Personal Style

Inside the Wardrobe and Mind of ‘The Queen of High Street Style’

As much as I love taking note of what people are wearing on the streets, at events and so on.  There is a particular, indescribable pleasure and pride I get when my friends’ ensembles teach me a thing or two.  For years now, a very good friend of mine’s various stylish and unique outfits have had me asking repeatedly, ‘where did you get that?’  And after a while, I realised that more often than not,  the response was from a High Street store.  In fact I think she could give High Street ambassador, Gok Wan, a run for his money in picking up the best looks on the High Street. 

This is a lady who is up to date with all the various High End and High Street collaborations and is so dedicated to possess them that she will queue for two hours to get the limited garments and accessories.  Not content with the more obvious finds in High Street stores, the pieces in her wardrobe hail from interesting finds in her local charity shop, Oxfam all the way to secretly hidden boutiques in Argentina.

This ‘High Street Style Queen’ goes by the name Fayola Saunders and on a recent trip to her house, I convinced her to wade through her boxes, rails and even more boxes of clothes and accessories to come up with four main looks-  work wear, day wear, date wear and evening wear And as if that wasn’t enough, I also decided to pick her brains at the end of it all to get some tips for girls and women out there who are still trying to work out how High Street stores can work for them

Faye’s Work Wear

 

Faye’s work outfit- Grey jacket and shift dress -M&S, black pair of shoes- Primark, black bag- H&M

Faye’s Day Look

 

 How print-tastic is this skirt?

 Faye’s day outfit- Bead necklace-Oxfam, bangle Oasis, Navy blue blouse- Primark, skirt- Asos.com, sandals-boutique in Argentina, leather fringe bag- Primark, silver and blue ring- Asos.com

Faye’s Date Look- This is not a ‘First Date’ look, but rather a look for when you have been on X amount of dates and it’s more ‘acceptable’ to start looking like you made an effort

Faye’s ‘It’s now ok to look like I made an effort for this date’ look- Blue cardigan- Primark, blue feather earrings- Primark, peacock print dress- New Look, turquoise blue and aqua green bag-Matthew Williams for H&M, blue,silver and diamante ring- Asos.com, blue suede stilettos-Primark

Faye’s Evening Look

 

Faye’s evening outfit- Dress -Lanvin for H&M, snakeskin stilettos Kate Kanzier, gold snake bracelet- Roberto Cavalli for H&M, snake ring- Roberto Cavalli for H&M, gold earrings- Topshop, black leather bag- Primark

 Interview

My Fashion S/ash Life- Talk me through why you chose this particular work outfit?

Faye-It’s my favourite suit dress, I don’t normally shop in M&S but I saw it in the shop window and I loved the ruffle detail and initially I just wanted the dress, but when I tried it with the jacket, I loved the combination and decided to get the whole outfit.

My Fashion S/ash Life- I absolutely love the structure, shape and print of your Asos African batik-print skirt.  Talk me through your day ensemble.

Faye- I love African print and when I saw this skirt I knew I had to have it.  I also happen to have a lot of blue accessories and a top from Primark which complimented the skirt, so I went for it.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And why this dress for your evening look?

Faye- A year or so ago, I wanted a nice, classy dress for New Years Eve and when I heard Lanvin was collaborating with H&M,  I knew that would mean chic, timeless dresses at an affordable price.  So I went down there and queued for two hours before the shop opened and it was worth it.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was for me- I loved the asymmetrical detailing, the ruffled detail and I love the fact it has a deep purple tone and is not black.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And why this outfit for your date?

Faye-I love peacocks and the colour blue, so when I saw this dress in New Look, I knew I had to have it.

MyFashion S/ash Life- From looking at your jewellery I can see you are one for statement pieces, is that a fair assessment?

Faye- When it comes to accessories, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  I can quite happily wear an outfit with no accessories but when I do decide to, they are very much in your face.

