Suit Up, Woman.

When I was growing up I was always the girl in my group of friends who was waiting for those feminine touches to kick in. Finally when I hit, let's say around 16, I realised my dreams were over - I'd never be Pamela Anderson-esqe in the bra department. At the time I would look in the mirror and bemoan what have now come to be referred to as (pretty widely by my friends) my 'boy tits' and considered any means of making that area look better padded; but I needn't have worried.

(Holidaying in Olhao, Portugal when I was 24 - by the way, that's a padded bikini top...)

I wish now that I could have known how unimportant I'd find this 'set back' once I hit my twenties. Clothing-wise it's actually been a blessing. Night out and want to wear a backless top? No problem - bra not needed. Silk dress that shows every thing? No worries - bra not needed.

And then came my dream trend - androgynous dressing. Championed by women such as Alexa Chung and Agnes Deyn I knew my 'boy tits' were in good company.

(Agnes Deyn rocking braces)

And my favourite 'look'? The Female Suit. Again, Agnes Deyn has often been spotted sporting this style but I find Chanel Iman mesmerising in the below shot. I defy anyone to disagree. I love the way she's used a mid-grey tweed and more of a cravat style tie - this teamed with the undeniably female feather boa, black heels and iridescent make up makes it a great androgynous look.

(Chanel Iman and Agnes Deyn)

The Female Suit has seen the catwalk a number of times but a show I particularly appreciated was D&G's A/W 2009 featuring the below beauty. I love the drama of the shoulders. Of course, not bar/club practical but unequivocally stunning all the same.

(D&G A/W 2009)

Recently I'm sure you've noticed the controversy surrounding Andrej Pejic - the male/female model.
Personally I don't really understand the people disagreeing with it. Women have long been fed the androgynous look through fashion, magazines, the internet etc. so why not let it go the other way? I, for one, would not mind waking up with his face! But perhaps to let him model female underwear was going a bit far - if Hema wanted flat chested and female I'm right here! 

(Andrej Pejic)

That said it is no longer just us boyish-figured gals who can rock the suit look. Courtesy of Beyonce's most recent video (if you've not seen it it features in my last post) we can see she is suiting up and looking incredible. Lest we forget she announced her pregnancy in a tux style sequined suit and a cummerbund (!) And I think we can all agree she isn't lacking in 'that' department.

(B - announcing her pregnancy and in her most recent video)

Love On Top

Firstly let me begin by apologising for my recent blog absence.

It's due to a combination of spending most of the past fortnight under the weather (y'know that feeling that you just can't quite kick the headache/bad throat combo) and the fact I've been off work since the 16th which, let's face it, is where I get most of my post inspiration from.

By means of an olive branch please accept the below music video. My new obsession...and subject of my next post - androgynous fashion trends. Just wait until you see the costume changes in the second half of the video. Genius.


The Name's Jones. Masato Jones.

It has long been a goal of mine to meet and interview a designer whose work I admire and this past weekend that dream was realised. 

Ladies and Gents: Masato Jones.

(Just some of Masato's sketches)

I have always been a little envious of those who have been to Central St. Martins (don't misunderstand me, my MMU Fashion degree means the world to me) so when I found out Masato was offered the place in his interview I knew I'd hit upon a visionary designer. You might think this is where Masato He is originally trained as a hair stylist but decided, after achieving so much in this field, he'd turn his hand to the creative side of fashion. And this is just the start.

After interning for Giles Deacon he then went on to work with him on several collections, design a tour dress for Beverly Knight and a collection for The English National Ballet. He is currently a designer for Ghost.

(Masato for Beverly Knight)

To meet a man with such a CV intimidated me at first; but it needn't have. Within minutes his calm, warm personality had rubbed off on me and it felt more like speaking with a friend.

I primarily met with him as he will be heavily involved in Manchester Fashion Week (launching April 2012 showing A/W 12/13 collections) with his new self titled label - Masato - and I wanted to have a chat about it and see what he has in store for my city.

Read on to see what we talked about over coffee as I got to know Masato and what makes him tick.

Why are fashion weeks so important to you?

Fashion weeks are important because it's the first time you get feed back on a collection. It's a great space to show your work to people who you know are interested and to see how your work is received by your peers. It's also important to chat and meet those in the industry and take inspiration from their work as well.

