STYLE // London Fashion Week S/S 16

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

As a Brit who spends a lot of time in the capital, London Fashion Week is always the highlight of the month for me. I don't think there's anything that makes me feel more patriotic than British fashion does. There is so much history and heritage here, yet at the same time we're known for being a little eccentric in ways. So many important style icons of the past and present are British, as well as designers such as Vivienne Westwood who was a crucial driving force for punk fashion (a style that is truly an iconic part of London). We're also home to so many fantastic universities and facilities for anyone who wishes to pursue a higher education in Fashion Design and other related subjects. The British fashion industry is truly a credit to us and, as a graduate currently hunting for my first job, I couldn't be more excited about someday being a part of that.

This season saw London Fashion Week move from Somerset House to it's new home at Brewer St Car Park. Gareth Pugh showed a Spring/Summer 2016 collection based on the gentrification of Soho - A subject that's really topical right now, since places of cultural significance (like legendary drag club Madame Jojos and 'street of the music' Tin Pan Alley) are being torn down to make room for luxury flats and even more bloody branches of Pret A Manger. While I didn't get tickets for any of the shows, there were still great free events on around Soho. I went to Soho during the week to an inspiring talk with print-based fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. They were also streaming shows at Golden Square, but it was unfortunately a little too rainy for it that day. Thankfully I was able to catch up with all of the catwalks online instead. Here are some of my London favourites:

Ashish (above image) presented a Spring/Summer 16 collection filled with skater girls and a scattering of sequins - Quite literally, there were models both whizzing around on skateboards and throwing handfuls of sequins on the catwalk! Of course you'd never expect an Ashish show to be short of sparkle, since he's one designer who essentially worships the sequin through his glitzy designs. This season saw him take a slightly more sparse approach which appeared to look a lot like someone had spilled a whole load of sequins on the clothes. Raw edge denim, bucket hats and slip dresses were featured heavily. Two looks showed a glittering denim jumpsuit that was essentially a jeans/sari hybrid. London DJ Larry B walked out in a nude slip dress, illustrated with a vagina and a pair of boobs (complete with sequinned nipples, of course) in a bold celebration of transgender people. I was particularly fond of the adorable yet inspired beauty look for this show, which consisted of fully sequinned eyelids and a multicoloured scattering of sequins on top of the head too. It fitted in so nicely with the spilled sequins concept. My favourite look from the show would have to be the raw-edge denim co-ord with embroidered red heart cut-outs, and I can definitely see this embellishment idea coming through the high street next season (so keep your eyes peeled to see if I'm correct!)

Simone Rocha does pretty so well, and her most recent collection shown at London just totally reiterates that. She is a young designer who just seems to be going from strength to strength each season - She is absolutely killing it right now! This time around she showed us some ultra-feminine full skirted dresses, pretty in pink and white with intricately knotted macramé straps. Bead embellishments were featured on nude tights, necklines and oversized bows. Rope like grid patterns on transparent fabrics created a juxtaposition between bondage and softer girly influences. This pretty textile gave added sex appeal to a slinky black dress. But my absolute favourite look from this collection would definitely have to be the sugary sweet pastel pink sundress, with delicate crocheted ropes crossing the bodice. I am also very much in love with those rosy tinted snakeskin pumps worn with the outfit.

Topshop Unique's latest offering was a love letter to eccentric British style. The muse was definitely feminine yet somewhat androgynous in her dress sense. Pinstripes, cigarette pants and collared shirts seemed like a nod to British style icon and 'It' girl, Alexa Chung (who was actually sat on the front row). Whilst the knitted Cricket vests, leopard print coats and floaty yet disheveled tea dresses emphasised that whimsical and quintessentially British feel. Knotted thin leather belts and big statement earrings were shown as the accessory of choice for next season's Topshop girl, whilst Bright red lipstick reinforced its status as an iconic beauty essential. My favourite look is the black silky smoking jacket, contrasted with white trousers in the same ditsy strawberry print, fluffy shoes and a striking red clutch bag - I would just love to wear this whole outfit exactly as it is!

Christopher Kane served up some art school cool. Painted prints, abstract cut outs and garments compiled entirely of layered shapes gave it a very disorderly feel. Multicoloured cable ties were a stand out accessory, worn unconventionally as chokers and hairbands. The combination of messy embroidery and heavy fringing added to the chaos, yet it was still just as polished as any other Christopher Kane collection. There were very commercial and wearable pieces you could imagine some of the High Street shops taking note from. I was a big fan of the black leather biker jacket and skirt co-ord printed with glossy splodges of paint. Though my favourite look is 100% the one with the dishevelled looking beige jumper, because yellow snakeskin trousers were something I never knew I needed until now - Thank you Mr Kane for further fueling my python obsession.

