One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pleasing Pleats

A continuation of the preppy look of this Autumn/Winter, there were pleats a plenty on the Spring Summer '11 catwalks. Always a step ahead of the game, uber-cool Swedish label Acne have produced this gorgeous khaki pleated maxi for their Autumn/Winter collection. To be worn with boots and knits for grungy glamour at its best.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Cinderella Complex

Every girl needs a pair of hopelessly impractical shoes to treasure. I call this the Cinderella complex. In today's cynical and fast-paced world, handsome princes, fairy godmothers and mice that turn into footmen may be hard to come by. However there are and shall always be beautiful, unwearable shoes to covet and collect. My obsession began with a purple silk Prada pair with super-delicate purple silk rosebuds on the heels. I was at university and guilelessly spent my entire savings on them; and despite the fact I have worn them only once, my heart still skips a beat when I take them out of their box and slip them on my feet. Next came the black, suede ankle boots that I could not walk in but had to have. I wore them out on a first date and after several gin slings and a foray onto a cobbled courtyard, my legs went from under me, taking my date down too (luckily he saw the funny side and suggested another cocktail to ease the pain from the bump!) This season, I have my eye on these YSL pumps with a fringed heel (pictured). Divinely unnecessary-that is why I want them so much!

Colour Blocking

This winter, it is all about neutrals; however this does not mean that you have to stick with one colour scheme. Be bold and mix up your neutrals in unexpected ways. 2 of my favourites for autumn:


This colour combination DOES work and looks quite fresh as not many people wear these colours together. Try, for example, a simple black structured mini dress with navy merino wool tights and black suede wedge boots.


Again I really like these colours together as the warmth of camel offsets the coolness of grey to perfection. Opt for deeper shades of oatmeal with cobalt and charcoal.

Pictured: camel and grey as seen at Marni

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The trend that just won't quit

Once again, for Autumn Winter 2010, designers have taken inspiration from the wild as leopard, ocelot, and cheetah prints stalk their way onto our fashion consciousness. When worn correctly of course, animal print can be extremely high-octane glamour. It cries out for perfection: immaculate makeup and killer accessories to offset its impact. It demands a certain amount of dramatic flair and attitude. It is the attention seeker of the sartorial world, the fashion equivalent of a high maintenance friend or lover. That is what makes it just so irresistible to wear and to experiment with, and why it has become one of the most enduring trends of our time. Let your animal instinct take over and dare to wear.

Monday, 27 September 2010

You Can Leave Your Hat On

My favourite all time accessory is without question the hat. The options are unlimited and with this trend, literally anything goes. You can go grungy in a slouchy knitted beanie (the bigger and chunkier the better); edgy in a trilby; top off a preppy look with a felt cloche; or channel Charlie's Angels glamour in a floppy wide brimmed 1970s hat.

A hat has the ability to turn an outfit into an unforgettable look. I like to think that if an outfit is the image, then the hat provides the frame. A woman in a hat is instantly rendered more mysterious purely because the hat provides a buffer between her and the outside world. It is a talking point, certainly, but it does not invite questions and conversation from strangers. A hat stands alone, to be admired from afar.

Daytime Dressing: Prep School

The preppy look was one of my most unexpected trends this autumn. At the same time however, it is a very simple trend that anyone can carry off.

Style references: Clueless, Empire Records, Miu Miu, Ivy League colleges

Styling tips: be a back-to-school rebel with ankle socks in bright pops of colour worn with wedge heeled ankle boots; add classic touches like leather gloves or a prim handbag; accessorise with fierce cuffs or bangles piled high, Gap Year style; wear shirts under pullovers and roll up the sleeves and undo the buttons on your cuffs and collars.

Best of the high street: Cos, Zara, Tabio, H and M

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

French Fancy Number 4

Good Morning, Upper East Siders, and welcome to the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. Only, this season (for two episodes only), Manhattan's elite are in Paris, and it has me seriously yearning for some bourgeois boheme Left Bank chic.

