Tuesday, 28 September 2010

One To Watch: Jane Bowler

Old shower curtains, bath mats and random pieces of plastic are not usually the materials of choice for a designer, even an ethical one. But for Jane Bowler, a recent graduate from the Royal College of Art, these bits and pieces that we just discard without a thought are her inspiration for her Masters graduate collection.

Concerned with sustainability, Bowler aims to make pieces that last forever in our fast fashion, throwaway society. While I love her works and think they are beautiful and striking, I am unsure as to how making garments that last for thousands of years will help the environment. Nevertheless, anyone who highlights the need for sustainable fashion is on the right track.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Inspirational Fashion Figure: Jeff Garner for Prophetik

Jeff Garner isn't your typical Pepperdine Christian University graduate. He is, however, a great example of the new fierce ethical designer.Creativity, skill and a whole lot of perserverence is what's needed to push ethical fashion to the forefront in today's fast fashion world and Garner has it in bundles. Originally an entertainment manager for the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Barry Manilow, Garner moved into the world of fashion because he had always wanted to be a designer.

Describing the process of moving from show business to ethical fashion as "super hard, with a lot of testing and learning", Garner was clearly meant for this industry: within eight years he had interned with Calvin Klein and J Lindeberg and had opened London Fashion Week with his own sustainable label Prophetik.

By using vintage materials, Greenspun fleece made from recycled bottles, hemp and peace silk to name a few, Prophetik is one of the world's leading and most famous ethical labels. As well as ethical design, Garner is always keen to bring a charitable element to his collections. He chooses a beneficiary for each of his collections, his Autumn/Winter 2010/11 one being Equine Destiny, a film exposing the unhumane treatment of horses.

Prophetik also has a strong partnership with Elephant Art, an organisation which trains elephants to paint organic silk and hemp with their trunks, making each garment unique. I am loving the new A/W collection from Prophetik! Inspired by the American Civil war, the collection partners romantic floating fabrics with bold colours and beautiful lines.


Saturday, 4 September 2010

One To Watch: Nancy Dee

The bosoms are bountiful, the waist is waspish and the hips are womanly this A/W season. Lara Stone caused a right rowdy reception at the Louis Vuitton show, proudly sashaying down the catwalk with her rather plentiful chest and brands such as Fendi and Dries Van Noten have followed suit. The likes of L'Wren Scott and Dolce and Gabbana have favoured the pencil skirt look instead but I am thrilled to announce that Retro Glamour is here to stay! For this season at least.

However, for the ethically minded consumer, where do we go for such beautiful shapes and echos of a bygone era? Well, it appears I have found the guiding light, the solution: Nancy Dee. Founded by sisters Tamsin and Seraphina Davis, Nancy Dee is an ethical womenswear label specialising in 'day to night jersey' garments. Painstakingly sourcing top quality jerseys from wide variety of natural, sustainable and organic sources such as bamboo, modal and soya, the girls believe versatility is the key.

"Our style is mainly inspired by retro shapes and prints - actually bold prints in exciting colours are a big part of the Nancy Dee look. The Autumn/Winter season is all about patriotic colours - think French Resistance and the forties with a bit of silent movie glamour thrown in too! You can expect pencil-skirted dresses, pussy-bows and a retro snowgoose print," says Tamsin.

I have to say that I am a huge fan of the Nancy Dee prints and always have been. Their rich colours give a luxurious feel and clever pleating and draping make their creations easy and comfortable to wear. The forties has come back with a bang!

"Ooooohhh Renéeeee!"


Saturday, 28 August 2010

Ethical Event: Eco Experience

I was recently fortunate enough to attend an ethical fashion event in the depths of Haldon Forest in the magnificent rolling hills of Devon. Organised by four graduates from the MA Fashion and the Environment course at London College of Fashion and the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW), Fashion Footprints: Sustainable Approaches featured an exhibition and one-off Eco-fashion Show in the Forest.

The event began with a talk by the inspirational and eclectic 'Hactivist' and fashion theorist Otto von Busch. He explored the idea of the way we engage with our clothes and emphasised that what we wear is not necessarily dictated by the influence of designers such as Karl Largerfeld but by our friendship groups. Busch also described how we need to engage more with the environment and how our choice in fashion impacts on it. By recycling clothing and choosing ethical, we have the chance to really help the planet and make a difference.

