Thursday, 12 November 2009


Anna wasn't at school on Wednesday, so here is today's outfit. Before I even said hello my camera was out and I was leaping towards her with an 'AHIloveyourcoatwheredidyougetitfrom?!" She said that everyone had been asking her, and that she was embarrassed to say it was from New Look. She shouldn't be embarrassed at all. I think it is satisfying to hear "Really?" when saying where you bought your outfit. It's like you've got one up on label loving glamazons. Ha, I look great and it didn't cost me my year's wages.

Saying that, Anna told me that her All Saints cardigan was more expensive than the coat. For as long as I have known her I have known she loves All Saints, and I can see why. Sometimes it is worth spending a bit more to get such a different cut and shape.

The leopard print pumps finish this outfit off nicely, and it probably won't surprise you that I heartily approve of the raspberry tights!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Tuesday brings a cool checked stripey combo. And those boots (of course).

A little bit more about Anna:

We organised a fashion show together in February; she designed and made a whole collection whilst I gathered clothes from local businesses and charity shops and pulled in students and (entertainingly) teachers to model. It was amazing to see her designs spring to life from the early sketches, to piles of her chosen fabric, to designs pinned together on mannequins and then adjusted during the models' fittings. When I saw the final outfits on the catwalk I was not the only one to be thoroughly impressed. But she did not stop there, ooh no; on Friday I am going to her second fashion show, to see her second collection. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A week in the life of Anna Kendall - Monday

This week I am following Anna's sartorial choices to see a week in the life of her wonderful wardrobe. 


I think the boots are worthy of a post in themselves. The battered brown leather numbers have been a sell out at River Island. I love their vintage feel; they look as though they have been battered by life and love. In a way they say 'I don't care' but they also can't help but make the wearer look oh so stylish. One of my friends excitedly informed Anna today that she had seen them featured in a magazine. Praise indeed. I love the scarf too; Anna is in to her scarves, and I think they can make an outfit, in the same laid back way as the leather boots.


Monday, 19 October 2009

What we wore

I feel incredibly uncool when I'm next to Anna. She said today was her 'tramp' day, but I love her outfit. The tartan tights were pinched from the fashion show we organised in february; she made a whole collection and is working on her second. Before I took this photo (taken in our art class) she was pinning sheets of black acetate, printed with photos of stain glass windows, into the ruffled beginings of a dress. If I make it as a fashion journalist, I can imagine myself writing about Anna's latest collection, and no doubt pining after one of her dresses.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hanna's top. Love is probably my favourite word, (I tried counting the times it appears in my bedroom, from painted letters on my wall to a bag my friend Harriet made me) so I was very jealous when I saw this. I love how the rest of the outfit is really simple so balances a top that I would probably try to make overly cute. This is much cooler. Oh and I also love her boots!
Bee's cherry red coat makes me think of Little Red Riding Hood. I think this bright version of a classic winter coat makes a refreshing change to the blacks and greys that emerge from the back of our wardrobes each autumn. With the weather getting colder I think it is all the more reason to opt for something colourful.
I admired Bee's denim dress and patent bow belt in our french lesson this morning, and I begged her to let me photograph her. Denim is so big at the moment, but I love that this dress is understated: it says yes I'm cute and trendy without screaming LOOK AT ME I'M WEARING DENIM. Anyway, I think Bee looks great.


Friday, 16 October 2009

Seeing Checks

My bedroom is decorated with multicoloured gingham bunting, and my friends' birthday presents usually come tied up with checked pink or green ribbon. I love gingham. It probably comes from my mum; we have checked tea towels and gingham trimmed curtains in our kitchen, and her friends call her Doris Day.

When I saw Christopher Kane's spring summer '10 collection, my heart leapt for joy. Next summer not only will I be able to decorate my life with this pattern, but Christopher Kane has deemed it cool to dress myself in it too. Although it made perhaps its most famous appearance in the form of Dorothy's cute blue apron in the 1939 film of the Wizard of Oz, gingham is back for 2010.

