Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Trouble with New Year, New Me

It’s that time of year when Oscar acceptance speech-style statuses start cropping up on Facebook. People write of the ups and downs they’ve experienced throughout the year, of their accomplishments, and sometimes (rarely) of their failures. They thank their friends, family and supporters and, in the very worst ones, they tell us how they didn’t let the ‘haters’ bring them down. I try not to subscribe to the concept of closing the book on a year in order to start the new one afresh. I think it brings unrealistic expectations and the weight of an arbitrary 12 month deadline to turn things around. But it’s a difficult concept to escape. 

The lull between Christmas and New Year instills that end of term feeling. Just as the teachers knew there was no point teaching a lesson when we were all expecting a video anyway, the notion pervades that there’s no point starting anything now because everyone else is off anyway, so why not just stagnate under a crumb-covered blanket for a few more days? We can start in January when everyone else does and we know what day of the week it is again... And as easily as that, we can fall into the trap of the New Year, New Start, New Me.

Image via

Make no mistake; I love the wind down period at the end of each year. I munch my way through endless amounts of Pringles, cheese and leftovers without so much of a hint of guilt. I move only enough to stave off complete and irreversible muscle atrophy. I window shop online until my eyes hurt and I push all adult responsibilities to the outermost reaches of my brain. But then in creep those Facebook statuses, the articles listing the biggest achievements of the year, and the motivational Instagram posts, rousing me from my comfy, comatose state with a jolt of reality and self doubt.

My birthday is mid-way through December, so this adds an extra layer of existential pondering. I’ve just turned 26. ‘What had other people achieved by 26?’ I ask myself. I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s wonderful, witty and honest Yes Please. At 26 she was a mere five years away from joining the team at SNL. Am I five years away from a huge professional milestone? What can I do in five years? Will I be an SNL writer? (No, obviously.) Nestled next to my incessant self-questioning is my bizarre reasoning. Taylor Swift’s birthday comes a few days before mine and, oddly, every year (or for the past two or three years she’s been in my consciousness) I’m relieved to be reminded that she’s four whole days older than me. ‘Oh, it’s ok that she’s a multi-millionaire, she’s got almost an extra week on me. I’ll catch up’. Once again, this year I failed to achieve international fame and fortune in the days between our respective birthdays but I find inexplicable comfort in that four day buffer. 

Thankfully, I’m not alone in my quest to satisfy my neuroticism by looking at the ‘Born’ section on celebrity’s Wikipedia pages. There are countless articles dedicated to people who made it later in life. A quick google search throws up ‘Success after 30: 11 Famous People Who Made It Later’, ‘ 20 People Who Became Highly Successful After Age 40’, ‘Dreams Have No Age Limit: Famous People Who Started Late’ and many, many more; all of which are written from an ‘it’s never too late’ perspective, providing endless comfort to me and other anxious souls.

So you’d think with all this age-related absurdity, I’d be the type to fixate on all the promise and opportunity we’re told a brand new year holds. But I’m unwaveringly not. I’ve never made a new year’s resolution and the aforementioned statues, listicles, et al, whilst at first an unwelcome invitation to question my success and tally my accomplishments, are quickly brushed off as I stride into January 1st as I would any other day.

Why, then, do I not subscribe to the notion of New Year, New Me? It’s certainly not because I’m wise and well-adjusted as is evident from the Taylor Swift story. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had difficult periods which have spanned two consecutive years with the new one offering no respite, nor a shiny new leaf to turn. Perhaps it’s because I’m self employed and acutely aware of every peak and trough that comes with the territory – fortunes can change from week to week, never mind year to year. Whatever the reason, I don’t believe that turning over the first page on a new calendar is the key to a happier, healthier, more fulfilled, more successful (delete as appropriate) life. We can make change any time - our success isn’t chained to a date in a diary.

A year is a long time. This year, my career took a significant change in direction which I’m very happy about, I got PBs at the gym, I made friends with a cool dog who lives downstairs and I ate more kale and quinoa. I also spent approximately 50 hours of my young life that I’ll never get back watching every single episode of Game of Thrones (this could count as a win depending on how you look at it), ate my bodyweight in Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra, got chucked out of that thing, and left questionably long breaks between shaving my legs. No year is ever an out and out victory, just as no year is ever truly a failure.