Following a 15-minute walk into the forest, we were seated in a huge tipi and awaited the three act show performed by dancer/models from Totnes School of Dance. Donned in ethical couture by designers from Elena Garcia to Bodkin, the dancers illustrated the engagement with nature described by Busch perfectly. Unique and exciting, Eco-fashion Show in the Forest was an amazing show!


Style Icon: Mumford & Sons

OK, admission time. For those of you who do not know me well, I have a complete, total and unashamed obsession with London-born folk-rock band Mumford & Sons as well as a huge passion for folk and alternative music.

First formed in 2007, the band is made up of four friends; Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ted Dwane and Ben Lovett, whose talent, passion for and engagement with both their music and audience has turned Mumford & Sons into one of the biggest bands of this year.

It is unusual for me to be a fan of an abundance of facial hair but the lads pull the look off completely and look pretty dashing as a result! And you don't want to get me started on their clothes. They have the smart-casual edgy-country look down and it suits them completely. Incredible musicians, festival favourites and style icons. Obsession well and truly cemented.


One To Watch: Goodone

How's this for recycling? Founded in 2006 in a Bristolian disused car showroom by Nin Castle and Phoebe Emerson, Goodone is a multi-award winning sustainable brand, which produces forward-thinking body-con clothing through an upcycling process.

"The team at Goodone develops a design method that's informed by the use of recycled fabrics but not restrained by it," say Castle. By mixing surplus luxury fabrics with used clothes Goodone is a perfect example of what sustainable fashion can achieve.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Inspirational Fashion Figure: Otto von Busch

I was on holiday in Devon recently and between shimmying up trees on a harness (fear not, this is a normal family holiday pursuit) and riding round the forest on a Segway I came across a poster for an eco fashion event (look out for the low down on this in a later post) featuring a presentation by fashion 'Hacktivist' Otto von Busch. A designer, artist, activist and fashion theorist who is a PhD candidate of critical fashion design at the University of Gothenburg, Otto is one of the most inspirational people I've ever met.

While his areas of interest are the vastest I've ever come across, Otto gave his presentation on our engagement (or lack thereof) in fashion and the myth of the fashion hierachy in relation to the way of the natural world. I have never come across anyone who can link two subjects that cannot be more different and his enthusiasm and energy were catching. I can safely say I have found my role model!


Style Icon: Pharrell Williams

Producer, recording artist, fashion designer. Pharrell Williams is best known for his role in N.E.R.D and numerous collaborations with artists across a huge range of musical genres from rock to R&B. While Pharrell has had success as an artist with hits such as 'She Wants To Move' and 'Frontin'', he is most revered in the industry for his skills as a producer: being responsible for hits by artists like Nelly, Britney Spears, Beyonce and Madonna to name a few. I, however, have always loved him for his fashion sense (amongst other things... ahem).

Since his N.E.R.D came to the world's attention in 2004 for 'She Wants To Move' I have been following Pharrell's fashion metamorphoses. In 2005 he collaborated with founder of A Bathing Ape apparel label and fashion icon Nigo to produce his own fashion lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream. Five years on he is now working with couture giant Louis Vuitton, producing a range of jewellery and sunglasses.

But if there is one thing I love about Pharrell it is his confidence in what he wears. He is a fashion chameleon and has sported a wide variety of looks over the years, but he is always true to himself and always looks effortlessly cool. My personal favourite is his most recent waistcoat combo. What can I say? I'm a fan of the modern day gent!


Friday, 13 August 2010

One To Watch: Cecilia Hammarborg: Gun and Sparrow

I was at the Pure London Trade Show recently and whilst looking through the handy map I was given (Yes, I am a geek and yes, I do plan my visits but Pure is HUGE! Even with a map and a couple of trade shows under my belt I still get lost!) I stumbled across the brand Gun & Sparrow.

As my closest friends know, there is often no explaining my thought processes and this time round, it was no different. I just liked the name, hadn't heard of the brand before and thought "what the hell, why not eh?" So off I toddle and after a good ten minutes and several unintentional laps of the hall, I arrive at Cecilia Hammarborg's stall.