But it has grown up. For starters the tiny squares of Dorothy's dress have become larger checks (what I think of as picnic blanket gingham), becoming less ditsy and more graphic. Take the lingerie references: silk bras peeking beneath sheer fabric, thigh high skirt slits and underwiring and corset details worked into the dress itself, and you have yourself a grown up girl's reinvention of gingham.

Gingham has had a long association with America, and it became one of the most popular fabrics in the states during the 1940s. Christoper Kane was not the only designer to hone in on a typically American fabric for their latest collections; Ralph Lauren's spring 2010 show focused on denim, and a celebration of American style.

I remember when I was younger, summer would always be signalled by a trip to Marks & Spencer to buy a green gingham summer dress, and white socks with a matching green gingham ruffle. Let's hope Christopher Kane's gingham filters through to Topshop in the form of a little shift or sun dress, and I will be snapping it up for next summer's uniform.
The dress above is my absolute favourite of Christopher Kane's designs. To me it is a perfect take on gingham, the t-shirt style top half makes it laid back and not insanely girly, the lingerie detailing is quirky and 2010, but the blue gingham skirt remembers gingham's floaty, summery roots. I am actually in love...

Looking at all these gingham dresses made me so cheery that in a burst of happiness and Libbyness I wrote a poem.

Poem to Gingham

Pastel shade bunting all hung in the trees,
Bright rainbow ribbons that twist in the breeze,
Ruffles on socks that we once wore to school,
Teacups and picnics with raspberry fool,
Pigtails and checks and Dorothy pretty,
I'm dreaming of the Emerald City.


Friday, 9 October 2009

What we wore

I love photographers Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton and how they capture what people are wearing on the streets. To me, that is real fashion. But despite the many photographers capturing street style, it is usually from London, Paris or Milan. I live in a small town in the countryside, and want to show that it isn't just the young things in the cities that love fashion and dress well. When I go shopping or walk around my school, I see so many stylish people. Even when we have our parties in fields rather than trendy night clubs, I love to see what everyone wears. So this is what we wore...

I love Imogen's outfit. The plain jeans work well with the bright shoes and jumper, and her pigtails make the whole outfit look so cute. Imogen was wearing this outfit when she left this afternoon to go to Paris for the weekend. I can picture her sitting in a Parisian café looking the cool and quirky thing she is.
Imogen discovered these incredible shoes in a charity shop, where she finds lots of her clothes. I am so jealous of these sparkly orange trainers, they make my mouth water.
Mel always looks fab. Most of the time when I ask her where she bought her outfit, at least one of the items will be a vintage treasure from her mum's wardrobe. This time it is her 80s belt. I love her white pumps, and the fact that she bought them from Stead and Simpson.
I often see these twins around school, and always admire how they dress. I love their glasses, particularly the big geeky pair.

I loved this quirky outfit, the old school high tops, patterned cardigan and blue scarf. He was a splash of colour and I had to get his photograph.
This oufit, Abercrombie and Fitch top, leggings and purple pumps, is simple but cool. And what more accessories do you need when you have that fabulous Janaissa smile?


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Size-Zero and 'Plus size' at Fashion Week

Mark Fast's stylist quit when he decided to use several 'plus size' models in his Spring/Summer 2010 show at London a few weeks ago. The 28-year old designer chose 3 models from a plus size agency to show alongside the size 8-10s that we are used to seeing on the runway.

I must admit that I have always been so interested in the clothes that I may not have paid too much attention to the models wearing them. Tall, slim, yes, but I have never really questioned it. That is just what a model looks like, as we have been taught to believe by the thousands of images from catwalks and in magazines. When I read about Fast's show on, it was not the fact he used these women that shocked me, but the reaction his decision received. Here is someone questioning the accepted 'norm' of fashion, whereas in fact the three 'plus size' women he included were the only 'normal' sized women on any of the catwalks. I was thinking about Mark Fast when I watched Stella Mcartney's show on the Guardian fashion website this evening. As I watched the beautiful clothes coming down the runway, I made sure to really look at the models. And I realised something. Thighs are not supposed to be concave.

