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