A Perfect Contradiction : Paloma Faith has me coveting strong coat shapes in soft colours.

You know when someone asks you to describe why you admire someone and you just turn into a gibbering, fan-girl wreck?

Oh.

Is that just me?

For my 20th birthday, I received tickets to see Paloma Faith perform with The Guy Barker Orchestra at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, as part of her ‘Symphonic Grace’ tour. She was breathtaking and her backing singers were amazing vocalists in their own right too. Paloma wore the most fantastic black, Tom Ford dress with a shimmering, spark-like design embellished on the front.

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Symphonic Grace.

(There’s no non-creepy way to say this…) We hung about for a short time, after the show, by the stage door; hoping to meet her. Not surprisingly, she didn’t come out, but I didn’t blame her. If I was Paloma, I wouldn’t want to stand in the rain, talking to some random girl, when I’ve to get to Edinburgh the next day, either.

Since then, I’ve been surviving off her tweets and tidbits of stories and music from my boyfriend’s Dad; who is, to me, the font of knowledge for all things Paloma.

But, *shriek*,  ‘A Perfect Contradiction’, the new album, is to be released on March 10th.

Naturally, Paloma has been doing the press rounds and seems to be on every television channel at the moment. Last week, she arrived in Manchester to appear on BBC Breakfast and this picture was taken of her at Piccadilly Station.

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Paloma Faith arriving in Manchester.

I loved the Dolce and Gabbana ensemble that she wore that morning and, paired with her pink coat and hat, I thought she looked lovely.

You don’t always find practical trends on high-fashion catwalks, but i’m pleased that the industry has produced something useful for our British climate, for once: some really nice outerwear.

I like the idea of contrasting soft, pastel colouring with bold and interesting shapes and i’m coveting these coats, particularly:

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Textured Swing Coat, Topshop £89.00

Topshop has this ‘textured swing coat’ for £89.00. The mint colour is very youthful and summery, but it’ll be proper-Spring soon! Although it’s a little expensive, I feel that this is a piece that you could get a lot of wear out of; worn during the day with a crisp, white shirt or at night layered over a dress. I’m the girl that uses the cloakroom at a club. I don’t freeze for anyone when i’m out!

Whilst i’m not sure if this colour could be strictly classed as ‘pastel’, for more a more mannish feel, I love the over-sized fit of this ASOS ‘Duster coat’. For some reason, it reminds, very much, of the garments in the latest Burberry campaign, despite it lacking the waterfall shaping on the front. I’m not sure that this coat is the one for me though, with my height (or lack of!).

More expensive at £265.00, I like this blush ‘Regale’ coat from Reiss. To me, this coat feels a little more timeless than the others. I like it’s structure and the mandarin collar. I’d buy this and wear it for years.

An inspiration for this post was this image on Instagram from Elle UK and there’s been some weird goings-on at Paris Fashion Week 2014:

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Eh?

This picture shows models on the catwalk at the Rochas show. I was drawn to the pastel coats on display, but what is with the rubber gloves? If you do go out and purchase one of the above then, apparently, you’re to go and get yourself some Marigolds because the ‘fashionistas’ tell us so.

There has been some sense at PFW, however. Hussein Chalayan provided models backstage with these, last Friday:

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I’ll promote anyone who promotes pastry.

I’ve thought a bit more about why I like Paloma Faith and it’s not particularly her insane talent. Whilst I adore her vintage style, coupled with her penchant for the kooky and unusual, that’s not why I look up to her and follow her music.

I think it’s because, despite her seemingly glamourous life, she doesn’t appear to have lost herself.

You look at these power women like Beyoncé and they’re so elusive and illustrious, but I couldn’t imagine sitting down for a brew with her once she’s taken her make-up off.

I find Paloma’s apparent lack of self-confidence endearing and the idea that she spent the beginning of the Met Ball hiding in the toilets is hilarious and makes me love her even more.

Go out and buy the album. ‘Rely On You’ features Pharrell for goodness’ sake.

J.

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Sorry, Miranda : Why i’m choosing Reiss’ florals for SS14.

Have you seen the latest Richard Curtis blub-fest, ‘About Time’, yet? It’s rare that I view a film twice in quick succession, but this story of time-travel and falling in love has broken my resolve, because i’m a soppy romantic and pathetic. I’m at six views and i’ve only had the DVD for three weeks. Yes, I am one of those lowly people that enjoyed ‘The Notebook’, so the very fact that it has Rachel McAdams in it was enough for me to give it a go.

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The Great British Summertime.

