Wednesday, 21 April 2010

H&M Against Aids

To share or not to share? Part of me wants to keep news of H&M's latest venture to myself, in the hope that come the 20th of May I might have just a slim chance of getting my hands on something from this covetable collection. However, as 25% of sales from this new range will be going to charity, it seems only fair to spread the word about clothes that are not only fabulous, but will help a good cause too.

For the third year running H&M have joined up with Designers Against Aids to advocate the message of safe sex and raise funds for charities that promote the awareness of Aids/HIV among the young.

This year the theme for the collection is festival-wear. With summer festivals on the horizon what to wear seems the hovering question. Because a festival wardrobe has to be that bit cooler and that bit more individual. With this sartorial pressure it renders the high street a potentially precarious and stress-filled destination. Fear no more however, H&M have all the answers, and all the outfits. And it just gets better, because unlike some of their designer collaborations which can fall just outside of student friendly when it comes to prices, this H&M range is surprisingly, wonderfully, joyfully affordable. Think £15 to £25 for a dress. I told you this was good.

The advertising campaign sums up the feel of the collection. It's cool, Lou Doillon cool. Awash with faded denim, ethnic inspired fabrics and animal prints the collection is bang on trend. Mix in maxi dresses, toughen-it-up leather and luxe details and you have a range full of outfits to kill for. You can't just buy the dress, you have to have the belt and the shoes and the bangles too...
Below is my pick of favourites from the collection:
In faded denim, and a simple, body hugging shape this dress would be the perfect staple for a summer wardrobe. But add in the detailing on the elbows and the neckline and it looks like something you could see on the catwalk of many a cool young designer. Yet, hoorah, it's just £24.99.
Maxi dresses are an unstoppable force this summer - to try to avoid this trend would be like trying to stop a tidal wave with a beaver's dam. For many a maxi might be just a bit too hippie, and a loose shape a bit too 'pregnant'. If this applies to you, opt instead for this monochrome version from H&M (£14.99). The deep v-neck gives a flattering shape, whilst the three quarter length sleeves are perfect if you'd prefer not to flash too much flesh. With floaty beach styles and plain jersey versions abound, this seems a quirkier, more style-savvy alternative. Perfect, therefore, to show your fashion credentials at an uber cool festival.
Turquoise accessories are big this summer, and it is easy to see why when presented with the brilliant hue of this necklace (£12.99). Packing for a festival means taking just as much as you can carry, so if you can't fit in too many changes of outfits, accessories are the perfect way to freshen up an outfit. Statement necklaces like this can be slung over a t-shirt for an instant update - with a necklace this fab no one will notice you've been wearing the same t-shirt for the last 3 days.
I will never tire of bangles. Perfectly simple - just stack them up your arm and you're set to go. I love this bold set (£9.99) that would add the finishing touch to any of the outfits in the new H&M range. All you need are your festival bands as well for the finishing touch.
In monochrome zig-zag print these seem one of the best interpretations of the gladiator sandal (another summer trend that is nye on impossible to escape). These are shoes for the coolest of festival feet. (£14.99)
H&M have thought of everything. The festival kit is completed by this paisley print sleeping bag above (£12.99) and leopard print tent below (£7.99 - yes, you did read that correctly, it is actually £7.99). One of the things I'd worry about at Glastonbury would be losing my tent - there could be nothing worse than wandering through a mass of guy ropes and khaki domes in helpless dismay. Actually, perhaps worse would be unzipping a tent that looked similar to your own and stepping in on some unsuspecting stranger. Therefore this gloriously garish tent is perfect - you're not going to lose it in a hurry.
The H&M Fashion Against Aids range will go on sale from the 20th of May, and will be sold in the Divided youth sections of stores. And it doesn't stop at womenswear and tents - there is also an equally desirable menswear range for guys looking for 'I'm in the band' outfits to see them through festival season.

One word of warning - prepare for queues as these clothes are too good to stay on the hangers for long.


Click here to learn more about Designers Against Aids

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Amo essere una donna

Whilst preparing for the Italian GCSE that I will be taking in a few weeks time I count reading an Italian magazine as suitable revision. I have fallen in love with 'Flair' for its glossy images and newspaper style accompanying shopping section - all beautifully photographed and laid out in a way that appeals to my love of organisation. This lingerie section in the magazine made my mouth water and made me oh so happy to be a woman.

