LFW
New Ribbon
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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 07, 2014

Fred Butler Mentors Young Designers at Somewhereto_ Festival

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_  saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer and consultant, who has had pieces commissioned by Lady Gaga, Nike, Swatch and Selfridges, to act as mentor  for the Summer of somewhereto_ Festival. Fred donated her time to do workshops and provide one-to-one mentoring to young designers Kay Davis and Shireeka Devlin. Watch the film above to see the exciting things they got up to this summer. (Email subscribers please click the title to view the film on the blog.)

The UK-wide project is delivered by Livity and funded by a £7m grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its expansion to 2016. somewhereto_ is a free nationwide location finding service which helps 16-25 year olds access free spaces in their communities. 

Whether young people are interested in music, fashion, art, tech, starting an enterprise or participating in urban sport, somewhereto_ offers an incredible opportunity for young people to realise their potential, kick start ideas, sell their products or services, showcase creative concepts and boost their skills.

You can learn more about the initiative at the somewhereto_ website and explore Fred Butler's wonderful world here

September 05, 2014

Anthony Head: Ahead of the Game

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As a huge Buffy fan, I bring you an interview with 'Giles', Anthony Head, who hasn't been short of meaty roles since the show ended eleven years ago. 

With his designer stubble, razor-sharp style and pearly-white grin, Anthony Head’s outward appearance belies his 60 years, but as far as new projects go, this is an actor who feels as youthful as ever.

First impressions of Anthony Head are that of the quintessential English gent, not far removed from Head’s fictional – and much lauded - role as tea quaffing librarian Giles, in cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Behind the scenes, Head’s Englishness spills over into his undying passion for bucolic Somerset, a place he calls “one of the most beautiful counties in England.”

“When I used to come back from LA, we’d be driving somewhere along the A46 and there’d be a point when I’d just wind down my window and breathe in the Somerset air,” he gushes. “It just loves all weathers and there’s something about the Mendips – the rolling Mendips – that is so stunning. There’s a real peace.”

Head and his partner Sarah bought a farm near Bath six years ago with some money left to them by “a dear friend of Sarah’s.” They now have twelve horses, a few donkeys and Sarah teaches, rides and sees clients at the farm.

Anthony mucks in too though. In fact, on returning home from San Diego’s Comic-Con just last month - which he quips was “insane” - the first thing he did was to tend to the donkeys’ needs.

“On the way back from the airport, the driver said very sweetly ‘Well, Mr. Head, are you going to spend a couple of days putting your feet up and getting over the jetlag?’ I went and did quite the opposite! That afternoon I was down the stables mucking out the donkeys, because actors do need to be grounded. We need to shift the odd pile of poo just to remember who we are.”

Born in Camden Town in 1954, Anthony Stewart Head was educated at Sunbury Grammar School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before earning his first acting role in the musical Godspell. He carved out his early notoriety from appearing in a series of twelve Nescafe commercials, before treading the boards in various stage shows and finally landing his famed role as Giles in Buffy back in 1997.

An industrious actor who clearly lacks the propensity to sit still, Head’s career is glittered with myriad small screen and big screen gigs, from playing Geoffrey Howe in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady, to Will’s dad in The Inbetweeners, King Uther Pendragon in Merlin and the PM in Little Britain.

As a multi-faceted actor, he is forever turning his hand to new roles but for this latest one took on CGI, providing the voice for avaricious, egomaniacal footballer Flash in Juan Jose Campanella’s family foosball parable The Unbeatables. These days, his roles seem to be taking a darker turn…

 “I seem to be playing a few baddies at the moment!” he laughs. “What I normally try and do to enrich the role is think about why he’s bad, what makes him bad, what drives him. Because no one really gets out of bed and thinks ‘I’m going to be bad today’, it’s something that people become and there’s a reason they become that way; nothing is that two-dimensional or that black and white.

