The Collaborative Effect

MAC collaborations seem to be coming thick and fast. From the infamous Miss. Piggy to the iconic Iris Apfel, new partnerships seem to spring up every month. Depending on the elaborateness of the packaging, the cost of the product can be higher but the lure of the associated “celebrity” proves to be a great attraction for MAC’s customer base.

I experienced this first hand before Christmas. In the same way designer collections for the High Street are usually eagerly anticipated, I awaited Gareth Pugh’s collaboration with MAC with great expectation. The little “sold out” signs strategically placed on many of the display products, only served to fuel my covetousness. But it was the sleek, black, minimal packaging that drew me in the most. I bought a lipstick for over £20 without so much as even trying it on my hand.

I was genuinely excited to open the crisp, clean, silver and black box and try this new lipstick for the first time; so I delayed the pleasure for a few days by just staring at it on my shelf (obviously a symptom of not getting out much!) When I did open it, there was the understandable slight let down – this was, after all,  still just a lipstick; albeit a thing of great aesthetic beauty.

I know many question the whole collaborative process. Does it water down a high-end brand? Does it dumb down the design process? I still rest on the side that sees the benefit of brand exposure to a wider audience and demographic. I thank MAC for the little bit of happiness its lipstick offered me and my little insight into impulse buying, blinded by the draw of the designer collaboration.

(All images courtesy of MAC cosmetics)

Appreciating Helena

‘Tis a new year and I felt the blog needed a new look for it’s 5th year. Inspiration to blog has not come easily since I became a parent. My priorities have shifted so greatly that Random Fashion Coolness naturally took a back seat. So here I take tentative steps to beginning again…

I wanted to look at women who seemingly have it all. In the thick of the chaos that was my return to work, I spotted news of this project with Helena Christensen. I love her…or do I hate her…or do I hate that I love her? Clad in sheer fabrics, lingerie and the signature 70’s hue of Guy Aroch, Christensen simmers effortlessly. As I read the post I was sat in a well-worn American Apparel hoodie, joggers and slipper boots by M&S. It wasn’t my finest moment but only served to highlight Christensen’s glory.

Alongside the genetic superiority that’s quite widely recognised, Christensen’s carved out a respectable career as a photographer. Aside from her work with many well-respected publications and solo exhibitions, she also blogs. Frankie Star is a collaborative project with photographer Christy Bush. The common link that brought these two creatives together is the band Interpol; Christy’s husband is Sam Fogarino (drummer) and Helena’s beau is Paul Banks (lead singer.) The blog is beautiful and offers an honest slice of what inspires these two inspired women.

Lest we forget, Miss. Christensen’s also a Mum. I adore this recent post by Mothers’ Meeting featuring a photograph of Helena’s former partner and her son.

The ambiguity of my feelings towards Helena will no doubt persist especially as she continues to defy the ageing process whilst managing to be so effortlessly cool. Check out Frankie Star, Mothers’ Meeting and Bloginity, for pictures of Guy Aroch’s Un-Titled project.

Branching Out

Having a pretty regular 9-5 job, I’m always interested to see what compels someone to give up that semblance of security and branch out alone. Helen Bailey has done just that. A buyer in the fashion industry for over 10 years, Helen has set up her own jewellery line, Decadorn. Here’s an excerpt of a recent interview I did with the lovely Miss. Bailey:

What prompted you to set up Decadorn?
A love of the product and fashion. I wanted to create a brand of jewellery that was affordable but completely unique and represented a timeless style with a current edge

Branding within the industry is key, how did you come up with the name?
I spent days writing down words I loved & trying to come up with a brand that had a connection with the product and nothing was working. Originally it was called Bailey and Bailey as my dad had been involved in the idea years ago, but it didn’t feel like it was unusual enough. My partner was working on a design project for a new music brand and was trying to create one word out of two; it just inspired me to create my own word….Decadorn! Decoration and adornment were 2 words that epitomised what I wanted to create with the brand, a celebration of beautifying & adorning yourself with unique and hand selected pieces.

Was it a tough decision to leave the comfort blanket of a 9-5 job?
I had been buying for the High Street for many years and wanted a different challenge. My buying job wasn’t 9-5, more like 9-11! Whilst I really miss the friends, environment and the constant travel, I love being my own boss, making my own choices and ultimately controlling my own future.

