15 August 2012

British Fashion: The Reinvention

Stella McCartney’s star-studded London Fashion Week party in February; LFW regulars, bloggers Susie Lau and Carrie Harwood
We all love a comeback, and London Fashion Week has done a pretty good job of reinventing itself over the past few years. From its humble beginnings in 1984, LFW has grown to become a huge event showcasing the work of over 100 designers on the catwalk alone, presentations, parties and showcases aside.

Read more about the transformation of LFW in my article for Running in Heels.

12 July 2012

Thea Caffea

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (sianicles88) will know that I visited Thea Caffea, a tea lounge that has recently opened on Low Pavement in Nottingham today.  I am an absolute tea obsessive, my love of tea rivals my love of clothes, so when an old school friend said he wanted to meet, I knew we had to go there.  Situated in Enfield Chambers, the tea lounge is set back off Low Pavement, and with the sun shining we made the most of the fleeting summery weather and sat outside.

My beautiful friend Jenny works in the kitchen creating sumptuous cakes so we felt obliged to sample some of these culinary delights.  We certainly weren’t disappointed: I tried the almond cake (picture 1) while Ben decided on the lemon meringue cake.  We left empty plates, thanks Jenny!

But on to the main attraction: the tea!  Thea Caffea is so passionate about tea; it even has its own tea directory.  After flicking through and discovering blends of tea I had never even imagined I ordered a pot of Jasmine Silver Needle (picture 2) and Ben took tea-drinking to a new level by choosing Dragon Eye Flowering Display tea (picture 3).  Our tea arrived in small dishes, accompanied by hot water in a china tea pot for me and a transparent glass pot for Ben, china cups and saucers and, of course tea strainers – no tea bags at this establishment!  Ben’s Dragon Eye tea was quite beautiful; it started as a ball of tea, which when added to the hot water blossomed into a beautiful flower!

Altogether a very elegant experience, I will definitely be returning and I highly recommend it.  To find out more, visit the Thea Caffea facebook page.

11 July 2012

Why Should Consumers Show Loyalty?

Reading in Drapers recently about a presentation of findings of their Customer Insight Report to a group of retailers, I was struck by a comment made by finance director of Allders Croydon Max Menon.  "We compete against House of Fraser and Debenhams, and sell a lot of the same product.  Customers are not very loyal, and will jump between the three shops to get the best bargains."  I wondered whether I was the only person who jumped to the conclusion: well, why shouldn't they?  If a customer is offered the same product at several different stores, why wouldn't they choose the cheapest option?

Reasons for customers to shop at a store, regardless of price, could include store atmosphere, attentive staff, loyalty schemes; services that go above and beyond the standard shopping experience.  However, these are things that seem to be sadly lacking from the average high street store.  If these factors are not present, especially in the current economic climate when consumers are scrutinising each purchase, then price is going to be the deciding factor.

Another problem I have with Menon's statement is the complaint that House of Fraser and Debenhams sell a lot of the same product.  Surely the answer to this problem should be to offer their customers new and exciting product to tempt spending.  Exclusivity has a huge appeal, and taking a risk on fresh product could result in rising sales figures.  Implementing a proactive approach must be better than complaining and sticking to the same old brands that have saturated the market.

Perhaps the recession is the wake-up call required to motivate retailers to improve their offers and start considering their customers as more than just a source of profits and sales figures.

29 June 2012

Agi and Sam

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  This is the question that Agi & Sam ask with their latest collection: Darwin’s Theory of why the Chicken Crossed the Road.  Clearly, the two young designers do not like to take fashion too seriously.  Through the use of their bespoke prints they create a unique sense of humour, while their considered garments demonstrate their sound technical credentials.

Read the rest of my article in Candid's latest digital issue: XY/XX.  I am very happy to report that my article was chosen to be the opening feature *proud face*.

