The Apartment @ LFW

London Fashion Week is a bit of an assault on the senses. It’s a survival course, and only the best prepared thrive. You start the days feeling smugly perky, and then as time goes on, you find your laptop and DSLR getting heavier and heavier, your feet starting to hurt, your head pounding from the music and camera flashes in the show space, your hands starting to shake from the revolting amount of Vitamin Water and coffee you’ve consumed. Normal eating habits go out of the window. It isn’t that no one eats – more that when food does appear, it’s pounced on by a pack of ravenous press.

I love it, but it exhausts me. I often find myself wanting a haven where I can unwind a bit, have a nice chat with other bloggers, and…regroup a bit, really, to use a horrible American phrase. Enter the Apartment, stage left. Created by blogger Abi Marvel (and she really is a marvel), the Apartment rolls into town during LFW to provide a space for bloggers to learn more about a variety of brands, to network with each other, to sit on a sofa and watch Friends, and most importantly to EAT FOOD.

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The Apartment is a fantastic, creative concept that just happens to be a heaven for bloggers. I enjoyed getting an insight into different brands that I wouldn’t have otherwise had – for example, I got to grill a lovely chap called Ian about the exciting new Windows products on the market. I’m a bit fed up with Apple so it was great to actually get hands-on with the products in a completely unpressurised environment.

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Other things: I got to try on a beautiful Baume & Mercier watch, see Rimmel’s new product range, have my hair jooshed by the boys from John Frieda (we deliberated over how to spell joosh for hashtagging purposes). I munched on striped meringues and a deconstructed bannoffee pie from Leon, lusted after shoes from Russell & Bromley, learned about a great blogging service called Reward Style, and met some absolutely charming people, including Abi herself. I’m in awe of the girl – just 20, balancing studies with work with being a crazily busy entrepreneur, AND a lovely person to boot.

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Something that really captured the attention of guests was, perhaps surprisingly, the stack of jewellery from Claire’s. I haven’t stepped foot in Claire’s since I was about 15 and nursing a horrible little penchant for neo-gothic jewellery. Needless to say, it wasn’t my most sartorially brilliant hour. But seeing a collection of the jewels at The Apartment was brilliant – Claire’s have some great stuff! We were encouraged to pile on a stack of the jewellery, and the most overused phrase of the day was ‘I can’t BELIEVE this is from Claire’s’. I loaded up on spiked bracelets and statement chain necklaces, and I’ll definitely be heading in to a branch next time I pass one.

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Abi has created something fun, vibrant and welcoming to bloggers, and something especially perfect for newbies to fashion week, as it provides a cosy home for the week. It felt like popping around to a friend’s house and lazing about eating yummy pizza and while lolling on comfy sofas, a very welcome relief from the high pressure environment of the week. My congratulations go to Abi for a successful project and a great fun adventure for weary bloggers. Thanks Abi for letting me come along and get stuck in! It was my highlight of the week.

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First time up to London since New Year, which is strange, as I’m usually up a few times  a week. We needed a little time apart, London and I, but the separation did us the world of good. There’s something about the city in Winter, walking along Waterloo bridge with collar high and cheeks stinging in the wind, looking across the river at the tangerine lights and the bruised sky. I went up for a few meetings but took the time in between to wander the Southbank – and also to try on the most insane top in Topshop. I mean, what is it?!

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First up, I met the lovely Frankie at Foxcroft & Ginger in Soho for stacked sandwiches, cups of coffee in antique teacups and lashings of ginger beer. Topics of the day were: Adam & Joe (always), Blake Mycoskie’s brilliant book ‘Start Something That Matters‘ (EVERYONE needs to read this), food, Surrey, charitable initiatives, and Frankie’s amazing new project ‘Nice One Frankie‘, where she does something good/nice/generally beneficial to society every day. Oh, and a top notch Liam Neeson impression. We also talked about the fashion industry and a new project I’m working on, more to come on that soon.
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I had a couple more things to sort out, and then I had some blissful free time to mill about taking photos. It’s been ages since I just wandered for an hour with no purpose in mind. Then finally, when I was chilled to the bone and the sun had set, I huddled into Canteen to meet my friend Sophie. We had a lot of fun feeling like we were back at school thanks to the desk-like tables and the fact we were both wearing cable knit jumpers.

