Monthly Archives: March 2012

It Looks Rosie: Leather and Lace

I thought I hadn’t done an “It Looks Rosie” post in a while, so here you go! Sorry things are a little quiet around here, but we’re coming up to last (ever!) deadlines at the moment so essays are taking priority!

I picked this dress up in H&M on a recent attempt to “Burst the Bubble” (a.k.a. taking the bus to whizz round the shops in Dundee one morning). I’m absolutely loving how feminine the High Street is just now, and this cream crochet knit dress ticked all the boxes for me! The ’60s shift shape, flattering bell sleeves and scalloped edge detailing particularly caught my eye.

For its debut outing (for Al’s birthday meal) I contrasted the girliness of the dress with my Topshop leather biker jacket and emphasised the ’60s feel of the dress, pairing it with my Office black patent Mary Janes, UO bowler hat and vintage burgundy leather clutch. I think the dress will be a versatile addition to my wardrobe: the great cut and style mean it needs minimal styling, but it can also be given a twist to get lots of wear out of it with different looks! It’s also a great trans-seasonal piece; I’m wearing it now with tights and a heavier jacket, and in the Summer I’ll be wearing it with (eek) bare legs, sandals and a denim jacket.

Bicester Village British Designers Collective

The British Fashion Council (BFC) is the guiding force behind British Fashion: promoting our country’s talented designers to a global market and developing our status in the international fashion arena. Thanks to the work of the BFC (which was formed in 1983 out of the Fashion Industry Action Group), London is now considered one of the “Big Four” fashion capitals. The cornerstone of the BFC is their support of young designers; this ethos of encouragement is something that attracts many to London as a creative centre. 

The BFC have recently collaborated with chic outlet Bicester Village: tomorrow marks the return of Bicester Village’s annual Designers Collective, now in its third year. The collaboration allows emerging design talent a platform to showcase their collections in a highly-anticipated pop-up boutique at Bicester Village. Iconic pieces from seasons past by up-and-coming designers as well as established labels will be available for purchase with up to 60% off.

The boutique will play host to designs by some of the hottest names in British fashion: pieces by Bella FreudEmma CookHolly FultonJonathan SaundersLulu & CoMarkus LupferMarios SchwabPauric SweeneyPeter Pilotto and Preen will fill the rails. The eagerly-anticipated event means those in the know can pick up a piece of fashion history from recent collections at a much more affordable price. In addition, the menswear version of the pop-up shop will launch to coincide with the first ever London Menswear Fashion Week in May.

BFC ambassador Alexa Chung launched the pop-up store this morning, “I’m really proud to be supporting the British Designers Collective on this Bicester pop-up store,” said Alexa. “It features some really exciting and amazing designers this year, and I can’t wait to have a good shop. You’ll find me rummaging through the rails!” Chairman of the BFC Harold Tillman expressed his excitement at the collaboration: “This is a unique platform for London Fashion Week designers to showcase their designs to new audiences.”

I know what I’d have my eye on; Jonathan Saunders’ jersey creations, Markus Lupfer’s witty knits and Holly Fulton’s geometric prints. If you can get to Bicester Village I would thoroughly encourage a trip! It’s our national duty after all…

Image credit – Bicester Village

Spring/ Summer 2012 Trends: Fashion’s Siren Call

Oceanic influences were prevalent on the Spring/ Summer ’12 catwalks. At Chanel, the Grande Palais was transformed into a magical underwater world, complete with a Venus-like Florence Welch who emerged from a giant shell and sang “What the Water Gave Me”. The collection had a lightness and iridescent shimmer to it, with Lagerfeld’s nymph-like models clad in light pastel tweeds and mille-feuille pleats, complete with pearls strung round the waist and threaded in the models’ hair. Sarah Burton also used a pretty, almost translucent shell-inspired colour palette at Alexander McQueen and the very movement of the clothes was mesmerising: delicate trapeze dresses swam down the catwalk and undulating ruffled gowns resembled jellyfish.

