An Interview With Tony Porter

I am honoured to have on the blog this week one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week – the gallant gentleman, Tony Porter.  I caught up with Tony recently to find out more about his unique life spent at the forefront of fashion, the swinging ’60s scene in London, the high fashion Kensington store Biba, and his gripping new memoir “Whatever Next?”….. Welcome Tony …

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Hello, I’m Tony Porter. Born 12/6/35

You certainly have lived a fascinating and unique life in the forefront of fashion – but, what was the inspiration behind picking up your pen and writing your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” What’s the story behind the title?

In 1986 B and I left the world of Fashion and bought tiny Burgh Island with its tired but lovely Art Deco Hotel. After spending 16 years on its restoration, we moved on, and I immediately wrote our story in “The Great White Palace”, published in 2002. Since then, it has sold 23,700 copies, and very many readers have asked me how I spent the rest of my life. I was finally persuaded, and the book was finally published on 28 February 2016. I spoke about it at my 80th Birthday party, after which I was approached by two guests, suggesting that, following my seven careers, I should make a film about them. That was when I collapsed in an arm chair muttering ‘Whatever next?’. These are the last two words of the book, but seemed an obvious title as well.

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You started your career selling paint for ICI – spending many years with ICI in Africa – before returning to London to sell high fashion for the Kensington store, Biba, founded by your sister-in-law, Barbara Hulanicki. Did you have an interest in fashion at that time, or was it something that grew on you as you sold the outfits?

No, it grew on me. Till then a dress was a dress and a skirt a skirt, but Barbara’s were different. As I became steeped in the selling and even the manufacture of her unique and inexpensive designs, I came to love the look, especially on those ’60s “Dolly Birds”  who daily thronged the Biba shop in Kensington.

The scene in London during the swinging 60s must have been exciting – especially as many famous starlets flocked to Biba – Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Mia Farrow, Cilla Black & Yoko Ono to name just a few. I’m sure you kept a cool head when you served them – but did anyone actually make you go weak at the knees (starstruck mode)? Who would have made you go a-quiver if they had entered Biba?

That has to be Bardot, although she doesn’t exactly answer your question, because she actually walked in one day to go shopping. She was prepared to try things on in the communal changing room, but Barbara’s husband, Fitz, offered her the passageway outside his office. I did glimpse her as she made her way there with an armful of clothes. She did make me weak at the knees, but that was all. Fitz did better though, by standing on a chair, so that he could peep through the glass over his office door!

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T427 IM 4CBW 26-18

You were one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week. What was the inspiration and original aims of the Week? Are you surprised the idea is still going strong and is one of the most important dates in the Fashion calendar?

When I left Biba and started my own Fashion PR business, I did really well getting lots of coverage for the twelve accounts I came to represent. It was so frustrating though that twice a year the whole of our Press corps disappeared to Paris, then Milan, to report on their designs for the coming season. We had wonderful designers, some established and others fresh out of our marvellous colleges. I couldn’t see why there was no such event here, and resolved to do something about it. That was exactly forty years ago, and in the book I relate how I went about it with such success that it became established on the world fashion stage. Obviously I am thrilled that our Fashion Week has long since become known as one of the big three in Europe, but cannot help thinking that the numbers are now too big, and the organisation is not so special as in my day.

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T310 IM 5-9

After leaving Biba, you ran your own successful fashion PR business in London’s West End, helped by your wife Beatrice. What made you decide to go from sales to PR?

As I’ve said already, I came to love fashion and the way it evolved, but I knew I would never aspire to being a designer, and I tired of selling. However, I had come to meet and help a few influential journalists, and came to realise that, in return for showing them the right selection, they were able to feature photographs of certain items which fitted their fashion story of the day. Obviously I didn’t have the name of Biba with which to conjure, but I chose well and quickly gained the confidence of most of the major writers. I also found that I could make much more doing this, so the decision to move on proved right in many ways.

Can you tell us about the beautiful Burgh Island and the Art Deco hotel you lovingly restored (and have since sold)? What attracted you to buy the island & its hotel? What was your favourite feature of the island/hotel?

When we bought our second hand yacht and cruised along the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, we fell in love with their rivers and little harbours, so, when we decided on another change, it was there that we looked. After several possibilities fell through, we heard that this tiny (26 acres) island was for sale, complete with its ART DECO hotel, we went for it. The huge risk and years of scary experiences are described in detail in my first book ( it is also included more briefly in this new one. How could I leave 16 whole years out of my autobiography!) We finally sold it to a couple who claimed to love art deco as much as us, in 2001. Without doubt our favourite feature was, and still is (except we are banned !) the Palm Court, with its original stained glass ceiling, which we restored.

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You are now concentrating on your new career as a writer – your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” was published in Feb 2016. Have you got any other plans to write other works? Is there any other writing genre you would like to dabble in?

Yes. Children’s  books. I have written them before for my grandchildren who did the illustrations for me, and they loved them.

When you are not writing, what hobbies or past times do you enjoy?

Sailing (other people’s yachts), opera (Hearing, not singing!) golf (badly), walking the Devon lanes, travel (but not long haul now).

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and where to buy your memoir “Whatever Next?”

Website: tonyporter.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Whatever-Next-748983758567899/?=ts

Twitter: @TPorterAuthor

It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on my blog, Tony, and I haven’t yet stopped giggling at the picture you’ve given of Barbara’s husband Fitz trying to glimpse Bardot! Must admit, Bardot is one of my style icons from those days.  The other being Debbie Harry of Blondie in the 70s/80s.  Dear readers, have you got a favourite style icon? Do tell, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tony Porter.