“You sort of look at people in middle age and think ‘what on earth got you to this point? How did you become, so angry, or so embittered?’ Quite often it’s something very small, right at an early age, that just pushed them. It may have started off as a little acorn but it’s grown into this massive oak tree. So that’s me playing bad people. And I enjoy it, because I like the challenge of making them interesting.”

So would he ever give it all up for a life toiling the land?

“The thing about acting is that I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do but I do it because I’m passionate about it,” says Head, with a glint in his eye. “I just think that if it was missing from my life, I might get a little boring…”

The Unbeatables is in cinemas now.

August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One 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 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit www.madelondon.org

July 18, 2014

Sibling Gives the Jacob's Tin a Fashion Makeover

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Designer collaboration is the way forward for brands who want to inject style into their products, and now baked snack maker Jacob’s has teamed up with British knitwear design trio, SIBLING, to create a limited edition cracker tin that will fit nicely in any fashionista’s kitchen cupboard. (I kind of love the idea of food brands working with high-end designers to bring their packaging into another realm.)

SIBLING, who are well known for their strong use of colour and love of traditional knitting techniques, have used their unique knitwear designs as inspiration for their redesign of the traditional Jacob’s Cream Cracker tin.

Twenty of the limited edition leopard print tins are now on sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. 

I had the opportunity to interview SIBLING Joe Bates (wearing the great hat, right) about the project and his own work:

TSL: Sibling is an 'in the know', unique, high fashion brand; not the typical choice for collaboration for such a ubiquitous company such as Jacob's - someone there knows their fashion! When you were first approached with the idea did you see it as an opportunity to introduce Sibling to a wider market?

JB: SIBLING are always keen to reach as broad an audience as possible. We get approached by many companies to collaborate so we have to be very careful who we choose to partner with. Jacobs came with a fun proposal that made us smile....so choice made.

TSL: You referenced Jacob's packaging colours for your striking argyle and leopard print tin design - was this combination an obvious choice or did you try other patterns and textures first?

JB: Colour is a fundamental to the SIBLING DNA, we embrace it wholeheartedly so utilising the Jacobs livery was not a challenge we couldn't meet. The patternation was based on our usual play on historical and traditional knitting, then we put that together with a bit of rebel spirit.

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TSL: What is it like designing as a trio?

JB: Lovely, it means there's always someone to confer with which makes it great for expanding ideas very quickly. 

TSL: I hear Sibling are big snack fans - what is your favourite Jacob's snack? 

JB: The Cream Cracker of course, the original and the best. 

TSL: Where do you take inspiration from for your designs?

JB: Most often the inspiration will start from a single image. Being very passionate about reportage photography means that it is normally a single photographic portrait that will really fire things off. 

Sibling_finale_ss15TSL: What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

JB: The most recent is the finale piece from S/S15 SIBLING menswear catwalk show. It's a giant raffia piece, a real show stopper in red raffia, it was representative of the feeling of being 'cock of the walk' when you're dressed to the nines in your youthful rebellion stage. 

TSL: Who would you most like to wear your clothing?

JB: We have a litany of celebrities who have worn SIBLING, in fact some of our real heroes, Debbie Harry bought a SIBLING dress when she played Manchester, you can't top that in our book. 

TSL: Any words of wisdom to share with aspiring designers?

JB: Work hard and be nice to people. 

What great advice. Thank you, Joe! 

You can buy your own Sibling-designed Jacob's cracker tin here, and keep up with Jacob's at #SnackHappy.

FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by  providing food to more than 1,290 local charities and community organisations across the UK, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, women’s refuge centres and luncheon clubs for the elderly, helping to feed 62,200 people every day. 

