Guilt-free shopping

If the annual round of Xmas present shopping fills you with dread, then head on over to No. 23 Welbeck Street tomorrow where the fabulous Matches will be hosting an event to celebrate the festive season. A selection of great gift ideas for both men & women will be available to purchase, including this gorgeous Stella sweater, sparkly Lulu Frost earrings and some fabulous coffee table books from Lanvin and DVF.  What’s more 10% of net proceeds will be donated to children’s charity The Rainbow Trust, so you’ll be helping others whilst treating yourself to that Givenchy metallic clutch. That sounds like win-win to me.

Stella jumper

Tartan mohair sweater, £700, Stella McCartney at

Lulu Frost earrings

Eclipse earrings, £140, Lulu Frost at

Lanvin book 1 Lanvin book 2

Lanvin Anniversary book by Alber Elbaz, £250,

Givenchy clutch

Antigona envelope clutch, £755, Givenchy at 

Matches at No 23 Welbeck St, London, W1G 8EG is on tomorrow (Tuesday 26th November) from 11am-5pm. with

A riot of colour

Today’s blog is about my new favourite place. No, it’s not a boutique selling aggressively reduced Acne and Stella McCartney (although if anyone knows one of those please do let me know). It is a very unassuming fabric store right on my doorstep in South London. If you are coveting all the dramatic prints that have been filling stores this summer, but don’t want to find yourself along with several others in a matching dress, then this store may be just the ticket. Stocking a huge range of gorgeously patterned 100% cotton waxed fabrics, this is a treasure trove of bold daring prints. The pictures speak for themselves. Fabrics are sold in set lengths, but if you don’t want the whole 6 yards there is a selection of 2 yard off-cuts that sell for £5. Yes, that’s £5! This is like manna to a serious bargain hunter such as myself.

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I have bought 3 different short lengths over the last few months and always pop by for a quick peek or to see if one of my favourite fabrics has made it to the off-cuts rail. With my first 2 yards I made unique cushion covers as presents for my friends’ weddings. This is enough fabric for two 20x20in cushions and then some. Both couples were supremely happy with their gifts (or so I am led to believe). Another length I am hoping to make into a summer dress or top, or even perhaps a pair of harem trousers if I’m feeling brave. The final length has yet to be assigned a plan.

Cushion cover

A home-made cushion cover I gave as a wedding gift

The fabric is very durable and so perfect for both interiors and hard-wearing clothing. The tradition of using batiq to create these wax print designs goes back over 150 years. Produced originally by the Dutch and sold to West African traders, these fabrics soon became synonymous with African culture, and prints were given unique names by the traders based on characteristics in the design.

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A selection of the amazing fabrics available at Sovereign Textiles in Tooting

If you don’t have a fashion degree, or aren’t adept with a sewing machine, then take the fabric to your local tailor and get yourself an original custom-made garment. I highly recommend Andy Piccos of Stitchin Biz (find his blog at ) who I have worked with for years and is a wiz with a pair of scissors and a measuring tape. Otherwise try your local dry-cleaners, who often have competent and reasonably priced tailors on hand. Or be daring and turn your nimble fingers to a needle and thread. At only £5 you can afford to make a couple of mistakes and you never know… you may unleash the next Alexander McQueen.

Sovereign Textiles, 113 Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway, London, SW17 9PE. T: 020 8682 1444.
Opening hours 10-5:30pm but call in advance to check as they are quite flexible

For further information about the history of West African fabrics go to

Glam squad

A month ago I styled the cover and main fashion shoot for Velvet magazine’s July/August issue.  Whilst it may be scorching outside fashion mags are already focusing on the forthcoming winter season and this story features looks from the AW13 collections at Chanel, Burberry Prorsum, Gucci and Stella McCartney. Above is the cover (photography by Jenny Brough) and below are some behind-the-scenes snaps of the shoot. I hope you like…

The fashion rail with (from left to right) dress by Gucci, dress by Bottega Veneta, skirt & top by Burberry Prorsum, dress by Prada.

The rail featuring (from left to right): Dress by Gucci, Dress by Bottega Veneta, Skirt and top by Burberry Prorsum, Dress by Prada.

2. The Hair - small

The talented hair stylist Craig Marsden works on model Lisa.

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Black and gold foil nails by Megumi Mizuno add metallic glamour.

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5. The Editing-small

Photographer Jenny Brough & Fashion Director Natascha Hawke viewing the images.

6. The Burberry Prorsum skirt

Amazing Burberry Prorsum AW13 skirt!

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Lisa looks striking in high-shine quilted Chanel.

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Photographer Jenny Brough shooting the final look.


Cover and main shoot credits

Photographer : Jenny Brough
Fashion Director: Natascha Hawke
Stylist: Alicja Jasnikowska
Make up : Caroline Barnes @ Frank Agency
… Nail artist : Megumi Mizuno
Model : Lisa Akesson @ Union Models
Hair styling : Craig Marsden @ Carol Hayes
Retouching: Monica Chamorro
Photographers Assistant: Ruben Hart