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An Interview With TRNDSXL

Fashion anarchy on my blog this week as I introduce to you the  forward thinking clothing label, TRNDSXL, whose collections are designed to flatter both male and female alike – with the aims of inspiring fashion individuals as well as attempting to blur the lines between men & women’s fashions.  Intrigued?  I caught up with designer Francesca Soroccos  to find out more….

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Hi! My name is Frankie, I am 24 years old and originally from South East London.

TRNDSXL is a forward thinking clothing label advocating for social change through the medium of gender fluid fashion. What inspired you to set up the label, rejecting the High Street conventions that support gender divisions?

For me, when I was conceptualizing the brand, it was really important that it had a social core. At the time, unisex clothing was pretty new and there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of different styles and designers. I wanted to offer something a bit different to the market.

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Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

Yes! I have always loved fashion; I studied at LCF for about 6 months and then dropped out! The course just wasn’t right for me and I just wasn’t the same as the other people in my class, so I just decided to try something else. It was then I went to Southampton and studied hair and make-up design, which was great and so creative, but at the end of my degree, I said to my tutors that I wanted to create a fashion brand for my FMP, and was that okay?! 2 years later, here we are!

I love the silk dress shirts – such a classic & classy design. What pieces are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you! The fabric is from Lake Como in Italy and there were only 10 metres left in the world, so I had it digitally re-printed at Glasgow School of Art. It really reminds me of Italian renaissance art, but it’s just so retro and cool too! Every fabric in the collection is limited and non-repeatable, so each garment is limited edition really, there are only four of each left…

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Out of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?

I love the Silk Dress Shirt and Trousers but the Duchesse Satin just looks really seventies high school prom which is so much fun! And the plum suiting is really wearable.

Your outfits are timeless classics designed to act as statement pieces in your wardrobe. Where did you draw inspiration from for your collection?

It’s a fusion of minimal tailoring with an urban/seventies vibe. What inspires me is when I can look at a fabric and think that it will never go out of style, because it’s so classic! 

If you were able to visit any where in the world, to inspire a collection, where would you go?

Cuba, in Havana – apparently it’s like stepping into a time warp; or if money was no object, a road trip around the USA.

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Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of the TRNDSXL collection?

Haha! I can dream! Well, I have actually written a letter and tweeted Boy George, but he hasn’t replied yet…I’m keeping everything crossed!

Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – what styles/ colours do you hope will dominate your collection?

It still has a slight nod to the seventies minimal theme but in a different way and playing about with silhouettes a bit more, with maybe an unexpected colour…

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As you are based in England, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Yes, everything is made and sourced in the UK, but I do ship to Europe and America too, so don’t be shy!

For each item sold you will be donating 5% of the cost to the Nail Transphobia campaign. Can you tell us a bit about the campaign?

Nail Transphobia is a campaign founded by Charlie Craggs to break down antagonistic attitudes towards trans people; to do this she offers a free nail service so people can come and meet her and ask any questions they have about trans people. She has achieved so much and is currently running a petition that people can sign so all GPs will be given in-depth training on treating transgender patients as part of the GP curriculum. This is so important and could really help thousands of people that are struggling to understand what they are feeling. If you haven’t already, go and sign it!
https://www.change.org/p/nhs-england-end-transphobia-in-the-nhs-teach-gp-s-how-to-deal-with-trans-patients?recruiter=144525045&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Day to day I wear black, black and more black! ….with black shoes of course! It just feels like a kind of non-uniform uniform I guess?!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I am constantly browsing the Internet for cool things, so it constantly changes, but I love Studio Nicholson’s silhouettes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am still searching for the perfect jacket…..

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes or ankle boots, as I always like to be showing a bit of skin in the ankle area 😉

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about TRNDSXL

http://trndsxl.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/TRNDSXL
https://www.instagram.com/trndsxl/
https://twitter.com/TRNDSXL

I wish you well with your clothing label, Frankie…. it is refreshing to find a label that blurs the gender line. I’ve been known to  borrow my 18year old son’s T shirts…. In fact, my husband’s t-shirts, shirts, socks  & jumpers have been fair game too!  Dear readers, what do you think about blurring the gender lines?  What unisex clothing do you wear? What do you wear that was originally meant for the opposite sex?  Do share your opinions, I’d love to know what you think…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from TRNDSXL.

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An Interview With Undercrackers

I’m talking underpants this week with Drew Weymont, CEO of Undercrackers, the company that claim to make the most comfortable underpants on the market. Constructed from UK made premium cotton jersey fabrics, the underpants are made to fit not just the average Joe but to all men of all shapes, sizes and requirements. I caught up with Drew recently to find out more….

Hi! My name is Drew Weymont & I am the creator & CEO of Undercrackers men’s underwear. My background as a computer scientist revolved around technological development & in particular the IT processes & logistics required to design, develop & distribute products & applications for an array of sectors & markets.

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What was the inspiration behind Undercrackers?

I had several unconnected conversations with male friends who moaned about the lack of comfortable underwear on the market. Knowing that I had recently developed a small range of sportswear, these conversations became more involved & I decided to take a long hard look at the underwear products currently available on the UK market. I quickly realised that there was a real gulf between high street, low cost underwear & high end designer products with very little in the middle. I spent the next 6 months working alongside the same designers whom I had previously worked with and began to develop a small range of high quality yet affordable underwear. After spending months testing various fabrics we finally found a perfect match in a beautiful, high quality cotton jersey fabric that is manufactured & dyed in Nottingham. The name Undercrackers came to me as a bolt out of the blue, however it is a traditionally humorous term that always made me smile & it seemed to be a great fit for something that I truly hope will become a truly British icon.