Mermaid-esque gowns also shone at Armani, and Theyskens’ Theory gave the trend a directional, utilitarian twist. Elements of the trend emerged elsewhere, with abundant aquatic-inspired detailing and softly hued metallic pieces gave the look a modern feel. 

This trend might seem tricky to pull-off in an everyday context, but a simple metallic separate can be surprisingly versatile. I saw this stunning metallic leather skirt in Topshop before Christmas and almost asked Santa for it, but was put off by the £95 pricetag. However, I spotted it in the January sale and it was reduced to about £40 (plus student discount) so I snapped it up – an absolute bargain considering it’s real leather! 

This is certainly a skirt that requires quite pared-back styling. Whilst the weather’s still cold, I’ve been wearing it with oversized knits; here I wore the skirt with Al’s much-loved cashmere jumper for a really slouchy silhouette, I love the contrast between the leather and the knitted texture and the grey complements the metallic hue of the skirt. I kept it simple with flats and a chunky statement necklace to add a bit of interest to the neckline (I’ve been wearing so many shirts under jumpers at the moment so I felt a bit naked!)

When the weather is warmer, I can’t wait to pair it with a simple plain white T-shirt or denim shirt, sandals and sunglasses. It’s one of those pieces that’s great to wear as it really does all the talking for you. 

Will you be embracing the metallics trend? 

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Buy British

Retail genius Mary Portas is back with a new Channel Four series ‘Mary’s Bottom Line’. If you haven’t watched it yet I urge you to do so: go go go! 

In recent years, the Queen of Shops has gone from saving individual boutiques and transforming charity shops with her ‘Living and Giving’ concept, to going undercover to investigate the lack of customer service at some of the nation’s biggest retailers, and launching her own clothing, footwear and accessories collection. Last year Mary was commissioned by David Cameron to lead an independent review of the ailing High Street and outlined her 28 recommendations in The Portas Review (December 2011).

Her latest mission really struck a chord with me. When launching her own fashion line, Mary aimed to ensure it was as British-made as possible, but soon realised this was a major impasse.

Britain was once a major manufacturing centre in world trade, with every step of the manufacturing process taking place on British soil: our world-class clothing industry being one example. However, with cheaper manufacture overseas, imports soon exceeded exports and our skilled manufacturers shut their factories and stopped producing goods in this country. Mary wants to kick-start the UK’s clothing industry by manufacturing every woman’s wardrobe staple: knickers! 

Middleton near Manchester used to be a centre of manufacturing industry but now the factories lie empty. Mary has re-opened the sewing room floor of Headen and Quarmby, established in 1935 and once one of the eleven thriving textile factories in Middleton: the nightwear manufacturer is the only one remaining. The factory used to produce thousands of items per week before it was forced to send production abroad when competition from cheap imports dominated. To start her production line, Mary recruits eight apprentices and trains them up with manufacturing experts to make the products at Headen and Quarmby.

…and that’s as far as we’ve got! The final product is on sale at Liberty London and Mary tweeted earlier that the “Kinky Knickers” will be stocked in John Lewis, Boots, ASOS and House of Fraser. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the story and really hope this all-British underwear becomes a success. I have a sneaking suspicion it will be with the Queen of Shops behind it! 

With rising manufacturing costs in Asia, Mary believes now could be our chance to shine. Furthermore, all eyes are on Britain’s fashion industry at the moment, with the latest crop of design talent combining creativity and commerciality. However, the manufacture of these clothes takes place abroad. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if these emerging designers could produce their designs in the UK too, with every stage from a sketch on the page to the finished clothing taking place on home soil?

We’re constantly being told to “Buy British” and pick up home-grown produce in our supermarkets, but when it comes to the clothes we wear it’s still a different story. I think it’s time to change that. And I think our generation is the one that needs to get behind it. I feel like the tide is turning and the country as a whole needs to re-think its priorities, whether that’s saying yes to paying a few pounds more for our knickers to be made in the UK rather than one pound imported pairs on the High Street (that frankly lose shape after their first wash anyway), or campaigning to bring back former industries. I don’t know much about economics, but surely creating jobs is one way to reduce unemployment; our once-thriving textiles industry could be a place to start.