What is it about Manchester that made you want to become involved in MCRFW?

Outside London it's the biggest city in the UK and it is so exciting and creative here. The style is so different and people don't seem to follow trends but dress for themselves. Manchester Fashion Week contacted us and as there is already a campaign to get Masato up north we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get Manchester involved in our designs. Twitter has been a huge help and the response we've had over the past 12 months has given us the confidence to go forward with fashion weeks and grow the label. We were really noticed first after Brighton Fashion Week and the media attention we gained at Essex Fashion Week was fantastic so we wanted to try and recreate and grow this in the north through Manchester.

What's the most exciting/worst thing about designing a fashion week collection?

The most exciting is just after you've shown your collection. It's like giving birth! The worst? Just before.
The creative process and nerves before a show are huge and it's always a challenge to find a balance between the mental picture you have of a design and what you can physically create.

(Masato for The English National Ballet)

What's the one thing you couldn't live without when you're designing a collection?

Harry Potter films. They're calming because they are so familiar and the orchestral soundtrack is inspiring. I also love that the basis of the films is friendship, love and fighting for good. All these things help keep me calm and focused when designing.

Whose work do you admire?

Lanvin. The work is so exciting because it's a new way to manipulate fabrics and treat a finished garment. 
The designs themselves are so elegant and they really know how to dress women in a classic, stylish way.
Also the image that has been built up around the label is so instantly recognisable - this is something I hope to have for Masato one day. As a brand they are so accessible through Youtube, interviews, Twitter etc and I think this is important.
Understanding how to create a brand is hard but looking to someone like Lanvin is a great example and something to learn from.

How would you sum up your latest collection?

My last collection was all about colour but this season I want to focus on shape and detail within the garment. The finish and manipulation of fabric is very important to me and I want this to be included in my creations. I also want the collection to flow between each piece so it is viewed as a whole as opposed to several garments in the same space.

(Masato A/W '11)

What do you think will be the big trends for S/S 12?

I don't  really see trends. I prefer to work to my own designs and I feel like the UK isn't at all trend-led. Somewhere like Japan is very trend-led and they are constantly looking for the next thing but here each area has their own style. For example, when I am in Manchester the women dress themselves so differently from the women in Camden but they are all stylish and have real personality. I love this. Of course when I design for Ghost I do refer to trends but I like to keep my creations individual to my mind.

How do you feel about the recent high street/designer collaborations? Versace for H&M etc..

I think why not? These are great because they allow more people to see fashion pieces as accessible to them. The price of a Versace piece is so high and not achievable to most so making it available in H&M means everyone has a chance to wear high fashion and not break the bank. It helps break the divide between the general consumer and high fashion which I think is important in light of the current economic climate.

Finally, what do you do on one of your rare days off?

I listen to the radio and wander round small art galleries in London. I find them calming and inspiring and free from pressure. I like to look through market places and see what's going on and just relax while I see what's happening out there creatively.

Unfortunately he had a train to catch and had to leave or I could have chatted all night. Masato was a lovely man and I hope to see him again at MCR Fashion Week or before. I think what really sums it up is as I went to shake his hand and thank him for his time he enveloped me in a warm hug. What a guy.


Fringe. By Me.

When I was a youngster my Dad cut my hair every few weeks. And by cut I mean butchered. At the time I barely cared as I was too little to notice the lumpy, chunky look he'd given me but I now see the error of my ways - I should have thanked him - I was stylish before my time!

As the years rolled by I got to an age where my lovely Mum insisted I exchange money for an actual style but one thing never changed...the fringe.

Again, time rolled on and as I hit my university years I decided the fringe was not for me and promptly grew said hair accessory out and let it flop to each side to grow into my long bob. I was perfectly happy with this look as it was so easy to maintain (I'm nothing if not a corner-cutter when it comes to morning routine - anything for that extra 10minutes in bed) until recently, Valentino changed all that.

