Last weekend I had the pleasure of flying to Poland for work. Not only was this a treat in itself – being of Polish heritage, a trip to Eastern Europe feels like a return to the mother ship – but I also happened to be working with the gorgeous and hilarious Gok Wan. He had been flown in to host an event in a shopping mall called Karolinka in a town called Opole in SW Poland. As well as doing interviews, signing autographs and talking about this seasons trends – in English of course, although his grasp of the phrases dziekuje (thank-you), dzien dobry (good morning) and na zdrowie (cheers) was mighty fine – he also had to complete makeovers on three very happy and slightly star-struck ladies. All in one day!
Gok onstage at Karlinka shopping mall in Opole, Poland
My job was to assist Gok with the styling of the makeovers, and being able to speak the language, I liaised with the girls beforehand about their body issues, favourite features and areas to cover. I also did a recce of the shops, bringing together a selection of garments and accessories for Gok to choose from. On greeting the ladies himself, Gok had several strong ideas about the looks and spent the first 10 minutes running around H&M (I kid you not, the cameraman literally couldn’t keep up) choosing a selection of silky blouses and slim-leg trousers to create the dream outfit for our first lady Magda. Channelling Mollie from The Saturdays, he proceeded to transform the 33 year old mother-of-one into a full on glamazon, directing both hair and make-up and pulling together a chic look in an impressively speedy fitting. Here are the results, including both before and after shots. As you can see she looks stunning – her slim legs are accentuated and her post-baby tummy and larger boobs are streamlined.
Magda working the catwalk
Lady number two was the lovely Maria – a huge fan of Gok’s. In her mid forties, with a classic pear shape, Maria was looking for a stylish weekend outfit. She absolutely adored her fitted shift dress with tan boots and matching bag – a medley of soft neutral tones that suited her new warm hair colour.
Maria hitting the catwalk
And onstage with Gok and her family
Leather accessories in classic tan from Kazar completed the look
The final makeover was the most dramatic… 17 year old Patrycja was perhaps one of the shyest girls I have ever met. When I first saw her she was hiding behind an oversized hoodie, a long fringe, heavy glasses and boyish trainers. Her decision to enter the competition was prompted by the fact that in stores she was often mistaken for a boy and directed to the male clothing section. She also had overwhelming body issues. Yet below those baggy tops hid a steely character and a teeny tiny waist. Without wanting to compromise who she was (she had never owned heels, never had a bra fitting and, I believe, never worn make-up) we opted for a rock-chick look that played on androgyny, whilst also adding a more feminine softer touch. With the subsequent dramatic hair cut and colour – again directed by Gok and inspired by another member of The Saturdays, this time Frankie – and some beautiful soft smudgy make-up, Patrycja was barely recognisable.
Patrycja nervously takes to the catwalk (after relentlessly rehearsing walking in heels backstage)
On stage with her family & Gok
Whilst prepping for the makeovers I snapped lots of great bits in the stores at Karolinka. Despite being quite a compact shopping mall, there were some fantastic items – the handbags and shoes were particularly strong. Here is a small selection that caught my eye.
I love this patterned sweater from Springfield (team with a leather pencil skirt or shorts and heels for a sports luxe look)
Stripy monochrome blouse (great for the office) from Quiosque
Tweed Chanel inspired jackets from Camaieu
Playful colourful socks from Springfield
Killer stilettos in primary tones from Kazar
Bold ankle boots from Venezia
A classic two-tone brogue from Venezia
On trend this season – Chunky tractor soled ankle boots from CCC
A selection of autumnal accessories from Orsay
I also made sure to find time to indulge in some placki with smietana (potato cakes with sour cream), pierogi (Polish dumplings – Gok’s ‘new favourite food’) and piwo (Polish beer). A final shout out has to go to the lovely boys at Qlture events in Poland, who organised the whole thing and made sure we were welcomed and well looked after. They did a fantastic job. Polska – do widzenia. Fingers crossed we’ll visit again soon…
All items featured can be found at Karolinka mall in Opole, Poland – http://ch-karolinka.pl/ And here’s a little behind-the-scenes video made by TVN Style in Poland including an interview with me (be warned, it’s all in Polish).
Main holding picture: Leather bags and gloves from VIP Collection