Do you make the jewellery yourself?
I product develop the range with makers in Brazil and Hong Kong

What is your inspiration?
In a word, California! It’s an amazing place that gave me such incredible inspiration as I travelled through the state just before the business launched. I wanted to concentrate on crystals as the main element of all my pieces to create a true Californian look. The “gypset,” bohemian style has always interested me and I find it amazing that year in, year out it remains untouched.

Decadorn’s Autumn/Winter Bohemia launches August 2011 in Anthropologie stores/online and on


My obsession with stripes may have just become unmanageable. I have always had stripe envy. Whenever I see anyone in the stripe of the Breton variety, they seem inimitably cooler than everyone else. This covetousness has spanned decades and despite being the proud owner of many striped garments myself, none seem to offer me that elusive sense of cool that I so crave.

My washing line last week resembled a Brittany fisherman’s uniform parade (In my head, all fisherman in Brittany wear striped tops …oh and have parades weekly.) I have passed this love of stripes on to little Monsieur Miro, whether he likes it or not. Many say that horizontal stripes do not flatter the little man’s more rotund physique but Q.I. (my own personal televisual encyclopaedia) confirmed that scientifically this is not true. Doctor Peter Thomson, of York university, carried out a multitude of tests on the visual effect of both horizontal and vertical striped clothing. Each test proved that those of the horizontal variety make you look taller and thinner, contrary to popular belief…it must be true; it was on Q.I. and Stephen Fry said so.

Anyway, I digress, enough about Dr. Peter! I’m currently resisting the urge to purchase yet another nautical wardrobe staple, this time from Colette. French graffiti artist, Monsieur André (a.k.a. André Saraiva) has his spray painted fingers in many pies. His latest collaboration sees him working with French heritage brand St. James, to create Breton tops that are embellished with his distinctive, pink neon, signature character. The only thing preventing me from purchasing the aforementioned tees is the sobering acknowledgment of my growing, albeit trivial addiction.

So if I spot you wearing stripes, well, expect an evil stare as I continue to covet your coolness!

(Images from Monsieur A, Colette and unknown sources)

40 Weeks

During my gestation period the internet has offered me some new avenues in which I have found solace, tears and happiness. I just wanted to share them with you, be you pregnant or not, as hopefully they will send a little joy your way too.

The first is A Cup of Jo. Uber blogger and freelance journalist Joanna Goddard’s blog took a different turn when she became pregnant. The story of her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her son Toby, intersperse her regular posts. She writes with such heart and honesty that you can’t help but be touched. Her birth story had me in tears by the end; although I should prefix that fact with a warning that a Tampax advert had me in tears a few week ago! But seriously, Jo’s blog is well worth a read. She updates twice daily with musings on New York living, loves on the internet, great shopping advice, as well as an insight into her life with husband Alex and son Toby.

The success of Stella McCartney’s junior range for Gap has spawned her first eponymous collection for kids. The clothing is still a little overpriced in my opinion but it is aspirational and pretty cool. The stand out items for me have to be these Tammy rubber boots in sunshine yellow. My little one’s yet to grace this world but I’d already love to buy him a pair of these Paddington-esque numbers for when he’s a toddler.

A second blog that I enjoyed perusing is Pacing The Panic Room. Photographer and blogger Ryan Marshall devoted The Belly Pictures Series to wife Cole and her pregnancy. Each week, wearing a different piece by American Apparel, a photograph was taken of Cole’s expanding bump. Each photo was then personally annotated by Marshall with the series culminating in a time lapse video. The whole series seems to perfectly illustrate this period of love and literal growth in the couple’s relationship.

Last night Mr. Things of Random Coolness showed me a little video on Vimeo that knocked me sideways. With just 11 “official” days to go in my 40 weeks, the nerves have definitely begun to kick in. I knew this day was on its way, that it was inevitable but all of a sudden it seems all too real. Raymond and Jennifer Jones made this beautiful video, A Pregnancy by The Joneses, to document their pregnancy for their son Jules. I was crying 11 seconds in, as their very personal journey unfolds.

I hope these very pregnancy-centric gems offer some happiness to you too. I shall keep you informed as to our progress over these last few days. Hopefully there’ll be time to relax and blog some more before the official release date!