Although I applaude Fast for at least beginning to question stereotypes (he did still only use 3 'plus size' models) I think it should also work on the other end of the spectrum. Skinny equals anorexic is a stereotoype that should also be fought against. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and some are naturally skinny. I frequently hear people describing catwalk models as 'disgusting', and 'unreal'. I don't think it is fair to alienate skinny women, just at it is unfair to alienate 'plus sizes'. And granted, the catwalk models are stunning, but I just think many of them would be far more beautiful if they had a few more curves, and were able to enjoy themselves more without the constant worry of fitting into sample sizes.

I say 'plus size' for a reason. Because it is a term we have created ourselves, based only on our current ideologies and perceptions of size and beauty. Because plus what size? A model would typically be classed as 'plus size' when they are a UK dress size 12 or over. Yet the average dress size in the UK is 14-16. Why, therefore, are models classed as 'plus' when they are below the national norm? Are models not normal? They may be blessed by proportion and nature, but are they not women too?

Above all the main question should of course be about health. You can be unhealthy underweight and unhealthy overweight (although I was surprised to learn that people who are borderline overweight tend to have a greater life expectancy than those who are are closer to being underweight). Fashion is aspirational, but I do not accept that there should be one unanimous view of what aspirational is. Surely the most aspirational things of all are health, happiness and (this is still fashion), beauty. But healthy, happy and beautiful women come in all different shapes and sizes.

Best-selling German magazine Brigitte seems to have a similar opinion, as I found out today when I read the fashion section of the Guardian website. Andreas Lebert, editor in chief of Germany's most popular women's magazine has decided that as of 2010 they will no longer use proffesional models. Instead they will employ ordinary women (promising to pay them the same as they would a proffesional model) as well as women in the public eye who may be interested in modelling. Readers can apply to model in the magazine and as a result Lebert hopes to get a more representational view of women. He said he was fed up of having to use photoshop to fatten up the models they previously employed. "For years we've had to use Photoshop to fatten the girls up, especially their thighs, and decolletage. But this is disturbing and perverse and what has it got to do with our real reader?"

The size-zero debate has been ongoing, and I think it would be unrealistic to say that because of Mark Fast and Brigitte magazine things in the global fashion industry are going to change. But perhaps people will atleast start to readress their aspirations and question what they have come to accept as the norm. I know I have.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

In Praise of Liberty

The Carnaby Street entrance is given a floral makeover
A doll gets a Liberty dress in the Prints Charming exhibition
A fabric covered house was artist Helen Benigson's homage to the classic Liberty print at the Prints Charming exhibition