My friends and family would tell you that my usual blabbering is now punctuated, frequently, with an annoying, mock-teary exclamation of:

“We’re all travelling through time together!”

I haven’t been to Cornwall before and I wasn’t particularly fussed about changing that fact.  I thought everyone there was a fisherman or something and that they live off cream teas and pasties (which sounds great, actually). However, I now want to go and skim stones at the beach like Bill Nighy. The film features the most beautiful shots of Cornwall landscapes and they’re making me dream of sunshine and holidays, garden parties and balmy evenings.

Despite my Dad telling me that we’re forecast snow in the North-West (where has he got that from?), Winter is over for me and i’m looking to Spring/Summer. It seems that, on the High Street, Reiss is well ahead of me.

For their SS14 campaign, Reiss’ model looks wholesome and somewhat dainty and the leafy setting of the shoot, for me, captures that fresh, Spring feeling.

I have some serious hair envy going on, too.

For this season, their colour palette is muted and understated. Reiss’ fabrics are light and breezy, without compromising on quality.

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I know, right?

This could be seen as an obvious choice, but I particularly like this ‘Crawford’ dress that i’ve been lusting after, online. As it is double-layered, the dress will move beautifully when you walk. The pockets are a plus as i’m a bit awkward about party dressing and I like this relaxed, added detail. I’d pair this with some black sandals with a reassuring ankle-strap – why bother with a gorgeous dress at an event and then spoil it by walking like a baby deer? Next has these for £28.00.(Orrr wear flats! See my post from Wednesday)

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The ‘Crawford’ Dress at Reiss.com £159.00

Alternatively, I have found this cheaper dress in Zara for £39.99 (yes, I think Zara is becoming a theme on my blog), which I saw on my last visit to the Cathedral Street store in Manchester.

As a customer, I admire that Reiss appears to be more individual and entrepreneurial than other, more corporate, brands. It appears that this retailer is on the rise and, for me, Reiss accessories have become particularly covet-worthy over the last few seasons. I love the ‘lime sorbet’ colouring of this leather ‘Fennel’ shoulder bag. The streamlined shape is particularly appealing to me and it’s an accessory I could see me wearing day and night. For £159.00, I’d want to. A present for my half-birthday, anyone?

I couldn’t write a post about Reiss without mentioning their tailoring. For event dressing this Spring/Summer, i’d choose this double-breasted ‘Monza’ blazer. Again, the colour is lovely and I think this jacket would look nice draped nonchalantly around the shoulders.

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Blazer, French Connection £150 £25

For jackets of this double-breasted style, I recommend a trip to Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Shopping Centre in Ellesmere Port. I spent time rifling through the racks at the French Connection outlet and bought myself a double-breasted, grey, herringbone blazer reduced from £150.00 to £25.00.

So, short and sweet and not particularly opinion-dividing recommendations today, but I feel that Reiss’ designs, whilst striking and directional, are classic and wearable. When i’m spending £159.00 on a dress, that’s important to me.

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Tuesday.

It’s my final post of my first week blogging and I wanted to say a big thank you to you all for reading. I thought that last thing people would want to see is my thoughts, word processed, but I have been overwhelmed by your positive response. A tweet in my first week from a London-based fashion brand was a big boost and, coupled with all your supportive messages, has given me the confidence to pursue my blog with enthusiasm.

Happy Friday Everyone! Have a lovely weekend!

I’m going to go and watch ‘About Time’, again.

J.

Party-a-Porter : Dressing-up with Alber Elbaz in the new PORTER Magazine.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the best kind of days within my working week. It’s not because I’m keen to ‘get back on it’ on the Monday or that I receive a reassuring “you’re halfway through the week, babe” from Wednesday and a “Sod it, it’s practically weekend; let’s have a chocolate éclair” on Friday. It’s because Net-a-Porter updates it’s ‘What’s New’ on these days and I can have a sneaky look at lunchtime on my iPad.

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Procrastination.

Monday afternoon had me scanning through planning what i’d wear for a night out in Manchester on Saturday if I was worth £1 Million+ and could afford the Alexander Wang clothing of my desire. My friend, Lucy, celebrates her 20th birthday today and she’s feeling old. So, naturally, we’re going to go out at the weekend and be irresponsible. I thought this meant too much cake. It means clubs, appaz.

I don’t know what to wear.

For those of you that follow anything remotely fashion-related on Instagram, like me, you’ll have had PORTER Magazine (‘powered by Net-a-Porter’) rammed down your throat everyday for the last month. It’s everywhere.

Natalie Massenet, both glamourous face of and brain behind Net-a-Porter, has suggested that the women reading this magazine will have an annual income of £170,000+.