EAT // PizzaLuxe, Leeds

Monday, 28 September 2015

I'm currently a little behind on my fashion month posts, since I just got back from a long weekend up in Leeds visiting some of my best friends from uni. I really, really love Leeds as a city. So much so that (even though it's my current ambition to live and work in London) I actually think I could very happily move to Yorkshire's biggest city. Lovely architecture, pretty decent shopping, brilliant nightlife, and an actual music scene. It's true what they say about everything being cheaper up North too. While that's certainly no surprise to most people, I still couldn't quite get over how cheap the gin and tonics were in comparison to the prices back in London.

On Saturday, we went to Leeds' Trinity Centre for some shopping and a bit of lunch. Because we were going on a big night out later that evening, we were looking for something substantial and cheap to eat, that we could all agree on. This was proving to be a bit of a difficult task since we were all really hungry, so my friend suggested we go to the Trinity Kitchen where we could all choose what we wanted from the various food vendors there. It's quite similar to the dining in London's Westfield centres in that sense. I was tempted by Phō, but wasn't sure that light and fresh Vietnamese food was going to sufficiently line my stomach for a night of drinking. Instead I decided to opt for a bit of stodge from this place called PizzaLuxe.

Of course I had a margherita because I tend to consider myself something of a pizza traditionalist. What really beats a thin and crispy Italian pizza topped simply with tomato, mozzarella and basil? I was also trying to be really cheap that day too, so it worked out nicely. My bill came to £8.95 which I'd think is quite reasonable for a big lunch. As for the pizza, the base was quite thin, but a little more doughy than crispy. I felt like the sauce to cheese ratio was off too, and I'm slightly regretting not upgrading to buffalo mozzarella instead. Also, I see no basil here.

Overall it was an alright meal which definitely set me up for a night of drinking, but I think sometimes you get what you pay for with some cheap eats. However, I did really like the whole set up of the Trinity Kitchen and would certainly choose to eat there again if I was shopping in Leeds. While I was kind of underwhelmed with PizzaLuxe, we paid a visit to the excellent Belgrave Music Hall during our night out on the town. This place is a fabulously versatile arts venue which is open at nights and also has it's very own "Slice Bar" where you can order a slice of pizza to go with your beer/G&T/whatever it is you're drinking. I ordered a slice from a pizza called "Don't Mess with Yorkshire" which was essentially a four cheese made with different local cheeses. I swear it's not the alcohol talking here, but it was at least three times more delicious than what PizzaLuxe had to offer.

STYLE // New York Fashion Week S/S 16

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fashion month is once again finally upon us, with hundreds of designers showcasing their visions for Spring/Summer 2016 in the four major cities. First stop was New York, of course, where Alexander Wang celebrated his 10th anniversary collection and DKNY saw the dawn of a new era with its first season without Donna Karan at the helm. Kanye West's much talked about Yeezy Season 2 didn't seem to convince, reaffirming his status as a egotistical jack-of-all-trades (particularly after he's apparently also decided to run for President now). Every season, I get very excited about some collections in particular and being a blogger gives me my own little plot of the internet to wax lyrical about them. So I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on those collections with you, including my top looks from each. Here are my picks from the big apple:

Marc Jacobs (pictured above) gave us a dazzling spectacle this season, held in New York's Ziegfeld theatre. The #MarcJacobsPremiere saw models pose for photographs before walking the red carpet into the venue, as if the fashion show were an actual movie premiere. The collection itself was very much inspired by the silver screen too, with some garments printed with the famous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. There was certainly no shortage of stars or sequins either, with Emily Ratajkowski in a glitzy sailor suit and The Gossip's Beth Ditto walking the show in an embellished off-the-shoulder gown with a giant feather stole. The bold red, white and blue colour palette exaggerated the Americana influences of the clothes, which included a few varsity jackets and a lot of denim, with many pieces covered in kitschy patches and pins. My favourite look of the whole show was a heavily fringed knit worn over a candy-striped bralet and frayed blue denim maxi skirt, covered in embroidered patches.