The Shop Floor Project

As a season of over-indulgence, over-commercialisation and materialism to the extreme creeps up upon us, unique shopping experiences are still hard to find. Usually Mr. Things of Random Coolness and I try to find some unique, smaller, boutique style shops in which to buy our gifts but this year is different. Between the various viruses and baby bump, we are exploring the further reaches of the internet to find the more personalised gifts that we seek. A favourite of mine and many others, including, is The Shop Floor Project. Their distinctive navigation process and site design is matched only by their eclectic mix of stock. They house ceramics, wallpapers, scarves and jewellery, to name but a few items. The reason I feel compelled to write about them is their superb attention to detail and personalised customer service. I was searching for a clutch that was unfortunately out of stock. Within half an hour of my enquiry, at 8.30 p.m. on a week day evening, someone had emailed me back with a stock update. They even kindly offered similar alternatives that were still available, detailing features of the items that may not be visible on the website’s photo. When a brand surpasses my expectations, I feel it’s essential to share it with you. Please take time to peruse their site (I assure you it’s a delightful experience in itself) and know that your purchases are in the hands of experts.

Festive ideas full of colour

As I sit here, nine months pregnant, covered in chicken pox and nursing an accompanying cold, my thoughts have wandered into the realms of Christmas gifts. I’m yet to begin shopping for others and my own “needs” pale into insignificance against our priorities for the approaching little one…but many people have asked for ideas for their loved ones. I’ve tried to compile a list, with the brief of, “most females I know” in mind. I would love you to add your own ideas in the comments section as this would be most helpful for the readers that are searching for that often elusive special gift.

The List:
In my collage, right to left:
The Stephen Sprouse Book by Roger Padilha – The spine alone would look great on any bookshelf
i-D The Covers 1980-2010 by Terry Jones – See all the iconic cover stars in one place
Nick Knight by Nick Knight – A collection of his intoxicating photography
Olympus Pen Camera in white – A functional, yet beautiful piece of photographic equipment
Kiehl’s Crème de Corps by Jeff Koons – If you’re a fan of this luxuriant body lotion, treat yourself to this limited edition bottle
American Apparel’s Chiffon Skirt – I’m personally a fan of the cobalt blue and the port
Topshop leather stud fringe bag – I thought I was over the stud trend but this sucked me right back in
Richard Nicoll’s Linder Sterling face print dress – Spare £410? A perfect “investment” piece
Stella McCartney Paris tourist brief – A luxury piece of underwear gains many browny points

Not pictured:
Henry Holland Paris tights – Do you notice a recurring city theme?
Topshop shirt and shorts combo (must be worn together)
Uniqlo Merino Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater – The perfect warming layer
t.b.a. Pom-Pom dress – Anything by t.b.a. will actually do
ASOS floral leaf playsuit – cute and functional
Zara floorlength marl dress – Perfect for layering (see Uniqlo sweater above)
Topshop skeleton leaf maxi skirt with their antique embellished collar
Louise Gray silk dress – Spare change after splurging £410 on the Richard Nicoll? Then this is a must have.

There are so many more coffee table books I could add and I’m aware my list is severely lacking jewels, art, shoes and perfumes, which always seem a little more personal. PLEASE add any of your suggestions in the comments box; think of it as charitable Christmas advice for others. I hope these little personal glimpses may offer some inspiration. I treated my iPhone to a little gift today from Liberty of London, a little red sleeve in its eponymous print (see the whole gorgeous range here)

Lips, Linder and Nicoll

Linder Sterling is a true hero of mine. Her montage work is inspirational and of course influences my little collages (I’m too much in awe to ever use her famously bold red lips as comparisons would be a little too obvious.) The artist herself best describes her beginnings on this video for the TATE.

Miss. Sterling’s work came to my attention in the seminal 303rd edition of i-D Magazine. Her collaborative work with photographer extraordinaire, Tim Walker, showed a side of her work that blew me away and put Linder in the spotlight as a model. This week, a Vice Style video featuring Alexander Fury of SHOWstudio, highlighted a covetous print from Linder’s association with Richard Nicoll.  After some probing on Twitter, Mr. Fury tells me that it’s a framed show ticket from Richard Nicoll’s Autumn/Winter ’10 collection, which unfortunately I didn’t get an invite to (if anyone would like to donate their ticket, please get in touch!)

Owning an actual piece of Linder’s still eludes me. I’d adore any of her designs with Nicoll (see my Net-a-Porter Chrimbo list!) but would obviously covet more a piece of her art. Linder continues to push the boundaries, again with Richard Nicoll, in their recent work for the House of Voltaire. Look closely here, yet with caution, at how boundaries are still being pushed 4 decades on. So here endeth a post filled with utter adoration and appreciation. The day a piece of Linder Sterling’s work enters my humble abode, expect an even more gushing rant of excitement!


