Personal Style

Ask Biki- First Date Style Query


Dear Biki

I have an evening, drinks date this Saturday with a guy in West London.  The thing is, he thinks I’m 26 and although I am 30 and proud, I like the way he’s thinking. 

We are just going out for drinks so it will be a pretty chilled affair.  What do you suggest I wear?



Dear Libby

No matter what people say all first dates are actually interviews.  However the key to this one, fashion-wise, is to look trendy not trend-led and easy-going not easy.

I would advise wearing the ultimate casual, functional bottoms- denim jeans (preferably slate-grey).  However, I would opt for a skinny or slim-fitted pair with a bit of a rock-edge in the detailing.  This can be illustrated through a slightly worn out or distressed detail.  A pair of dainty, statement flats will punctuate your ‘easy-going and youthful’ nature nicely.

With your bottom half being low-key you can afford to up the stakes on your top half.  Go for a vintage-like blouse with lace detailing (this A/W ’11 season, the Victorian trend is ‘in’, thanks to International designers like Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon and Tory Burch) and wrap things up by pairing your ensemble with a smart blazer.

Also go easy on the makeup and accessories twenty-something girls don’t need all the bells and whistles to reign in the herd.


Sounding Off..., This & That

The Case of the Shrinking Plus-Size Top Model

I wonder if Toccara Jones, Sophie Dahl and Crystal Renn are good friends, for they all have one large (pun intended) thing in common- all 3 models rose to fame whilst being plus-sized models, and once they were welcomed into fashion’s flat bosom, they all lost a serious amount of weight.

Sophie Dahl was once the Queen of the Plus-Sized Model. Picture courtesy of

For those who are unaware of these three über models; Toccara Jones rose to international fame after appearing as a contestant in cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model.  She has since modelled for reputable editorials like Italian Vogue and in 2010 landed her first major modelling UK job with High Street store Evans, modelling for their Summer collection.  Sophie Dahl traded in the catwalk for her laptop and is now known as an author.  However, she is more internationally known as the plus-size model, who in her hey-day featured in campaigns for reputable designers like Versace, Alexander McQueen and that YSL campaign.  In fact, I have to share the image with you as it’s one of my favourite campaign images of all time-

 She also modelled for large circulation magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie ClaireCrystal Renn famously went from being a high fashion model at the tender age of 14 to gaining 70 pounds and re-marketing herself as a plus-size model.  To document her transition she penned a book titled, ‘Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves’.  She was the only plus-size model to appear on the front cover of Harper’s Bazaar, and has enjoyed many a lucrative contract by working with brands like Evans and Chanel.

When discussing weight and the fashion industry there are so many questions one can raise for discussion, for e.g.- at a mere size 14, was Crystal Renn ever truly a ‘plus-size’ model, what is the fashion industry doing to be more responsible about this issue and who are the culprits- the editors, designers, model agents or us the public/consumers (after all high-fashion magazines are still being bought and international catwalks still create a stampede rush)?

However, I believe pictures can sometimes say succinctly what words often cannot-

Toccara Jones

Sophie Dahl

At the start of her fashion career she was a voluptuous feast-

At the end of her career , well, not so much-

 Crystal Renn



With Crystal Renn doing a 360, the fashion industry has lost its latest plus-size model du jour to the thinner and darker side.  So, it would appear that there is now an opening for ‘The World’s Next Plus-Size Top Model’.  I wonder who it will be, and how long it will take for her to become a skinnier shadow of her former self?

Personal Style

Menswear- Invest in Sharp Tailoring this A/W 2011

This Autumn/Winter 2011, Mango mannequins illustrate that when it comes to menswear this season, men have two choices.