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

Faye- It’s a bit of a mixture- for work my style is classic and simple and I tend to wear a lot of blacks and greys, but when I’m going out at night, I’m much bolder and adventurous in the way I wear my prints, colours and cuts of garments.   So like I am with my accessories, I don’t have much middle ground- I’m either classic or I’m wacky.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What do you mean by wacky? In this day and age, we associate wacky style with personalities like Nicky Minaj and Lady Gaga.

Faye- Well I’m not wacky by those standards but when I dress up outside work, I like to use detailing, colour and print to make me stand out in the crowd.

My Fashion S/ash Life- High Street or High End?

Faye- High Street

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

Faye- Primark, because if you have the right eye and you know what suits you, you can find good pieces that are priced cheaply.  Also with the vast selection, you can buy pieces to spice up an outfit as well as the basic essentials.  So I tend to mix and match my brands by donning an expensive bag and then balancing it with a fab piece from Primark.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How often do you edit your wardrobe?

Faye- I don’t edit, I just add!

My Fashion S/ash Life- Who are your style icons?

Faye- I don’t have any.

My Fashion S/ash Life- That’s interesting, most people tend to have one.

Faye- To be honest, I am not that influenced by people, I know that everyone is to a certain extent but for me, I either like something or I don’t.

My Fashion S/ash Life- What skeletons are hanging in your wardrobe?

Faye- Ah there are so many…

My Fashion S/ash Life- Indeed there are, I remember from our uni days! 

Faye (laughs)- Well I do have a pair of purple satin, skin-tight flares.

My Fashion S/ash Life- Ooooooh Boogie Nights! How has your fashion sense changed through the years?

Faye- As I’ve grown up and become more confident, I’ve got a lot more experimental with my fashion picks which shows through the range of colours and prints in my wardrobe.

My Fashion S/ash Life- How has the fashion press by way of mags, blogs and TV shows influenced your way of dressing?

Faye- I’m a ‘Look’ mag girl as opposed to a ‘Vogue’ girl, reason being, I like the way Look mag has carried the trend of making the High Street more chic and trendy.  So I’m influenced by fashion mags who have picked up on that tend.

My Fashion S/ash Life- And how exactly how have you been influenced by Look magazine?

Faye- Well sometimes, I’ll read mags like Look or Grazia and not buy it (laughs), yes I know, classical cheap! Anyway I’ll do that, see what the High Steet stores have in stock and if I see a piece in a mag I like, I will go to the store to try on the piece and if it fits right, I will buy it.  So I use the mags like a catalogue.

MyFashion S/ash Life- Oh I love it, that’s exactly what fashion mags want you to do!  Good to know, it still works.  Now, if you won a prize where you got to have a free consultation with an image consultant, which area would you say you needed help with the most?

Faye- I definitely need help streamlining my wardrobe.

My Fashion S/ash Life- I can help you with that, at a friendly fee of course!  And finally, Carrie Bradshaw or Cheryl Cole?

Faye- Definitely Carrie Bradshaw!

 My Fashion S/ash Life- Good girl.

I would like to give a big thank you to Faye for making this article possible.  You wouldn’t tell from the pictures and how forthcoming she was during her interview, but Faye wasn’t feeling well whilst I took these shots and grilled her, but she was ever the professional and amazing friend and let me poke, prod and prim her to my heart’s content.

Personal Style

Colour Trend for A/W 2011- Camel Brown

Fashion is all grown up this A/w 2011, gone are the days when she skipped through the city in dazzlying, attention-seeking fluro brights like neon pink and canary yellow.  Now she is favouring more subdued, elegant hues as the nights get longer and the days get shorter.  One of the earthier shades she will be experimenting with this Autumn/Winter season is camel brown.

London girl about town, Madeleine Glatz illustrates how work this colour tone into your ensemble-

Madeleine’s short jacket, oversized bag and shoe boots are  from Mango.  Her  top and leggings are from Primark.  Her pashmina was a gift from India.