Even Nike joins the Liberty print party

This Liberty print dress was part of Kate Moss' collection for Topshop

“Meet me in front of the flowers at Liberty.” No further directions needed. Bustling your way off Oxford Street seems to take you back in time, as the Tudor fronted store rises above you. The best time to visit is the evening, when the lights inside glow invitingly and cast a Christmassy twinkle on the street below.
Perhaps my meeting place amid the lilies and roses is poignant, as flowers and Liberty have been unquestionably intertwined for years. Go to the back entrance on Carnaby Street and the message is clear. The brick fronted facade is currently swathed in colourful florals; the iconic Betsy design. This transformation happened over night - whilst everyone was sleeping the Liberty magic was spun, and by morning a fairy dolls house stood at the end of Carnaby Street.
Unfortunately the decoration is only temporary, it celebrates the current Prints Charming exhibition (ending today). Say Liberty, and I picture the shop’s iconic black and white front, the purple bag that whispers luxury and the dark wood, curving staircases inside. But I also cannot help but think of fabric. Vintage-look, floral-covered fabric. And it is a celebration of this fabric that forms the Prints Charming Exhibition. Modern artists were asked to take the traditional designs and rework them in a modern way that was significant to them. A floral clad wendy house, teapot and bike were some of the results. Smiling dolls were dressed in Liberty dresses, and colourful armchairs were patchworked with flowers.
Liberty print fabrics have been around for over a century, since Arthur Liberty started painting fabrics in 1875. Perhaps some of the most iconic are from the 1960s - the dense all over florals that are often described as ‘Liberty print’. Even these, however, would be re-workings of much older designs. Liberty never forgets its heritage.
The prints are scented with nostalgia; chintz curtains that hung in a childhood home, a musty floral scarf dug out from your grandmother’s wardrobe, great-aunts as children in Liberty print dresses. Yet the designs are still desirable, now more so than ever.
The proof is in the Dunks. Last year Nike used the Liberty print fabric to adorn their most famous shoe. For a brand more associated with track and field than flower field, this was perhaps surprising. The shoes were a sell-out. Kate Moss was next to pay homage to the prints, using the florals in her range for Topshop. Liberty passed the Topshop test with flying colours. Not just nostalgic, the Liberty print is very much a la mode. Kate Moss says so.
For me, the Liberty florals embody British style. Taking a twee part of British heritage and messing around with it until it looks entirely new and entirely nostalgic at the same time is something British designers excel at. A reworking of a classic - like Luella giving tweed a sherbet coloured facelift last season. Similarly to tweed, florals have been a part of British style for years. Even before the printing techniques made floral fabrics available, I think the flowers were in our hearts. English roses, primness and optimism.
Liberty is a landmark. Even my french friend knows where to go when I tell her to meet me at the flower stall spilling out from the main entrance. Like the name and the black and white beams, Liberty print fabrics are iconic. And with floral prints not about to disappear any time soon, they remain coveted and stylish, and a treasure of British fashion that is worth celebrating.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Clutching at Stars

When planning an evening’s outfit the tiny sequined bag forces the most painful decision; which to take, perfume or make up? Because slotting both inside this silky envelope would be out of the question. With no room for all the usual handbag clutter, and heaven forbid trying to squeeze a hefty purse into its cramped interior, the clutch bag remains an impractical, yet highly desirable accessory.
For years designers have seen the clutch bag as the perfect canvas to create their most beautiful and quirky designs, and this year is no exception. Star scattered and gem encrusted at Yves Saint Lauren, a ruby red quilted Chanel, Fendi’s bold flower and rainbow design, cheeky circus print from Mui Mui, Balenciaga’s bold floral concoction, a hippy boho pattern from Stella McCartney... the list goes on. Designs that would overwhelm on a bigger scale look perfectly proportioned on a clutch.
Nowadays a clutch bag implies the luxury of a life free from unwanted baggage - no bulging diary or guilty mars bar wrapper lurking in the darkened depths amongst a grotty tissue and emergency hairbrush. Instead the space is reserved for a single perfect lipstick, tiny bottle of heavenly scented perfume and a Platinum card.
However, the clutch bag has not always had this dreamy significance. Although the first real clutch bags or ‘reticules’ of the 1800s were created for ladies to carry money, smelling salts and a dainty handkerchief, the clutch didn’t experience fame in the 20th century until the first world war, when it became the perfect accessory as it required less material for manufacture. Perhaps it is ironic that now clutch bags are only really used for evening or special occasions, and are flaunted in all their shimmering, studded or sequined glory.
And it’s all in the name. ‘Clutch’ implies a favourite possession gripped for dear life, something precious and exquisite. What other bag forces the same sort of reverence? A handbag you can sling over an arm or shoulder, the clutter bulging bag knocked and jostled by tube-goers. And when you return home a handbag can be thrown ruthlessly onto the floor or piled on a chair among coats and newspapers. On the other hand the clutch merits pride of place in the hand’s tight grip, embodies elegance and demands attention.
Despite the connotations of luxury and elegance, a clutch bag is still surprisingly accessible for most people. Perhaps not the Balenciaga, Chanel or Dior one we all dream of, but good quality, expensive looking clutch bags can be found on the high street too. Shops like Monsoon, Warehouse and Topshop offer an accessible alternative to the high end fashion houses. Come prom season girls my age flock to Accessorize to pick out the perfect clutch bag, waitress or shop assistant wages handed over in exchange for a tiny slice of beaded beauty. Perhaps individuality does go out the window, but the clutch bag proves that classic style can be offered to anyone.
It may be small, it may be a nightmare to carry, but the clutch bag is still the perfect stylish accessory. And when it comes down to it, when you find that perfect bag, who needs a strap or handle, when you can grip glamour tightly in your fingertips?