In light as air lace and gorgeous colours, I think it is safe to say the Italians know how to do underwear.

These rainbow colours pop from the page and would add a deliciously bright touch to any underwear drawer.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Too cool to smile?

Calvin Klein
Alexander Wang
Marc Jacobs

Despite the glorious concoctions designers create season after season, the catwalk is looking sombre. Watching the models teetering up and down the runway you would be forgiven for mistaking some shows for a funeral. Because, alas, sultry seems to be the expression of choice. Where did this vogue for grumpy teenagers come from and what I want to know is, what's wrong with a smile?

Many models walking the runways today look like they would frankly rather be elsewhere. Nonchalant seems to have been taken to the extreme. To me, it just looks a bit careless. At the end of the day models are there to sell the clothes they are wearing, and looking bored just doesn't give the right impression.

Freja Beha Erickson, model of the moment, seems to have perfected a constant expression of slight confusion. "What is this that I am wearing?" she seems to say, "Harem pants? Really, what ARE they?" and on the Chanel runway, "Are these black trousers made of fur? Fake fur?" Actually, at Chanel some of the models did muster a few half smiles. But then they were dressed as grizzly bears.

Worse than the frowns, however is the expressionless face. This blank mask labels the model as a clothes horse, nothing more. Perhaps that is the case, yet to me the clothes would seem far more enticing if actively modelled by a woman, rather than simply hanging on her back. Imagine a runway where the women seemed to, shock horror, enjoy wearing the clothes.

Possibly my favourite runway show of all time was John Galliano's Spring/Summer 2008 collection, which saw models prancing down decking in floaty fancies, frolicking in florals and strutting their stuff in front of a fairytale merry-go-round. The models skipped and swished their skirts, and told a story of sunshine, holidays and glamour that you immediately wanted to be a part of. Fashion writer Tim Blanks described it as a "deliriously happy celebration of fashion" and the models were a key part of this. Significantly, they had fun with the clothes they were wearing. And at the end of the day, fashion should be fun. If not, what is the point?

Watch the video of John Galliano's Spring 2008 collection


Sunday, 11 April 2010

Rule Britannia

One of these gorgeous mugs reads 'Proud to be British'. And I really am. Today as the sun was shining and I was walking through beautiful countryside and listening to lambs bleating, I realised how much I love living in England. I want to travel and yearn to live in an appartment in Paris or soak up the rays in Milan, but essentially my heart will always belong here.

To me England is:

London buses, sheep, green fields, Mr. Whippy ice creams by the sea, being shy and polite, picnics, black cabs, pier amusement arcades and donkeys on the beach, sandwiches cut into triangles, tea, everyone getting the flesh out as soon as the clouds break, village fetes, fashion that is experimental and exciting (and at times just plain strange, but we love it for that), roses, rain, ducks, camping in muddy fields, wellington boots, autumns like nowhere else, daffodils and daisies, uncomfortable school uniform and gingham summer dresses, fish and chips, toad in the hole, sunday roasts with family, old castles, the National Trust, Marks and Spencer's, Dorset Apple Cake, scones with cream and jam, bangers and mash...

Mug £4.75 Pedlars
Arrive and leave with a smile courtesy of this cheerful Union jack doormat from Pedlars, an online shop full of vintage finds and homeware that is quintessentially British.

Union jack doormat £17.50 Pedlars
For drying your 'I love London mug': these vintage look Union jack tea towels. Or if household chores aren't your style, attach a dozen of them to the washing line for DIY bunting.

Union jack tea towel £11.50 Pedlars
We British like our tea. So what better way to serve it than from this colourful union jack teapot? And just £8 I'd call that a bargain too.

Union jack teapot £8 Urban Outfitters
Hoolala is an English jewellery brand known for being quirky and staying true to their roots. I love their 'For England and St George' range including this 'Keep Calm and Carry On' ring as well as charm necklaces adorned with iconic postboxes, buses and telephone boxes. Look out as well for their Alice in Wonderland themed range and their jewellery that draws from literary heroes such as Mr. Darcy for inspiration.