Ask Biki...

My Review Of The Labels, Pre-London Fashion Week Catwalk 2011 Show

thelabels

 

On Friday 19th August 2011, I was invited to see the work of six emerging designers showcase their collections at 1 Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA.

As much as I love seeing the new work of designers, learning about the new talents coming out of London, I am always a bit wary of emerging designer fashion shows.  Reason being, I often see important mistakes that affect the overall lasting impression of the show or mistakes that harm the designer’s collection.  I understand that with an emerging fashion show, this one included, that it is the designers that contribute toward the budget and funding of the show.  And as well as dealing with their individual collections, they have to be heavily involved with other factors of the show which include- invitations, press, models and so on.  But the thing is, when press are watching a show or looking at an image from a catwalk show- more often than not, they don’t have all this background prep information so they can sympathise with the designers and more importantly the fashion industry is hardly known for its compassionate and forgiving nature.

I have to admit that my experience at the beginning of the Labels show didn’t start so well for the following reasons-

1. Having arrived as Press, in the seating arrangements of the show, I did not see any clear indication for Press to sit.  This is an important mistake because in fashion shows, press are supposed to have seats that can give them the best visual access to the show, as they are the ones responsible for writing and promoting the show afterwards.  To do that, we need to be able to see the intrinsic details of the collection.

2. There were no press packs on the seats at the start of the show to give an indication of the order of the show, the designers collections and so on.  Press packs were given at the end of the show, but again, it was a bit of a mission for me to get them as I had to do a lot of asking and running around.  Many fashion editors and fashion journalists would not do this.  Furthermore, upon receiving the Press booklet which gave details about each of the designer’s collections, I discovered that the collection details of one of the designers was missing.  The Press bag did have that designer’s card, but this meant that Press had to do more work to get the collection details of the omitted designer.

3. As the Labels show did not have press packs at the start of the show, a guest speaker led the audience through each the collections.  At this point, I have to say that fashion shows should really stay away from guest speakers/wannabe comedians at fashion shows.  And if you absolutely must get one, get one that is educated.  I couldn’t believe it when this particular guest speaker was introducing a designer’s collection, and after stumbling and bumbling the words uttered, ‘there are words here I can’t pronounce’.  Or when he said, ‘the toilets are…actually, I don’t know but I’m sure you will find them!’  With an emerging designer show there is extra onus to prove yourself and to present a particular high quality (which you want to be associated with your brand) and professionalism in every aspect of the show from start to finish.

I was particularly irritated that the guest speaker could not describe the designer’s collection in a fluent and coherent manner because with no press packs given at the beginning of the show, there was extra onus on the guest speaker to educate guests (and press particularly) on the background, inspirations and fabrics in each collection.

4. Models are often the bane of an editorial fashion shoot and fashion show, especially when there is no models budget as such.  Having said that, models can break or make a fashion show or shoot.  The sad truth is, when it comes to a fashion show, no matter how great the hair, makeup, and the pieces the model is wearing are.  If he/she cannot walk properly, is too short or has picked up cliché catwalk bad habits like – excessive jiggling, exaggerated posing at the end of the catwalk run, putting their hands perpetually on their waists-this can cause problems because it can be hard to get a picture that can be sent to established blogs and magazines.  Also whilst watching the show, these defects harm the overall impression of each ensemble the model wears, and as a result the designer’s collection is not seeing in its best possible light.

Overall I have to say that The Labels fashion show and everyone who took part in it are to be highly commended for the efforts they put into the show.  Throughout the event, I was torn between judging it as press and judging it as a guest/spectator. As the latter, I liked the innovative venue that was chosen, the idea of having a summer barbecue afterwards, the great tunes the DJ spun after the show and the fun people I met that night.  But as Press, I feel that the above negative observations I wrote about, have to be mentioned because partying and eating aside, having asked one of the designers why she chose to take part in the Labels show she mentioned that it was to, ‘establish her brand and build her client base’.  At the end of the day, the Labels fashion show was a business venture, so I hope that the organisers take my observations on board, as the better and more professional a show, the more likely its designers are likely to be promoted, creating a higher possibility of recognition and sales.