July 04, 2014

Wimbledon Fashion A Slam On and Off the Court

Lacoste-ss14-tennis-skirtLacoste SS14 brings court style to the street; however, 0nly the trim on the sleeves would be allowed at Wimbledon

Wimbledon is all about tradition, from strawberries and cream with a Pimm's chaser to plain-as-possible tennis whites. While the All-England Club isn't forcing anyone to consume red fruits and heritage liqueurs, the esteemed grass court slam remains the only event on the tour to enforce a strict dress code. And until just before this year's Wimbledon, it even extended to spectators in the spectacularly priced debenture section, who were only allowed to enter if wearing a smart jacket and tie and dresses, but can now wear open-neck shirts, trainers (as long as they're not dirty),  jeans (not torn) and shorts (can't be the sporty kind and must be tailored). If you thought this subtle reform signals a more relaxed attitude toward the players' kit, you'd be wrong. In fact, even coloured trim is limited to a meagre 1cm in width, and ladies can forget about finding a loophole up their skirts in coloured knickers - Sharapova's bright orange shorts of last year are now banned - and yes, they are checking. But there's a reason for this heavy-handedness beyond the traditional notions; it keeps Wimbledon free of bold and unsightly sponsor logos - notice there aren't any brands screaming at us from around the court? There are sponsors but they're discreetly placed, and they want that reflected in the players' clothing. 

Caroline-Wozniackis-dress-for-Wimbledon-2013-Adidas-by-Stella-McCartneyLimitations brings challenges, and this can actually be a good thing for fashion as it makes the designers think more creatively. So how do you make all-white tennis outfits exciting, stylish and above all else - covetable? Well, on the women's side, you can use layering, cut-outs, and transparency as seen in the new dresses from Adidas by Stella McCartney (one of my favourites for activewear), worn by Caroline Wozniacki (right). Or you can keep it simple with flattering cuts and textured techno fabrics. There's still something for everyone. As for the men, some of the clothes typically seen are such eyesores with their clashing colours and patterns that a clean slate can come as something of a relief. Roger Federer, the men's most stylish player - Anna Wintour wouldn't be sitting with his camp at his semi-final and final matches if he wasn't - thinks the all-white rules are too strict and hopes they'll relax, but says for now that he 'respects' them. 

Tennis fashion has become so good that there's a demand for the look on the street. Activewear reflects active lives and therefore is becoming more and more a part of our every day wardrobes, with both high-end designers and the high street consistently churning out new interpretations. 

Not into wearing cute ruffle skirts and second-skin, breathable tops? You can still get the Wimbledon look at home, quite literally, with an official Wimbledon bath or beach towel from Christy Towels. And there's always the strawberries and Pimm's. 

Christy-towels-wimbledon

June 20, 2014

LC:M: Backstage at Matthew Miller with Toni & Guy

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Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy to go backstage with their session team to cover the looks. My aesthetic preferences in both fashion and home decor have been shifting from the slightly fussy to pared-down and minimalist (the design of the blog is going to be overhauled to reflect this and it can't happen too soon). More gender neutral. Sometimes you need a palate cleanser and men's fashion seems to be the melon sorbet. 

I was able to attend three shows with Toni & Guy, the first being Matthew Miller, a British designer known for his structured tailoring, performance fabrics and engineered digital prints. The mainly navy pinstriped collection was inspired by WWII demobilisation suits which had a look of being taped up, sometimes with printed messages, and up close I caught some frayed edges on the lapel of an all-navy blazer which took the structured tailoring into a more casual territory suited for guys of the models' ages. Flower garlands - like memorial wreaths? - worn around the neck and wrists gave the outfits colour and organic texture. And then there was the hair which finished the look. Some of the models were cropped super short and therefore needed no styling, while others got the full seriously slick military treatment from the Toni & Guy team - headed by Chie Sato - who used their own army of tools and products to create "40's/50's military young boy with a twist".  

Want to create the look? Here how's Toni & Guy did it, using their session kit which included the label.m Diffuser, label.m Pin Tail Comb and label.m Pro-Advanced Straighteners:

1.This look works best for straight hair. Use a mix of label.m Extra Strong Gel and label.m Gel and apply product on comb and move through hair from roots to end.

2.From either the left or right side take a section of hair from the corner of the head to create a side parting. 

