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.