Put your back into it

It’s official, the backpack is definitely BACK!  Having bubbled as a trend on catwalks and in streetstyle snaps for a few seasons, the Hoxton hipsters carryall of choice for has now hit the mainstream. Whilst perusing yesterdays hot-off-the-press New York Fashion Week AW14 pics, I spotted too many backpacks to count.  Forget nylon rucksacks full of gym kit and leave the kitsch cartoony versions for the kids, the modern backpack is chic, clean and comes in luxurious leather.

Image Phil Oh for Vogue.com

New York Fashion Week AW14 (Image: Phil Oh for http://www.vogue.co.uk)

Image 2 Phil Oh for Vogue.com

New York Fashion Week AW14 (Image: Phil Oh for http://www.vogue.co.uk)

 Image Tommy Ton for style.com Feb 2014

New York Fashion Week AW14 (Image: Tommy Ton for http://www.style.com)

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Rag & Bone AW14

Rag & Bone AW14 catwalk show (Image: http://www.style.com)

Here is a selection of my favourites available now – I particularly love the Grafea ones, which come in a wide selection of colours.  I predict we’ll see many more of these across the coming fashion weeks and this trend will run and run (as will you with your new hands-free bag).  Invest early and team with miminal oversized tailoring to avoid being mistaken for a schoolgirl.

Grafea 'Piano' White and black backpack, £165, grafea.co.uk

Grafea ‘Piano’ White and black leather backpack, £165. http://www.grafea.co.uk

River Island White Quilted rucksack £30

River Island white quilted rucksack, £30. http://www.riverisland.com

Topshop perforated backpack £36

Topshop perforated monochrome backpack, £36. http://www.topshop.com

Alexander Wang Prisma Skeletal backpack £915 store.alexanderwang.com

Alexander Wang Prisma Skeletal backpack £915. http://www.alexanderwang.com/

M&S Autograph Leather Rucksack £89

Marks & Spencer Autograph Leather Rucksack, £89. http://www.marksandspencer.com

Proenza Schouler black python PS large backpack $3,050 barneys.com

Proenza Schouler black python PS large backpack, $3,050. http://www.barneys.com

3.1 Phillip Lim Orange Pashli Leather Backpack £745 www.liberty.co.uk

3.1 Phillip Lim Orange Pashli Leather Backpack, £745. http://www.liberty.co.uk

ASOS lather luxe backpack £75

ASOS leather luxe backpack, £75. http://www.asos.com

Topshop snake zip front backpack green £36

Topshop mock-snake zip front backpack, £36. http://www.topshop.com

Grafea 'Smurf' blue leather backpack £180 grafea.co.uk

Grafea ‘Smurf’ blue leather backpack, £180. http://www.grafea.co.uk

Holding image: Rucksacks £198, Chris Van Veghel at http://www.etsy.com/

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

In case you didn’t hear, today is Save the Children’s Christmas jumper day where folk are asked to wear their cute, pretty or just darn silly novelty jumpers to work and donate £1 to charity.

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Even Santa would look underdressed at this party

In tribute, and in case you still don’t have one, today’s blog is dedicated to Christmas jumpers. Below is a small selection of festive sweaters that I have chosen for your sartorial pleasure.

Xmas jumper River Island sale £20

Robin, £20 (in sale), River Island 

http://www.riverisland.com/women/t-shirts–vests–sweats/sweaters–hoodies/Grey-Robin-sequin-dolman-top-645003

Xmas jumper New Look £29.99

Reindeer, £29.99, New Look

http://www.newlook.com/shop/womens/knitwear/black-reindeer-light-up-christmas-jumper_288545601

Xmas jumper holly Topshop £50

Holly, £50, Topshop

http://www.topshop.com

Xmas jumper present Topshop £50

Bow, £50, Topshop

http://www.topshop.com

Xmas jumper pudding Primark £12

Pudding (men’s), £12, Primark

Xmas jumper Matalan easy--fairisle-mens cardigan £29.99

Fair Isle men’s cardigan, £29, Matalan

http://www.matalan.co.uk/discover/christmas-jumpers/s2534212/easy–fairisle-cardigan

Xmas jumper Primark bought by Kelly Brook £12

Snowmen, £12, Primark (as bought by Kelly Brook)

http://www.primark.com/whats-new/article/250

Xmas jumper River Island print £35

Tree scene, £35, River Island

http://www.riverisland.com/women/knitwear/jumpers/Red-under-the-mistletoe-fair-isle-jumper-650014

Xmas jumper John Lewis kids £16-£17

Penguin (kid’s sweater), £16-£17, John Lewis (too cute!)

http://www.johnlewis.com/john-lewis-penguin-jumper-red-multi/p621168

Xmas jumper Boohoo.com £15

Penguin, £15, boohoo.com

http://www.boohoo.com/restofworld/knitwear/christmas-jumpers/icat/christmas-jumpers/christmas-magazine/sarah-snowflake-penguin-jumper/invt/azz40605

Xmas jumper The Vamps Twitter @TheVampsBand

The Vamps in their Primark Christmas jumpers (including the pudding one above)

And for the truly festive why not apply some Fair Isle print to your nails too…

Xmas Topshop Fair isle nail wraps £6

Nail wraps, £6, Topshop

http://www.topshop.com

And finally, just because I couldn’t resist, here is a picture of my awesome friend Ceri who doesn’t believe in doing fancy dress half-heartedly and today decided to shun the usual novelty sweater and dress up as a Christmas tree for work.  Love it!

