Thursday, 26 August 2010

It's a Fashion House of Cards...


Omg!! Word is that US brand American Apparel may be at risk of bankruptcy, signalling the end for my ultimate supplier of leggings, bodysuits and casual chic!!

One of my favourite exports from the US of A, American Apparel first landed in the UK back in 2006, to much rejoicing from Britain's fashion cognoscenti who no longer needed to rely on Bundle Box and friends' and relatives' trips to the states for the brand's fabulous cotton basics.

My beacon for 1980s inspired fashions; walking into their Carnaby Street store is like stepping back in time as mini shorts, fanny packs and legwarmers adorn the rails and models on display. On a trip to New York this January the weather was so cold I was forced to go out and hunt down extra layers - it was my good fortune to find the closest store to my hostel was an American Apparel. Kitting myself out in their wares, I survived the brutal chill. For that reason alone they should be saved!!! They saved me from frostbite and hypothermia!!!

With ad campaigns sometimes veering too near the line of indecency, American Apparel made their name touting their easy-wearing jersey pieces, multi-coloured leggings and diverse dancewear creations reminiscent of Fame and Flashdance. And although 1980s chic is still somewhat on-trend in the current stylistic climate, it appears consumers are less enthralled with the brand than what they once were. With sales depleted by 16% and $120m of debt, American Apparel could be not much longer for our highstreets.

I am officially in mourning, and am planning an emergency trip to stock up on as much AA apparel as I can possibly afford...!!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Pretty in Pink

My awful week forgotten and my back significantly remedied by a combined sauna-steam room-jacuzzi-pool session at the gym on Saturday morning; I had my party, and there were no tears, just 25 cupcakes, 20 girls and one mega birthday cake...


Caption: Lovingly prepared by Completely Cakes

They came from north, west, the Midlands and Milton Keynes to celebrate with me in style!!

From funny (and slightly naughty) stories and traditional girlie gossiping spurred on by the Sex and the City trivia game, to cups of tea while watching the SATC movie and opening pressies - it was a party to remember (even if I say so myself).

The dining table was adorned with a pink tablecloth and laden down with an assortment of finger sandwiches on vintage cake stands, pink cupcakes, chocolate brownies, scones with jam and cream and strawberries. Milk and white maltesers and a selection of crisps were also on offer, served with pink lemonade and pink champagne in neon pink martini glasses!!



And of course an occasion of mine would not be complete without a rendition of Billie Jean from my younger brother who feels the need to entertain when there are more than two people in a room at any one time.

Party bags were doled out at the day's end, containing nail polish, a balloon, beauty sachet and SATC badge for each girl's enjoyment.

And the pleasure was of course, 'Ever thine, Ever mine, Ever Ours'...

Friday, 20 August 2010

It's My Party & I'll Cry if I Want to...



SO, it's my birthday on Tuesday (24th August). I'm going to be 25 years old. A semi-milestone in my young life. And to tell the truth I'm feeling somewhat down in the dumps. No, not because I'm just that bit closer to 30, but because I've had a shitty work week, my back is aching from stress, I'm overtired and my husband has to go away for a meeting, on my birthday.

I probably sound like some whiny egotistical pain in the butt, and I know this is self-indulgent, self-pitying tripe - but it makes me feel better.

Typically, when things are generally not going great I tend to withdraw into myself and pretend as though the world and his friends are against me. I am berating myself for having told people that it's going to be my birthday, preferring that they just ignore it and treat it as any other day. But some stupid attention hoe somewhere inside me has to go open up her big trap and blurt it out.

Then I thought I would just take the day off, and treat myself to a birthday day, but that's been blown to sh*t as I'm stuck in meetings all next week and can't have the day off. Poo!!

If I did have the day off, I would first treat myself to a pancake breakfast at Jack's Cafe near my flat, then I would take myself shopping (retail therapy = happiness), then I would come home, take a long relaxing bath with lovely music in the background. Afterwards I would snuggle on the sofa in PJs and the duvet and watch all my favourite movies with a cuppa tea. Mmmmmm... a girl can day dream. I will just have to content myself with doing some of those things in the evening after work :(

I am having a party on Sunday - a combination of cupcakes, Sex and the City and pink champagne. And I am going to see Sister Act, starring Whoopi Goldberg on Saturday night. So, maybe we'll hold the tears for next year...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Closet Crisis

"You are not leaving the house dressed like that!"