January 1st might well be your defining moment, the catalyst you need to push you towards greatness. But it’s more likely to be just another day. Let’s not tie ourselves to one start date to make everything better and then berate ourselves when life doesn’t fit within such a strict timetable. Because then what? We wait until the next January 1st rolls around? No chance. So perhaps we should disconnect New Year and resolutions. Make the two mutually exclusive. We can still make resolutions, just without the weight of a new year behind them. And we can still welcome the New Year, just without the pressure of a personal overhaul. This way, we can choose our moment rather than having it thrust upon us as we emerge, blinking and stretching, from the warm embrace of Christmas food and TV marathons. That sounds like a far better arrangement to me.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Play Purse

Play Purse began its life as 'no. 5' in an ongoing project called Item No. The purses quickly gained popularity and took on a life of their own, so the London-based designer behind the collection introduced Play Purse as its own standalone brand. 

Inspired by those little beaded toy purses we all had when we were little, the collection is steeped in nostalgia, prompting an emotive response from customers and followers of the brand. Everyone has their own story of their own purse, whether it was playing dress up with it or, like me (and many others I was pleased to discover), nibbling the beads off it. 

Nostalgia has become common currency in fashion and popular culture of late but Play Purse has managed to tap into something that, as yet, hadn't been revisited. Yes, the 90s were cool and the 70s were glam but these little purses represent the sweet naivety of our childhoods; an avenue yet to be explored in any significant way. The message isn't ironic or tongue in cheek, it's about appreciating that touch of novelty which has been worn away as kids' toys and fashion has become more sophisticated and less charmingly simple.

When my purple Play Purse arrived in the post, I squealed with delight at those familiar little beads, the feel of the fabric and the extra-cute addition of a free toy inside. Designed in grown-up size, it's a scaled-up version of the original; large enough to hold your phone, purse, keys and lipstick. It's dressing up for the real world.

Play Purse didn't happen on a whim. It's the result of several years of research and amassing a substantial original collection via the likes of eBay and Etsy. The time frame from conception to finished article was 18 months - a mould had to be created for the distinctive oval shaped beads and the fabric was particularly difficult to source having fallen out of favour since the 70s. This dedication to authenticity shines through in every detail and is certainly responsible for the acute feeling of sentimentality I experienced (and the over-excited screech I emitted) when I tore open the packaging. 

With mini purses and dolly bag versions now available, and with colourways quickly selling out, it looks like it's been a warmly welcomed comeback for these childhood favourites. Whilst butterfly clips, diamante detailed frameless sunglasses and other such questionable accessory choices can stay well buried in the past, I'm happy to bring the Play Purse forward with me into my present day wardrobe. Of course, it went perfectly with paper sweet bag-esque dress but I'll also be wearing it to add a little whimsy to more grown up ensembles. And I promise I won't nibble any of the beads off this time round...

Monday, 30 November 2015

All Tied Up

London-based independent designer, Cléo Ferin Mercury, inherited her love for silk scarves from her Parisian grandmother. Her early adopted appreciation of attention to detail, quality and design translated over to her first 'narrative-based' collection of scarves, launched in 2010. Since then, Cléo Ferin Mercury, the brand, has grown to produce two collections a year; exhibiting at Fashion Week and gaining stockists and fans the world over.
CFM's range of scarves, pocket squares, and detachable collars blend impeccable quality and playful whimsy; providing a touch of luxury in a contemporary way. This is perhaps best seen in the super fun Animal Scarf Collection. Inspired by the extravagant fur stoles of old school Hollywood glamour, Mercury wanted to reinvent this in a modern and, of course, animal friendly way, and so the Animal Scarf was born. Initially available in fox and jaguar designs, they proved so popular that the line-up has been expanded to include tigers, cats, pandas, and wolves. The tongue-in-cheek double sided scarves are soft, sumptuous and voluminous, offering up a slice of tactile indulgence with a completely clear conscience.

Drawing all manner of kitsch subject matter as pick 'n' mix, Americana, flamingos, pin-ups, pop culture icons and tropical fruit, Mercury doesn't miss a beat when it comes to injecting new life into a tried and tested classic. And with a 70s revival in full swing, that classic silk scarf is having a moment. Tie it under your collar for a cute pussy bow, wrap it once around the neck for louche rock star cool, twist it up into a turban, wear it as a hair tie, style it into a halterneck top... The possibilities are almost endless if you get a bit creative, and this versatility isn't lost on Mercury, whose website features a seriously comprehensive scarf styling guide (nearly 30 different variations!) complete with beautifully stylised illustrations to walk you through the process.