3. On the opposite side, depending on hair density, take a horizontal section to create an undercut look. On both sides of head comb hair until completely slicked back and then start drying the sections with a diffuser (and if possible a setting net - you can see one being used below.)

4. When dry, move to top part either combing to the side or forward and dry with a diffuser (again using net if possible). To make hair nice and flat use straighteners from corner to end of the hair to create texture and so that ends are completely straight. To finish, use label.m Hold and Gloss and blast with cold air for maximum shine.

I love the options this technique gives to a style that is short underneath and long on top; you can slick the top down on the side or wear it longer in the front depending how you're feeling that day. 

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March 17, 2014

Lula Magazine Goes to Japan

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Lula is about to pretty up Japan even further this October with its unique mix of memoir, philosophy and fantasy, as interpreted by editor Kazuo Sazuki. Sazuki has launched several highly acclaimed culture and fashion magazines in Japan, including RUSSH JAPAN. His company, Selek Limited, will be publishing Lula Japan.

Brit girls love Lula - still an independently published fashion title here - and now its youthful, dreamy and bold style will be a perfect fit for the Japanese market. I can't wait to see that first issue - will Sazuki use Japanse models?

And this is a good excuse to show some covers. I noticed that the more recent looks show an adventurous hand when it comes to makeup: 

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Lula_2 

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 Kelly-Mittendorf-for-Lula-14-Spring-Summer-2012

March 08, 2014

Orla Kiely's First Shoe Range is for...Clarks!

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Ok, so this is now last month's news because that's when it launched, but I am a fan of Orla Kiely so I wanted to talk about her shoe range with Clarks. I'm surprised this collaboration with the British heritage retailer - they've been around since 1825! - is the Irish print designer's first venture into shoes, mainly because I thought she'd have launched under her own label long ago if only to supply the shoes for her presentations at London Fashion Week. One season in the Portico Rooms at Somerset House - until three collections ago this was her LFW home which she transformed into a 1970s-tinged Orla Kiely world - I was admiring the wooden platforms on the models and then realised they were from Topshop, and thought how tough it must be to find the perfect pair to finish off her retro-inspired looks each season and complement her bags just so. 

Orla Kiely's collaboration with Clarks would have been slightly more eyebrow-raising if the modest high street retailer hadn't already done a collection with another homegrown label known for prints, hipster fave Eley Kishimoto, two brands you would never think of simultaneously, which made it kind of cool. And Clarks didn't order a watered down approach for the masses, or at least that wasn't what was delivered in the end; the electric zig-zag and cubic prints in bold colours were true to the duo's 'pay attention to me!' aesthetic of the time. 

Eley-Kishimoto-x-Clarks-belmodo.tv-10Past shocker collaboration, Clarks x Eley Kishimoto

Clarks is known as a shoe retailer of modest styling and modest pricing which has positioned itself as the trustworthy place to buy quality shoes for your kids (and have them fitted properly), and for adults to buy a nice, sensible pair, leaving a wide gap in the middle. These designer collaborations get the teens and fashion-savvies excited and in the door, or clicking. And maybe it's not so surprising to see Clarks stretching so far outside of their comfort zone with these crazy graphics and sky-high platforms; United Nude's Rem D Koolhaus co-founded the forward-thinking, edgy shoe brand with British shoemaker Galahad Clark - yes, of that Clark family. Nice to see they're not afraid to play around and have some fun. 

Here's the Orla Kiely collection for Clarks, in all its chunky-heeled, platformed, Mary-Jane and T-barred glory:

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And look how she's incorporated her famous double stem print into the sole of the shoe:

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If you happen to be a Canadian fan of Orla Kiely, you're in luck - the collection launched today at Gravitypope and it appears to include everything seen here. 