Ceri's Xmas jumper efforts

My friend Ceri in her Xmas ‘jumper’

Main holding image: All jumpers from Matalan

To donate money go to http://www.savethechildren.org.uk 

An Oasis of summer delights

Every so often in the monthly round up of press days you stumble upon a presentation that is so beautiful it warrants it’s own blog. Last week, that was Marks & Spencer’s stunning SS14 offerings, and this week the title goes to Oasis, who yesterday wowed the fashion crowd with a beautifully styled set and some gorgeous girly garments.

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Described by PR Manager Lindsay Butcher as ‘Stepford housewives meets Edward Scissorhands’, the make-belief world of ‘Matchy-Patchy Mews’ is based on the opening scene of the 90s cult classic – the part where the camera pans down an American avenue of neatly kept lawns and identikit houses.  Yet behind the perfect facade there is a strange murmur of unease and a world of contradiction. I am pleased to report that Oasis’s fashion boulevard was far less sinister, yet equally intriguing (despite the unusual human-sized bright pink bunny rabbits).

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The Spring Summer 2014 press day showed brocade dresses hanging on washing lines, trowels and plant pots filled with statement jewels and sunglasses, and dummies dressed in pastel 50s inspired looks pushing boldly painted pink shopping trollies.

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So onto the clothes… prints featured heavily whether they be ditsy florals, bold botanical clashing prints or snakeskin jacquards.  Denim was found in the form of a cute sundress and A-line skirt, and crop tops, structured leather and the aforementioned pastel tailoring was also showcased.

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Quirky floral print birdhouses and sheds peppered the set – so adorable!

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Rather than matchy-matchy, Oasis are championing the ‘matchy-patchy’ trend for next season (as seen above)

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Fuchsia and scarlet – one of my all-time favourite colour combinations.

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If only I could look this chic whilst mowing the lawn…

As an added treat there was also the gorgeous pop-up cafe, which was serving tea and coffee along with some fantastic ladybird macaroons, plant pots of humous and veg sticks and jam jars of superfood salad.

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With such a gorgeous presentation, who wouldn’t want to live on Matchy Patchy Mews?  Come next Spring, I know where I’ll be heading.

The above images were all taken at yesterday’s Oasis SS14 press day.  Items will be in store from February 2014.  To view the current AW13 collection, including the fabulous Loved by Mollie edit, head to http://www.oasis-stores.co.uk.

On your Marks

It’s press day time again – the biannual month where all the brands, from River Island to Ralph Lauren, present their next season collections to the press.  So, just when I have finally succumbed to a coat and scarf, I am now spending my days looking at next Spring’s sunglasses, swimsuits and tiny shorts.  Such is the bizarre nature of the fashion industry.

Most press days tend to fall on a Wednesday or Thursday, which means there can be up to 20 different brands showing in one day, all at different venues across London.  Clearly you have to be selective.  Yesterday I managed only a handful, which ranged from Jaeger’s new offerings shown at the gorgeous Somerset House to Marks and Spencer’s at One Marylebone.  I also popped by Flax PR and Reiss who each presented lovely garments for next spring (vintage clothing and homeware by Cabbages & Roses from the former, and feather prints, pistachio green and minimal white suiting from the later).

The one that really caught my eye yesterday however was Marks & Spencer.  I have a huge affinity for the store.  I fondly remember buying their prawn and mayonnaise sandwiches as a teenage treat on a busy Saturday shopping with my friends.  Equally, my gran, who I love dearly, would give us a voucher for the store every year as our birthday gift.  Whilst I possibly would have preferred one for Miss Selfridge or Next at the time, that paper voucher (this was before the current card vouchers) was carefully spent and much deliberated upon.

So to yesterday’s press day, which I think was one of the best I have seen from the brand.  Not only was the venue stunning but the clothes were organised into clearly defined (and very photogenic) trend groups, which ranged from the impactful White Out to the pastel Pretty Things.  Other trends included Worldwide (prints and tribal influences), Paint Box (bold brights) and 90s Luxe (oversized layers of Celine inspired minimalism).  So those are the themes that M&S is predicting for next season. I loved it and I really hope that the collection is as well received by the consumer next February as it was by the press this week.  Check out the pictures below and let me know your thoughts…

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Trend 1 at Marks & Spencer SS14 Press Day – White Out

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Trend 2 at Marks & Spencer – Worldwide (read prints and tribal) – I love this bird print bomber!

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Trend 3 at Marks & Spencer – Pretty things

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I love this white lace midi dress and the sheer panelled pencil skirt

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M&S’s take on the Victoria Beckham oversized drop-waist dress

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Bold colours dominate Trend 4 – Paintbox. The pink leather T-shirt is a stand-out piece for me.

