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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Leopard Love

There's no denying that fashion is currently having a bit of a love-in with leopard print. Or maybe that should be re-kindled romance, since leopard print is by no means a new and innovative style staple, but rather one that re-surfaces every so often. The old saying goes that a leopard never changes its spots, and even though this print is nothing new it can be argued that every time this little comeback queen roars back into fashion she brings a few new ways to be worn.

Daisy Lowe in leopard print Agent Provocateur

This season is no exception, with leopard incorporated into some big trends and must-have accessories.

First things first. Don't be afraid to wear leopard print. I overhear a lot of girls in shops admiring spotted pieces and muttering longingly "I wish I could pull off something like this". Well, you can! And this season is the time to dip your toe into this printed pool, as it has never been easier to wear leopard - whether making one big statement or a subtle flash. Let's have a look at what's on offer this Autumn/ Winter to show that leopard can be classy, not brassy.

Earlier this year on the runways of Milan, Dolce & Gabbana showed us several ways to wear leopard - on silk bodys (£580) for an updated underwear-as-outerwear look, colourful leopard print cocktail dresses (around £1300) and many more feminine, luxurious pieces. Biba at House of Fraser have made leopard print a prominent pattern of their new collection - I especially love their Portobello faux fur coat, simply gorgeous and a good example of the iconic leopard print coat. French Connection also offer a good take on the faux fur coat for a not bad £120.

Elsewhere on the high street, H&M have cleverly adorned basic wardrobe staples (such as cardigans and jersey tops) and on-trend pieces (the maxi dress and jumpsuit) with leopard print. The basics have the potential to help animal-print newbies introduce it into their wardrobes easily, while fashionistas can nail two trends at once by wearing it on the trickier pieces. Over at Topshop it's very much the same, leopard is making an impact on everything from these Harem pants (£38) to luggage. And party girls everywhere will love this bandeau dress:

Dress by Topshop, £26

APC's leopard-print cotton cardigan (£145) shows us that leopard needn't mean brown. There are ways to explore leopard print in other shades - another example is this rather excellent acid yellow skirt by Evil Twin at Urban Outfitters (£61).

Not quite ready for this level of commitment to the cheetah cause? Fair enough. There are plenty of accessories to experiment with and make a subtle tribute to leopard this season. These leather & ponyskin gloves by John Lewis (£40) will give a hint of leopard without making a huge statement.

Animal-print has made quite a few appearances on bags by Mulberry recently, appearing on their faithful Bayswater and newer Lily designs. Shoe-wise there is a lot of choice and something for every style of shoe and price range, with ladylike courts from Kurt Geiger, Next's satin platforms (£25), and Zara's moccasins (£39.99). For the ultimate in leopard luxe, Jimmy Choo's Wheel - a slip on, flat 'smoking slipper' - will set you back about £295. For a leopard quick-fix I love printed tights and this super cute Mega Bow ring by Accessorize, which at a mere six quid will give your outfit a fast fashion update.

But what to wear your leopard print with? Most people fall into two camps here - print-clashers and 'one key statement piece' lovers. Personally, I like to wear mine with blocks of shades such as black and grey or a slogan tee (I like this Ashish for Topshop one) for a high impact. Leopard on leopard may be the new double denim but I'm not so keen on either, sorry! Black does not need to mean boring, a punky handbag (like Alexander McQueen's Novak bag, £1265) or a leather biker jacket toughens things up for a punchy take on leopard print.

