*Sponsored video link*

The fashion industry has been forced to change indelibly in the last few years. The demise of the well-established Aquascutum and the quirky cool that was Luella, have redefined the notion of longevity in what has always been a fickle market. The High Street and the Internet have reclassified what represents stability in fashion. Topshop, ASOS and the like, continue to thrive, even in a difficult economic climate; their familiarity with their customer and ubiquity have paid dividends. Big named designers want to affiliate themselves with these brands of the masses; thus is born the High Street collaboration.

However much I may dislike it, becoming a household name is a key to success in the modern age. Becoming accessible, especially in terms of social media, opens the door to a huge audience. I despise reality television and the pseudo-celebrities it spawns but these people are highly featured across all media outlets and what they wear drives sales.

The Temperley business model is one that has always interested me. Firstly, Alice Temperley diversified her ranges to make them more accessible. The younger and cheaper, Alice by Temperley offered a harder edge to the usual whimsy of her look. The expensive, flowing gowns were gone and a more cool wearable collection was created. Temperley Bridal keyed into the shift away from the traditional meringue. Some Temperley London gowns were already bride-appropriate and the exclusive bridal range just extended this line.

Temperley London, as the name suggests, is synonymous with all that is British. The “right” people wear her dresses, perpetuating this patriotic brand affiliation. The Middleton sisters and their royal connection have propelled Temperley onto the global stage. In the brand’s bid to becoming a household name, Temperley revealed its first collaboration, Somerset, with the stalwart of the High Street, John Lewis. At first, I was uncertain of this partnership. I did ask myself if this is what Alice Temperley envisaged for her brand back at its conception in 2000? But then I began to see where they were coming from. John Lewis is intrinsically British. They stock brands that hold a place in the heart of the British aristocracy and middle classes; those with a disposable income. Temperley will join Barbour, Hunter and other inherently British brands to become more accessible and renowned for the brand elements it wishes to promote. Despite the fact that the overall look of the collection does not appeal to my design aesthetic, logistically and in terms of brand longevity, I can see exactly why Temperley made this collaborative choice.

Below is a sponsored video link to the Somerset by Temperley campaign and you can shop the collection in John Lewis from the 4th of September. I would love to hear your thoughts on this campaign in the comments section below.

Madonna and Maripol

I haven’t been a huge fan of Madonna for many years. The whole transformative wonderment of her career has pretty much passed me by. I’m not interested in her secret of eternal youth, her boy-toy conquests, world tours or well-toned arms. Well, I rescind that last comment, the arms are pretty cool. The Madonna I loved was the 80’s incarnation. I liked the seemingly fresh faced, yet wickedly enigmatic Madonna. She was covered in black lace, doused in jewellery and in my mind, effortlessly cool. I won’t lie, it saddened me to find out that this look wasn’t organic and was partly the creation of French stylist Maripol.

The lovely Disney Roller Girl reminded me the other week of Maripol’s work with Madonna and specifically of an article I’d saved from a few years ago. From the seemingly uncool archives of The Madonna Tribe website comes this hugely insightful interview with Maripol. I urge you to read it, especially if like me, you were a fan of 80’s Madonna. I discovered that Debi Mazar (Entourage*) was Madonna’s make-up artist, Steven Meisel shot her famous Like A Virgin cover at The St. Regis Hotel and my favourite fact, Maripol and Andy Warhol judged a Madonna look-a-like competition at Macy’s!

Maripol’s time with Madonna is synonymous with the time that I was completely enamoured with this rising star. I was on a waiting list for all her albums on cassette when they were released in Woolworths, even the Who’s That Girl soundtrack! I watched the Desperately Seeking Susan video WAY too much for a girl of 10 and loved when “that” Madonna was referenced in Pulp Fiction:

I have Maripol to thank for creating the visual of the Madonna I loved. See the interview I referenced here and see Maripol’s archaic, yet iconic website, (Maripolitan!) here.

Vanessa Jackman

Street style photography blogs still fill my daily feed and provide essential inspiration for all my looks. Whenever I see that Vanessa Jackman has posted photographs, there is a genuine little internal jump of joy. As a photographer, Vanessa has a knack of capturing a beautiful moment of fun. When you have the pleasure of meeting Miss. Jackman, you understand how she manages to do it. Gregarious, happy and always enthusiastic, Vanessa always manages to elicit a smile. Her infectious personality translates in her photographs and I can always imagine what she’s saying to her subject to get that perfect shot. Take a look at her beautiful blog here.


Zara’s Supremecy

When I see people quoted as saying, “My wardrobe is a mix of designer and high street,” my inner self does a weird nod and thinks, “Hmm, mine too.” My inner self clearly has reality issues, as when I peruse my wardrobe, there may be one or two t-shirts that could be deemed as high end but the rest reside on hangers hailing from the likes of Topshop and Zara.  My inner self also believes that we have many charity-shop finds, vintage pieces and cool hand-me-downs from my eclectic family…as well as all the many other things that the cool people say in interviews.