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Trend 5 – 90s Luxe is a key theme across lots of brands for SS14

The clothes seen above will not be available until next Spring.  This is only a preview to give you a taste of what is to come. To shop the current collection, including the fabulous Best of British range, go to www.marksandspencer.com

Grooming on the go

There was a time back in early 1999, when having your nails done meant getting a French polish on your wedding day.  Then along came Nails Inc and a plethora of other brands and before you know it we’re in 2013, where nail art is the norm and people change their polish to match their outfits.  Nail colours have become sell-outs (witness Chanel’s Jade green in 2009), nail bars are ubiquitous, and bold hues, two-tone half-moons and jazzy sequinned tips are routine.  We even have the ‘statement nail’ (where one fingernail on each hand is different to the others).  And this month, sees a launch that will further revolutionise our grooming patterns.  Nicknamed fast beauty or grooming on the go, November sees the opening of not one, but two new brands that offer blow-drys and manicures in under 30 minutes, all under one chic roof.

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Cheeky Parlour in Shoreditch

The first, which launched last week, is called Cheeky Parlour and is under the same umbrella as the hugely successful members-only Soho House Group, owned by Nick Jones.  Branching out from the exclusive bracket that is currently a requirement for entry to the Houses, Cheeky is the first nail bar to offer drop-in blow-drys, manicures, cocktails and even an in-house DJ in the evenings. Open 5 days a week (from Wed-Sun), the concept is a no-appointment-needed guide to fast grooming.

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 Cheeky nails 21 shades

At Cheeky Parlour, polishes come in 21 colours and you get to take home the bottle

Expanding on the model of the hugely successful US Drybar salon www.thedrybar.com – which launched in 2000 & has enjoyed phenomenal success – Cheeky has created an environment where you can pop in for a cheap blow-dry and polish before a night out, or hang out with friends and enjoy grooming along with cocktails and tunes.  A manicure costs £10 (& you get to take home the bottle of varnish) with a supplement for nail art features of £1.50 per nail.  Blow-drys come in four different styles (try Pump It for volume or Ruffle My Feathers for beachy waves), plus up-do options that include plaits and a topknot, and cost £15 a pop.  Vintage furniture and a Shoreditch location ensure an air of in-the-know cool, and for social media fans the salon has a dedicated Selfie Studio complete with pro lighting and equipment, so you can instantly Instagram your look.

Cheeky sweets-cheriecity.co.uk

Cheeky Menu-cheriecity.co.uk

Cheeky sweets and the Treatments menu (Images from: cheriecity.co.uk)

The second brand, Blow, launches on November 11th with a similar concept, only this one cleverly also offers make-up.  Opening their first outlet in Covent Garden next week, the company has aspirations to revolutionise the grooming market, with expansion into the Middle East and Russia on the horizon, and future salons planned near tube stations and schools for time-poor mums.  Led by business guru Dharmash Mistry (the entrepreneur behind Lovefilm and MyWardrobe) and former editor of Elle and Grazia, Fiona McIntosh, this brand has two hugely knowledgeable heads at its helm.

 Blow Ltd Look 5 - City Blow £25

The City Blow £25

Blow Ltd Look 2 - Luxe Blow £25

The Luxe Blow £25

The salons are aiming to attract the high-achieving working woman and will be open 7 days a week for up to 14 hours a day, meaning you can get a file and polish before an important morning meeting or a blow-dry after your 7am visit to the gym.  There are both drop-in options and book-in appointments, and prices start at £15 for a 15 minute manicure and £25 for a 30 minute hair fix (try the City Blow for Manhattan sleek or the Luxe Blow for A-list locks, both above).  Make-up options include Party Face and Day Face, again costing £15 for 15 minutes of beauty blending.  Packages that maximise your time are available for a discount, with stylists working on your hair whilst technicians simultaneously perfect your nails, ensuring you can have all three treatments complete within 45 minutes (total cost £50).

Blow Ltd - Day Face £15

Day Face, £15

Blow On-Trend Nails £15

On-trend nails, £15

 Blow Ltd package 1 £50

Multi-treatment offers at Blow

Much like nail bars have revolutionised how we treat our fingertips, this fast beauty concept will set a new precedent for grooming.  At the moment the launches are London based, but watch out for the expansion… there’ll be one popping up on your doorstep before you can say bouncy blow-dry.

Cheeky Parlour is open Wed-Sat 10am-10pm and Sun 11am-7pm. Closed Mon and Tue. 1st Floor, 64-66 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DP. Go to http://www.urcheeky.com/parlours 

Blow Covent Garden opens on November 11th at 8 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, London, WC2E 9AB. T: 020 7240 7987. Open Mon-Wed 7am-7pm, Thurs-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm. Visit http://www.blowltd.com for more info. 

For a review of Cheeky Parlour also see: http://cheriecity.co.uk/2013/10/30/cheeky-parlour-shoreditch/