Monday, 17 August 2009

Say No to Navy

It is Monday morning, and it is raining. You stand in front of your wardrobe, the clothes bleary through sleep clouded eyes. You are running late, having pressed ‘snooze’ one too many times. Cue today’s uniform: black trousers, black patent courts, black cardigan over an almost blue shirt, silver jewellery (because it goes with everything), and of course the black leather everyday handbag. Grab an umbrella, and you’re set to go.
Looking around me on the tube, my heart sinks. As if the recession and English rain wasn’t enough to send you over the edge, the sea of surly faces floating above black suits can surely only lead to depression. And what about the suit wearers themselves? Spending all day dressed like death can hardly be that uplifting.
So why do we British insist on wearing black? It is appropriate for a place of work. Perhaps, if you work in a funeral directors. But for a day in the office? Is there really such a need to look so sombre, creativity constricted by that dark navy jacket? There is the issue of being taken seriously, of course. No one wants to be laughed at by their colleagues for a ridiculous outfit. But an adventurous choice can similarly bring respect, and show you are not a woman to be messed with. Black trousers and pastel shirts can slip into the background; Gucci’s vermillion and admiral blue suit is for a woman to be reckoned with.
As a remedy to recession gloom, this summer designers offer us blocks of pow wow colours. Tangerine and Candy Pink pack a punch at Richard Nicoll and ice cream shades brighten the catwalk at Josh Goot. With so many designers and high street shops jumping on the rainbow wagon, there is no excuse for a dull wardrobe. You can build up an outfit the way you would play with Lego, stacking the bright blocks together. Rose trousers, buttercup t-shirt, an orange jacket. Like Lego the colours can be deconstructed, played with.
These bright colours often hark back to childhood; Crayola wax crayons, powder paints, Disney films and party rings. Like an old teddy or the perfume your mother used to wear they can remind you of a carefree happiness and a security that now seems enviable.
Not only are these shades just downright fun, but they are flattering too. Have you never noticed that people remark how well you are looking during the summer months when the colourful frocks come out of hiding? Why reserve colour only for the brief summers, instead of using it to add a healthy glow when you need it the most? Head to toe black washes out tired skin. Just think vampires and you will see what I mean.
I cannot leave the house without wearing at least two bright colours, preferably more. The bigger, the bolder, the brighter, the better. Perhaps I resemble someone who has been hit by a rainbow, but that is fine by me. Colour equals happiness - I can feel my mood visibly lifting when I pull on a multicoloured outfit or sling a pink bag over my shoulder. There is so much doom and gloom around, so why not dress with a touch of humour? Perhaps pink and orange might not co-ordinate in the same way as a lovely palette of bland neutrals, but they look like sweeties and make me smile so it is hard to resist.
Step aside Gordon Brown, I think I have found the solution to the current economic crisis. Banish the black skirts and trousers along with recession depression. ‘Say No to Navy’ would be my election slogan. No more sensible shades and sensible black shoes. Instead, opt for colours that make you smile. How can you fail to feel cheerful when dressed head to toe in fuschia? Imagine a tube journey surrounded by smiling people wearing every candied shade imaginable. You can’t help but smile back, and arrive at work with a spring in your step. Happiness and confidence must be proportionate to productivity, so the lilac Luella coat hanging prettily on the back of your chair is in fact the key to success. (The price tag is, therefore, completely justifiable).
Paintbox brights shout defiance and confidence. And in today’s climate I think we could all do with a little bit of sunshine yellow, candy-cane confidence.