The silk scarf market isn't an easy one to stand out in. It's abundant with artists, textile designers, print designers, high end brands, graduates, independent labels, and many more. But by injecting a sense of humour and storytelling into her designs, and by being unafraid to branch out beyond the confines of the classic 90 x 90 square, Mercury has broken the mould to set her brand apart from the crowd.

The warmth of the designs extends to the brand itself - always friendly and always a pleasure to deal with when it comes to press releases and loans. With their fusion of light-hearted design, high quality finishes and a genuinely affable, charming persona both online and off, it's easy to see why the brand continues to grow as a favourite amongst those who like their style with an offbeat twist.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

5 Christmas Party Looks That Aren't a Sequin Dress

Sequins. Sequins everywhere. It's party season; one month to go til Christmas, so the high street has reached peak sequin. You can't move for them because the ubiquitous sequin dress has become the uniform of choice for Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. I love a bit (or a lot) of sparkle but I think it's about time we eased up on the sequins, lest we be condemned to wear those itchy dresses to every Christmas party until the end of time. 

So, here's the antidote - 5 Christmas Party Looks That Aren't a Sequin Dress. Credits are clickable if you're in a shopping mood. Disclaimer: there may be some glitter.

Top: Coast, Culottes: Oh My Love, Shoes: Topshop, Bag: ASOS, Earrings: Monki

Dress: Monki, Earrings: Doodad + Fandango, Shoes: Sophia Webster, Bag: Sophia Webster

Shirt: Whistles, Trousers: H&M, Necklace: Lou Taylor, Bag: Zara, Shoes: Aldo

Top: COS, Skirt: Topshop, Bracelet: Cheap Monday, Bag: The Whitepepper, Boots: Topshop

Dress: Sensi Studio, Skinny Scarf: ASOS, Earrings: Lou Taylor, Bag: The Whitepepper, Shoes: ASOS

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Grown Up Style

What do you do when you decide you don't like most of your clothes any more (or, more accurately, when you decide your clothes don't represent who you are anymore)? If you're like me, you sell around half of your wardrobe and then wear a black and white stripy dress and two a-line skirts on very high rotation. 

The aforementioned stripy dress / one of said a-line skirts

I'm not entirely sure what shifted but something about my wardrobe just didn't suit the vision I wanted for my 25 (almost 26) year old self. It wasn't grown up enough. But what makes a grown up wardrobe? A quick google of 'grown up style' throws up  lots of images of crisp white shirts, neatly tailored trousers, blazers and clutch bags. Think Garance Dore or Sofia Coppola and their impeccable, sophisticated style. These are women who almost certainly own a selection of cashmere jumpers in soft hues, and who get their ready-to-wear pieces tailored to perfectly fit their delicate frames. But if I were to wear, say, a pair of black tapered trousers, a white shirt and a slate grey cashmere jumper I would feel like I were playing dress up. To coin a phrase from inimitable wordsmith Britney Spears, I'm not a girl, not yet a woman.

Another key element of grown up style is heels. A pair of subtly flared cropped jeans or a midi skirt looks divine layered over a pair of ankle boots with a six inch heel; but not quite so elegant with flats (unless you have the long, lean legs of a model). A good pair of heels can uplift an outfit from 'weird teenager' to 'eclectic style icon'. Unfortunately, I have neither the will nor the enthusiasm to even try to perfect my walk in heels anywhere over three inches, so I can't rely on their leg-elongating magic to elevate my wardrobe.

So what's the answer? Well, it's not to be found on the British highstreet (at least during AW15 anyway). My search for pieces that are tailored, well cut, yet still bright in colour or interesting in design has produced meagre results. Highstreet level e-comm had a slightly better selection. ASOS had a few nice pieces, possibly because there's such a vast quantity to choose from but, on the whole, trying to collate a wardrobe that is both bright and and grown up is not an easy task without either a whopping budget or a steady stream of designer freebies.

The likes of MSGM, House of Holland, Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto and Miu Miu are experts at creating bold but refined separates for those who can afford to drop £400 - £3,000+ on a single garment. Indie designer labels are not to be forgotten of course (Phiney Pet and Kitty Joseph are two that spring to mind) as they are generally a goldmine for unbridled creativity and innovation but, again, prices can be high. (Although, as ever, I would always recommend spending money on a piece from an indie label over a piece from the highstreet when budget allows). The solution for the less flush among us is a mixture of shopping around, embracing vintage, and busting out the sewing machine to customise as necessary.