Things I have realised over the last few months:

1. Pregnancy changes everything; from general perspectives to challenges, right down to mundane tasks. Priorities inevitably change as life’s already not just about you anymore.
2. Women-folk treat you COMPLETELY differently*. A bump seemingly means you are no longer a potential threat. You are a nurturer, a life giver and a reassuring presence. (*based on current treatment from previously contemptuous shop-assistants)
3. I suddenly want to be a Margot.

Let me explain number 3. Fashion during pregnancy can unavoidably become about functionality. The desire to feel comfortable is a practical one, allowing little bump to grow freely. The swaths of high-waisted, sumptuous (and fitted) camel pieces are removed from your radar. Beautifully neat buttoned-up blouses and loose shorts offer only a Pinky and Perky appeal (see here) This is not a rant or a moan, just a sheer matter of fact. I have been blessed with a comfortable, very happy, healthy pregnancy in which my stylistic approach had to change. So, back to Margot! As I enter my 9th month, I suddenly feel a huge urge to dress opulently and extravagantly, a desire I have never before felt. I usually shun the over dramatic formalities of fashion but as I sit here blogging in PJs all of the styles above, demonstrated by the various Margots, spark off a flicker of envy. I want perfect hair, heavy make-up and a 70’s nonchalance that only a Margot (albeit at times a character) can achieve.

Featured Margots:

1. Mrs. Leadbetter: Champion of the British sitcom The Good Life, Margot seemingly effortlessly dressed in dramatic fashion on a daily basis. My usual go-to look is more akin to that of Margot’s earthy neighbour Barbara but these final stages of pregnancy seem to have changed that. Margot Leadbetter wore kaftans and turbans, headscarves, playsuits and corsages as part of her functional wardrobe; opulently delicious.

2. Miss. Tenenbaum: Do not fear, I haven’t been drawn to real furs but the uncompromising way in which Margot wears her lavish fur, coupled with charcoal stained eyes, offers a look extraordinaire. In my mind I want to expand it further, adding a slather of deep red lipstick.

3. Miss. Fonteyn: I have no aspirations to take up ballet but the inane elegance of prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn is quite infatuating. Her grace, coupled with the intricate costumes her roles required, fill the current void of refinement in my style.

So, Margot is my inspiration. Giving birth within the next few weeks will no doubt change my style muses once again as the practicalities of parenthood take full hold. But it is nice to aspire to something unobtainable, to envy ostensible perfection from afar. By next summer, who knows stylistically where my heart will be and what actual look I’ll gravitate towards as a Mum. For now, this winter, it’s firmly with Margot…if only in my head!


Up-cycling seems to be the “mot du jour” in interior design. Over the last few weeks Things of Random and I have become slightly obsessed with the antics of Bob and Cortney Novogratz and their New York based company Sixx Design. I think it’s a nesting instinct, coupled with an admiration for their parenting of 7 children and their astounding commitment to design. Their Bravo TV show, 9 By Design, has me completely hooked. Their main premise of their enterprise is mixing old with new, finding reclaimed pieces to accompany slick designer modernism. Old pieces of furniture are up-cycled by adding new upholstery and new paint, to give a cooler, renovated look. The trend seems to be everywhere; Mary Portas showed Dazzle and Denny how to do it at 37 Old London Road and Elemental sells industrial cabinets for £2,000 a pop.

This led me on a search for the same trend in fashion. The term “vintage” and all it means in its many guises (second hand, charity shop) has been a darling of the industry for decades. Just saying it adds a certain kudos (and most definitely an elevated price tag) to any outfit. I’m on a search for renovated fashion or garments made from unusual materials. One item has caught my eye by Swedish Blonde Design’s Cockney Jewellery. Broad beans accompany pearls and motifs of our Royals to create surprisingly delicate necklaces and accessories. The Old Broad Bean, The Queen, offers a very fashionable neckpiece, snapped up by Supermarket Sarah for her site/blog.

Is the Cockney Jewllery an example of fashion re-cycling? Up-cycling implies an improvement and an increase in value, which I guess the humble broad bean has experienced. If you consider yourself a fashion up-cycler please get in touch. I’d love to see what your opinions are and discover if up-cycling is a trend embracing all elements of design.

(Queen artwork by Ann Carrington – a favourite of Mr. & Mrs. Novogratz)

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