February 18, 2014

TSL Features in Paper Magazine

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To tie in with London Fashion Week, New York's Paper Magazine has run a feature called 8 British Bloggers Disrupting the Fashion World and they've included The Swelle Life in their roundup. I was thrilled to be interviewed for the piece; one of the answers published mentions a redesign - yes, the blog's six-year anniversary is approaching and I'm going to be giving TSL a new look and even a new name as soon as I can get started.  The content will remain the same but there will be more design-focused categories, and without giving too much away before launch, it will be a bit of an 'education' - yes that's a hint!

Have a look at the feature and discover some great new British-based fashion blogs! 

February 15, 2014

All Rhodes to London

Zandra-and-safia-Z-chair-900x667Zandra Rhodes with People Tree founder Safia Minney

British designer Zandra Rhodes is a favourite amongst fashionistas for her unbashed love of colour and print, prolific and enduring fashion career, and her revolutionary contribution to textile design - and you can't not love her bright pink hair! Here is a conversation journalist Millie Davies had with the fashion icon at her London home:

We meet Zandra Rhodes in her fabulous London penthouse, an oasis of colour nestled a stone’s throw from The Shard and atop of her self-founded London Fashion and Textile Museum.

More than 50 years into her illustrious career, the fuchsia-haired veteran designer Zandra Rhodes is as busy as ever. “I only flew in from California this morning”, the 73-year-old fashionista lets slip as we discuss her latest collaboration.

The acclaimed textile designer has recently partnered with ethical fashion house People Tree to launch a bespoke range, ‘Happy Woman’. With her fabulous fingers in many pies, what sparked Zandra’s interest in this particular label?

“At first I simply thought it was a great cause and that People Tree did a very good product. And then of course having gone to India with the founder of People Tree, Safia Minney, it led me along to realise what a good cause it is. And one to keep plugging away for.”

Famous in the international world of fashion, Rhodes has shown an interest in sustainable clothing before, lending her name to the Pick Your Cotton campaign. She’s also collaborated with some of the biggest names in British retail heaven, in partnerships with Marks and Spencer, Topshop and MAC.

Talk turns to Zandra’s instrumental fashion museum; it hosts workshops, archives and its very own fashion school. Its latest Artists Textiles Exhibition was opened by the acclaimed museum director Sir Nicholas Serota and the Bermondsey building offers inspiration to a new generation of fashionable types in the capital.

What’s Zandra’s view of the success of the museum? “Well I definitely think it’s had an impact on making the textiles more visible,” she candidly offers.

Zandra_Rhodes

Zandra shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Currently dividing her time between her two bases, London and San Diego, she cites travel as a way to channel her creative energy. And whilst most of the fashion elite will be flocking to London for front row seats at next week’s London Fashion Week, the iconic figure is jetting back to the States to raise awareness for a women’s cause.

“I’m doing a show called Go Red for Women and it raises awareness that, actually, women have strokes and heart attacks more than they get breast cancer.”

As an advocate of women’s issues, how does Zandra think women fare in her industry?

“I think women have a harder road all round in whatever they go into.” She reflects. “The only thing I would say is – pointing it out can cause you more trouble.”

Having exhibited hairdos in a myriad of colours, most recently a brilliant pink, Zandra insists that artistically she would never be led by a favourite colour; rather, “one designs in whatever one needs.”

With the People Tree collection sporting fun, bright, and 100% organic cotton frocks and blouses, it’s a safe bet that sombre tones never featured on the drawing board.

Popular in the UK, America and beyond, Zandra continues to make an impact on global fashion. In her impressive career, she has produced multiple clothing lines, designed exclusive jewellery ranges and somewhat uniquely designed the set and costumes for the opera.

Having risen to success in the 1960s, does Zandra have any advice for present day aspiring designers?

“Only that no hard work gets wasted. And unfortunately you have to work harder and harder to get there right at the beginning.”

Zandra – who can add an OBE to her accolades - remains as big a name in British fashion as ever. As we leave the designer’s radiant home and emerge into the darkness of London’s streets, we can’t help but carry some of her sparkle with us.

‘Happy Woman’ is the new collaboration between Zandra Rhodes and People Tree.

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