it's too thick just add a little more oil.
5. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a little vinegar, poach the eggs for 3 minutes.
6. In a bowl start with the bread, then asparagus and ramps, then the egg, pine nuts and finish off with the lemon herb sauce.


Ricotta-honeyRicotta & Honey

Serves 4

2 cups of fresh ricotta
1 honeycomb or regular honey
flowering herbs to garnish

1. Place a large scoop of fresh ricotta in a bowl and top with a piece of honeycomb.
2. Sprinkle with flowering herbs.

I like to add fresh berries and mint if I have them. Lately I've been grabbing a few blackberries off the neighbour's bush that is growing through our fence - no complaints here!

If you want to make your own ricotta in advance, it's not difficult at all. In fact, it's practically fool-proof. All you need is whole milk, heavy cream, fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, a large pan (a preserving pan is ideal), a candy thermometer, cheesecloth, a sieve and bowl. Curious? You can get the recipe here. If you want a lighter version, you can make cottage cheese by using 2% milk and leaving out the cream, and using the vinegar instead of lemon juice. 

Brew yourself some great coffee or get your pots of tea ready and your brunch is served! 

But what are you wearing? For me, the best match for a comfort meal is a comfortable outfit. However, I still want to feel put together, and the perfect place for clothes that feel as good as they look is Hush. I'm all about easy pieces that move with you (especially after an indulgent brunch!) so I've chosen layers because I love that look, and it's also a very wise way to dress when you live on the coast of the North Sea (or the UK in general, really, as chills seem to be always looming around the corner). I kept with a mostly monochromatic look because there's something serene about greys, while whites feel clean and black is just the most versatile when it comes to accessories. But I do love this cosy cardigan in pinks and purples to brighten things up, and it works beautifully with the grey panelled t-shirt dress. The zip leggings are the ideal Sunday choice as they're super comfy but far more stylish than your standard pair.

Hush-layers

The day is not yet over - it's only early afternoon! A nice thing to do after your lovely Sunday brunch is to take a walk. Not only will you feel a bit lighter in the tummy but it will clear your head as well and prepare you for the week ahead. All ready in my layered outfit, all I'd have to do to go from comfy to cool (but still comfy!) is pull on some biker ankle boots and a hat, (yes, I'm a hat girl but I have to be sure it's not too windy before I step out with one of my favourites), a messenger bag and something for my neck which is almost a must-have for a walk by the sea at this time of year - I love this black and white twisted snood with the mixed cardi for a fun complement to the blacks and greys. 

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I hope my perfect autumn cozy Sunday brunch ideas inspire you to make a great day for yourself. Or add a little something here and there during the week to make ordinary days a bit more special, too!

September 24, 2014

Carmen Dell'Orefice to open Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2014

Carmen Dell'Orefice 1 - DFW Creative PR

Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set to walk at Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2014, where she will be modelling designs by local designer Max Tan. At 82 years old, this American grande dame of Italian and Hungarian descent has had an illustrious career that shows no signs of slowing down; she continues as the face of luxury watchmaker, Rolex, and walked at New York Fashion Week just last year. 

Dell’Orefice was discovered on her way to ballet class at 15 years old and her first job was shooting the cover for Vogue. Where does a young model go from there? Sitting for Salvador Dalí and posing for Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, and Norman Parkinson. In 1960, she was photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper’s Bazaar. This iconic image, titled “Carmen Las Meninas”, has been collected internationally.

When asked about how she feels about opening for Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2014, Dell’Orefice said, “I'm thrilled to be a part of this exciting fashion event and collaborating with Singaporean designer Max Tan. In doing so, we have become ambassadors for our countries, cultures, and decades."

Digital Fashion Week Singapore will be held from 31st October to 3rd November in collaboration with the British Council and British High Commission. It is supported by DesignSingapore Council and will take place at National Design Centre. The full line up for Digital Fashion Week Singapore will be announced shortly. 

Carmen Dell'Orefice 2 - DFW Creative PR Carmen Dell'Orefice 3 - DFW Creative PR

Here are some favourites of Carmen from her earlier days (is it just me or do these young photos look like Glenne Headley and Sinead O'Connor had a baby?):

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September 23, 2014

Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Covent Garden

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On my way out of London on Saturday, I stopped by Five Guys in Covent Garden around 2pm to review their famous burgers and fries. I'd never been as we don't have a location up in Newcastle, but I knew of their reputation for serving up some of the best American comfort food, so I was curious to see how they measured up. I was greeted at the door by smiling hostess Ilaria - yes there is a door person to manage the queues that form outside - and then manager Zsolt welcomed me in and told me that this year-old location is the busiest of the more than one thousand Five Guys around the world. Not hard to believe after see the thick queue outside! (You can, however, order ahead if you're taking it away, and there's even an app.)

Zsolt took me downstairs to the dining area and offered me a choice of where to sit. Although I would have liked to have eaten in the main room to experience the vibe of the place at one of its most buzzing times, I opted for one of the private booths. (It was the most considerate thing to do to spare the public of having to watch me eat. Apparently I'm still learning how and usually end up wearing part of my lunch.) The booths can accommodate six people and offer a quiet place away from the crowds, though you'll still have the energetic American rock blaring through the speakers to entertain you throughout your meal.  