'Keep calm and carry on' ring £14 Hoolala
Phone box charm necklace £28 Hoolala
I love vintage-look tin signs and this gloriously patriotic one would make a kitsch contribution to any home. Preferably a kitchen filled with mismatch china and union jack bunting.

Tin sign £6.99 Cloth-ears
I can see this cushion sitting quite happily on my bed. It reminds me of an old friend who told me about using a vintage, tattered union jack flag as a bed spread. It was an ancient family treasure and her and her sister used to take turns having it decorating their bed. I was very jealous.

Union jack cushion £14.99 Cloth-ears

I love baking, but usually prefer cakes to biscuits. I have now found a reason to be converted. These British isles biscuit cutters are truly inspired in my opinion. I love them.

Biscuit cutters £4 each at Refound
At £4.50 a card these may be expensive, but they're still lovely and their intricate design makes them unlike any other card you'll ever give or receive.

Union jack card £4.50 at Refound

Friday, 9 April 2010

J'adore l'amour

Just give me some love hearts and I'm sold. Ever the romantic I adore this black and white dress from Lipsy (£48) for its heart neckline and fifties style spots. Oh so stylish, just crying out for some red shoes in my opinion.
Where the dress above is classy, this cardigan (£32 Miss Selfridge) is simply cute, but who doesn't love cuteness (think baby bunnies). I particularly like it's cropped style, making it more spring like and great for accentuating a waist too.
£88 at Urban Outfitters
Vivienne Westwood has teamed up with Melissa for another shoe range, available to buy at Urban Outfitters. This peep toe patent plastic pair are gorgeous. Sweet and spring-like in pale lilac, I have fallen in love.

£22 Accessorize
If you prefer flats, these pumps from Accessorize are perfect. With the peep toe and heart motif they channel the Westwood style but on a more practical (and purse friendly) shoe.

Unfortunately I don't have £118 to splash on pumps, but if I did, I would head to French Sole. Their 'Love heart' range features 4 different styles, all with a heart shape on the toes and the words 'I love you'. My favourite are these leopard print pair. What more could you want; hearts, leopard print and shoes that tell you they love you?
Finally, this patent heart bag (£190 Vivienne Westwood at Urban Outfitters) is one to fall for. Wear your heart on you arm as you sport this crush worthy bag.

Isn't love just lovely?


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spring has Sprung

It is official, spring has sprung. Today I even peeled off my trusty black opaque tights in the afternoon sun. It is amazing what some sunrays can do to your mood; good old vitamin D as my scientist friend Alice reliably informs me every time the clouds break. As the weather brightens and gives us hope for a potential summer on the horizon (summer? what's that?) I feel an urge to go shopping and refresh my winter wooly wardrobe.

For me, spring fashion means 3 things:


The picture above is of the crazily impractical (it simply sits on my shelf doing nothing other than being pretty) but ridiculously beautiful fabric covered bird house my mum gave me as a well done for getting in to the London College of Fashion. On the book shelf are 3 of my mum's books, books she has photographed and written all about gorgeous flower shops. No guesses where my love for flowers came from...
My gorgeous floral girly stands in the corner of my room next to my pinboard brimming with photos of me and my friends, and my pink union jack bunting. This mannequin is possibly my single favourite possession. At the moment she is embracing the floral trend, wearing a bra I brought from Anthropologie (my favourite shop and place in the world) in New York, and an embroidered bib necklace that I bought in the Accessorize sale.
I went shopping last week with my friends and couldn't resist this top in River Island. When I saw it my heart glowed with happiness at its sheer girly perfection. It has thick ribbon straps and a zip running down the front, a floaty tier falling from the waist, and a floppy pink bow that ties it up at the back. It makes me feel like a flower fairy, and after trying it on in the shop I never wanted to take it off.
River Island £24.99 The Top

Dorothy Perkins £32 The Dress

The busy floral print on this dress is balanced with its simple 5os shape. The perfect sundress to wear whilst sipping Pimms. Just add a straw hat.
Accessorize £8 The Tights