How many of us can say we have heard this from our mother's lips at least once in our lives? I'm guessing most, if not all of us. However, what do you do when you no longer live under the confines of the parental roof and have to make important decisions on your own - like what to wear?



Throughout my working life I have come up against wardrobe restrictions - from the strictly 'black and white' protocol of a Joseph concession in Selfridges to the on-trend capsule wardrobe of working in publishing. Having struggled with my own fashion identity for years, finally settling into my 1980s-throwback ensembles of bodycon skirts, loud prints and leggings I have now arrived at a crossroads where I must disassociate my personal self from my work self.

Representing your company to not only the outside world but the seniority within, we are encumbered with the burdensome duty of maintaining a certain look for the majority of our lives.

It's difficult re-training ourselves to pick up garments in stores that we are not naturally drawn to. But now shopping must become a strategised plan as we navigate rails and online sites searching carefully for tops and skirts and dresses and shoes that will enable us to project the right impression.

Reeling from my latest 'wake-up call' to the fact that some of my style choices have not been well-received by my peers in the workplace, I realise that this situation reeks of the stand-offs I used to have with my mother when I wanted to wear something she didn't approve of. And it's forcing me to finally appreciate the method to her censorship of my fashion faux pas.

Ever my harshest critic, my mother has always bestowed upon me her most truthful opinions, advice and criticism. Not the type to shower unwarranted compliments I am by now used to her blunt honesty. Besides the fact that when she does pay me a compliment I know she means it. But without her acting as my stylistic compass, I'm afraid I am lost in a sea of bad wardrobe decisions that insist on coming back to haunt me time and time again.

So, if I am to follow the age-old adage that 'Mother knows best', I must gather the feedback that has been tactfully and, at times, unceremoniously thrust my way and use it to my advantage. Thankfully the fashion wheel of fortune has come back to rest on 1950s femininity, a la TV adland sensation Mad Men so finding modest, office-appropriate garb shouldn't be too tricky. I have already alighted upon a lovely knee-length black skirt for under £30 from River Island (www.riverisland.com) and a pair of black patent heels from Marks & Sparks for just £15 (www.marksandspencer.com). All I need now is to team it with a pretty blouse or shirt and my new look is complete!

I am sure that I will be faced by further closet crises in my future, either at work or for some other occasion where my personal taste doesn't quite fit the coutoure-criteria; I guess the best any of us can do is to imagine what our mothers might say before we step out of the house.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Choo or False?



Rumour has it that accessories mogul Tamara Mellon may be planning to sell her £500 million Jimmy Choo empire.

Made ever-more famous by esteemed shoegal Carrie Bradshaw, aka supreme fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker, it is unsurprising that the Jimmy Choo label could net a cool £100 million.

CEO and founder of the luxury label and recent recipient of an OBE, Mellon has been the catalyst and subsequent driving force behind the company's success.

Attributing Tamara's business sense to her late father Tom Yeardye (the money man behind the Vidal Sassoon empire), a family friend said: “It’s in the genes. He started with absolutely nothing and ended up a multimillionaire. He was the most determined and focused man, and he trained Tamara to be the same. When she was young, he used to match every penny she earned to motivate her to work hard. Just like him, she loves holding the winning cards.”

Adding a line of handbags and a collaboration with Hunter boots to her repetoire, I think we can safely say that whatever her next project we can expect great things from Ms Mellon.

Friday, 6 August 2010

What makes the world go round?



From Lily Allen's baby news to slightly pornographic art being shown at an auction house, I have been bombarded with an array of issues of a sexual nature in the past 24 hours.

Following the delightful news that 25 year old popstrel-turned-fashion designer, Lily Allen is expecting with her builder beau Sam Cooper, I of course took to Twitter to not only wish Ms Allen congratulations but also to note the multiple tweets of well wishing from magazine editors, celebrity baby websites and random tweetaholics.