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I had a quick browse of the straightforward menu of burgers, dogs, sandwiches and fries, with a choice of any or all of 15 toppings, but knew in advance what I wanted. A simple cheeseburger with ketchup and mustard and the cajun-spiced fries I've heard so much about. (I told myself I'd have salad later at home. I didn't.) Although I have quite an adventurous palate, when it comes to the classic beef burger, I go for basic. I want to taste the meat. Zsolt brought me my food in paper bags which included their regular fries as well as the spiced, both handcut and cooked in peanut oil which is actually one of the healthiest cooking oils, and tastier, too. 

First I dug into the fries, alternating between both cartons like a fiend. I liked the cajun, but next time I would opt for the regular - it seems I'm a purist when it comes to the fries, too; when they're fresh cut you don't need anything to help the taste along. Then I opened up the burger and it looked exactly as I wanted it to, which was slightly sloppy. I could see the melted cheese all over that thing, one between the two patties and a second on top. The fresh-baked sesame bun was just slightly greased which is another thing I look for - who wants dry buns? There are no freezers to be found at Five Guys, so the ground beef is fresh with each burger cooked to order, in full view of the customers; there are no secrets here. 

Oddly, halfway through eating the burger, I noticed it got tastier. Like, way tastier. Then I figured out why. Eating a few handfuls of the cajun fries beforehand kind of blocked my tastebuds for the meat, but then I got full of fries and had to stop, and a few bites later I was able to taste the burger properly. Maybe that's just me and my crazy buds, but still I would recommend that if you go for the cajun fries, eat them after the burger so you get the full flavour, because it's pretty good. I also notice when you eat a freshly made, high quality burger that's juicy and not full of filler, you don't feel too heavy after, even when it's a substantial size like this one.  

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You can help yourself to some peanuts in the shell while you wait. (I didn't partake because peanuts make me full very quickly and I didn't want anything spoiling my lunch.) 

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One thing that really stood out to me, which was very surprising considering that this restaurant is located in the heart of one of the busiest tourist areas in London, not to mention the busiest Five Guys in the world - is how spotlessly clean it was. Like, really, really clean. Nothing out of place, no spilled salt or ketchup globs to be seen, all surfaces were sparkling. Before leaving I popped into the washroom, and again, the tile and stainless steel looked brand new and could not have been cleaner. It even smelled clean. My stunned reaction made me realise how rare a sight this actually is, even for high end establishments. This level of cleanliness almost looked out of place! Heck, I've been in high street fitting rooms that looked like dirty bathrooms (there's no excuse at all for that, is there?!), so I was especially impressed with the pride that is taken in all aspects of running this restaurant. 

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I haven't mentioned the drinks yet. I ordered a Diet Coke and was told that refills are always free which are self-serve from a neat machine that has...a hundred different drinks? Did I hear correctly? I couldn't name 20! There are flavours of Coke I'd never even heard of. (I admit my second drink, which I got just to try the machine, was another Diet Coke.) 

The final verdict? Loved the cheeseburger and fries which are far superior to those from the burger giants (not even a contest as this was actual food). So, yes, I would happily go back to Five Guys. And in the end, I didn't even spill anything on myself. I must have picked up on the squeaky clean vibes. I am still in awe of that. 

September 19, 2014

The smart watch: time and money well spent

Intel-smart-watchIntel recently debuted its MICA smart bracelet, a collaboration with Open Ceremony

With no hope of Google Glass becoming mainstream any time soon, it seems the place to wear your tech in 2014 is not on your face, as expected, but on your wrist. Limbs are slowly illuminating with LED lights, flickering screens and a bombardment of information, meaning wrist flicking has swiftly become the new bag-fumbling when the sonorous sound of a notification rings the air. But what are the advantages of these little revolutions, and will they endure?

For Followers of fashion

A crowdfunded project, the Pebble Smartwatch is a super-stylish option that works with both Apple and Android devices, if not seamlessly, certainly better than competitors. There’s currently little distinction made between men’s and women’s watches in the smartphone market, so it’s reassuring to know that this handsome timepiece can be customised with downloadable faces and wraps.

For Fitness lovers

With the increasing popularity of step counter and fitness apps, the smart watch is an obvious purchase for those looking for the motivation of their very own fitness shackle, but it’s yet to be perfected. The most hopeful model has been the Samsung Gear Fit, a 24/7 wearable watch which includes a heart rate sensor and real time coaching in its repertoire.

For all-rounders

The Sony Smartwatch 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 are currently fighting it out for a place on your wrist as the best all-round smartwatches. While the Sony wins hands down on slick looks and battery life, the Samsung has the guts and ambition to be a market leader. With heart rate sensor, a built in camera, and a customisable screen, for style, function and fitness, the recently released Gear 2 is perhaps the most exciting option out there on the market today. For $300 dollars, it’ll cost you money, though perhaps save you more than a little time.

Whether for fitness or fashion, smart watches might just have some longevity. It will be interesting to see how they further advance. 

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