As soon as I set eyes on the stand I was in love. I am a huge fan of quirky and unusual prints and new ideas (as you have probably gathered) and fell completely in lust with Cecilia's trademark Gun & Sparrow print. I am also a big fan of coats - I have a not-so-secret wish list of various outerwear garments I aim to acquire over my fashion lifetime - and the beautiful, skillful and simple cut of Cecilia's collection for Urban Outfitters are some of the best I've seen.

"Cecilia Hammarborg is based on the concepts of Ethics, Style, Simplicity and Quality. Made for strong independent women who want to embrace their femininity and our future," says the press release. I was sold even before her mission statement! The fact that Cecilia uses her Gun & Sparrow print throughout the collection gives it a cool and funky edge, making it accessible to everyone who loves fashion. I think we will be seeing more great things from this brand for the foreseeable future.

To see Cecilia Hammarborg's creations for yourself, go to

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Iconic Imagery: ADZ by Ada Zanditon


A first class honours graduate from London College of Fashion who interned with the late, great Lee Alexander McQueen, Ada Zanditon is a force to be reckoned with. One of ethical fashion's most famous and successful designers, she has also interned with the likes of established Scot Jonathan Saunders and the dark, conceptual mind of Gareth Pugh. As well as unveiling her third collection this September, Zanditon will also be showing her new diffusion line ADZ.

Named 'Nebulayan', the Spring/Summer 201
1 debut collection includes some stunning prints inspired by the most mysterious and beautiful scenes the universe can offer. Focussed on daywear pieces cut cleverly to create bold, fluid and unusual silhouettes, 'Nebulayan' is dramatically set off by prints of photographs of deep space nebulae taken by the Hubble telescope overset by illustrations of thermal imaging of the Arctic and Himalayas.


It is easy to see the influence McQueen, Saunders
and Pugh have had on Zanditon's creative mind. The prints she has used in her last couple of collections including 'Nebulayan' have been reminiscent of those in McQueen's last collection although her stance of ethical fashion and sustainability makes her stand out from the rest. Using organic fabrics and AZO-free dyes (which can turn into chemicals that increase the chance of cancer), Zanditon tries to ensure that waste is kept to an absolute minimum.

For more on Ada Zanditon's lines see www.adaz.co.uk


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Style Icon: Tim Wonnacott

Now let me just put this out there, I don't watch a whole lot of daytime TV (or TV in general) due to a rather busy daily schedule that I admit is brought on by my attitude as an extreme workaholic.

However, whilst convalescing after a recent illness I found myself with a new love for Bargain Hunt. Yes, it's the type of thing your parents and grandparents indulge in along with Antiques Roadshow and the news but I admit that I have been known to watch a few episodes of Bargain Hunt, OK? You never know, the knowledge you acquire might just tip the odds in your favour if you ever find yourself antiques hunting at car boot sales...

The pretty things and exciting auction room banter (... work with me here) are all very well and in all honesty there wouldn't really be much of a programme without them. However, I believe I have discovered a new style icon in the form of Tim Wonnacott.

Originally replacing the sometimes questionably coloured form of David Dickinson on the show with an initial 30 show contract, he has now pres
ented over 350. Tim is probably the only person on this earth able to wear separate blue, pink and yellow garments together and get away with it and I love his trademark bow tie and waist coat combo. His eccentricity makes him a modern day dandy!


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Iconic Imagery: Spirit Of Phoenix





A well established brand since 1997, Spirit of Phoenix by Bamboo Silk Co. Ltd. based in London has become increasingly popular over the past few years thanks to their handmade organic silk creations. Full of striking patterns, vivid colours and exotic imagery, their huge range of garments are perfect for a special event.


Friday, 6 August 2010

One To Watch: Warm Pixie


Now is the time of year when we fashion followers start thinking ahead to our Autumn/Winter wardrobes. "In August?" people say, "are you mad?! It's the middle of summer!" Well considering that this week, high end department store and home to all our favourite labels, Selfridges unveiled its range of festive decorations, I would say that planning for your wardrobe's next six months is a rather sensible idea!


So plan I shall and knitwear is one of the main staples of the A/W wardrobe, along with hat hair and mittens, lots of mittens. However, knitwear is a tr
icky area for many reasons. First, the changing fortunes of the British weather can prove problematic: thick or thin knit? Angora or Merino? Then there's the style, choose the wrong one and you risk looking like an extra from Last Of The Summer Wine.


