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.

Bowie

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.)

Knees

When I was 8 I was subjected to what I considered torture for 2 months. Under Doctor’s orders I had to wear knee pads to school. Not the potentially cool, “I just parked my skateboard” type, the surgical type, to protect clumsy fools like me. That summer I had fallen over many times – not during a spate of extreme sporting activity, just while walking along. Convinced my sight was impeded my parents dragged me several times to the optician, who confirmed their worst fears, I was just a bumbling idiot! As a consequence of inability to remain vertical & mobile, my knees never got a chance to heal, hence the aforementioned addition of the pads.

Where is this story going you may ask? Is there a fashion twist to this tale? Well, there is. As an adult, I’m now left with some strangely scared knee caps. If the summer sun is kind & offers my pallored pins a hint of brown (most likely red,) they look slightly better. Spring is their worst moment. So when I see midi skirts that do not require a war-wound-hiding denier opacity in order to be worn, my excitement reaches fever pitch. The image above by The Sartorialist gave me hope & Vogue furthered it with a feature on midi skirts in Milan. The Sartorialist shot also opened my eyes to the potential of navy & bubblegum pink as a colour combination; not one I’d ever venture to mix ordinarily.

Now, I can feel your concern about my current stability. Plus enfant, I’m sturdy as a, well, whatever creature you’d describe as sturdy…an elephant maybe? As soon as he leaves my side, the vertically challenged Rachel returns. I had a suitably embarrassing fall before Christmas in front of enough people to redden the old cheeks. My knees split open immediately in a show of surrender against the inherent clumsiness that has scourged their existence. Post accident, I didn’t have to wear knee pads but even 120 denier couldn’t hide the plasters.

Anyone with actual serious injuries please ignore my trivial fashionista moans, the post hopefully offers some jest coupled with a trend. If it brings none of the above, enjoy the beautifully shot image courtesy of The Sartorialist.

Hi ho, hi ho…

Returning to work after baby production was one of the strangest experiences I can remember; birth will always still trump it though! Heading back to an environment in which I previously felt comfortable and in control, felt like a hideous leap into the unknown. For months I’d stumbled around in the style stakes as I regained confidence and my body changed shape. Suddenly, faced with the knowledge I must interact with only other adults, any security in style and taste I previously had seemed to evaporate. This process of diminishing self esteem was gradual – think lone deflating lilo in autumnal swimming pool. It culminated in a frenzied credit card assault on Zara online one week before I went back to work. I bought numerous coordinating outfits that pleased me simply because of their newness and size, matching the number I was before my rotund days of pregnancy. I only wore those clothes that first week! They weren’t really “me”…just the me I thought I should be in the eyes of my colleagues i.e. organised, composed and prepared. In reality I was none of those things. I was simply nervous, shambolic and lonely without my new extra little human at my side.

So this week my thoughts are with Lorraine Candy as she returns to work as Editor in Chief of ELLE Magazine. I had a stylistic melt down at the thought of returning to work with fellow humans whose hearts and minds do not live for fashion…so I staggered to think how Lorraine would cope. Of course I now see that Lorraine has many strategies to deal with the return to work process, as it is after all the 4th time she has done this and she does have a team of über-fashionistas at her fingertips. Through her new Editor’s Blog on Elle, the What The Editor Wears feature and her Twitter feed, we can all follow her tentative steps back into the workplace. I love the honesty with which she writes and look forward to seeing her show all new mums how seamlessly it can be done.

(All images courtesy of ELLE Magazine)

Likes

Things I’ve seen and liked this week. Please click, I promise they’re worth a look.

1. Clutch NY:
Oversized leather pouches at their best.

2. Kids Dressed Better Than You:
My new favourite Tumblr.

3. The Guardian’s Style Column:
Loving Lauren Laverne’s thoughts on Fashion

4. Opening Ceremony’s Blog:
When I needed to know what tunes accompanied the shows of Fashion Week, they obliged.

5. Culture Label Online Store:
Best selection of gifts you’ll want to buy for yourself and never give to others. My current fave, the Yellow Owl Workshop city stamps.

6. Zara:
Basically, almost everything on Zara.

7. Street Bauble:
I bought the “oui” ring from the Etsy store and it arrived today. It’s as beautiful and delicate as I thought it would be.

The Week of Fashion is London’s

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with London Fashion Week. I LOVE the excitement of the shows but hate the stress of applying for tickets. I LOVE to people watch and stand in awe of their outfits but hate trying to find something seemingly cool to wear. I LOVE to see my fellow bloggers, buyers, writers and friends but hate some of the evil stares from the more pretentious in the crowd. The love definitely outweighs the hate and the excitement of the whole “event” that is Fashion Week is hard to equal. The buzz of a show is unforgettable. It may only last a few minutes and you may have queued and waited for quite some time; but in that few minutes, you’re completely caught up in the spectacle….before you rush off to the next show.

I feel a huge sense of privilege to be given BFC accreditation to join the Fash Pack for a few days, despite my sporadic blogging. I always feel fortunate that designers send me invites as I’m aware my blog isn’t really a vehicle for show reviews: personally being more of an admirer than a buyer of high-end pieces.