So here is my pick from my favourite oh-so-secret and not-so-secret labels from St Germain.

Wear with insouciance.


1. Claudie Pierlot

Channel your inner Amelie with Claudie Pierlot's designs for Autumn/Winter 10. Her star is set to rise, thanks to the recent investment by luxury conglomerate LVMH. Check out the divine new collection showcased by French top model Audrey Marnay.

2. Maje

Maje and sister label Sandro have been whipping up something of a sartorial storm since the recession opened a gap in the mid-luxury market (where one door closes, another opens, n'est ce pas?) Maje is my go-to label for sexy-but-slouchy, I just threw this on but still look super chic.

3. Sandro

Sandro is Maje's slightly edgier sister. Think Clemence Poesy or Lou Doillon's intimidating brand of Parisienne cool, made accessible to mere mortals.

4. Ba&sh

If there was a label that made the perfect clothes for first dates, when you want to look as though you have made an effort in the subtlest way, head to Ba&sh. The label specialises in understated luxury; but do not under estimate the impact it will have.

(Pictures, from top: Claudie Pierlot scarf and beret; Maje dress; Sandro jumpsuit)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

September Object of Desire

I bumped into my best friend's brother the other night; I had just arrived at her house for a girlie dinner as he was heading out for the night. As he was leaving he put on his overcoat, and I nearly died. This super mannish city coat is EXACTLY what I am after this season. I never really did the whole Diane Keaton in Annie Hall 'girls will be boys' look: before now I have always favoured femininity, which in coat-terms meant princess cuts and furs. However.....I have changed my mind, or rather my aesthetic sensibilities and am loving the idea of contrasting such a coat with a slip dress or structured skirt/silk shirt. (It sort of reminds me of turning blue with the cold in marquees at black tie events in the English countryside, only for a chivalrous gentleman to slip his dinner jacket around your shoulders).

'Nice coat', I remarked.

'Yes, gorgeous', said another friend of mine also in attendance. 'My brother has one just like it'.

'I want one for myself!' I had to explain. I was positively drooling, almost more than over the delectable smells coming from the kitchen.

Luckily, this season designers have answered my sartorial prayers and there is a plethora of such coats to be found around town. I especially like this type of coat in traditional menswear fabrics, such as tweed and with a smart collar. This week's mission: find my dream coat before the chill sets in for winter.

(Pictured: Men's City Coat by Chloe)

Friday, 10 September 2010

Instant Autumn Outfit under £150

For easy autumnal daytime chic for those on a budget: a 50's silhouette from the high street. Mix your fabrics, for example heavy tweeds with the softest wool you can find. Accessorise with groomed hair and natural dewy make up.
The socks, Tabio, £9 95
The wedge boot, Aldo, £50 00
The skirt, Mango, 39 90
The Cashmere jumper, Uniqlo, 49 99

British Fashion Awards 2010

Last week, the nominees were announced for the 2010 British Fashion Awards. The categories which interested me the most were 'Emerging Talent-Ready to Wear'; and the 'Designer of the Year' Award. Emerging Talent is interesting precisely because it opens our eyes to fresh new aesthetic ideas, shapes and colours; and Designer of the Year is important as undoubtedly the winner has created stand-out designs which will be stored in our memories as having had a significant effect on fashion history.

This year the nominees for 'Emerging Talent' are Mary Katrantzou, Meadham Kirchoff and Michael van der Ham. It's likely that few but fashion insiders will be familiar with these designers but that is one of the greatest things about the British Fashion Awards: supporting home-grown talent and bringing it to people's attention. My money is on Meadham Kirchoff: their Autumn/Winter 2010 was a melange of different textures and fabrics and was inspired by 'gypsies, junkies and blue roses'. It made me feel nostalgic for the days when I used to spend hours rifling through the stalls at Spitalfields market and putting together random concoctions to wear. It is also very London (should I say British?) in its emphasis on the eclectic and the insouciantly thrown together.