Fear not friends, for I have found the perfect solution: Warm Pixie. The young, British knitwear brand headed by designer Vicky Shelsher has already made a huge impact on the industry, now boasting three concessions at Topshop. "I've been designing for years and while I was on maternity leave I thought I'd just knock up a quick knitwear collection and see if anyone likes it, and Topshop took it," reveals Shelsher.


Warm Pixie has had rave reviews from an impressive number of national publications such as Fabulous magazine recently, and it's easy to see why. The good quality fine knits Shelsher uses, combined with her quirky design skills make this brand a sure fire success. A little bit edgy and very high quality, her creations are perfect for the unpredictability of the British winter and are topped off by little extras such as shoulder detail and skyline silhouettes. If you want something different this winter, look to Warm Pixie for fun, beautifully made pieces.


Warm Pixie Quickfire Quiz

What does Warm Pixie stand for?

It stands for young, it stands for quality, style and fun. What we don't do is cheap and tacky and nasty.

What look do you aim for?

I would say we are relaxed-cool, a little bit girlie.

What makes Warm Pixie stand out from all the rest?
It's unusual, I don't think anybody is doing good quality knitwear that's got character.

How did you get the name?
Pixie has been a nickname for years and then when we were looking for the brand name we just thought it needed a bit of something else. We thought that Warm Pixie sounded cute!

Make sure you check out Warm Pixie for all the latest additions and the summer sale at warmpixie.com


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

One To Watch: Tara Starlet

I am a lover, not a fighter... well when it comes to fashion at least! I have been involved in ethical fashion behind the scenes for a few years now and it has changed the way I not only see fashion, but the world. It's not just a label, it's a lifestyle. The term 'ethical fashion' encompasses the very nature of clothing production, from the fair treatment of the cotton farmers to the working conditions of the people who make the clothes.

Many people still believe that ethical fashion equals drab, itch
y fabric and the word 'green' conjures up unattractive images of spaced out hippies kitted out in some rather unfortunate robes. "Yeah mannnn" indeed. Over the past two years especially I have seen ethical fashion really evolve, both in design and the materials designers are using. It has got to the stage where ethical is becoming the mainstream, which is fantastic news all round; the Primarni faithful are starting to see the light although there is still a very long way to go.

I am always on the lookout for exciting new ethical de
signers and brands and I am lucky enough to count some of the best around as my friends. Through my involvement with these designers and general interest in the subject, I have discovered some real gems on my travels. Today I want to introduce you to Tara Starlet, a 1940s and 1950s inspired vintage brand which reinvents old fabrics, buttons and trimmings to create glamorous clothes.

I love the fashion of the 1940s and 1950s, the time of Dior's New Look: it was the time of Make Do And Mend and effortlessly stylish women. Tara Starlet's creations bring the best parts of that era right into the 21st century while using ecological techniques that give their clothes a clear conscience.

See www.tarastarlet.com for more info


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Trend Watch: Heeled Hikers

As some of my closest friends know, I have a slight addiction to boots. I don't discriminate, any sort of boot will do but black, leather and heeled are my footwear of choice. And this Autumn/Winter season, the catwalk hasn't disappointed me: from Galliano to Kenneth Cole, from Moschino Cheap and Chic to Tory Burch, boots are everywhere this season. However, A/W 2010 sees a quirky twist in the trusted, sturdy boot: the heeled hiker. Practical, edgy and utterly perfect I can already tell what the majority of my wages will be spent on. Who needs food anyway?





Friday, 30 July 2010

Style Icon: Janelle Monáe

Beautiful. Talented. Chic. Jazz singer Janelle Mon
áe is one of my favourite artists right now. Not only are her songs catchy but her unique style and fun attitude is what I love most about her: she is confident in herself and the clothes she wears and she looks sharp in them.

Masculine-inspired dressing has been a favourite of mine ever since I can remember, I love the effect fitted cigarette pants tapered at the ankle and a good tailored blazer has on the silhouette. I absolutely adore the cape in the second photo, the decorative trim harks back to military dress and is eye catching without screaming for attention.

Her trademark monochrome brogues are incredible! Many people in fashion have a love/hate relationship with these shoes but I have always had a real passion for them: they are fun, formal and a little bit cheeky. The perfect choice for Autumn/Winter 2010.