3.1 Phillip Lim was another designer celebrating a 10th anniversary show this New York Fashion Week. The catwalk was surrounded by piles of dirt, which I heard somewhere that his team had made by composting all of their own food waste at home. The collection, compiled of mostly delicate silky fabrics, seemed to create a juxtaposition between masculinity and femininity. Sporty silhouettes in olive green, sky blue, tan and beige, using appliqué floral motifs and prints. High waisted paperbag waists were a big deal here, as were leather biker jackets and bandeau crops. There were also a couple of deconstructed takes on pinstripes as well as the classic white shirt. One very interesting little detail was the ruffled ribbing bomber collars featured in a couple of the tops and jackets - A girly reimagining of a classic sportswear detail. Despite all of my excitement over the silhouettes and details of this collection, my favourite look was actually a very simple tan leather dress with side cut outs (since it's a piece I would love to wear).

Opening Ceremony cast professional dancers from New York City Ballet alongside their models to perform choreographed falls before pirouetting down the rest of the catwalk. According to designer Humberto Leon, the intention of this was "breaking the monotony of the runway". The collection's colour palette was based around neutrals (black, white, sand) with sensitively applied pops of sunny yellow, orange, red and blue. Giant metal buttons were a feature on many of the jackets, and there were also a few pom-pom embellished skirts and jumpers. One of the prints seemed almost inspired by giant abstract batik patterns. I actually wished this collection included a bit more denim, since that looks that did were quite cool: A pair of turn-up patchwork jeans paired with an orange coat, and a jacket and skirt co-ord. The orange jumper/trouser co-ord with white ankle boots and sunglasses was a particularly strong look. Not only that, but it was also my favourite from the show.

STYLE // Topshop Unique A/W 15

Friday, 11 September 2015

Gorgeous pieces from the Topshop Unique Autumn/Winter 2015 collection have just landed in stores and online. February's London Fashion Week saw Topshop present this undoubtedly British vision for Fall, with models strutting down the catwalk swathed in big shearling coats, whimsical dandelion prints and patent vinyl garments in dark forest green and beige. We saw classic wardrobe staples, such as turtlenecks and leather trousers, alongside beaded velvet pieces which offered up a hint of Autumnal opulence. Knee-high leather boots were the footwear of choice for this season's Topshop girl, painting a narrative in which London meets the British countryside. One which, for me as a Buckinghamshire girl, feels very much like home.

The stand out 'it-piece' of this entire collection has got to be that pale green-ish grey shearling coat, which I'm sure it at the top of a lot of people's Autumn/Winter fashion wishlists. With the 70s trend still going strong, big fur coats and suede numbers seem to be dominating outerwear this Fall season. While I can't afford the Topshop Unique one (made from real sheepskin), I'd love to find a similar-ish alternative faux fur coat somewhere else.

Here's just a few of the pieces that have just dropped in store, which I love and think would work really well with my wardrobe:

(Clockwise to from left hand corner to centre)
1. Brunswick Velvet Mini Skirt // £495 // Topshop Unique
2. Leather High Leg Boots // £225 // Topshop Unique
3. Maida Mini Skirt // £95 // Topshop Unique
4. Inverness Checked Wool skirt // £155 // Topshop Unique
5. Windermere Fitted Dress // £225 // Topshop Unique

EAT // The Church, Jewellery Quarter

Thursday, 10 September 2015

I've just graduated from University with a first class honours in Fashion Design. It was such a weird day: All of that preparation and getting robed up (with a funny hat) for 5 seconds on stage, to shake hands with two important men from my university (with funnier hats than mine) who I'd never met in my entire life. Of course I'm proud of my achievements, but showing my womenswear collection on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week in June felt like more of a graduation for me than this did. Still, I knew I'd ultimately regret it if I didn't go to my own Graduation, and I'm actually really glad I did. I even had my portrait taken, smiling, with 'my degree' in hand. My mum cried. Had to be done though, right?

As for my Graduation meal out, I basically got my pick of whichever restaurant I wanted to go in Birmingham. The Symphony Hall where our ceremony was held, is right next to Brindley Place - a popular canalside spot filled with popular chain bars and restaurants. It was absolutely packed full of Graduates and I fancied somewhere a little quieter and cooler, so we hopped in a taxi to go to The Church in Jewellery Quarter, a fab little soul food pub restaurant.

We started off with some glasses of prosecco (to celebrate, of course) and a couple of little starter dishes to share chosen by my Dad: Nachos with dips (guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapeno cheese sauce) and a basket of Southern fried chicken strips with homemade barbecue sauce - Living the healthy life, right? If it were just me, I probably wouldn't have gone for starters, but Graduation seemed like the perfect opportunity to go all out be a little gluttonous. I also think the food here is wonderful and had the feeling that I might not get to come back again, since I don't live in Birmingham anymore *sobs*

The cocktails at The Church are fab. Last time I came here I sipping on the most gorgeous Breakfast Martinis, but this time I thought I'd try something different. I ordered a Dark 'n' Stormy made with homemade ginger syrup, which was really delicious, fiery and quite strong too!