I’d heard mixed reviews of Canteen, but I loved it, largely because you can genuinely have breakfast all day. ALL DAY. Not like those places that say ‘all day’ but stop at noon. The novelty of evening porridge is not to be overlooked. Anyway, I settled for two perfectly poached eggs, fresh lemonade, and a big bowl of Christmassy tasting apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla custard. Good prices, fun atmosphere, and proper British grub, just like school.

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And finally home to watch the programme on Richard III, presented by lovely lovely Simon Farnaby. If you didn’t catch it last night, you MUST. The whole thing is bizarre, moving and very compelling.

Until next time x

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TOMS x Movember Launch Party

Movember is about to begin: the month when chaps grow moustaches to promote awareness and raise funds for men’s health, in particular testicular cancer and prostate cancer. For a moustache-fancier like me, it’s a bit like Christmas. TOMS, the shoes and glasses brand, have partnered with Movember, and I attended the official launch party at The Hospital Club last night with Christie of From The Heart 90

The concept of M0vember started in Melbourne, and has grown into a global campaign, raising money and awareness for men’s health. The charity encourages men to begin November clean-shaven, and then to grow a moustache for the entire month, providing a constant visual cue to promote awareness of the cause. Since 2003, Movember has raised £184 million. In 2011 alone, £79.3 million was raised, with 1.9 million entrants. We can all work together to make 2012 the most successful Movember so far, and you can do that by donating, holding an awareness party, attending Mo events, or by getting the conversation started with some moustache covered clothing.

I didn’t know much about TOMS until yesterday, when I started reading up a little on them ahead of the launch. I knew they produced adorable shoes and had just introduced a range of glasses and sunglasses, but I didn’t realise the brand had such an altruistic philosophy. TOMS have devised a concept called ‘One for One‘, whereby for every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. Since the concept was devised, over a million pairs of shoes have already been given away. Likewise, for every pair of glasses bought, TOMS donate a pair to someone in need. To further support Movember, TOMS have produced some limited edition styles of shoe, with a portion of profits going to the charity. It’s exactly the kind of approach that more brands need to start adopting – using their klout to benefit those in need, and I think TOMS are hugely admirable. You can find out more about them on their site.

We trotted along to The Hospital Club to get into the swing of things – quite literally in the case of our dancing. The night was 1920s themed, and as we stepped in we spotted men in waistcoats, bow ties, and hats, and women in flapper dresses and headbands. We also spied a wooden record player, crates of TOMS shoes, and some rather magnificent moustachioed barrels. After swiping some champagne cocktails from the bar, we were whisked aside by a photographer, which entailed dressing up like loons and posing. We then explored the venue a little and listened to the amazing Franky and the Jacks – a very talented AND handsome band. We also caught up with the gorgeous, charming and statuesque Sammy Aki, aka The Groom Style Consultant, who runs an innovative service that aims to raise the style stakes for grooms on their big day. As the band played on, we decided to shake a tail feather on the dancefloor, busting out some prime 1920s moves including a sneaky Charleston, before screen-printing moustaches on t-shirts and finally heading home.

So, what can you do? To get involved with Movember, visit their website, make a donation, grow a moustache if you’re a chap, or get your boyfriend to grow one. If you’re of the female persuasion, how about buying some merch? Or hosting a mo party?  TOMS will continue their charity projects through Movember and beyond, so purchase any item to participate in their ‘One for One’ programme. Above all, be inspired, get involved.

Sussex Style Beauty Editorial

I’ve been terribly quiet lately, and I thought it was finally time to explain why. A couple of weeks ago, I was appointed Beauty Editor for a new glossy magazine called Sussex Style. I won’t bombard you with info on it as most of you will have already heard about it, and I don’t want to be a walking, talking ad, so I’ll just say that it’s going to be high end, aesthetically driven, stocked all around the South East, and ultimately something that this county needs!