The perfect balance between fun and grown up is, I think, all about balance. A multi colour jacket in a classic cut; print trousers with a sleek blazer; crazy faux fur with a beautifully tailored coat; timeless pieces with bold prints. Grown up style isn't about ditching the fun, it's about having fun with your clothes in a new way.

Image credits: Harper's Bazaar / Who What Wear

Style Caster / Trendy Crew

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

High Fashion Halloween

I've ploughed through an endless amount of collections to produce a selection of Halloween costume ideas straight from the catwalk. Jean Paul Gaultier's SS13 homage to a string of 80s popstars doesn't feature, as that would be far too easy. Disclaimer: if you're not spectacularly rich and/or well connected, you'll have to go to Smiffys or Luv Ya Babes like the rest of us.

Headless Horseman - Vivienne Westwood SS16 (just add horse) / Alice in Wonderland - Erdem SS16

Morticia Addams - Alexander McQueen AW15 / Wednesday Addams - Chanel Couture 15

Michael Myers - Louis Vuitton SS16 / Piper Chapman (Orange Is the New Black) - Vetements SS16

Alabama Whitman (True Romance) - J.W. Anderson SS16 / Margot Tenenbaum - Gucci AW15

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Rise of Advanced Style

Pal of Miley Cyrus and wearer of Discount Universe, Baddie Winkle is the latest in a line of 'advanced style' icons to make waves amongst the fashion community and in the world of social media. Iris Apfel, Linda Rodin (face of The Row pre-fall '14), Daphne Selfe (dubbed the world's oldest supermodel), and Winkle have all caught the eye of both the media and the public; fronting campaigns, inspiring style, and spawning films and exhibitions.

Looking particularly at Winkle and Apfel, their eccentric, unapologetic personal style is at the forefront of their appeal. So why are we so taken with the idea of advanced style? 

Iris Apfel, L: Jenny Anderson for StyleCaster, R: Kate Spade SS15

It's not an easy time to be young. Our government's generation benefited from one of the strongest economies in recent history, promptly fucked it up, and is now actively discriminating against the young in a bizarre turn around, whereby they've decided we've never had it so good despite the fact that we seem to be disproportionately paying for the mistakes of those who've gone before us. We pay over the odds for degrees that barely get us on the first rung of the ladder. We work for free. We're more connected than ever, yet we've never been so lonely. We're cash poor and time poor. Owning a home feels like a pipe dream, and retirement will probably come around the same time as our death certificate is issued.

So perhaps Winkle, Apfel, and their ilk represent a freedom that we crave. They have the benefit of a lifetime of experience behind them; they've been through the ups and downs of youth; they're firm in the belief that their lives are their own to live, and they are free of ridiculous hang ups like whether their thighs do or don't touch, and whether their bum cheeks are peachy enough. These women have got where they needed to be in life and now they can concentrate on doing, and wearing, whatever on earth they feel like.

I first became aware of Iris Apfel when images began circulating of her sat in her sumptuous apartment, swathed in layers upon layers of heavy looking jewels. I was thrilled when my boyfriend commented, "that's what you'll be like when you're older". To me, she represented wisdom, glamour and a sense of confidence learned over a lifetime.

Of course, being older isn't necessarily any easier than being young. Apfel has referred to her new found popularity as a 'lifeline', rescuing her from a sharp decline in her social life after she retired. But whatever the reality, these women characterise visions of our future selves; future selves who have overcome any present struggles and are reaping the rewards. 

Whilst Apfel, now the subject and star of a documentary film, has her own unique style; unswayed by current trends, Baddie Winkle is very much ingrained in trend-led youth culture, with her granddaughter responsible for much of her styling and overall image. If Apfel represents experience and a staunch refusal to care what others think, then perhaps Winkle illustrates a link between the old and the young that we fear we'll lose. She proves that getting older doesn't necessarily mean being shunned by the young; you can still be relevant, and that's reassuring. Some peoples' attitude towards her can be patronising - 'aww look at that cute old lady dressing up' - something many people are guilty of when speaking to, or about, older people but on the whole, people have been happy to embrace Baddie Winkle, tie dye, tracksuits, sequins and all.