My own love-affair with leopard print started when I was still at primary school. The Spice Girls where everywhere and Mel B (whose image was synonymous with leopard print) was my favourite. Although I didn't start wearing it until I was older (something that I think now was a good idea, as children in animal print is something I find a little strange), it was at that point I knew I what I liked. A bit later, when discovering punk I came across leopard print again - this time on Debbie Harry:

To me, leopard print (as well as looking cool) symbolises being feminine and a bit of a rebel. It's always been around and I think it will always come and go from style, but it's always been something I genuinely like and will continue to wear even when not on-trend. Anyone that knows me will tell you there is barely a day that passes when I don't wear something in leopard print, and like Scary and Debbie all those years ago, I like to think I too have incorporated it into a personal signature look. Just don't call me Bet Lynch (yet), OK?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Caped Crusaders

Autumn is now in full swing, and it's time to start wrapping up to fend off the chill. This season, it appears we are spoiled for choice in the outerwear department. Military coats, aviator jackets, faux-fur and camel coats are all big news this season. But for those who like to push the style envelope towards the theatric I bring you good news - the cape is back.

Grey Wool Cape (£59.99), River Island

Capes have been in and out of fashion in various forms since the late 19th Century. They have also been a dramatic style staple of superheroes and supervillains alike in comics, films and books. Sherlock Holmes, Batman and Wonderwoman are just a few examples of characters for whom the humble cape contributes significantly to their famous iconography:

But what about its recent incarnation? The cape most certainly still makes an impact whether on the recent runway shows or as new additions to our favourite high street stores. Depending on the cut and fabric, they can be chic and even sexy (see Givenchy, Jaeger London and Yves Saint Laurent) or comforting and cosy but still stylish (as Rag & Bone, Matthew Williamson and Missoni's designs will testify).

Capes are wonderfully practical and impractical all at once. They can protect its wearer from the elements, and essentially feel like you are wearing a blanket (without veering too much into 'poncho' territory) which, in the next few months will be much appreciated when the temperature continues to drop. Topshop's Ultimate Heavy Jersey Cape (£85) looks especially snug, and won't break the bank with it's price tag.

While being cosy and easy to throw on is a huge plus point, capes have a few minor disadvantages - the main one being how restrictive some capes can be. Hailing a taxi? Want something off of that top shelf? With a cape on sometimes the most simple of tasks can be tricky. But a lot of designers have thought ahead and produced clever capes for the new season with little sleeves or slits for the arms to slip through. This Hooded Military Cape (£70) from ASOS does just that.

It's difficult to say why exactly the cape is having it's fashion moment again this time around - some say it's partly down to the vampire-mania inspired by Twilight, True Blood et al (few can picture Count Dracula without his trusty cape). And while I agree that Givenchy's caped vamps give a chic nod to the gothic trend, I also believe the cape's recent popularity can also be attributed to the grown-up, ladylike looks of the season - as seen on the sophisticated ladies of Yves Saint Laurent:

Whatever the reason, choosing a cape to stay warm under this Autumn/ Winter will make a statement that is striking, stylish and invites its wearers to channel their inner superheroine.

Will you be wrapping up warm in a cape this season?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall..."

A few months back, I blogged about MAC Cosmetics and Disney's upcoming collaboration, the aptly named Venomous Villains collection. The products were finally launched today and I managed to hot-foot it down to the newly refurbished MAC counter at Frasers to get a piece of the action. And I certainly was very glad that I did!

The first thing I noticed when approaching the store was the window decor. In honour of the new collection, Frasers have emblazoned their windows with huge tributes to the characters that inspire the collaboration - Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and The Evil Queen from Snow White & the Seven Dwarves:

All of these characters are ones that I grew up watching in the films and being the MAC (ahem) addict that I am, I was doubly excited to see the products, especially after reading the press release:

"A potion to poison, an apple to bite, a spell to cast… Bad never looked so good. A crystal ball of colour created from our favourite Disney Venomous Villains, inspired by the three most infamously frosty, fabulous and formidable of Disney’s dark ladies… and one dastardly Dr. Facilier. Don’t you love it?

A MAC and Disney collaboration to celebrate the dark side in every one of us, in a glamorous sort of way. Who’s the fairest one of all? Four separate mini-collections, in haute animated couture...Uniquely designed iconic packaging you will kill for, cunning characters and bedeviled beauties that are so alluring, you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be one!"