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As you are based in the UK, are your underpants available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we sell to men across the globe, particularly the US & Asia. We have many repeat clients who love the product which is a great feeling. I personally find it tragic that much of our manufacturing heritage has disappeared from the UK & whilst I understand the economic benefits of overseas production, it gives me great pleasure to see our small Manchester factory employing local talent & bucking the trend by exporting to the Far East & around the world!

Growing up, was your career aspirations fashion orientated or did you have another career in mind? When did you start to cultivate an interest in fashion?

I was always interested in fashion however, I joined the Army aged 15, left at 22 & took a computer science degree that helped me to design, develop & distribute products & applications for an array of sectors & markets.  Whilst I did not knowingly seek out fashion as a specific career path it became apparent that my logical, process based approach was highly appropriate to fashion design & product development.

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Packed in iconic gold boxed packaging, every garment in the 2016 range is made by hand at the Undercrackers Manchester factory, constructed from UK made premium cotton jersey fabrics. Your company claim that it makes the most comfortable underpants on the market. So what makes them the most comfortable – is it the fabric, sizing, style etc?

Undercrackers are comfortable because we designed them for real men. That may sound a little clichéd however we recruited a team of male guinea pigs to test our prototype designs & then listened carefully to their feedback. This was a critical stage of the brand’s development as we had selected a real cross section of men that comprised of every possible body shape & size. I was very keen to create a comfortable brief that provided comfort to men of all sizes rather than just a 32” waist ‘average man’. I also do not believe in selling any style that I myself do not personally wear & love. I try every new variant & even wash it to check how well it wears over time. The comfort comes from a combination of supportive design & high quality, breathable fabric. We have even conducted ‘blind’ comparison tests with other products on the market & ours (thankfully) have always come out on top. Of course everyone has a personal preference when it comes to style & this is why we have stuck with 3 base options, a brief, short trunk & boxer trunk. Hopefully there is something for every man out there!

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For 2016, you plan to add to the collection of underpants – swimwear, base layers and functional undergarments. What do you look for when deciding what to add to your brand – popular styles, old favourites, customer suggestions, your own tastes or bits of all those?

We do listen to our customer feedback & in fact our new traditional cotton long johns are the result of a customer request. The majority of our new lines are based on our initial game plan which was always to launch the underwear & then add staple products such as undershirts & base layers around them. As I mentioned earlier, we only develop something that we would like to wear ourselves & this keeps myself & my team grounded as our goal is to maintain & build an iconic undergarment brand. We are not about to launch shirts or knitwear! We have tons of swimwear ideas as, similar to underwear, men’s swimwear is a little underrepresented in the middle ground & we hope to have our first range ready for this summer.

From your current collection, what has been your most popular design to date? Have you got a personal favourite?

The boxer trunk is far & away the most popular in terms of sales however my favourite remains the solid brief simply because this to me is what a perfect pair of underpants should look like!

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When not selling underpants, what sports or activities do you enjoy pursuing?

I love the Lake District, walking & open natural spaces as it gives me true ‘me time’ however I also run & exercise daily & still get regularly beaten at squash!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My favourite menswear designer is Orlebar Brown, his shirts just work with anything & his style is unique yet definitive if that makes sense. Shoes must be Campanile or Mr Hare. The first are seriously comfortable & the latter just beautifully made & iconic however my Gucci boots are also an absolute wardrobe essential for me. I have so many fashion faves that I could list them all day but I do have a soft spot for Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label as he uses the finest Italian threads & fabrics that make you feel truly special!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I love Mr Porter, Matches Fashion, Woodhouse Clothing & Ralph Lauren. If I can’t find what I like on one of these then I give up as they all offer a great selection of styles for both formal & casualwear!

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I only wear suits occasionally but I am in the market for a new one & Kilgour or Richard James is in my sights however my bank manager may try & talk me out of it!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because they are just so much more versatile. One great pair of boots is worth 8 pairs of shoes in my reckoning because I can wear them with loads of different outfits including, off duty, semi-formal & workwear.

Which famous gent (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “body” of Undercrackers?

It would have to be Mr Roger Moore. I may be showing my age here, but he was the best Bond & a real cool Brit icon.

Website/social media details…..

Website: www.undercrackers.co.uk                                                                

Twitter: twitter.com/undercrackersuk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/undercrackersuk

Thanks for chatting to us on the blog, Drew! I definitely agree with you about Roger Moore – he was my favourite Bond too! Comfortable underwear is a must whatever your sex – I go for thongs or lace shorties…. What underwear do you consider comfortable?  Do tell…..

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Undercrackers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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As much as you like writing children’s books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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An Interview With Arzu Kara Fashions

Effortless chic style with a mixture of couture is the trademark of my guest this week – British based designer Arzu Kara.  Originally from Istanbul, now based in Henley on Thames , Arzu created her own fashion label in 2006. I caught up with Arzu recently to find out more about her style…. Hi Arzu!

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Hi! I’m Arzu.  In a nutshell, I am fashion designer and creative director, from Istanbul and an owner of a gorgeous sprocker spaniel called Musket and madly in love with a super cool human being.