Baddie Winkle, L: VMAs red carpet, R: Dimepiece campaign

The fashion industry certainly has a strange relationship with ageing. It designs for young, lithe bodies despite them being far removed, financially speaking, from the demographic they seek. It frivolously flocks to the next big thing and worships the new and the young, yet you don't have to delve very deep into the industry to find older icons who are widely respected for their wealth of experience. In an industry where 25 year old models are considered to be pushing it, Anna Wintour, Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Anna Dello Russo and the like are positively ancient, but their careers have weathered the storms of youth and their reputations are enduring.

So will this fascination and appreciation of the older generation continue?

The rise of advanced style comes from the same place as the push for different ethnicities and body types to be represented in the media; people simply want to see something different. And as long as people keep wanting to see something different and, importantly, need to see that their future doesn't have to dissolve into a bleak, beige wilderness, then advanced style will have a place. Whether it stays at this level of popularity depends entirely on whether we accept the older generation as a valid and permanent part of the fashion landscape, or brush them aside to make way for the next bright young thing.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Fashion Month in Collage: Part 3

The third and final installment of Fashion Month in Collage. With Milan and Paris come the big names - Gucci, Prada, Balenciaga, Christian Dior, et al. The run up to shows from these major houses bring anticipation as we wait to see what their input into the future fashion landscape will be. They didn't disappoint, of course. Gucci alone spawned a flood of Instagram posts, tweets, and hastily written show reports to celebrate Alessandro Michele's vision; which has seen the label steer away from its glossy past and into an eclectic Margot Tenenbaum-inspired future. The new Gucci girl is retro yet somehow super contemporary. In fact, Michele seems to excel at finding unlikely partners and blending them in sweet harmony. Charity shopper meets aristocrat; granny meets college girl. This new direction has resulted in soaring sales. As Vogue's Sarah Harris put it, "there hasn't been an on-brand shopping epidemic like this since Phoebe Philo joined Celine."

And with that slightly unplanned ode to the new era Gucci, onto a trend that they had down to a tee...

Suits You

Perhaps it's because I'm in the middle of a Boardwalk Empire marathon, but I have a new found appreciation for a sharp suit. Translate that over to womenswear, add a palette of rich clashing colours and an embroidered kipper tie or two and you're onto a winner. This is, without a doubt, my absolute favourite trend to come out of the SS16 shows. I wholeheartedly welcome the sumptuous tailoring seen at Gucci, Rochas, Dolce & Gabbana, and Dries Van Noten. There's something about a suit that makes you look ready to face the world, and if that suit happens to be crafted from emerald brocade, then all the better.

All Tied Up

Leading on from a more formal, classic approach to dressing in the form of two piece suits, neck ties and bows have also made something of a comeback thanks to Gucci (again), Lanvin, Erdem, Marc Jacobs, Haider Ackermann, and more. It's an accessory that can span multiple styles from romantic and girly, to 70s glam throwback, and Chrissie Hynde-esque boyish. I'll be embracing this trend to the max over the coming months.

(See also: bandannas at Sacai). 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Winter is Coming: Lighten Up

With the beginning of autumn/winter comes a shift towards the dark side. Swathes of black and grey hit the shop floors and we're expected to adapt our wardrobes accordingly. But the thought of being reduced to the same colour palette as a Puritan for 6 months out of twelve is highly unappealing. I like my winter wardrobe to be less Severus Snape, more Mindy Lahiri, so I've hunted down the cream of the crop of bright accessories for a more colourful outlook on the season.


Pat Butcher knew the score. I am a big advocate of the door knocker earring; the bigger the better. A good pair of earrings is always the finishing touch to my outfit and the search for new additions to my collection is never ending. Tatty Devine's AW15 collection features a selection of 80s inspired pieces which speak to my inner Fresh Prince. Doodad and Fandango, meanwhile, is a treasure trove of plastic fantastic pop art.

80s Graphic & Atomic Print Earrings: Tatty Devine, Be Mine Lichtenstein & Baby Teeth Earrings: Doodad and Fandango


A chunky necklace with a turtle neck or a thick jersey jumper is one of my favourite looks for winter. It's fuss free but sidesteps boring territory thanks to a quick injection of colour and texture. These three designers all take a playful, graphic approach to their work yet manage to translate that through their own inimitable styles. Wearing such bold accessories allows you to keep your outfit fairly simple as they become the focus of your look.