The products themselves are very high quality and the nice packaging is a very welcome bonus. The collection is very extensive, with each character assigned a mini-collection so although it was tempting to buy almost everything I limited myself to five items. That was a struggle! This is my haul:

The nail polishes are by far my favourite items, the colour intensity is incredible - like petrol, the colour changes depending on the lighting. I must not be the only one that likes them - one of the colours has sold out already! I bought two nail polishes, a lipstick, a lipglass and an eyeshadow duo. It was a tough choice because most of the colours in the collection are very wearable.

It was also a pleasure to shop for the new collection in Frasers' shiny new MAC concession area. It's bigger (at least twice its original size), better laid-out and was very well-staffed. I was served almost instantly and a pleasant shopping experience will always get the thumbs-up from me. Bravo!

The collection be be viewed and purchased from the MAC website here, or you can browse in person at Frasers.

Will you be indulging in your dark side?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Supermercado at The Barras

After wandering into the Granny Would Be Proud Vintage & Craft fair at Hillhead Bookclub over the summer this West End Girl has been keeping her eyes peeled for similar events popping up in her fair city. I was pleased to see that a new regular Saturday 'indie' market, encompassing vintage fashion, arts, crafts, homewares and...oh yes, cake was being launched called Supermercado.

I decided to pop along today in spite of the dreary weather to check out the market on the day of its launch.

As someone who doesn't frequent the Barras often, I didn't find Supermercado as quickly as I'd hoped (especially as the clouds were getting darker and darker), but I am sure that finding it again after I have been once would be a doddle. Situated in the courtyard of the recently refurbished Barras Centre, I stumbled in to find a laid back bazaar with an array of unique stalls at one side and a cafe on the other.

There was certainly a variety of things to look at and so with some retro-tastic tunes echoing in the background I made my way around the stalls for a nosy. The first stall to catch my eye was the beautiful vintage wares of Love Me Again, promising such treasures as fine crockery and more brooches than I could count, displayed on this here mannequin:

Lovely. I then had a quick look at Breagha's creations - mainly scarves and handbags - made from high quality materials including Harris Tweed. I felt warmer even just looking at the scarves - perfect for winter. I also spotted hand made greeting cards by Konnie Kapow (I especially liked their 'Owlvis' design, featuring an owl dressed as Elvis - Jailhouse Rock outfit and all), sushi in cute boxes at Jo Sushi's table and some of my favourite good enough to eat jewellery brands at Sparklecandy's stall.

Speaking of good enough to eat...

All that browsing must make a girl hungry, because it wasn't too long before I had clocked the gorgeous sweet treats being sold by the nice folks of The Flamingo Bakery, complete with larger-than-life-sized pink flamingo 'serving' sample-sized mini cupcakes. Love it.

I was lucky enough to be treated to not one, but two pieces of glittery gingerbread which I made very short work of - so much so that I didn't manage to get a photo. The gingerbread, shaped like a flamingo (naturellement) and cupcake was delicious and I was assured that the chocolate cupcakes were equally yummy (scored 4 out of 5 by an appointed cupcake aficionado).

After getting my sugar fix, I spend a lot of time admiring the goods on sale at the table being run by Stella My Star and t-boo. Many a bargain was to be had at this table, including some rather excellent superhero badges, Eiffel Tower pendants and cute-as-a-button earrings. Full marks for their very nice display skills too!

Surrounding the main courtyard of stalls was indoor studios - one of which is the new home of Che Camille, who offer award-winning service and custom tailoring (open for appointments now).

After going round the stalls a few times and enjoying what the market had to offer it was time to head back towards the city centre, still licking the glittery crumbs from my lips. I would recommend paying Supermercado a visit, I am sure that - especially in the warmer months - heading over for a cake and a browse on a Saturday will become a regular outing for Glasgow's vintage vixens.

Supermercado is being brought to the masses by the Made in the Shade gang, more info on Made in the Shade can be viewed on their own website - here! The market is on every Saturday from 10:30 - 5.

Were you at Supermercado today?