The Valentina advert. So romantic and with echoes of Romeo and Juliet (anyone who knows the play will be familiar with the maid wailing, "Julieeeetta!" at the top of her lungs) I was hooked. And the model in the advert, Freya Beha, is my dream girl. Her hair in the advert is a long messy bob with a choppy fringe playing on her brow line and I just think she looks divine. I by no means thought I could emulate this on a level anywhere near her but I thought I could atleast mimic the 'do.

Now, being the girl I am I had to do my obligatory celeb reference work before chopping away and found the above beauties - all of whom I've admired, style wise, for some time. After consulting my housemate I was promptly told I'd, "rock it," so off I toddled, scissors in hand, into my bathroom.

That was yesterday morning.

This is now:

What do you think? Most people have said they love it but one genius didn't even notice, which amused me. There's always one I guess.


The Urban Turban


One and all, the turban.
On a recent trip to a well known lower-end high street store with a friend I was doing my best to keep my cool and not scream at the drips barging into me with their prams, bags, wailing toddlers etc and was doing well..until I became one of the shriekers. I'd spotted a gem and I needed to get to it. Fast.

Black, velvet, subtle bling. I was hooked. I lunged toward it as some other being eyed it and snatched it from under her nose. Well, when in Rome.

A rage inducing queue and a mere £2.50 later and I had my latest play thing - a turban.

Obviously turbans have been around for a very long time but in more recent years screen sirens such as Sophia Loren have been photographed in them; Vogue has front-covered them and the catwalks have featured them in all shapes and sizes.

Once I got home I immediately started referencing them to find out how/when to appropriately don such a piece. After the catwalk and editorial findings I wanted to see who'd been seen in them in more recent times...y'know, celeb-wise. Kylie, Solange, guru SJP and Kourtney K (who, I hope you'll agree is one half of the most stylish celeb couples at the moment). I'm in good company.

And attempt. What do you think?


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

So last night I was invited by a friend to Cassie Lomas' Makeup Academy's birthday event. I'm never one to turn down an event invite and even less likely when you throw in the combination of free fizz and beautiful things to look at.

It was held in the academy itself which I've popped into before but lit up of an evening it was stunning. It's located down a little side street in Manchester's Northern Quarter, behind an unassuming doorway you'd probably not ever immediately notice. But I always find it's these doors which have the most magic happening behind them.

Once inside it's a lovely space - white walls, pale grey floor and original steel pillars throughout. But your eyes are immediately drawn to the stunning make up desks - old school Hollywood style mirrors surrounded by the mesmerising glow of light bulbs.

Most, if not all, the women there were in dresses, skirts etc. This is where I took most pleasure - I was in a man's denim shirt and bow tie with sequin leggings and Michael Kors skyscrapers. I attracted a few odd looks from even some of the men but I loved my look and am still 100% behind it. That said, the host Cassie was wearing an absolute stunner of a dress from Tibi which I will be whole heartedly tracking down for my wardrobe. (In fact, took a 5minute blog break and have it bookmarked and well and truly on the Christmas wishlist)

It all too soon came time to leave but here-in lies what I'm sure we all love best about an event - the goody bag! I managed to resist the urge to rifle through it until I was home and could tip it out on my bed (luckily I live 5minutes from the party) and boy, was I thrilled. Eyelashes, Kiehl's products, Blanx toothpaste, moisturisers, lipgloss, vouchers for local businesses...a treasure trove of beauty. All in all a fantastic night and I hope to be at the next birthday celebrating an even more successful year for the company(probably in that Tibi dress!)


Silver Lining

If you had a browse over yesterday's blog you'll know I've been a tad under the weather this week. Yes, yes, I know, poor me - I am accepting sympathy in the form of flowers to my office, that'd be great. But enough of that. There has been a beneficial outcome to the sinister sniffles; the re-awakening of an accessory!

The scarf I used in yesterday's blog to cheer me up, add colour to my outfit, and which hopefully detracted from my grey features has had a new lease of life. I have actually had said scarf for years - obtained from an Oxfam in Bath whilst visiting a friend many moons ago who was at university there; and for a while it had been languishing in the back of my accessories draw. (Yes, I have an accessories drawer in my dresser - I shall say it again - accessories are the key to an outfit!)

But no more! For scarf has been freed and is now proudly spending its second day draped round my neck. This time with a fetching animal print blouse and my usual makeup well and truly back - usual levels restored.