*Silence*.

Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue, however, has allegedly said that it “sounds like a grand Sainsbury’s Magazine”. Fortunately, I like my Sainsbury’s Magazine on a Sunday morning with a sugary coffee and a bagel. So, I parted with my FIVE POUNDS (it’s okay because there’s only going to be six issues a year) and bought myself a copy. Yes, it is for manicured women that earn an eye-watering amount of money each year. But, these women have their own careers and children, they commute each morning and they’re educated. Basically, it’s written for superwomen that don’t exist. But, I like it.

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PORTER Magazine, £5.00.

I touched on this in Monday’s post but, again, I like the tone in which it’s written. It’s not stuffy or authoritative. There’s not a hideous amount of ads, but, instead, a subtle note at the bottom of each page; reminding you that everything you see can be bought online.

Some of the articles are fascinating. ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ is an account of, photojournalist, Lynsey Addario’s kidnapping in Libya in 2011 and the aftermath. Harvey Weinstein has written a piece about his latest film ‘Grace of Monaco’ and the political crisis that inspired the film. Photographer, David Bailey, provides an account of his encounters with Andy Warhol, also.

There’s some beautiful portraits of Uma Thurman which is reason enough to read it, really.

My favourite article, however, was a write-up about Amanda Staveley; “gatekeeper to the fabulous wealth of the Middle East”. Being familiar with the stock market and a regular trader, this one piqued my interest. She is an inspiring woman who brokers deals between western companies with powerful figures in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai; areas where women holding positions of such responsibility are few and far between.

The magazine doesn’t present fashion as disposable and faddy. Within it’s pages, PORTER presents clothing and accessories as purchases to be treated as investment pieces; treasures that you can pull out of your wardrobe and wear many different ways for years to come.That wouldn’t make me feel that much more comfortable about spending £195.00-£1,070.00 on a blouse but, y’know, it’s aspirational.

I found weekend outfit inspiration via “The Rules of…Dressing Up by Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz”.

Cursed with the measly height of 5″3, I am resigned to the fact that i’ll have to wear heels when i’m out to at least be at eye-level of my companions. But no more.

Short women everywhere! Throw off the shackles of your height-complex, because ‘baz says that ‘comfort is imperative’!

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More realistic in every sense… These flats are £29.99 at zara.com. I love the gold detailing on the ankle strap; making these pumps evening appropriate.

For his SS11 show, Elbaz had the models walk in flat sandals because the titanium heels he had designed were too uncomfortable. In his interview, he says that ‘the girls walked with such strength that it didn’t matter’. I haven’t asked anyone, but i’m not convinced that I ‘walk with strength’. In these beauties though (above), I could glide and not hobble across the city, crying inside. I’d pair them with cropped, slim trousers and a chiffon blouse. Maybe a loose tuxedo jacket?

Can you wear trousers to go dancing?

Oh God, start again.

Writing this blog, I don’t claim to have any authority. I know that Saturday evening will see me hopping around in front of the mirror, trying to brush my hair and teeth simultaneously, one shoe on and the other off, cursing. I’ll have changed my mind twice about what i’m going to wear and, you know what, I still won’t be happy with it. But, it’s okay because PORTER tells me so…

Perfect is the end. Perfection is what scares me. When you see photos of those perfect ladies , you realize it is as far away from perfect as you can imagine. Perfect people, perfect scenarios, perfect moments, perfect clothes, for me, are boring. I like imperfections; I like the tension.

-Alber Elbaz being a babe in PORTER Magazine, Spring 2014.

Cool, Alber. Yeah, I’ll go for that. Got any Lanvin cast-offs for this weekend you can hook me up with?

J.

Musings : A trip to London, wanting to be ‘that girl’ and a new jacket from Bolongaro Trevor.

To me, the March issue of British VOGUE is always like the Yellow Pages. Not surprisingly, this year, the ‘International Collections Special’ is £3.99 of mostly adverts. However, it made for ever-so-slightly cramped reading on a car journey to London last weekend. Normally, I hurtle through image after image of Cara & co until I reach text but a particular Saint Laurent ad captured my attention and now has me enthralled.

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Saint Laurent SS14.