The nominees for 'Designer of the Year' are Christopher Kane, Erdem and Pheobe Philo for Celine. It has to be Erdem; he has undeniably had the Midas touch this year and no one can forget his digital floral print cocktail dresses that encapsualte summer 2010.

The winners are set to be announced in this space.

(Pictured above: Spring/Summer '10 cocktail dress by Erdem and images from Meadham Kirchofff Autumn/Winter 2010)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Men of the Year

Last night saw the GQ Men of the Year Awards and boy, did they get it on the money!! This year my top winners were:
Firstly, Aaron Johnson, who won the Smirnoff Black 'Most Stylish' award. A perfect choice: slightly under the radar but his stylishness is quintessentially British, in that raffish, slightly scruffy sort of way.
Secondly, the appeal of Gossip Girl and Mad Men clearly extends beyond us girls: Ed Westwick won the prize for 'Best Breakthrough Talent' and John Hamm for 'International Male'. Both of these men are equally suave, stylish and super-masculine in their refusal to display emotion. Both have a propensity for single malt whisky and a well cut suit. Prize-worthy indeed.

Are you a Mad Woman or a Gossip Girl?

Two shows, both set in one extremely stylish city in totally different eras are once again going to undoubtedly impact upon our fashion conscience this season. If I had to choose, I would be a Gossip Girl. But I would keep Don Draper.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Less is More

Fashion, to a degree follows 20 year cycles (although some would say that as designers produce more and more collections such as cruise and resort, this vintage is decreasing). Nonetheless, this has made it inevitable that designers have been referencing the 90s for the past couple of seasons. As well as the grunge look that characterised Britpop and that was made famous by Marc Jacobs, the other seminal look of the decade was pared down minimalism, courtesy of Helmut Lang. This season sees the return of the cigarette pant: a slim, tapered cut which ends just at the ankle: a look made famous by Uma Thurman in 1994's Pulp Fiction. To make this work, think androgyny: so clean lines, and a masculine silhouette. During the day, wear with a super sharp (almost stiff, straightjacket material) white shirt and flat brogues in a completely monochrome palette, or pair with heels and a sheer vest top for a cocktail party alternative.

(Pictured: Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction; Stella McCartney Fall RTW)

Midi Madness

I blame Mad Men. I never thought I would say this, but having spent the last 26 years of my life capering about town in mini skirts, shorts and dresses; I think I am finally ready to embrace mid-length this autumn in all its full-skirted glory. Notoriously difficult to wear, I think that this can however look extremely sexy in a super-elegant sort of way. Now that winter is approaching it is best to play with different fabrics as well as proportions. Pair a heavy wool or tweed midi skirt with a sheer, beautifully cut silk blouse tucked in and of course finished with high heels (boots or shoes) for a chic daytime silhouette. As usual I have done some homework so you don't have to. Zara and Mango are doing the best skirts on the high street and elegant shirts are in abundance but it is worth making an investment on this as it is easy to tell from the material and drape if you have scrimped on your silk, and this is an investment that will last a life time. I think it is time to grow up.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Over Rated

You simply can not open a fashion magazine this season without being told that you can not live without this season's must-have.....the aviator jacket. Topshop have picked up where Burberry began and no doubt Primark will jump on the band wagon too. I am not usually one to diss a fashion trend or especially Christopher Bailey (I have avoided negativity completely up until this post). However in my humble opinion, sheepskin belongs on a sheep. And I will not be a fashion sheep to this trend.

Saying that, now that it is September (where did summer go??), I can not shake off that back to school feeling and to me this means a shiny new pair of shoes. There is nothing like buying shoes to put a spring in your step and having worn out last seasons boots to the extent that I am now traipsing around London with holes in my shoes like Oliver Twist I can hardly wait. At the moment I am loving wedge ankle boots especially these ones from Surface to Air at Urban Outfitters (pictured). Having done some work for those of us on more of a budget, Zara is doing a similar pair for about one quarter of the price. Happy can thank me later!