LFW
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'KNITTING FOR JULIET' COMPETITION LAUNCHES IN ITALY

Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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NICHOLAS ROSE'S FULL COLOUR LIVING

It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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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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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 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. 

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 04, 2014

A Guide to Choosing Enagement Rings

SeattleBride-engagment-ringsSource

The summer months mean wedding season; there’s no getting away from it, especially if your social calendar is anything like my friend's (I don't actually have any to go to!), and you seem to be going to a wedding every other weekend in July and August. With all of these weddings come countless tales of proposals: The when? The where? The how much?

Nigel O’Hara have been going through some of the most frequently asked questions from men wishing to buy an engagement ring for their other half, so they've put together this handy little guide to help you out.

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

This is most common question from men looking to buy an engagement ring, and fortunately the answer isn’t complicated – it’s up to you. There has been a lot of hype around how much one should spend on a ring. Some will tell you three months’ wages is a good benchmark, while others will say one month’s wages is sufficient, and shockingly, some will even suggest taking out a mortgage in order to pay for the ring. In most cases you will find that the question answers itself once you find the right ring.

What type of diamond should I choose?

With so many different shapes, colours and styles it can often be confusing as to what type of diamond you should select for your ring. The shape of a diamond refers to the outline when it is viewed from above – the most common shape for an engagement ring being a round, brilliant-cut diamond. There are, however, many different shapes available, some with self-explanatory names like oval, pear and heart shaped, while some of the less obvious styles are princess-cut, asscher and cushion. There is no right or wrong answer; it depends on personal taste. 

Tip: It is always a good idea to consider the type of hand that the ring is for – someone with long, slender fingers may not want a big heavy set diamond, but rather something more sleek and delicate.

Nigel-O-Hara-diamond-cuts


What types of bands are available?

Another essential consideration is the type of material to choose for the band. Gold, white gold and platinum are three most popular options. But they are not the only ones, so if you want something a little different don’t be afraid to shop around.

Tip: If you an unsure of what to get, have a look at the colours of any jewellery she currently wears, or ask friends and family for advice (if they can keep the secret).

What if I choose the wrong one?    

Most jewellers offer a returns policy in case she doesn’t like the ring or you want to change it, so do check the terms and conditions for any purchase before buying. It can be difficult to get the right size, so resizing requests are common and most jewellers will offer this service free of charge.  

One final thing to consider is that the style of engagement ring will influence the type of wedding ring choices, as traditionally they are worn together. So it’s worth bearing that in mind if wedding ring ideas have already been decided – you will want to find something that matches.

Tip: If the pressure of getting it absolutely right first time becomes too much, you can always go ring shopping together, as more and more couples are doing. Make a day of it and have fun!

Selecting the correct engagement ring can seem like a stressful and daunting situation with endless possibilities, but know that the effort and research you put in will really help make the proposal that much more special.  

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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May 15, 2014

It may be time to get a 'good' watch

Ajl-watch Photo credit: Andrew Loiterton

(I honestly did not mean that title as a pun, there's just no other way to say it.)

I recently began wearing a watch again. I can't really remember the last time I wore one regularly, it's been that long. I do recall an interest in a few particular designs about a decade ago, then that waned until I didn't care what the new seasonal styles looked like; I simply didn't want to fiddle with anything on my wrist. Mobile phones became a constant companion so you could always find out the time (if you could find the phone in your bag), or just ask someone on the street. (I don't think I've ever been told 'sorry, I don't have a watch' which over time made me feel a bit daft about not being more self-sufficient in terms of time-keeping.) 

So what got me slapping a timepiece on my wrist after my long run of defiance? I came across a loopy, rubber-banded design in Dezeen's watchstore, the 'Take Time' by Mathieu Lehanneur for Lexon. I liked that it was super light and I didn't have to buckle myself into it one-handed (yes, I considered that a challenge). That was sometime last year, and I found myself feeling a kind of loss if I went out without it, as if I had wasted an opportunity to show the world my cool new watch (and that I was now taking responsibility for knowing the time - like a real adult!). I wore it with everything, even if it was too casual for my outfit or the event. However, despite my affection for its friendly blue face, I eventually abandoned it when it became a bit tough to get on - the rubber seemed to have stretched just enough that I couldn't get it to centre around the crown and therefore hold steady, and that's all it took to relegate it to....where the heck is that thing? I'm feeling a bit guilty now and am going to find it and give it another go tomorrow. I hope it cooperates because it's a neat watch. If not it can be looped around things like your bag and serve as a kind of pocket watch. 