Anyway, with my deadline looming large like a…large loomy thing, I had to set to work quickly. I’d decided that I wanted to aim high with my beauty pages. Instead of featuring products alone, I chose to create an actual beauty editorial. Now, this was one of those cases where I’d blindly opted to do something without actually knowing whether or not it was feasible, but I’d set my bar and I was determined to reach it.

I soon realised just what I’d let myself in for. First, there were the creative decisions to be made: what kind of looks was I going to go for? I began to compile moodboards, both in real life and on the dreaded Pinterest (I continue to be the only girl in the world who despises the wretched thing). That was the easy bit. Next, I had to assemble a team to help me get my ideas from the ol’ noggin to the page. I have to thank the Twitter community here, because it just wouldn’t have been possible without them. Within a few hours of tweeting I was overwhelmed with talented photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists.

Next, I talked to the people who’d been suggested, and we started to work out teams, and dates. I was extremely lucky to snag a makeup artist called Marie-Isabel Kennedy, aka Maz. Not only a ridiculously talented young lady, but she also pulled a team together as she recommended a wonderful photographer called Parisa Walklett, and also an absolutely fantastic hairstylist called Stephanie Hayes. From there, it was all systems go – I put together a brief, we started to arrange dates, and then it was time to cast a model.

This actually turned out to be the most stressful part of the operation. Up until this point, things had gone alarmingly smoothly – the team had fallen into place, we had Parisa’s studio all sorted out, the looks were signed off on, and jewellery had been sorted (more on that shortly). As we were working on such a tight time scale, it was extremely difficult to sort out a model, so I spent a rather stressful day frantically emailing and phoning all the big agencies, throwing myself on their mercy. Tell you what, it’s no joke when they talk about how young models are; heaps of the girls I requested were at school on the day of the shoot!

On Friday afternoon at 5.25pm, with the shoot on Monday, Select Model Management came up trumps with a gorgeous girl called Hannah Murrell. Hannah had the most perfect face for the shoot, and we were delighted to book her. When the booking was confirmed, I’m not ashamed to say that I leapt out of my chair, punched the air a lot and ran backwards and forwards shouting ‘YES!!! YEEEEES!!!!’ like a fool. Because what good is a crack hair and makeup team, a brilliant photographer and gorgeous jewellery without a model?!

On Monday morning I headed up to London to pick up the jewellery. I was incredibly happy with how lucky we’d been on the jewellery front. I’d put out a twitter call for some high end, quirky pieces, and while I had a good response, nothing quite fitted the bill until I got a tweet from the lovely folks behind Jolita Jewellery. Founded by Algis Abromaitis (the designer) and his sister Jolita (the marketing/press/PR guru), their pieces fit my brief perfectly, and I spent a happy hour browsing their site and pulling options out. Jolita was delightful to deal with and made my job extremely easy, and was hugely accommodating; I’d recommend them strongly to any stylists or anyone putting shoots together.

I picked up my precious cargo from the lovely Jolita, and headed out to Finsbury Park to Paris’ studio, where I met Hannah, Maz, Steph, Paris, and the adorable Henry, a French Bulldog/shih tzu cross. I’ll leave you all to put those two breeds together…We listened to a lot of music, ate a LOT of biscuits, fawned over Henry, drooled over the jewellery, and I got to watch some extremely talented people in action. The whole thing was a dream come true, and I genuinely kept expecting to wake up at any point.

I’d like to take this chance to thank my MD at Sussex Style, Sean, for giving me free rein; my amazing team of Paris, Maz and Steph, the wonderful Jolita Jewellery, the awesome Hannah, and all the tweeters who helped me out on a VERY tight deadline. That photoshoot was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I feel so proud of it. Not to get all soppy, but the whole thing meant so much to me, and I feel like I’m finally doing the things that I dreamed of doing as a teenager. I still can’t quite believe it’s all happened!