What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

No one knows, including me! I was around 4 when I used to draw (more like doodling though) and my mother was brave enough to give me a crotchet needle. A few years later,  I would try to make outfits for my dolls. Around then we all realised that I love creating, working with fabrics and I was lucky enough to be able to pursue my passion professionally.

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Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

Yes absolutely. I was born and raised in Istanbul where the education system is completely different, so I went to a vocational high school. There I was taught pattern making/garment construction as well as the standard curriculum, like mathematics and physics. This was the right path for me as thereafter I went to university studying Fashion and Textiles.

I love the Ilayda Asymmetric Dress in Indigo Blue, the Annette Long Skirt in Mint and the Cynthia Leather Skirt in Khaki? What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Ilayda dress has been a favourite because it’s so flattering and so versatile. I have shortened mine so I wear it for going out with super high courts. The amount of compliments I get is ridiculous which is all down to clever ruching and angles. Also my Janey dress. Incredibly simple but it was a classic. In fact it was named after a client of mine who later became a really good friend and it looks amazing.

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Out of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?

My silk tulle corseted dress with leather. The reason is that I have draped the entire dress on the mannequin and just let the fabric do what it wants to do. Furthermore, I just adore working with silk tulle and leather. Equally beautiful equally difficult to work with. My Simone dress too – I feel so wonderful and elegant when I wear it and the colours remind me of the ocean. 

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Originally from Istanbul in Turkey, you are now based in Henley-on-Thames in England. Your outfits are effortlessly chic style with a twist of couture fashion. Where do you draw inspiration from for your collection?

All of my inspirations come from my clients and the stunning friends that I have. I am very lucky to be living/working in a very influential neighborhood where women just look so well put together but it looks effortless. Also nature, colours and texture. Also, this will sound quite peculiar,  but I dream about some of my most complex designs. I love it when it happens – sadly not every day!

Which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of the Arzu Kara Fashions collection?

It would have to be Charlize Theron. I could look at her face for hours and as if she is not blessed enough with pure beauty and grace, she is also very intelligent, not ignorant plus aware of current affairs – truly independent but feminine with a kind heart.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – what styles/ colours do you hope will dominate your collection?

Earthy greens, shades of violet and brown are the main colours. I focused on marrying up contrast textures this season. Cashmere with lace wool with silk and so on. Most of them are tailored even though they might not look tailored at first glance.

As you are based in England, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Yes indeed. Consumers can shop online wherever they are and we just ship it to them. We are also exhibiting this year, so Arzu Kara outfits could be found in independent boutiques across the world.

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When you are not designing dresses do you indulge in artwork of some kind or do you have other hobbies?

I love painting with watercolours and free drawing when I have free time ( which is rare);  I adore (and hate we have a complicated relationship) hot yoga; and any time spent with my other half, even just talking about our day, is bliss. Lastly, exploring new places and having cocktails with good friends.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I seem to be living in skinny jeans (I know, it’s a cliche,sorry!) when I am in the studio, as I need to be really comfortable moving around. I wear chelsea boots during the winter months and flats in the summer. For meetings with buyers I tend to wear my own designs and I opt for a more tailored and grown up look. Going out in the evenings,  I love wearing high heels and fitted dresses. Unless it’s summer, where a soft fine fluid fabric is a must – I might choose floaty dresses or tops teamed up with shorts or mini skirts.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Maje, Sandro Stefanel and Helmut Lang. Outnet is my favourite place for online shopping – so many labels under one roof and one doesn’t need to re-mortgage the house.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I have been wanting a really well made, stylish but comfortable nude courts but haven’t found them yet! Clothes will be chosen from my own line. ( And no, I am not biased! :)) Bags are also my favourite. I have my eye on one from Balenciaga’s 2016 resort collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes. I need to be free without so many layers, so with boots I feel restricted. Not in the height of the winter months though! However, I have been seen wearing mini dresses with bare legs and heels while there was still snow on the ground 🙂

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Arzu Kara Fashions

https://www.facebook.com/ARZU-KARA-158189797530871/?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/arzukarastudio

https://www.instagram.com/arzukarastudio/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117992787492536834346/117992787492536834346/posts

Thanks so much for wowing us with your delightful outfits Arzu!  It has been a pleasure chatting to you. It was great that you studied dressmaking at school.  I did dressmaking/needlework too, but alas I was not very good – I struggled to finish off any item after 3 years – half an apron, half a corduroy skirt and half a shirt! Dear readers, did you study dressmaking at school? What did you make?  Do share your stories….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Arzu Kara.

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An Interview With Model Debi Jones

Back in 2013 I first interviewed the lovely model Debi as she relaunched herself into the modelling limelight after a break from modelling in her teenage years to bring up her son and to pursue her love of music and dancing  (she was known as Dancin’ Debi ). Nowadays, Debi is in front of the camera, on the fashion runways, behind the camera and is mentoring young ladies who wish to pursue the modelling dream.  Hi Debi and welcome back to the blog!

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Hi Linda, my name’s Debi Jones but I am also known as DebiJ – Classic Model…. (I think the word “Classic” is a polite way of saying.. “Mature”).

You started modelling as a teenager, and after a break to have your son and pursue other pursuits, you re-entered the modelling world in 2013 in your late 40s. I interviewed you in 2013 and am pleased that your career has taken off and other avenues have been opened to you too, including mentoring young newbie models and taking photos yourself. What a busy bee! So, when you was a child, did you hope to be a model or photographer or fashion designer or make up artist or dancer or something else?