Because we are still in England after all, tights seem a practical yet pretty way to do spring florals. The print is cheerful and optimistic, yet the tights are great for the reality of spring: they'll keep your legs warm during April showers.
ASOS £40 The Dungarees

You may not have worn dungarees since you were 5, but it is time to fall back in love. This time round however, pair with fab shoes and a nonchalant expression in lieu of pigtails and a gappy toothed smile.
Dorothy Perkins £22 The Culottes

Is it it a skirt? Is it a pair of shorts? Um, they're culottes silly. These indecisive garments seem to be everywhere at the moment. Floaty and girly like a skirt, but practical like shorts: no knickers flashing in the spring breeze. I really like the vintage inspired print on this pair and the old school pleats. Have to be worn with white plimpsolls I say.
Urban Outfitters £28 The Lace Ups

If you're on the cooler side of girly (I, sadly, place myself on the Minnie Mouse side) then these are the shoes for you. The masculine shape makes a nice contrast to the super pretty ditsy print.
Accessorize £25 The pumps

Remember what I said about Minnie Mouse? I don't think I'm quite cool enough for the floral brogues that I adore; these pumps are much more in my comfort zone. With their ballerina shape and big pink bows they tug at my heart strings and cry out for my feet. How could you resist?


With spring comes spring colours - ie pastels. They may have been renamed 'sorbet shades' or 'ice cream hues' this time round yet they are the well loved spring shades that come out every year just like the bulbs poke their green heads from the ground. The flowers burst open and I am filled with an extreme desire to dress head to toe in pretty petal shades.
The Catwalk Look: Burberry Prorsum spring summer 10
The Catwalk Look: Christopher Kane spring summer 10
Dorothy Perkins £5 The Tights

I love the lilac of these tights at Dotty Ps; they are so spring-like that no one will notice the fact that you wearing them contradicts the whole 'spring has sprung' thing.
Topshop £40 The Jeans

These light wash coral skinny jeans from Topshop are so delicious I could eat them. Just wish I had legs skinny enough to WEAR them.
Lipsy £50 The Dorothy Dress

Channel Dorothy's style and take inspiration from Christopher Kane's catwalk collection with this baby blue Lipsy dress. Pastel, gingham and lingerie style bust line... triple gold stars, you're hitting 3 trends in one.
Topshop £28 The Fairy Top

This really is a top for fairies. Made from a gorgeous, draping lilac material it has fabric flowers and the front and a bow at the back. What more could you want?
Topshop £35 The Skirt

My life will not be complete until I own this skirt. We are made for each other, it is as simple as that. High waisted, lemon and with HEART SHAPED POCKETS. Can you get more girly, more lovely, and more LIBBY than that?
And here is my pastel ensemble: a high waisted lace skirt from H&M that is currently being held together with safety pins I wear it so much, a lilac vest top from Oasis I bought the other day, a hand-me-down cardigan from my mum and my pearly Topshop necklace (90p in the sale). And proof that I am a true British girl and really did brave it tightless.


Spring is all about prettiness and loveliness, and for me there is nothing quite as lovely as pretty underwear.
Stella Mcartney: The Designer

I pine after Stella Mcartney's simply pretty underwear. More than that, I dream about a life lived in soft focus as per her advertising campaigns a life filled with kittens, waist high grass, silk sheets and cashmere socks.
Marks and Spencer's £16 The high street favourite

Marks and Spencer's are one of our national treasures. It's because we trust them. And women all over the country trust them to make their underwear, flocking there for basics you can rely on. Good old M&S.
O lingerie £18 The pretty one

In the softest hint of blue this polka dot and lace bra by O lingerie at ASOS is the epitome of pretty.
Topshop £16 The sexy one

I love this bra. Enough said.
Floozie by Frost French £16.50 The cute one

Floozie by Frost French (sold at Debenhams) is my favourite underwear brand. This bra is mouth-watering, literally, covered as it is in bright red strawberries. Buy the matching knickers too for the cutest underwear set around.

Oasis £32 The sophisticated one

My second favourite place to buy underwear is Oasis, for their Odille collection. This pale blue satin bra says sophisticated goddess. And who doesn't want to be one of those?

Welcome back Spring. I've missed you.