There’s something great, I think, when a single fashion image can instil feeling or desire within the viewer. The Dolce & Gabbana campaigns, for instance, always make me dream of summer holidays and sun kissed skin. The women are SO sexy and the landscapes and scenes in which they are shot make me want to dab on my red lipstick in an “I’ve had too much red wine” kind of way (Chanel Rouge Allure in 104 Passion or, failing that, some Benefit Benetint), throw on some heeled sandals and a flippy skirt and dance with my friends. Preferably, it would be somewhere in Scilly and not…erm…the North-West of England. Think Apollonia in The Godfather before she drove Michael’s car. I love the Chloé advertisements this season, also. Dream-like and hazy, printed on a thick, matt stock in the new PORTER magazine, the models in these images are beautiful and dishevelled and make me want to run through a field barefoot, too.

But I wasn’t in the Med or frolicking in long grass. I was in the front seat of a 4×4 with my boyfriend’s band and a drum-kit on the way to some bar in Camden for the evening and I was looking at the model in the Saint Laurent ad.

I loved her nonchalance. The tailoring was loose and masculine and I liked how it was balanced with side-swept hair and a single drop earring. The whole thing was achingly cool.

What appealed to me most is that the clothes seemed easy to wear. There’s nothing worse than not being able to move in what you’re wearing. That’s where I think some fashion magazines come un-stuck, I feel. They fail to translate these fashions into the every day lives of their audience. Whilst many of the readers will lead extraordinarily privileged lives; the rest of us are dancing at a gig, squished commuters on the Underground, running for a train at Manchester Piccadilly, wiping goo off our four year-olds or splashing M&S puttanesca all over our counter tops with the majority on our new Whistles purchase. You can’t do that in couture.

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Crush.

No, I want to be like that girl. I want to cut a fringe like Freja Beha Erichsen and dance like Haim. I want to wear skinnies from J Brand and steal my boyfriend’s shirts because they just fit better. I like the French insouciance. I want an Isabel Marant trophy jacket. Hell no! Not new! Have you seen how much they are?! Vestiaire Collective is your new best friend as of now.

The Kooples offers fabulous alternatives to Saint Laurent. Whilst the pricing is still steep (you’ll pay around £350.00 for a jacket), the clothes are great quality and would be investment pieces that you could wear season after season. A thrifty click around VC (above) could net you similar for less than £100.00. See Sandro and Maje next time you’re in Selfridges for similar.

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Zara Lookbook SS14.

Fantasies aside – the star of the High Street for this aesthetic has to be Zara. I was in the Manchester branch with my friend, Helen, some weeks back and I wanted EVERYTHING. I tried my damned hardest to argue that black waxed jeans and a mock-croc shoulder bag would make great in-direct Valentine’s Day presents for my other half, but she wasn’t having any of it. I staved off buying anything in lieu of my up-coming London trip but I will be back.

I went to London at the beginning of Fashion Week. Covent Garden was dotted with the overspill from Somerset House. There was too much millinery on the cobbles that afternoon. Anyway, I was on a mission…

Background – It is becoming Christmas tradition that my Dad will buy me an extravagant yet sadly misguided gift. My wardrobe is littered with unwanted presents that I don’t have the heart to stick on eBay and so they just languish, unloved, on the top shelf. This year, on Christmas morning, my Dad bounded up to me with a worrying: “you’re either going to love this or hate it”. He’d bought me what could only be described as an Adam Ant cast-off. It was a Bolongaro Trevor woollen military jacket with two rows of brass buttons and gold detailing and was a little snug.

It was beautifully made and being familiar with Bolongaro Trevor, I knew it would’ve been pricey and that, whilst some of their clothes are a little too alternative for me, I could find something I liked. So, I did the unspeakable and asked if he would mind if I exchanged it for something I would wear.

Khaki Biker, Bolongaro Trevor £270

Khaki Biker Jacket, Bolongaro Trevor £350.00 £225.00

I returned from the capital feeling pretty smug. I unearthed what I believe to be a gem on my visit and swapped my jacket for a khaki biker that was on sale. It was reduced to £225.00 in the sale from £350.00. Yes, it’s expensive, but the quality is second to none. It’s made of lambskin and is gorgeously soft; the kind of garment that i’ll wear for years and should age really well. Bolongaro Trevor only manufactures in small quantities and so it feels nice to have a unique piece. Whilst All Saints and the like have some lovely jackets in store, you know that there’ll be ten other women walking down Manchester’s Deansgate in exactly the same.

I feel that I should mention the sales assistant in Bolongaro Trevor. I recognised her as a model from the website and she was a perfect ambassador for the brand. She was chatty and attentive without being overbearing and she had impressive product knowledge which I feel is an essential for good customer service. If you want an individual, high quality product then I definitely recommend.

Did I get the fringe? Yes, I did. It’s too long and it keeps getting in my eyes but it makes me feel f*cking cool though.

J.