Zara launched their August lookbook yesterday, clearly less mid-summer and more of a nod towards the winter months to come. Zara seems to me to utterly dominate their well-established corner of the high street. The key is that their clothes don’t feel like they’re mass-produced, despite obviously being so. The last time I visited Paris I went to Zara’s branch on Rue St. Honoré. Hidden deep within the upper echelons of Paris’ chicest boutiques, like a chameleon, it blends in perfectly. It stocks Zara’s more rare pieces and only has one of each size on the rack. Everything somehow felt more expensive primarily because of the location and décor but mainly due to this clever marketing tool of limiting the amount of stock on the shop floor.

Here’s a small list of the other fields in which I feel Zara have excelled.

Online delivery and returns – If your express delivery fails to join you from Madrid(!) within the stated period, your delivery charge is refunded that same day.  A free courier service collects from your home within 24 hours of your pick-up request and takes it to a local store, where they refund you as soon as they receive the parcel.

Campaigns – They bag THE best models – Freja Beha Erichsen and Cara Delevingne lead their campaigns this year, with beautifully shot online videos. Stella Tennant made me want to buy EVERYTHING a few season’s ago.

Zara People! – An invite to Zara customers to send in photos of themselves wearing the current season’s clothes; a selection of which are then published on Zara’s website, with easy links to buy the looks. It is also a great platform for bloggers as it links directly to their blog. People! will begin accepting new submissions next month.

If it weren’t for restraints like mortgages, bills, small child upkeep etc, all of my wages could easily disappear there. Instead, I’ve included the key pieces I currently covet (click link to go to item.) Coat with quilted leather sleeves, blazer with satin lapels, oversized knit in white. I recently purchased this white coat. SO impractical for a toddler’s parent but I think that’s why I love it. Now Zara, all that’s left for you to do is embrace Twitter, then I think you may be perfect.


Continuing along with my theme of posting about things I truly love, here’s one about David Bowie. When the small child was still inside (womb, not prison,) we made a conscious effort to expand our vinyl record collection. Things of Random Coolness came up with the idea of starting a musical education young, which included making playlists for the pregnant me to listen to on the train and buying up the LPs that had shaped both our love of music. It was only on viewing daily the striking visual onslaught that is the cover of Aladdin Sane that I really began to appreciate Bowie’s stylistic merit. This may sound ridiculous but I was born at the end of the 70’s and the overriding image of 80’s Bowie that was etched on my brain, was that of him duetting with Mick Jagger to Dancing In The Street. To me, he was frankly just a normal popstar appearing on Top Of The Pops. As a child, I was also unable to muster up a love for Labyrinth; I apologise profusely. I have since tried, I promise…but I think it boils down to the fact that it’s a musical; I don’t do musicals*

Looking at his back catalogue of looks and make up over the decades, I was in awe. Jumpsuits, sharp tailoring, perfectly coiffed quiffs…everything screamed style; so far removed from the trench coat wearing “icon” that I noted in my youth (embarrassingly, I’ve only just come to realise that lurking underneath that trench was a phenomenal jumpsuit.)

So the small child gets to listen to LOTS of vinyl but he is yet to distinguish between what is a Frisbee and what is an LP or discern the vast difference between the musical offerings of Bob Marley and those of The Tombliboos (see In The Night Garden.) To remind him always of the godly status of Mr. Bowie and my late discovery of his greatness, I have just purchased this Major B doll by My Name is Simone from French Blossom. Purchasing items for him that I secretly covet myself, has now become an integral part of parenting!

*Grease being the exception to the rule.

The Self Service Effect

For a while now I’ve been pretty much beating myself up about the blog. One minute I hate blogs and it’s an utter chore to read them, the next I love them and read something written from a perspective that truly impresses. There are also so many saccharinely sweet offerings of picture perfection out there, I didn’t think I could compete anymore. But I’ve decided, my blog is important to me and that’s all that matters. Of course it’s filled with imperfections – some collages are embarrassingly amateur and not all I write resonates with those that read it…but it is mine and it’s lurked around here for a while now.

I’m calling my renewed interest in the blog, “The Self Service Effect.” Not many magazines have really inspired me of late. Many of those I truly love are only published bi-annually (like Self Service) or need to be bought from that quirky little shop hidden away in the Marais (haven’t been there for a while!) Then I started reading them on the iPad. I must make it clear that this IN NO WAY compares to having the glossy heaviness of a good magazine in your hand, with the exception of Self Service. I shall now begin to gush – their iPad app is astounding and even more shocking, is free. My words will not adequately describe the sensory experience, only downloading and testing it yourself will do it justice. As you flick though the pages of the magazine, sections come alive with audio and video. Out-takes from the shoots, plus mini films interject every few pages. I may be naive and please correct me if I’m wrong but I’m not sure if any other magazine’s app does it so well and certainly not for free.

So I implore you, please download the Self Service magazine app here if you’re iPadded and feel free to comment if there are any other worthy magazine iPad apps I should be using.

(all images courtesy of Self Service Magazine.)

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