This is the Shia NoBeouf burger which, as you might have guessed from the name pun, is a vegetarian option. It's a spicy bean patty topped with pulled jackfruit and guacamole. Served with cajun spiced fries and pickled red cabbage slaw. Also worth noting that the ciabatta roll it's served on is made by the nearby Peel & Stone bakery. All of the bread used by The Church comes from there, which is totally awesome. These places are both part of The Soul Food Project, which is about bringing local and homemade soul food, cocktails and jazz music to the Midlands.

This was a ridiculously filling main. I think the portion sizes here are really generous. I'd have it again because it was tasty, but I think I'd normally prefer to go for something much lighter. I could've had just the burger and the slaw without fries.

Based on that I shouldn't have really had a pudding and I definitely forced myself a little bit. But it was my Graduation day after all and I sadly can't see myself getting to go to The Church again for a very long time. I had the Key Lime Pie with rum & raisin ice cream (pictured at the very top of this post) which is my favourite pudding. They've changed the menu since last time I went, when I had a peanut butter and oreo cheesecake. I really struggle to resist the puddings at The Church. Needless to say, I had a little nap on the journey home!

BEAUTY // What's in my everyday make-up bag?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

I wear make-up most days, and definitely every time I go out of the house. I don't think of myself as being insecure for that, because (like most people I know) I just really enjoy it. I didn't really care about make-up until I went to university and lived in an all-girls house. It's taken me a couple of years of experimenting to find which brands and products I think are great (or at least what seems to work for me) Here's what's inside my Bambi make-up bag...

I'm quite a pale girl so I've always had to protect my skin from the sun. It's important to me. I wear Clinique city block SPF 25 on my face every day - It's also good to use on days where I don't feel like wearing foundation, since it's slightly tinted. I've got the Urban Decay brightening & tightening complexion primer potion which helps to keep everything in place. Being so pale has also made it difficult to find a foundation that matches my skin nicely. Cheaper drug store brands rarely have a great range of colours available, which is why I've switched to Illamasqua skin base foundation which actually matches my face as well as giving great coverage. I don't really use blusher and prefer to just contour my face, for that I use the Maybelline Master Sculpt in Light/Medium. I absolutely love to have a bit of a glow on my cheekbones too. I'm currently trying out the Jelly Pong Pong Glow Getter which came with the July Birchbox. This great little product is a gel highlighter with a nice pearly colour. The finishing touch (when I've finished all of my make-up) is Urban Decay all nighter make-up setting spray which keeps everything where it should be longer.

My lips can get dry sometimes, especially in the winter, so I use Lush popcorn lip scrub to keep them looking smooth and healthy. I then use the Lush key lime pie lip balm which tastes absolutely amazing (big fan of key lime pie over here!). Whenever I'm wearing lipstick, I always like to use a lip liner first. Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses lip liner in Tiramisu is a great versatile shade, and perfect for my current favourite lipstick: Rimmel London Kate Moss lasting finish lipstick in 008, which is a nice pinky brown colour.

As someone who is dedicated to the cat eye, I go through quite a lot of liners and will always try to find a better product. I was recommended the Topshop magic liner in engraved, released as part of Topshop beauty's 5th Birthday this year. I really love the thin nib of this felt-tip pen liner, but unfortunately it's starting to run out a little. Thankfully I've still got my old trusty Soap & Glory Supercat, one of the most reliable pen-liners I've ever had. I have insanely long eyelashes (people always ask me if they're fake; they're not) so it doesn't really make a huge difference what mascara I use. I've got Urban Decay perversion mascara on the go at the minute, and I really like this one. Since eyes are the windows to the soul, brows should be the strong archway... Urban Decay Brow Box is the best, most compact brow kit I've ever had. It has two shades of powder, wax, two brushes, two little mirrors and even a dinky little pair of tweezers!

When it comes to nails, I stick to what suits me. My fingernails are almost exclusively painted with a red or orange shade (or anything that falls between those two). I really like Revlon parfumerie nail polish in China Flower because it's a good solid red with a lovely smell to it. As for my toes, they will always have a nice coat of metallic polish. My favourite ever is Topshop Nails in Crystal Clouds - A great, neutral metallic. Sadly, I don't know if they even make this colour anymore, but they do have a couple of similar shades.