Sounding Off..., This & That

This A/W 2011,Topshop’s Mannequins blaze a style trail

One of the things I was greatly looking forward to seeing during my very short trip to London last week was the Topshop (Oxford street) window, and to be more exact, the Topshop mannequins.

My fascination with mannequins began when I was ten years old and saw the 80’s iconic film, ‘Mannequin’ starring Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy.  In fact back in the SATC days when people would often debate who was the prettiest out of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte (the popular choice) or Samantha;  I always thought that for anyone who had watched Mannequin and seen Kim Cattrall in her heyday ‘Samantha’ won that beauty (and body) race hands down.  Don’t believe me?  Watch this video and pause on that fur peekaboo moment-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=agxwOaTVnCY

The film Mannequin taught me the importance of a shop window and how the creative use of fashionably styled mannequins could attract crowds, generate press headlines, increase footfall and lead to high sales for a department store.  It also showed me how a dwindling department store could use their shop window to become  ‘relevant’ to the public again.  Then I didn’t know that decorating a shop window and styling mannequins was called, visual merchandising.

Due to Mannequin, I often use the a store’s window display to determine whether I enter a shop or not.  In London, with so many great high street, vintage shops, boutiques et al- stores really up the ante to make sure they pull out all the stops to catch and keep a potential customer’s interest.  Time after time, Topshop’s windows have cast a spell on me and even when my purse strings have been tightened, after gazing at their amazingly styled mannequins, I find that they cast a spell on me luring me inside.

Furthermore, if you are feeling strapped for cash and you can’t afford to buy a magazine to let you know what the trends are and you want a more entertaining experience than looking online- Topshop’s mannequins are styled to let you know what the seasonal trends are and how to work them.  In fact, I found them so inspiring that for the next couple of weeks I am going to write posts dedicated to A/W 11 trends and I will be using  mannequins (from various high street stores) to illustrate my point. And P.S if you haven’t worked it out already- that top shot illustrates that one of the key accessory pieces to invest in this season is a fedora.  Pair it with an oversized fur coat to add a touch of nonchalant glamour to your overall look.

Topshop’s attention to detail and their creativity is just incredible, I love the ‘cry baby’ effect of this mannequin.

Can someone please buy me this black leather jacket with silver spike embellishment please?  This is the perfect jacket to brave fashion shows, parties and festivals with as any queue jumper or pusher is likely to feel more than your wrath when they attempt to shove you out of the way.

Topshop mannequins show that black is still the most effective colour to contrast gold with.  I wonder if transgender icon, Amanda Lepore was the inspiration for the mannequins exaggerated lips as they sure remind me of her.

Amanda Lepore

The razzle and dazzle effect didn’t end there-

Another reason I love Tophsop mannequins is because of the makeup and hair styles they sport.  I’ll never understand stores that cut their mannequins heads off.  Topshop gives you the full package- the clothes, acccessories, hair and makeup, thus humanising their mannequins and making them more relevant.  In fact, I want to come to the Topshop, Oxford street store one night, sprinkle some fairy dust on my favourite mannequins to bring them to life and go partying with them. They just look so damn cool.

At this point a rather surly shop assistant told me that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the store.  When I apologised, she ordered me to delete the images whilst she watched.  This I did- or rather pretended to- I’ve been in the game far too long to not get the story I want dearie.  That being said, I guess in some way I can understand why Topshop don’t want to let their genie out of the bottle, a store with mannequins that look this good must be protected at all times.  So does that mean that with this post, I’ve let the cat out of the bag, oooooh…

Amanda Lepore image courtesy of contactmusic.com

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