Aside from the fact that I am in total brood-mode and am lapping up every baby-related TV programme, news blast, magazine article and book; it really seems as though it is on everyone else's mind too. In one form or another.

The September issue of Marie Claire invites readers to take part in a quiz aimed at analysing one's fertility fitness. From BMI and lifestyle to family genetics and menstral cycles - every area is covered. But it's not only female fertility that we are being made aware of, but male fertility also. The front page of yesterday's Metro called out the potential dangers of certain plastics used in food and drink containers in stunting a man's reproductive abilities and an article earlier in the week reminded us that regular jacuzzis and hot baths, not to mention the wearing of tight underpants, can affect a man's sperm count. Yes it seems everyone is thinking about or talking about ...or reading about, their sexual IQ (a.k.a ability to reproduce).



Sitting on the train yesterday afternoon heading home pre-rush hour, I noticed the man next to me had retrieved several pieces of paper and parephernalia from his suit jacket pocket. I didn't think anything of it until he unfolded one leaflet to reveal the header: How to make your erection stay hard. Double take... Ahem, surely one shouldn't be so freely reading what I'm sure is such a personal piece of literature on one of the most public places in London??

Albeit seemingly unrelated to babies, rather this experience (which slightly scarred me) divulges the (ideally private) thoughts of a mature man contemplating his options regarding sustaining his sex life. But what drives this in the first place? The need to reproduce, to procreate, to continue the existence of humankind.

Last night, as I sat and watched first, Look Who's Talking and then Knocked Up (both for probably the 55th time), it occurred to me how in both cases sex was the primary motive for the resulting offspring. A non-thought for both female protagonists prior to their sexual encounters. You're probably thinking, well duh, everyone knows you need to 'do it' to have a baby... Okay, but do we ever really think about the reason why we want to 'do it' in the first place. Yes it feels good, some individuals use it for domination purposes (no judgement), some abuse it for their own sense of power (major judgement) but for the majority it is the most intimate way of saying 'I love you'.



Sex provokes strong reactions in people - case in point, a piece of fine art to be sold at auction has elicited numerous responses from the people who have seen it this morning. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful and not offensive (in my humble opinion) but it reveals a little more than bosoms. Some could not stop staring, some were bemused at the visual impact and some were anxious about the effect it would have on the wider public.

Sex in it's many forms impacts differently on people; from changing your life with the conception of a baby, to forcing you to consider your own sexual aptitude and to assessing how it will be received in different forums. So does sex, alone, make the world go round? I think it's safe to say it's a pretty strong driver...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Wedge Factor

I would like to share with you all, my stylistic saving grace - Wedges!

As a person of demure height who has gone through life at ground level, forced to ‘look up to’ my peers towering over me thanks to their reinforced stature – I would like to thank the shoe world for, wedges.



Whoever knew one could realise the joy of height and comfort. As I discovered, the beauty of wedges is the solid platform which joins the sole and heel together in one fluid sweep of leather, cork or wood. Gone is the need for unnatural balancing acts as you totter down the street looking like an ungainly gazelle, or shifting from one foot to the other in order to ease the burning discomfort, or throwing hard-earned cash at startled Boots and Superdrug cashiers as you stock up on so many pairs of Party Feet gel pads.



Akin to the slim-inducing properties of wearing black, wedges bestow upon individuals such as my 5”4 self, who cannot master the art of wearing high heels, the illusion of towering glamazonian stiletto prowess. The wedge could be said to be to shoes what stabilizer wheels are to bicycles; allowing clumsy young women and five year-old children alike the luxury of joining in with a trend already mastered by their contemporaries.

Like so many members of the female population I have, at times, an unhealthy obsession with all things Carrie Bradshaw. Not quite embroiled with my screen-queen to stretch to becoming a smoker and coffee drinker – I confess, I am a committed non-smoker and lifelong advocate of the green tea – the one Bradshaw luxury I wish to succumb to is “very high heels”. Though I may not be able to afford her coveted labels of Blahnik, Louboutin and Choo, I aspire to achieve the poise and skill of walking in high heels, which she makes look as easy as Serena Williams does winning a grand slam title.