EAT // Story, Shoreditch

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Last weekend, I went out for a late lunch with a couple of lovely girls I know who recently styled a beautiful shoot with my graduate collection. (The photos for that haven't been published yet, but I'll be sure to blog about it when they are!) We decided to check out Story Deli, a little pizzeria tucked away on a side street along the Bethnal Green Road. My friend had been raving about this little family run place, claiming it was the best pizza in Shoreditch. Based on this, I was totally expecting it to be the real-life version of the Italian restaurant from Lady & The Tramp, but the place we actually walked into couldn't have been more different...

The silence of the restaurant hit me immediately, there was no music and no customers in at that time either. I thought it would be all red gingham tablecloths and wine bottles filled with dripping candles, but instead the decor was minimal, white and rustic looking. It was bright and airy, and definitely a calming place to dine too. We could actually hear each other talk which was lovely (Not sure why that feels like such a luxury these days, really).

We ordered two pizzas between us: The Simone (garlic roasted courgettes, tomato passata, smashed tomatoes, mascarpone, olives, oregano, basil pesto & fresh buffalo mozzarella) and the ham, spinach and gorgonzola. Both were absolutely delicious, and I think they may have just lived up to that "Best pizza in Shoreditch" accolade too. Very fresh and light, which I guess is in keeping with the decor of the place. At £18 a pop, you might be better off splitting them like we did (therefore splitting the bill!). This isn't exactly a cheap eat in terms of portion size and value for money, but it's definitely a treat.

REFLECTIONS // August 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Here are a few favourites snapshots of my life over the last month:

1) Wearing a big floppy straw sunhat. This is the hat of dreams and I've been wearing it at any opportunity I can. Sadly the weather is getting a lot worse recently, but hopefully we'll have a few more sunny days for me to give the hat a few more outings before Autumn season really starts. Worn here with the dress I bought on my 'Quick trip to Oxford Circus' back in July.

2) Charity shop vinyl finds. I got this 7" single of Wham's 'Freedom' on vinyl from a charity shop in South Wales. Sure - I mentioned in my recent blog post, 'A Little Advice To My Teenage Self', that there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure. I do actually really love Wham! and regularly listen to their greatest hits in the car. No shame. And just look at the great cover art on this one.

3) The search for hotdog perfection continues, Kings Road. I laughed when I compiled this post because I noticed that last month's Reflections gave Popdogs ("possibly the best hotdog ever") a mention. Ever since then, I've fallen in love with beef hotdogs and had this great one at BRGR.CO in Chelsea. You can read the post I wrote all about it by clicking here.

4) Neons at Lights of Soho exhibition. I'm in love with the crass, trashiness of Soho's neon signs. I've always really wanted to see Chris Bracey's iconic neon signs at God's Own Junkyard, but never really had the chance to. So I was really excited to go to this super cool pop-up exhibition including some of his works.

5) My collection in Hope St Magazine. One of my highlights of this month has been seeing this editorial published on Hope St's website. My red transparent plastic skirt and yellow boilersuit were both featured in the shoot. I was so excited to have the pieces I'd made interpreted in a completely new way by a team of really talented individuals. Check out my post about it here.

6) Cheese loving little rascal. I absolutely love cheese, but it breaks my heart because I can't really eat it. My body struggles to digest any rich dairy, so a good cheeseboard is more than my stomach can even handle. Someone else who is totally obsessed cheese (but shouldn't really be eating it either) is my cat. He and I both had a tiny little bit of cheese as a treat the other week. This is definitely the cutest picture I've taken in the last month.

7) Flowers in a retro milk bottle at The Yurt, Peterley. When my mum was younger, all of the milk bottles had adverts on them like this. She even thought they were cool at the time and tried to collect them. We went out for lunch last week at our local farm shop's cafe (inside a yurt) and were both pleasantly surprised to see these vintage milk bottles awesomely repurposed as vases for flowers. Some lovely kitsch homeware inspiration.

8) Minimal rustic interiors at Story, Shoreditch. I came to this little gem of a pizzeria the other day on a friend's recommendation and fell in love with the way they'd decorated the place. Everything is white and clean looking, with a kind of shabby feel. It was a really calming place to sit and have our lunch. The food was absolutely incredible too - Blog post to come!

9) Weekend with one of my best friends. We had a really great time hanging out in London's Shoreditch area last weekend. Went out for some drinks at the Ace hotel and sat on Queen of Hoxton's roof terrace (maybe the last chance to go before summer ends!). We also went to Poppies in Spitalfields whilst tipsy, which was definitely a good idea. Here is a selfie of us before we left the flat.