Twilight Palm Necklace: I Love Crafty, Orange Palm Tree Necklace: Lou Taylor, Leather Statement Necklace: Boo and Boo Factory


Thanks to my beautiful Luna Scarf by Bella Singleton, which I Instagrammed last week, I'm back into scarves in a big way. I used to wear scarves and neck ties all the time then, for some reason, they all found their way out of my personal wardrobe and into my styling kit. But my love has been rekindled, so I'll be wearing light silk scarves tied in flouncy bows whilst it's still fairly mild, and thick knits, cosy shawls, and faux furs when the icy cold sets in.

Cross Stitched Shawl: Crafty Cloth, Luna Silk Scarf: Bella Singleton, Moss Faux Fur Scarf: Shrimps, Violetta Silk Scarf: SO KLARA


I love bags. I've got fluffy bags, woven bags, neoprene bags, a bag shaped like a turtle, clutches, rucksacks, shoppers, shoulder bags... The right bag ties a look together, just as the wrong bag can totally break a look. I have a couple of sensible options for specific occasions but generally I like to go as bold as possible. Plus, the more colours that feature in the bag, the more things it will match in your wardrobe. 

Aurora Faux Fur Monster Bag: Joanna Pybus, Irma Print Backpack: Monki, Leather Clutch Bag: Boo and Boo Factory, Heart Clutch: Hattie Stewart x Poppy Lissiman

Friday, 25 September 2015

Fashion Month in Collage: Part 2

Continuing my look at fashion month SS16 in collage format. London Fashion Week hurtled by and we're now fixated on Milan's offerings. London is generally my favourite of the four main weeks due to the creative and anarchic nature of its native design scene. So many trends and highlights to choose from but here are the ones that stood out amongst the rest...

Pick 'n' Mix

One of my most-loved trends (ongoing, not just throughout this particular fashion month) is the mixture of elements that 'shouldn't work' but just do. This season, a number of designers have blended prints, colours, and textures to create a vibrant, chaotic mix; beautiful in its disconnection. Seen at Christopher Kane, Toga, Stella Jean (shown at Milan but definitely belongs in this category), and Ashish. 

Frill Seeker

Whether it's all over ruffles or a single stand alone frill, it's been all about the flounce when it comes to trim. Seen at Holly Fulton, Sibling, Fyodor Golan, Roksanda, Ryan Lo, and Mary Katrantzou. Of course I love the maximalist approach to Ryan Lo's frothy creations, but my favourite wearable takeaway from this trend is the voluminous bell sleeve.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Fashion Month in Collage: Part 1

Fashion month is upon us and it's time to forget that we have a cold winter ahead of us and start thinking about SS16, and what we'll be wearing for the sporadic smattering of sunny days we call summer. Wading through all the shows and keeping up with all the latest developments can be a task in itself, so rather than take it collection by collection, I've decided to bring together all of my favourite trends/pieces/colour palettes into a series of collages that are a little easier to digest than full show reports.

3D Florals

Browsing through the Parsons MFA show images this morning, I was very taken with Sisi Liu's work and her use of oversized 3D ornamental flowers set upon mesh and illustrative graphic prints. It occurred to me she wasn't the only designer to take florals into a 3D medium. Whether it's through the use of intricate beading, crochet, applique, or embroidery, SS16 florals have taken on a more tactile manifestation. Seen at Anna Sui, Oscar de la Renta, Delpozo, Lela Rose, and Michael Kors Collection. This is territory that has already been very well covered by Simone Rocha in both her SS15 and AW15 collections but it looks like it will be rolling out as a wider trend as opposed to a designer trait.
Cold Shoulder
Given its ubiquity throughout SS15, I wasn't sure whether designers would continue to latch onto the off-the-shoulder trend for another season but they certainly have, along with its new cousin, the on-the-shoulder/off-the-shoulder hybrid. Seen at Jil Sander Navy, J Crew, Apiece Apart, Proenza Schouler, Theory, Nanette Lepore, ADEAM, Creatures of Comfort, and I imagine many, many more to come.
Earn Your Stripes
Stripes have been peppered throughout many of the shows during NYFW including Tommy Hilfiger, Alice + Olivia, and Isa Irfen. A particular favourite was the exquisite full skirted Naeem Khan gown in the centre of the image. Pinstripes, rainbow stripes, awning stripes, gradient stripes, horizontal, vertical, all manner of stripes abound, so it looks like my single breton top won't cut it for SS16.Only London, Paris, and Milan to go... 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