Oooo, that’s a hard one…. as a child, I wanted to be a singer, sadly though, being tone death doesn’t bode well in that industry. I then went through a stage of wanting to be an artist as I’m quite good with a pencil… and then it was a dancer. Sadly, I was always taller than most of the girls and where ever I went to dance classes, I ended up being the male part; although I did a stint of dancing in night clubs for a while. I used to look at magazines all the time and “wish” I could be like the girls on there, but my body shape and face always held me back….or so I thought. I got a break and happy days, suddenly, I was one of those girls… despite the body shape, though mainly, it was my legs that were
in demand!

What inspired you to try your hand at modelling as a teenager? What inspired you to re-launch your modelling career in your 40s?

Back in 1983, I went to Spain with my friends. We came home all sun tanned up, and decided to go for a night out. When we got to the club, there was a competition, Miss Elliots Lovely Legs… unbeknown to me, my friends entered me…. all these gorgeous, slim, barbie type girls were strutting their stuff on the catwalk and when it came to my turn, I danced my way up there with a smile (I didn’t know what else to do and was so embarrassed).. I WON! I couldn’t believe it. The prize was a photo shoot in Seven Kings with a fashion photographer, I really can’t remember his name. I was terrified, took a chaperone and everything – and despite looking like something out of Bananarama, it kind of went from there. This time round, I was approached on social media by a photographer. At first I thought he was a weirdo, but my son encouraged me to give it a go. As soon as I stepped in front of the camera, I realised how much I missed the buzz..the feeling of being anything from polished and pristine to rock queen… it was an escapism from the reality that is life. Looking back on the images now, my posing left a lot to be desired as did some of the actually photography ..but yes.. that was how I got back into it.

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Have you been to any unusual or strange modelling locations? Have you had any strange/unusual/bizarre modelling experiences?

Oh yes… more than a few now lol. I’ve been stuck in underground bunkers with rats running round my feet and dirty water up to my ankles, rolled around in mud banks at the beach when it was windy and raining, in a pure white gown. Multi Storey Car Parks, up trees in very high heels, but the most amazing was the Coldstream Guards Barracks at Windsor Castle… that was an experience of a lifetime. Actually shooting with the Guards in their full dress uniform and then later me in their “action man” stuff… I admire those guys so much… that is one heavy outfit!

To date, what has been your most favourite photoshoot?

Hmmmm…. It would be unfair for me to say “which is my favourite”, truth is..out of 100 shoots, I enjoy 99. I have a few photographers that I work with quite regularly now and I love working with those as they are used to my madness and my ways and they let me express myself and try ideas that I may have, as well as their own… but I’ve also worked with some excellent photographers that I have never met before.. you just don’t know what you’re getting. I loved being a part of Mariana and Jilani’s Urban Angel Project last year. We shot in the Shoreditch and Brick Lane area of London. The actual shoot didn’t take too long at all but we spent the day up there. The concept of Urban Angels is, despite appearances, there are so many people lost in London, whether they live there, work there, they may look like they have many friends on the outside or a wonderful life, but we really don’t know what is going on in there head. I was the fallen/rebellious angel. I don’t smoke anymore but had to be smoking a cigarette and instead of the normal, innocent angel in virginal white.. I was wearing a black business suit..no shoes, sitting on the floor of the street with massive angel wings! We caused quite a stir. I really enjoy the shoots I do with my good friend, fellow model, Joanna Chamberlain and photographer, David Morley…. We go all out to have fun and make beautiful colourful images… One last year was the Mad Hatters Tea Party in the Magical Forest. Craziness! We are on hold with shooting at the moment this year as Jo organised a Vintage Catwalk Charity Show in support of M.E. in April. Jo also makes hats and she showcased those, along with some wonderful 1940’s/50’s attire… so for the first time in many years, I was back on the catwalk for that one!

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Is there any style of photoshoot /modelling / famous photographer that you would like to try that you haven’t yet experienced?

Oh wow.. MANY photographers and styles I admire – I would have loved to have been in front of Helmut Newtons Camera… what a genius… the models he used were always sharp, edgy, sexy and quite severe! I’m hoping to get to work with a favourite photographer of mine this year as we have been discussing for quite some time, his ideas are madder than my own..but I really don’t want to jinx it so my lips are sealed.

When I first interviewed you in 2013, you had long curly brown hair and was tentatively dipping your toes, so to speak, into the modelling pool again; now, in 2016, you have a slick short blonde crop that is very edgy and your photos are very slick and polished. You have transformed before my very eyes – and you are looking fab! What do you feel you have learnt most about modelling the second time round as an older lady? Advantages/ Disadvantages?

Oh thank you, Linda. Well… I’ve had to learn what suits me for a start..and what I’m good at… I’ve learnt not to trust everybody’s word, I’ve learnt to be guarded when approached by so called “agencies”, I’ve also learnt to keep my mouth shut when someone asks for my advice, unless of course they specifically have come to me for mentoring. The advantages are, not too many people mess with me… they don’t try and take advantage as they now realise, I know what I am doing, and as much as I love it to bits and enjoy it (even more now)…. I also take it very seriously.. not myself..but the work. I still believe I’m quirky not beautiful..but… it seems quirkiness is liked. The disadvantages are, I’m watching my self age … I’m more conscious of body changes etc..it’s hard to embrace that when you’ve spent your life dreading it. I recently hit the menopause, the weight went on..my energy levels dropped.. the hot flushes were out of control.. and my hair became even thinner.. hence.. the change of style. All is under control at the moment and thankfully, I’m at a weight I’m happy with and I’m loving my hair!