This year, I’m enjoying Fashion Week vicariously through the many wonderful bloggers and journalists that are in attendance. I’m limited as to when I can go because of my 9-5 existence and this year have been completely thwarted by the inadequacy of weekend rail provision where I live. I’m already revelling in other’s wonderment as I watch the shows stream live from my laptop and nose through the plethora of images on Instagram. I’m still getting over the rising star that is Simone Rocha.

So, I’ve decided. I LOVE London Fashion Week. I love the flashing bulbs that glow in the faces of the front row, I love the chaos and the rush between shows, I love the clothes and the Street Style…I think better organisation is in order for September.

Images courtesy of London Fashion Week, Style.com and Mulberry’s Blog

Les MAGAZINES

Susie of Style Bubble recently posted about the UK magazine market for teens; praising the rise of Company Magazine and lamenting the U.K.’s lack of Teen Vogue. It led me to think about what I read as a teen. I had two subscriptions and waited impatiently for their arrival each month. I used to rip out the pages that inspired me and stick them all over my walls, much to my Mum’s disgust. In a very compulsive fashion, I would cut neatly around the edges to placate my Mum a little and carefully arrange the blue tac on the back not to “damage the walls” (my parents were obsessed with not ever having to replaster!)

The two magazines were The Face and SKY Magazine (not the one that comes free with your TV subscription.) In fashion terms, The Face is remembered fondly. Kate Moss’ iconic first cover and superb editorial by Corinne Day (posted about here by Liberty London Girl.) Nick Knight’s awe-inspiring shoot with the Alexander McQueen…the list goes on. But I ask myself, what about SKY Magazine?


As I looked for covers for this post, I saw many were nude shots and not taken in an arty, creative way; think more “lad mag.” I remember it fondly as being cool but do I remember it with a sense of misplaced nostalgia? As my parents forced me to get rid of all my magazines when they packed me off to university (most hideous trip to the recycling skip EVER) I don’t have any copies to flick through. Do you remember SKY Magazine and what it was really like? Was it the epitome of cool that I remember or just a precursor to FHM?

Images courtesy of my favourite new Tumblr – The Face, The Archive.

FIVE

Yesterday, this little blog of randomness turned 5. I tried to put together a post about other things that turned 5 on the 20th but didn’t get far. I also considered taking a more cliché route and compiling an, “on this day in history…” but ceased immediately on discovering Gary Barlow and Ivana Trump share the blog’s birthday. Instead, I wanted to post about the people that have helped me immeasurably on my way. Let’s start at the very beginning.


Via a web of confusion on Twitter when I misinterpreted Brix’s fear of ghosts, for one of goats (a LONG story) I ended up at START London where Brix invited me to interview her. Brix’s support, warmth and openness led to many exciting opportunities; so to Brix, I will always be indebted. She also introduced me to the inimitable and talented Felt Mistress, with whom I now share a firm friendship.
(Image courtesy of SHOW Studio. See the amazing short film showing the making of the photograph)


Navaz has extended to me kindness beyond that of which I deserve. She has offered me advice on innumerable occasions, met me at press days, fashion shows and events, that I would have attended with trepidation if it weren’t for her kind support. She is my official guide through the maze that is the blogosphere. I’m so glad I don’t have to keep her identity a secret anymore.
Disney Roller Girl (Image courtesy of The V&A Museum)


Sasha chose to use an image on her blog that I created for a post about identity. After many years of anonymous blogging, Sasha took the bold step of revealing her true self and I felt honoured that she chose one of my little pictures to write about it on LLG. At my first scary London Fashion Week, she literally took me under her wing…well, swept me up into her Mercedes Benz. She helped me navigate the chaos that is Fashion Week and kept me going on a diet of wasabi peas!
Liberty London Girl (Image courtesy of Grazia and Diesel)


Likewise, Laetitia helped me immeasurably when I was first starting out. Her many emails and words of advice helped the indecisive me to be a little more discerning and definitive in my choices. At my first London Fashion Week, she waved spare tickets at me and introduced me to many other wonderful bloggers. Although we aren’t in touch as much any more, I’ll always be grateful for Laetitia’s support.
Mademoiselle Robot (Image – Laetitia’s own)


Where do I start on this one? Kiki is an absolute gem. I first met her in a whirlwind of unfaltering organisation with Liberty London Girl at London Fashion Week. She has since gone on to show me great kindness in both my personal and professional life. She introduced little Mr. Miro to the joys of Gap’s basics and is always in touch inquiring as to our health, happiness and general mental state in the chaos of parenthood. I’m so pleased Kiki is on the Glamour team and being recognised for her loveliness by a wider audience.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Image – Kiki’s own)

I also need to thank Susie of Style Bubble fame, Joe and Katie from What Katie Wore (sad but understanding of the blog’s end) and uber-writter Ellen Burney (her previous blog was Vagabondiana.) Without their kindess (and blogroll!) my traffic would be and would have been, MUCH lower!

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