Take-time-watch

While I did leave the Take Time behind thanks to its insolence, I was undeterred, and replaced it with another watch I found in a sale. This one was by Nixon and it was big, square and yellow. A 'happy' watch and the price was right, so I went for it:

Nixon-watch-shutter

Yes it's as big as it looks and it covers nearly the entire surface of the front of my wrist. And I love it. What's interesting is that I don't mind its traditional leather strap and taking those few seconds to do it up - a task which previously seemed daunting for some reason. Now, canary yellow isn't for everyone (says the girl in the neon lemon skinny jeans), but I will recommend it as an instant mood-lifter which seems to work on others as well. Like sunshine on your arm and no SPF needed. I think everyone should have one thing that's a crazy shade of yellow. 

So, now that I've demonstrated commitment to this entry-level of watch wearing, am I ready to take the next step? Advance to a 'real' watch of conspicuous distinction like the ones here? (Let me first step into daydreamland and pretend budget isn't an issue because that's the only way this conversation is going to make sense.) A good watch, an eye-wateringly expensive watch, is a status symbol. It tells the world 'I have arrived'. Well, I'm still in the car circling the venue and I don't need to pretend otherwise, so that's not the impetus. For me, the aspirational push comes from the fact that these timepieces are marvels of design. They are exquisitely beautiful in their craftsmanship, representing at once cutting edge technology and rich heritage. I have to admit that I'm not interested in the jewels often found on luxury women's watches; I'm more attracted to the refined precision of the men's designs. Blingy, I am not. I mean, look above, I'm clearly in a less-is-more state of mind. And it's that kind of thinking that makes good design. (If an integral component doesn't get too stretched out, that is.)

March 19, 2014

Pamela Love's Earthiness with an Edge

Pamela_Love_Jewelry

I don't know where I am with jewellery at the moment. I'm kind of in no man's land with what I like, and so I'm going out completely unadorned, not having the right piece to add to some place on my body, depending what the outfit dictates (I'm not one to pile it on). Looking at the contents of my accessories drawer, I can see what I'm not into right now - unfortunately that is just about everything in there! Like the rest of our wardrobe, our jewellery, costume or otherwise, reflects our style tastes from a specific time, and when that time has passed we either opt to revisit it or leave it behind for good in its velvet-lined home. 

How we adorn ourselves can say more about us than anything else we wear - I met a young blogger last week who wore a headband of pink pom-poms! She's making a statement with that piece and using it to stand apart from every other person on the street - even in London.  My equivalent to her elasticated string of pom-poms is elusive for the time being, that thing that says 'me', and this is why I choose to go without rather than throwing on something for the sake of it. It's funny though, we don't change as people, not at our core, yet how we express ourselves sartorially can vary wildly from year to year, or even season to season. I think that tends to be especially true with fashion followers, we're exposed to so much and so we become somewhat fluid in what we'll adopt as an extension of ourselves. We pull what we identify with most from the trends presented to us, though we tend to see it as us choosing it, rather than it choosing us. 

That long intro was to preface why I'm talking about Pamela Love's jewellery today. The native New Yorker's aesthetic is very earthy and spiritual, with influences from alchemy, astronomy, astronomy and botany, some American Southwest and even a bit of architectural elements from her big city home (you can see her inspirations on her Pinterest). I've never worn a 'philosphophy' before, in fact I usually stay away from anything associated with iconongraphy because it sends a bold message (I guess I prefer to use my mouth to send bold messages). But a pentagram cuff? I never thought I'd consider something like that (despite it's scary connotations it was used in ancient times as a Christian symbol for the five senses or the five wounds of Christ), but it does make a cool cage-like design around the forearm - is it ok to wear symbols for what they look like? It's up to you, I think. (Just be aware of its meaning first!) That's the neat thing about accessories; by simply slipping on a fashioned piece of metal you can step out of yourself and try on an alternate persona for a day and see how it feels. There's no commitment to it. However, you do want to choose pieces that are well made, so a little investment is worth considering. And these days there's no excuse to not support sustainable craft and local production. All of the gemstones and semiprecious stones used in Pamela Love's designs are ethically sourced and almost all metal is recycled. Her entire jewelry-making process, from design to sampling to full-scale production, is completed domestically with the majority of it done in-house at the Pamela Love studio in Manhattan. I love it when good people are behind a brand, it makes wearing them that much nicer. These are the keepers. 

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March 08, 2014

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

Orla

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:

Orla-kiely-clarks

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

Orla_stemprint

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. 