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You spend a lot of time helping and mentoring younger models – what advice do you give to those wishing to pursue the model path? Do you have any advice to those older ladies who are considering turning their hand at modelling?

OK… again, this is a really difficult question..it seems, through the magical world of the internet, everyone can be a model (so it is believed). In some ways, it is true, but because the local camera club want to take some piccies of you, it doesn’t mean you will be featured in the next Vogue! Don’t get ahead of yourself. NEVER hand over money to agencies ..well … people claiming to be agencies, and ALWAYS check their credentials.. I can’t emphasise this enough… I have seen so many people stung. LEARN and LIVE your trade, research! If you want to get into what I call the REAL world of modelling… it’s a whole different kettle of fish. It isn’t a case of going along to a studio or a location with a bag of clothes and trial and error. Whole teams of people can be involved, timescales are of the essence. You have to work really hard, be spot on, accept that “your makeup and hair may not be how you normally wear it” and do as you’re asked – don’t play the Diva! People are paying for your time and experience. It really gets my goat when you see people set up dodgy agencies or companies that state “Experience Model or Model Trainer, Catwalk Training”, when I know full well that some of these people have never been on a professional shoot in their life, they have never walked a catwalk.. they just have had their photos taken, very well sometimes… not so well on others.. and they’re trying to get an easy buck by taking advantage! Youngsters, please, beware. As for the more mature lady… the only advice I would give anyone if they wanted to try modelling is… “GO FOR IT, LOVE IT and most importantly, ENJOY IT”. Always remember though..we are now ladies of a certain age, and what looks good on a 20 year old doesn’t necessarily mean it will look good on us.. and yes.. I have made that mistake. A 50 year old model doing a tea-pot pose and sniffing her underarms in a spandex dress… isn’t ALWAYS attractive lol !

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Hypothetically speaking, if you could go anywhere in the world for a photoshoot, where would be your dream location?

I’ve been lucky enough to shoot in Paris and last year Cyprus, but NEW YORK… I would LOVE to shoot in New York… and yes.. I’d definitely do my take on Audrey Hepburn at Tiffany’s… It would be rude not to!

You have an interest in photography – what photographs do you enjoy taking for pleasure?

HAHAHAHHA don’t tell the photographers I work with that! Lol. Yes, I love to take pictures. Apparently, I have a good eye for an image… right now the flavour is landscapes and skies, but my dog is becoming quite good with the poses.. and between you, me and your readers, I do like shooting people (with the camera), though I would never say I am anywhere near good enough to take it up, it’s just a little hobby.. I can’t wait for the weather to improve!

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when not modelling?

Well, right now, I’m sitting in a sky blue all in one,  and it’s not a onesie lol. It’s from River Island. Oh, and I have bare feet. At work I have to be smart, so it’s quite classic stuff, court shoes or boots depending on skirt or trousers. At home, there’s nothing better than to chill out in a pair of leggings and big baggy top! Comfort to the max.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do… I love Boohoo, Republic, Next. I don’t just stick with these though… If I see something, I like it, If I can afford it, I will buy it. Whether it be High Street or Designer… I will say, I’m partial to the odd charity shop too..you can get some excellent bargains sometimes if you shop in the right places, and not the same as everyone else is wearing!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I recently saw THE most amazing catsuit – tailored, but with palazzo pants – it was white, with embroidery..absolutely stunning.. I can see that, this year, on me, in Cyprus with a great big floppy hat and sunglasses! Perfect… one problem though…. It was one of those pop ups you get come up when browsing a certain social networking site and for the life of me I don’t know the name of the company who made it… so,if anyone can help??? Lol

Boots or Shoes?

As much as I love boots, it will always be the same for me… shoes all the way. They make the legs look longer and with a good heel, the calves look shapelier.. I just love them!!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career.

www.facebook.com/dancingdebimodel
https://twitter.com/dancingdebi
http://dancingdebi907.wix.com/debijanemodel

Ah Debi, it has been great chatting to you again and I’m so pleased that age has not been a barrier and that you can enjoy modelling once again. I think your photos look absolutely fab! The white catsuit sounds intriguing- I’m sure we’ll all be on the lookout for that -let’s hope you and it will be united soon!  Dear readers, have you gone back to doing something that you enjoyed as a teenager after a gap of many years, like Debbie?  Have you taken up netball or some other sport that you had once enjoyed?  Do tell of your experiences…I’d love to know 🙂

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Debi Jones. Photos are by Arrow Photography of London; Matt Allen; Paul Amey; Chris Mansfield; Marianima & Jilani.

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An Interview With Crystal Parade

A bit of sparkle and razzmatazz on the blog this week – Crystal Parade  is the UK’s premier partner and supplier of Preciosa Crystals, Swarovski Crystals, and Crystallised Swarovski Elements – as well as supplying fabrics, feathers, fringes, crinolin and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion, bridal and theming industries, among others.  I caught up with Wendy Miller, the Managing Director, to find out more about her sparkling inspiration and her passion for boots!

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Hi, my name is Wendy C. Miller. I’m an entrepreneur, Director/Producer of Musical Theatre, and Managing Director of Crystal Parade. I enjoy acting, gardening, singing, travelling, and spending time with close friends/family.

Crystal Parade was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation this year. What was the inspiration behind Crystal Parade?