Sussex Style magazine will be coming out in November, and in the meantime hop over to the Facebook page or the Twitter account @SussexStyleMag to keep up to date with the latest news!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

I’ve entered a few blog competitions in my time, and I’ve never won. Not once. Well, maybe a few tickets or something, but nothing….tangible. Oh, I know! Break out those tiny violins. Well, don’t actually, because I’ve only gone and won TWO competitions in a week! I feel very lucky, and perhaps like I should go and buy a lottery ticket.

The first I won was a giveaway by the adorable Caitlin of From the Heart who reminds me of Leighton Meester, which is filling the Gossip Girl shaped hole in my life. Along with her gorgeous sister Christie, she’s created a very sweet new blog, so it would be lovely if you could go and check it out. They’re just getting started but it’s already shaping up to be a lovely blog; a great mix of beauty, fashion, OOTD posts, DIY tutorials – my kind of blog, really! So do go and check them out. I won a gorgeous bracelet which you can see below:

The second thing I won was actually something I’d had my eye on for ages. I’d clocked (aha! Puns a gogo!) Larsson & Jennings a little while ago on Twitter, and was very taken with them. I’d spied them on Helen Glover and Heather Stanning during the Olympics and thought they were adorable, so when I saw that L&J were holding a Twitter competition and giving away a watch every day for a week, I thought I’d enter.

And guess what?? I won! I won the beautiful Windsor watch with white & gold face, and I’ve been wearing it every day since. It’s fab quality, has garnered heaps of compliments, and is really sorting out my life (I seem to have recently developed a rotten habit of being late a lot). If you like them as much as I do, the lovely people at L&J have kindly given my friends 20% off the watches. All you have to do is enter ‘LONDON’ at the checkout. Happy clock-watching!

I Scream, You Scream…

Wow, we’ve well and truly plunged into Winter, haven’t we? On Wednesday, it seemed to be supremely dark most of the day, with icy rain appearing intermittently. Still, it wasn’t going to put me off my purpose for the day: ice cream tasting. It was part of the Lewes Octoberfest, and I wasn’t going to argue with such a fine tradition.

I was also in the mood to celebrate, having been officially named as Beauty Editor on upcoming glossy magazine Sussex Style, so ice cream was definitely on the cards. I was also planning on stocking up on some interesting magazines to butcher to make moodboards, so a day trip to Lewes seemed perfect. It was most definitely time to break out the fur trimmed items in my wardrobe, of which there are quite a few…

Lewes was rather gloomy weather-wise, but picking up some lovely magazines cheered me up hugely. I was pleased to finally get my hands on Wonderland magazine, which was full of the most beautiful editorials and which I’m still waiting to read so I can give it due care and attention. Teen Vogue is something I should really feel embarrassed about buying due to my non-teen status, but I always find it fun and inspiring. Also Company, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. A £1 cover price and packed full of interesting features, AND featuring someone I know from Twitter. Exciting times!

We headed to Limetree Kitchen, tucked away off the main high street on Station Street, a gorgeous little bistro-y type concept. We were warmly welcomed and swept in for some Illy coffee and ice cream tasting. We tried (if I can remember correctly): lemon meringue pie, rose petal, butternut squash and Amaretto, muscovado sugar and vanilla, and gin & tonic. Hands down, my fave was G&T – very refreshing, zesty and light. The chap behind the kitchen, Alex, was very charming, trained in classic French cuisine, and an ice cream maestro.

It was the perfect place to escape to on a miserable afternoon, and felt a bit like sitting in a friend’s kitchen, thanks to the relaxed and friendly nature of the people working there. The ice creams were out of this world delish, as were the truffles we were also treated to afterwards. You can have proper food too – Alex let us look through lots of old menus, and we were hugely impressed. The menu changes week to week, and the dishes are creative, appetising and well conceived. I’m planning on popping in for a proper meal so I can give it a real road-test.

Ta ra for now chaps, and remember, it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream is ALWAYS acceptable.