20 June 2012

M. Hulot

Actually, the designer behind M. Hulot is, well, a woman. When Anna Kreeger launched her leather accessories brand in 2011, the inspiration behind the label was the eccentric fictional Frenchman. A character created by acclaimed film director Jacques Tati, Monsieur Hulot featured in numerous films during the 50s and 60s. Hulot appealed to Kreeger as he constantly struggled to keep up with the pace of the modern world and all of its complicated gadgets, perfectly complementing the simple, back-to-basics craftsmanship of the brand.

Read the rest of my article for Running in Heels here.

23 May 2012

Great Scot

Can neon ever be classic?  Sure, I’m lusting after a luminous laser cut clutch now, but how will I feel about it in 6 months time when the nights are seeping into the days once again?  One thing is for sure, and that is if you’re going to do neon: do it right.  At a time when we are all putting that little bit more consideration into our sartorial investments, I searched for a designer who offered on-trend pieces that were as ethically sound, as they were elegant.
Henrietta Ludgate, graduate of Central St Martins (if that’s not a hallmark of fashion talent, I don’t know what is) and committed champion of Scottish craftsmanship.  Her latest collection Findhorn is comprised of a not-for-the-faint-hearted colour palette including; hot pink, colour-of-the-season tangerine and cartoon grass green.  So some fairly season-specific hues, but the design is anything but fleeting in its brilliance.

Read more of my article on Ludgate for Candid Online here.

22 May 2012

Studio Nicholson

Who is she?

Former menswear designer Nick Wakeman launched her brand Studio Nicholson in 2010 to fill the niche in the womenswear market for classic clothes, inspired by the core values of beautiful tailored modern menswear. The Studio Nicholson girl? Wakeman’s muses are contemporary and historic style icons such as Gaia Repossi and Katherine Hepburn.

Read my full article for Running in Heels here.

13 May 2012

Albam Clothing

Modern crafted clothing is what Albam stands for.  Founded by James Shaw and Alastair Rae in 2006, the brand prides itself on its simple values of creating high quality product from beautiful fabrics, using British factories for the majority of its production.

Read more about them in my piece for Candid Online here.

19 April 2012

Musette Article

Check out the article I wrote for Musette on the photographer Rachel Oates here.

5 April 2012

Get the Look with Tula

Want a beautiful leather handbag but can't afford designer prices?  Then check out Tula's new range of catwalk-inspired designs.  You can get on-trend styles for a fraction of the cost and be all smug in the knowledge you've got 35 years of British craftsmanship on your arm.

Tula Edie available online for just £89.10
Duffle and bucket bags were all over this season's catwalks and you can replicate this trend for just £99.  The leather used on these cute duffle bags from Tula is super soft and I think the subtle gold detail adds a really nice touch.
Tula Talitha in white available online for just £134.10 and in tan for just £125.10
If the whole duffle thing isn't doing it for you and you want to go for something a little more sophisticated then why not try the minimalist look?  Another catwalk favourite was the top handle bag.  Tula have kept these looks understated with elegant clasps and neutral patent leather.  Just need an exclusive party invite so I have an excuse to buy one...

See more from Tula here.

27 March 2012

Charlotte Brown

Charlotte Brown is an innovative womenswear designer from Nottingham.  A recent graduate of UCLAN, Brown draws inspiration from diverse sources and isn’t afraid to mix things up in the name of empowering, beautiful fashion. 

For her Spring/Summer 2012 offering she bravely eschewed a traditional lighter palette in favour of an all-black collection.  Combining the drapery of Parisian couturier Madame Grès with the tough texture of laser-cut leatherette, her Alix Expanded collection gave every model on the catwalk a striking sense of feminine strength.

I found it refreshing to see a collection that used the construction of both the original cloth and the garment to create its silhouettes.  The strategically placed slashes allowed glimpses of flesh, without detracting from the form of the clothes.  Brown looked to the structure of expanded metal to inform her laser-cutting techniques and the intricate layers of her knitwear. 

Such varied sources of inspiration contribute to the hybrid nature of Brown’s work. Each garment is full of juxtapositions, such as structured cowl necklines and latex-coated tulle manipulated into fluid drapery. 

While her work is directional, I feel that Brown has achieved that perfect balance of being both exquisitely crafted and wearable.