The inspiration behind Crystal Parade was to essentially collaborate with the Creative Arts sector in a closer way. Having a certain amount of knowledge, experience and a great passion for the industry, my desire was to build an online business which could add further value to the marketplace by providing high quality products, specialist advice, innovative ideas and excellent customer service.

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Your main areas of speciality are providing all kinds of Swarovski Crystals, Preciosa Crystals, principal fabric, abstract fabric, fancy fabric, feathers, fringe, crinoline and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion and theming industries. You’ve recently supplied the products to embellish the outfits for Fleur East, Little Mix & Olly Mur’s dancers on X Factor, for example. How satisfying is it to see the finished costumes on stage that your company have helped to produce?

It is extremely satisfying to work with some of the world’s leading stylists, designers and artistes. We are very passionate about our business, our product range and the services we offer, the whole
team strive to provide excellence at every opportunity. The end result always gives us great pleasure and we are enormously proud of our collaborations.

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You also supply Swarovski Crystals, Crystallised Swarovski Elements and Preciosa Crystals and other such products for use in bridalwear, beauty, costumes, cardmaking, dance, equestrian,
jewellery and nail art. What products are most popular?

At Crystal Parade we have such a comprehensive range of high quality products to choose from, be that crystals, fabrics or trimmings, we find every industry has a different requirement. For instance our smaller sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals are extremely popular with nail artists and beauticians, and the larger sizes are used more for crystallizing dancewear, shoes and theatre costumes. The Crystal Clear and AB (aurora borealis) are easily our most popular colours in both Swarovski and Preciosa however, it depends on seasonal inspirations and of course which pantone colours are on trend. We’re always on hand to offer specialist advice whatever the requirement.

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You recently launched Crystal Parade TV where you showcase your latest ideas and fun projects which people can easily make – what has been your favourite “idea” or “project” which is featured
on the channel?

We have filmed around 10 episodes so far, crystallising different types of desirable objects for the home and garden, all of which are easy to make plus they look fantastic when complete. My favourite is a close call between the Marmite Jar episode & the Winter Lantern video . Both were interesting projects to work on and topical but the Winter Lantern episode features a cheeky cameo appearance by my cat so I would have to choose this purely for the entertainment value!

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What has been the most unusual item/ enquiry requested to be decorated with crystals?

As you can imagine, we receive all sorts of requests, some more interesting than others but one of the most unusual, not to mention humorous, enquiries we received when we first started out was to help crystallise a battery powered adult toy. Unfortunately we were unable to assist on that particular occasion!

Can you tell us about the Crystal Club?

The Crystal Club is an exclusive member’s only community for those who love to add sparkle to their lives and are dedicated to the art and craft of crystallising! Crystal Club members are able to build up ‘Sparkle Points’ every time they purchase from our website and then receive money off as well as receiving up to date information on all competitions, freebies, discounts, giveaways, special offers, downloads, projects, inspirational ideas plus all the latest news & workshop updates.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer products or services overseas too?

Yes we do, Crystal Parade are recognised in the industry as the source of creative inspiration. Known as the go-to supplier of crystals, fabrics, feathers and trimmings for both consumers and businesses, we regularly work with customers from Europe, Middle East & Africa, America & Australia.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

On the whole I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. We have a smart casual dress code in the office so I get to wear jeans every day, consequently I have lots of different types,styles and colours. Joe is my favourite brand. I usually team them with a cool pair of boots, shoes or brogues, a nice artistic shirt/top, finished with a funky scarf and nice handbag!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Apart from www.crystalparade.co.uk? 😀 I like Steve Madden for shoes & I love shopping in Waitrose!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I just got some new ankle boots from Moda in London but I need some more Joe Jeans

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Boots or Shoes?

It would have to be boots. I’m a huge fan of boots, plus we are currently working with the award winning musical Kinky Boots in London. We provide the crystals & fabrics for the show. You should see the boots! WOW!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more
about Crystal Parade.

Website – www.crystalparade.co.uk
Crystal Parade TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalParade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Parade/301559506525421
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CrystalParade1
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/crystalparade1/

It’s always a great pleasure to have a fellow fan of boots on the blog – I do love your fashion sense too, Wendy – you can never have enough boots, shoes or jeans I say! (Plus the odd glamorous dress or two)  I will try to get to see Kinky Boots – if only to witness the boots themselves! And as for the request for a crystallised adult toy…. Ah, dear readers, are you into crystal embellishments? What fashion/footwear item would you love to embellish? Dare I say it, but any other items?   Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Crystal Parade except for the shoe photo.Last photo: Daily Mail 
[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3357710/Girl-power-Little-Mix-Fleur-East-leggy-display-team-epic-mash-hit-singles-star-X-Factor-final.html ]

Shoe photo credit: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Bling Art

Talking nails this week…false nails to be exact.  I do love my nail enamels but my nails are very short – not bitten – but short on purpose.  I like to type and use my iPhone using the pads on the top of my fingers and long nails just get in the way.  I’ve tried growing them and I did succeed. I have had the shellac treatment and my nails looked lovely, however I couldn’t use my phone properly, and besides, I prefer the convenience of having short stubby nails that I can paint on a whim.  False nails never crossed my mind. I did try false nails once, in April 1988… they were long, awful looking and a relief when they fell off. So when my guest, Sophia of Bling Art, sent me some of her modern false nails to see if she could change my mind, I wasn’t very confident.  I reasoned that stubby nails don’t look right on an evening out, so I agreed to give them a whirl.  Here is a rather unflattering picture of my hand in its usual state:

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I had 3 evenings out to try the new nails.  The kits themselves are nicely packaged and apart from nails, there’s a file and plenty of glue.  Finding a false nail that corresponds to the width of my own nail, I applied a small blob of glue onto my clean nail and onto the false nail, and pressed them together, holding for a second or two to set.  As easy as that. I was able to file the nails like you would do to give them a natural shape and look – these nails were a “medium” length – long enough to look elegant, short enough to look, dare I say it? ….Natural.  The nail photos are all my own nails. What do you think? So was I converted?  For a special evening out I would definitely consider them.  The nails stayed put – they last around 5 days, and are scratch resistant. No chipped nail polish! 