Inspired by several trends endorsed by my style icon, I pillaged the virtual ASOS shoe lounge following the debut of the SATC movie in 2008, furnishing my already duly populated assortment of footwear with two pairs of skyscraper heels. Attempting to stand in my newly acquired 4 inch extreme black gladiator sandals (in the style of Christian Dior) was a feat of epic proportions (pun intended). However as I contemplated navigating the Kilburn High Road for the New Years Eve outing they were destined for, I felt a thrill of fear down my spine – not least for the impact my new shoes would have on it.



Leaning on my fiancé Рwho unhelpfully spent the majority of the 20 minute ordeal shaking quite uncontrollably with laughter РI hobbled to the bar. Honestly, if men had to experience the pain we go through to achieve beauty they would rethink the mockery! Once we arrived I thankfully sank into the sofa in our reserved area and remained there for the duration of the evening. Feeling like some royal or celestial being, friends attended to me, dutifully admiring my head-to-toe ensemble, forming a sociable cluster around the sofa while I observed and participated from my seated vantage point. Fearing the hobblesome return journey at the end of the night, I reluctantly admitted defeat and replaced my heels with the Feet Fairies I had earlier concealed in my handbag. Another fantastic fashion discovery!



I am inclined to blame this heel-intolerance on my mother, who on taking me shopping at age 13 for party shoes, allowed me to try on a pair of gorgeous black heels and then point-blank refused to buy them for me – despite my plaintive attempts to appeal to her good-will. She maintained that I would never wear them again and therefore they were not worth the £20 (it was the 1990s) she would have to pay for them. From that moment on, “high-heels” became the elephant in our North-London home, carefully side-stepped prior to every shoe-shopping excursion.

I sorrowfully looked on as school assemblies quickly spiraled into self-depreciative pity parties, as I mentally compared the heel-height on every other girl’s shoes parading past me daily. My tweenage years passed by in a blur of school discos, inconsequential dates and girlie weekend trips to town with only brogues, plimsols and pumps for company. I purposely surrounded myself with friends shorter than me to regain some of the confidence lost in developing a height-specific complex.

Until one day, I was presented with a large white box and inside was a pair of black knee-high velvet boots with, a wedge heel. It was a Eureka! moment; my mother had found a loophole in the ‘no heels’ clause and I was magically elevated a few inches beyond my then hobbit-adjacent 5ft frame. I wore them everywhere and still have a photograph of me wearing them, complete with cream roll-neck top and black mini, tacked to the inside of my wardrobe. In homage to this special discovery my shoe collection will always include a pair of knee-high velvet black boots, with a wedge heel.



Wedges have become my not-so-secret fashion indulgence as I purchase a new pair every season, ranging from the £50 high street pair to the £250 designer pair. Black patent wedge ankle boots √† la Stella McCartney for shopping trips to New York, mustard peep-toe wedges for strutting down sunny Parisian boulevards and navy suede lace-up wedge shoes for London City chic. From spring to winter, there is a wedge to fit all.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Material Girl: It's Landed

"I don't do fashion, I am fashion."
Coco Chanel

It's arrived!! The fashion collaboration between Madonna and daughter Lourdes Leon has landed at Macy's New York. Following on the heels of celebrity designers who've gone before her, the original Material Girl debuted her collection yesterday at the NY fashion mecca, complete with cupcakes and a warm reception from style-conscious teens and fashionistas!!



Capturing the spirit of Madonna’s Material Girl days perfectly, the new collection is suitably 80s grunge-chic with plenty of mini-skirts, lycra dresses, studs and stripes. http://www.materialgirlcollection.com/



As the face of the brand and international marketing campaign, Gossip Girl's Taylor Momsen (a.k.a Little J) was the undoubted star at the launch, performing a set with her rock-chic band, The Pretty Reckless.



The collection is all about creating your own style, having fun with your look and being an individual, and trendsetter.

Follow the collection on Twitter @MaterialGirlCol [http://twitter.com/MaterialGirlCol]

You can also join the Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/MaterialGirlCollection?v=wall to keep up-to-date with offers and news.

Shop online at http://www.macys.com/campaign/social?campaign_id=154&channel_id=1 and start inventing your own material girl look!!
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