They can either invest in a sharp tailored look from head to toe, with matching sombre autumnal tones like so-

Or they can mix things up by investing in a tailored piece packed with heritage like a trench coat and match it with more casual pieces, like a pair of denim loose-fitting blue jeans.  On a side note, I have to add that I think it should be legal and mandatory for every man above the age of 18 to possess a trench coat.  There is just something about the traditional and functional apparel that can turn a mere boy/man into a sexy, formidable ‘man’s man’, and with the one below coming at a reasonable £119.00– it shouldn’t be too hard a law to follow-

Sounding Off..., This & That

Interview with the Incomparable Model, Tatiana Chechetova

Blue-eyed beauty, Tatiana Chechtova has featured in reputable magazine editorials like Qvest, GQ Style and I Love You.  She has also worked on a multitude of commercial projects which have included modelling for Vivienne Westwood’s lookbook.  She is represented by M4 Model Management (Germany) and New Madison (France).

Copyright: Anna Burmistrova

I had the pleasure with working with all 5ft 9.5 of her when she worked on the fashion editorial I styled last week.  Having been blown away by her amazing chameleon-like transformations in her projects, I couldn’t resist shoving my rather dated tape recorder in front of her face to ask her a few questions as she got primed for the shoot.

Here is how it went-

My Fashion S/ash Life- How and where, were you discovered as a model?

Tatiana- I was spotted in the small  Russian town, Tambov, where I come from by my neighbour.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How does that work, did s/he one day come knocking on your door asking if you wanted to be a model?

Tatiana- No, my neighbour had been watching me for two years and had been observing how I was growing up…

My Fashion S/ash Life- Erm, is this neighbour a man by any chance? As it’s beginning to sound a bit unsavoury!

Tatiana (laughs)- No she was a woman who happened to be a photographer and she recommended that I go to my local model agency for a casting.  It all took off from there.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What would you say are the best aspects of your job?

Tatiana- I love the process of becoming a different character in each modelling job I do.

My FashionS/ash Life- And what do you like the least?

Tatiana- Having to model in freezing weather.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How would you describe your sense of style?

Tatiana- I’m a seasonal dresser, so in summer I tend to wear brighter clothes, but in autumn/winter, I tend to go for darker pieces.

Copyright: Adam Von Mack

My Fashion S/ash Life- What genre or cultural reference inspires you the most when it comes to your style?

Tatiana- I love Japanese street style and designers like Yohji Yamamoto.

My Fashion S/ash Life- You have done a multitude of editorials, campaigns, look books, shows etc.  How has that affected your sense of style?

Tatiana- A lot.  I come from a small town in Russia and growing up I really didn’t have much taste and I feel that was because of the kind of flashy, overdressed style I was exposed to.  However, since entering the industry I can see that it has given me the confidence to develop my own sense of style which is more casual, relaxed and definitely cooler!

My Fashion S/ash Life- Which is your favourite city to shop in?

Tatiana- Paris, but to live in, I prefer either London or Berlin.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What are your beauty tips?

Tatiana- Lots of sleep- try to get 8 hours at least.  Also avoid coffee, cigarettes and too much alcohol.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What has been your favourite freebie so far?

Tatiana- A Vivienne Westwood jacket which I got for doing her look book.

My Fashion S/ash Life- If you had an unlimited resource of cash, which designers would you spend it on?

Tatiana (laughs)- Well, I’m not sure if I would spend the money on clothes!

My Fashion S/ash Life- That’s a very sensible answer but in this interview you have to!  So imagine someone gives you bucket loads of cash, puts a gun to your head and orders you to shop- which designers would you go for?

Tatiana- Well in that case, Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester.

Press & Promotions

My Dries Van Noten Fall 2011 Review in Husk Magazine’s A/W 2011 issue

Today, the editor of Husk magazine confirmed that the magazine was now ready to send me issues of the latest Vol II, No III, Fall/Winter 2011 issue.  I’m very excited to see how the magazine will display the article I wrote reviewing Dries Van Noten’s (aka The Prints MasterFall women’s wear collection.

I am especially proud of this piece of work because I had a 24 hour deadline to critique a complex collection.  After all, writing about a collection primarily inspired by disparate influences namely- David Bowie’s flamboyant, adrogynous character, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, the Ballet Russes principal dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky and the Japanese art form, Bonsai- is no easy feat.

Copies of the latest issue can be bought online, please see here for details-

To read the full article please go to

Picture courtesy of

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