March 06, 2014

London Hat Week Kicks off at Atelier Millinery

L-R Scarlett Engineer, Rebecca Peters, La Touche, India Bennett [5]Left to right: Scarlett Engineer, Rebecca Peters, La Touche, and India Bennett

I love hats. Proper millinery ones. I don't wear them so much anymore, but they're fun and they break up the visual monotony on the streets. Britain loves hats, too, which anyone in the world knows if they've watched a royal wedding on tv. To celebrate, London Hat Week begins today at the event's official hub, Atelier Millinery, an independent hat shop in Kingly Court, Carnaby. LHW will explore every aspect of making and wearing hats in the city which is leading the worldwide revival of millinery. An exciting schedule of events will be hosted by partners across London during the week, many of which will be free of charge. LHW will run from 6-12 March.

Visit Atelier Millinery to preview the ‘My Favourite Hat’ exhibition featuring the inspiration of some of London’s most famous hat personalities, and special discounts and retail promotions will be offered at hat shops and showrooms throughout London and online, making it the perfect time to find out if you're a 'hat person' or treat yourself to a brand new style.

January 02, 2014

Cléo Ferin Mercury Explores the Jungle

Cleo Fein Mercury AW13 Jungle Parrot Square Scarf

One of the best ways to inject life into your wardrobe is with a new, special accessory. Unlike a sweater or dress, a unique piece such as an art print scarf can be worn every day and make the routine of getting ready to go out into the world more fun and exciting. And it just polishes things up beautifully, doesn't it? 

London-based designer Cléo Ferrin Mercury has drawn upon the Amazon Rainforest and Rousseau's tropical garden paintings to create a fantasised jungle with vibrant colours and animals in their exotic habitat, bringing life to her collection of silk scarves, detachable collars, animal shaped stoles and bow ties. Regarded as 'wearable art beyond seasonality', each piece is made in England and finished by hand. 

Cléo Ferin Mercury’s autumn/winter collection will be stocked at Colette Paris, Ron Herman in Tokyo and Labour of Love in the UK, among others. 

Aren't these the perfect pieces for lifting one's spirits out of the gloomy winter doldrums? I especially love the scarf in the header photo and the floral collar, those vivid colours against the navy background is stunning. 

 

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Cleo Fein Mercury AW13 Jungle Pink Flowers Collar

December 28, 2013

DIY: Ramp Up Your Chuck Taylors at Home

Solifestyle_stud_chucksSolifestyle transformed classic Chucks into an edgy pair of kicks by adding screw-back studs bought online. The white laces were later changed up for black for a more streamlined look that lets the studs stand out. 

I had a pair of Chuck Taylor hi-tops in high school, as did pretty much every one else. I think they started out as bright turquoise and I bleached them with no particular result in mind; I did it just because me and my friends were bleaching anything and everything at the time, enduring the noxious fumes for the sake of making things different. They came out a really pretty, washed-out aqua, and instead of wrecking my new shoes which was the outcome I feared, I now had a totally unique pair of sneakers that I loved and couldn't wait to wear. 

If you already have a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors, you may want to take inspiration from the ways others have customised their own. Stud embellishments seem to be a particularly popular approach at the moment, as seen above (you can also buy them that way if you're not into the DIY thing or you're short on free time), and simply replacing the laces with flouro colours, wide ribbons or patterned designs can give your old favourites a fresh look in seconds. Other techniques I've seen include ombre effects if you're especially skilled with dyes; paint spatters - go all Jackson Pollock on that canvas or use a lighter hand for a more subtle effect; drawing, embellishing or stamping the tongue with a bold pattern - try the inside and fold the tongue down to reveal the detail (teenagers can get away with anything); or you can go rogue and take scissors to the shoe and give it a brand new style. I saw one pair with the top part over the toes removed to create an open-toe shoe; I can't in good conscience recommend that one, it just looked weird. 

Last year, an online service was launched to create bespoke Converse Chuck Taylors which allows you to customise the colours of each element of the shoe. However, they only ship within the US. But that's ok, you can always be more creative when you're left to your own devices! 

Here are more DIY ideas to get your imagination running: 

PrettySneaky_fairisleIf you're a talented knitter like Pretty Sneaky, you can create all kinds of textural designs

Converse-Chuck-Taylor-Dip-Dye-03Girl on a Board shows us how to get the ombre effect, which when done well is really pretty, and if you're handy with an embroidery needle you can achieve something like this:

Embroidered_high-tops

Or you can take the easy route like I did and throw them in the washing machine with some bleach!

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