Monday, 28 April 2014

Cut the crop

                                         Proenza Schouler

The days when 'crop top' brought to mind 90s high-school films and undignified nights out on girly summer escapades are long gone. I wouldn't have seen it coming, but it appears that crop tops can actually be done with stylish flair. It's something about the way they end so abruptly that looks so 'cool': as if you couldn't be bothered to wait for the finished product, pulling it over your head fresh from the sewing machine. 

                                           Reed Krakoff

But crop tops done properly also have that sleek, contemporary refinement about them. In fact, if your wardrobe were a living room, the crop top would be the modern, low-lying Scandinavian-inspired coffee table at the centre of it: modest and unassuming, but controls all the proportions of the grander scheme. Their minimal stitching, marginal detailing, and negligibly tailored shape give them that edge of understatement that rules the world of 21st Century unisex fashion. In one word, crop tops at their best embody minimalism - quite literally. And there is only one rule for translating it from chic catwalk androgyny into office appropriate wear: meet the midriff with a high waist.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Do the funky monk

I am a massive fan of the new wave of Monk shoes that have swept through London. Traditionally a moderately formal shoe, they strike the perfect balance between smart in form and touch, and casual in detailing. The perforated white calf skin on this pair of Russell and Bromleys against the sleek sole and double gold buckles are a striking combination of a lightly eclectic feminine twist on a typically androgynous shoe. Perfect for a Dress down Friday followed by a night on the town.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Anne Saint-Marie

Mostly, I find that London has it all and I am never short of things to do and see during the week and on the weekends. But this month, I do wish I were making an impromptu trip to Paris. The Papier Glacé exhibition at the Palais Galliera celebrates a century of fashion photography at Condé Nast, depicting how the company and its brands, most notably including Vogue, have shaped the evolution of fashion. The museum will be littered with iconic fashion photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and Mario Testino. However, this incredibly effortless shot of the 1950s supermodel Anne Saint-Marie stole my eye. Appearing in American Vogue in 1955, Henry Clarke captures an incredible sophistication, which transcends time and place. A source of inspiration for aspiring to elegance.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Becoming "Conscious"

In 2007 I read an article in my monthly issue of Marie Claire that changed how I viewed the fashion industry forever. "Prada Vs Primark" was a duel between Katie Spicer, the average highstreet shopper who pairs the occasional designer item with an abundance of low-cost trends, and Tamsin Blanchard, an ethical fashion journalist who takes the time to question the values and practices of any given brand. For the first time, I was forced to ask myself whether my pennyworth on that exquisite £10 top would support something good and how I could make my decision count. Tamsin's side of the story captivated me: she was a shopper with a conscience, something we could all use a bit more of when building on our personal wardrobes.

So how do you know whether you're buying from a brand with a conscience? Sometimes, it's not so clear to you where they source their textiles from, or how they've come to arrive at an Oxford street window. Sometimes, it's crushingly obvious that a "bargain" to you is making a fool out of some poor soul lost, in the global bulldozer of a supply chain. And sometimes, just sometimes, they tell you. 

H&M Conscious is the brand's ethical commitment to "bring you more fashion choices that are good for people, the planet and your wallet". This season, the collection is a blend of Flamenco frippery and royally angular cuts, in the ever-classic palette of black and white. I love the mediterranean embroidery, and I have my eyes on this gorgeous black long-jacquered weave dress

It may not be the case of the usual wander-in-and-out of the high-street shop, picking up a few fanciable items along the way. The truth is that these garments are quite a bit pricier than the average H&M number. But being organic, recycled and created from cellulose fabrics you are guaranteed that guilt-free feeling when lugging your shopping home after spending a little more than you should. After all, as Amber Valetta views it, "looking good should do good too".

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Zara lace pencil skirt

Last weekend, I went to the Vogue Festival 2014, and heard from some of the most influential figures of the fashion world. It also posed some interesting questions that got me to reflect on my own interpretation of 'fashion', but much more importantly on my personal style. One of the questions asked at the incredibly engaging and relatable first talk of the weekend entitled 'Personal Style - and do you have it?' was:

"If you had to pick one brand to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

For Fashion legend Lucinda Chambers, a giant, corporate brand would never replace the decades of individual and personal style items haggled over in the bustling stalls of Portobello market. For the lovely and inspirational Amanda Harlech, nothing would ever be as timelessly elegant as Chanel Couture. And for all her enviously quirky ways, Alexa Chung picked Topshop! 

For me, it was a no-brainer: Zara is the winner.

I have been lusting over the lace veiling the Burberry SS14 collection this year, and fell head over heels when I saw it re-done (minus the granny pants shining through!) by Zara. I'm not a massive fan of the colour red, and definitely not of the colour purple. But together they look beautifully bold and subtle simultaneously. My new favourite thing this season.

What brand would you wear for the rest of your life?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Il est midi

On most days, a well-fitted pencil skirt will do. I’ll wriggle into it and suck my tummy in, as I stuff the dangling remains of whatever blouse I pick that morning in to my neatly drawn waist. Et voila! – a fantastical hourglass silhouette emerges, no matter what body shape you in actual fact are, and no matter what naughtiness you gorged on the night before. And the best part is, that when your flaring curves are out and paired with an elegant pair of heels, your legs actually look quite long and chiseled!

But sometimes, …sometimes I just don’t feel like being ‘leggy’. Sometimes, the thought of framing my womanly hips as I strut towards the coffee machine, or of wiggling my skirt-hugging bum in peoples faces as I ascend the escalators of the London underground just does not appeal to me. And this occasion calls for a ‘midi’.

A midi?! A skirt that chops your shins in half and has men questioning your newly assumed librarian attire? In truth, on arriving in to work in my swaddling black midi, my gay male friend wittily reminded me that it wasn’t Sunday yet and that I might want to reserve my outfit for mass. But whilst I am sticking to my guns about my favourite new work garment, this season’s trend couldn’t lie further from the stereotype. This Fendi number for instance screams youthful excitement, whilst channeling that floating elegance that a lengthy skirt will bring.

And that’s the thing about a midi – you don’t need to pack away your femininity when ditching sexy. Some of my favourite midis this year are all about the touch. A delicate fabric, or a soft pleat can instantly transform a traditionally frigid-looking skirt in to a whimsical fantasy. And such is the case for Christopher Kane’s take that combines virtually shapeless pieces in to a gentle and elusively appealing guise.

And finally, would it be anything more than a flash-in-the-pan trend without the Burberry seal of approval? I am utterly enamored with the idea of floating fabrics below the knee as Autumn calls and the cold starts to creep in. From Burberry English lace, to Derek Lam American leather, the possibilities for the turning of the seasons are endless…