How to Stay Creative in a Commercial World

A lot of my expectations about being a stylist were wrong. My visions of twirling around with designer dresses were quickly replaced by a reality of struggling up endless stairs with heavy suitcases; with a film of sweat settling on my ever-pinker face betraying my attempts to look cool and collected. Dreams of big budget magazine shoots were swept aside with the onslaught of 'exposure' as payment. I've come to accept these and the many other misconceptions I had as a naive student. But one thing that has certainly taken me aback is the amount of times I've been told, "you're very... creative... aren't you?" Generally framed as a complement but quite clearly masking a worry that I may actually be physically unable to put together an outfit without faux fur, glitter, or every colour under the sun. Whilst I do, clearly, have a propensity towards the bright and outrageous, I'm just as capable at putting together a sleek tailored menswear outfit, or creating a simple, seasonally-appropriate day time look. My ability to be creative doesn't hinder my ability to 'do commercial'. The two aren't mutually exclusive. And yet, often, my creativity is seen as an obstacle, a reason to question my ability in other areas, like I'm just playing at this and it's not actually my job.

Examples of my commercial work

So, how do you stay creative in a world that, increasingly, doesn't appreciate it?

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Now, if you can make a living from illustration/photography/styling/playing the Peruvian nose flute/crafting felt from your cat's hair and you enjoy it, then you should absolutely do that. But you don't have to make money from your creative pursuits for them to be valuable. I read an interesting blog post a while ago about a very talented woman who opened an Etsy shop to sell her crafts because she felt that was what she was supposed to do. However, she soon found that the pressure of creating in exchange for money added an element of pressure that completely sucked the joy out of what started out as a fun hobby. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the dream and the reality can be worlds apart and yet if a friend shows me something they've made, I'm guilty of responding by enthusiastically telling them they should sell whatever the thing is. It's meant as a compliment because I really think other people would love it, but why am I/are we so keen to put a price on everything? Creativity has value all of its own and it's not necessarily monetary.

Just Do It (sorry, Nike)

At times, people either don't understand, don't appreciate, or just plain don't like my work. I'm lucky to receive kind comments from lots of people about what I do which is always uplifting but at the same time, I know other people class some of what I do as a bit weird. It doesn't stop me doing it, it just means that maybe I'll take the image of the guy who I photoshopped a second face onto out of my portfolio for that particular meeting...

It can be difficult to take criticism well when it's about something which represents you in one way or another. I remember someone leaving the following anonymous message on my Myspace page when I was about 16 and very into painting: "Your so called 'art' is shit". (Note the stellar use of sarcastic quotation marks to really drive their message home.) I was crushed and I can still recall the feeling as my stomach dropped and my cheeks flushed with upset and embarrassment. It had taken courage to share my art (or 'art') with others and I began to wonder if actually everyone was laughing at me. Maybe it really was shit. Maybe I was shit. Ultimately though, it didn't matter because I was creating it solely for me. There is a definite freedom in creating something just for the sake of it and it trumps any criticism, uninvited or otherwise.

Examples of my creative work

Enjoy the Process

When I'm styling I often enjoy the end result more than the process. I think this is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, there's my desire to get everything absolutely perfect, and I can't really be sure I've achieved that until we get that perfect shot. Secondly, there's the time pressure. I'm working to a deadline, I can't just amble through the preparation as and when I want to do it. Thirdly, other people are relying on me and I don't want to let them down. These reasons combined, and more, mean that my favourite part of styling is actually reviewing (and being happy with) the images once it's all over because I know I've done a good job. Conversely, when I crochet as a hobby, I love the process of making so much I actually slow down to a snail's pace when the end is in sight. This isn't because I prefer one to the other, it's because the outcomes are different. When I crochet, there's no one relying on me to have something made to a perfect standard by a certain time, and so I can sit and appreciate each stitch and loop without having to rush to the finish line. 

Just about every creative person I know doubts their own ability and relentlessly criticises their own work, so it's not always possible to sit with with a serene smile on your face throughout the entirety of a project. In fact, the creative process can be truly painful at times and fraught with self doubt, but giving yourself the space to enjoy what you do as you do it is possibly the best way to remind yourself why you started it in the first place.

A recent crochet project

Disclaimer: Like most people, I regularly fail to take my own advice but I do try to follow these rules. It just may be in between short bouts of doing the exact opposite.