Let’s welcome onto my blog Sophia ….

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Hi!  I am Sophia Aziz. I am a mother of 2, married 20 years. I have a passion for nails and I am the founder of Bling Art. We are more than simply a seller of false nails, we not only design but manufacture our nails under our brand Bling Art.

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What was the inspiration behind setting up Bling Art?

I have always loved nail art. As a child I would play dress up with friends and I would always know which colours or styles would suit who. Unfortunately, as I aged I realised my hand eye co-ordination was nowhere near as good as I needed to pursue my passion as a full time career. At this time, false nails were only really available at salons, having your nails done was an “experience”, a chance to catch up with friends and unwind. However over the years I noticed not only more and more cheap Chinese imports of false nails being available in markets and on stalls but also exponential growth in the number of nail “booths” opening. The demand for nail art was growing but the selection of false nails, particularly with regard to design and quality were few and far between. There were so many unanswerables e.g. glue safety, staff training and qualifications and to be honest the booths made me feel like cattle, with rows of us sitting and waiting to be “processed”. So I decided, there must be more women like me, who loved nail art but didn’t have the time to maintain nails that would look glamorous with nail varnish and were not prepared to pay budget prices in salon booths. Instead, I took the view I would prefer to do my own nails and if only I could make designs that were not only amazing and appealing but could be perfectly reproduced so women like me could sit at home, enjoy “me” time and not worry about safety and quality, instead focus on adding the nails and recapturing the childhood girly innocence of enjoying the nail art experience.This time with a stunning design and made from superior quality.

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Have you always had a passion for nails?

 YES….always, from as far back as I could remember. I am the little girl who would be doing something to everybody else’s hands during sleepovers.  I wish I could have been a nail technician with the skill to create what I see in my mind. True nail art is spectacular and I believe the artists (yes, I see them as “artists” and not simply nail technicians) are not credited as much as they should be.

Why do you think false nails have come back into fashion?

Personally, I believe it is due to a number of factors:

  •  the number 1 reason I think is the internet coupled with mobile phone photography technology, apps like Instagram, Facebook and social media in general have had a direct impact on what I call “social media friendly products”.
  • Nails are social media friendly, e.g.: post a beautiful set of nails and the chances are people (women) will click more than if you showed a bottle of milk.
  • Nails have benefitted because they do not require a woman to “dress up” for her selfie or be conscious of what else is in the photo. She won’t be judged on her appearance but rather she is complimented / critiqued on the nails she is showing.E.g.: take a few minutes out from a busy day, apply nails in me time, simple to use, easy to follow instructions, quality, consistent and durable product. Take a pic on my phone, share with my friends and hey ho I feel good and off I go J
  • Improved designs and production techniques. The quality of the nails has significantly improved over the last decade. All our nails are made from abs virgin plastic and our products have been subjected to numerous tests and procedures before being classified as safe.
  • Price – The massive growth in booths in towns and cities across the UK and market nail salons has not only driven prices down but by competing at the prices they do, but by dropping prices as aggressively as they have done, they unwittingly bridged pricing gulf that used to exist between false nails and professional salons.

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I particularly like the Bling Art False Nails French Manicure Metallic Light Green. What nails are proving popular so far?

I am glad to know you love our Light Green. I LOVE our gel nails in particular, Athena, Valentina, Fuchsia and Andromeda. If anybody has shied away from false nails and prefers gel nails, then you must try our new ready-made selection. These nails are extremely glossy and to add the extra sparkle we have embedded glitter into the finishing process. This not only brings the nails to life but gives them an ultra-smooth finish. Our most popular nails are Red 4 Danger and Purple for Joy. These nails are gorgeous, it really has to be seen to be believed. My favourite is Our Matte Black Nail, this is the most popular nail globally, it is chic, elegant and I guess black is the universal colour.

I left my nails on until they dropped off naturally, but how best do you remove a nail if you cannot wait for it to drop off naturally?

There are a number of ways to remove the false nails, I prefer to soak them in hot water after 5 days or so and they gently come away. You can use any acetone based cleaner and it will do pretty much the same thing but given the number of other “removers” I have in my life, I am happy with soaking my hands in warm water as it feels good.

Can they be re-used?

Yes, but would I recommend it…NO, the time, energy and effort you expend to clean the old glue off etc. . I think it is more cost effective to purchase and wear a brand new set

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you pick to be the “hands” of Bling Art nails?

I don’t have to do hypothetically, thank god Adele said “hello” after 3 years because if you watched the Brit awards she was wearing the most spectacular stiletto nails! I choose Adele as our perfect role model because she loves nails and is amazing. You listen to Adele because her songs take you places, her voice is unbelievable and everybody recognises it. She does not play up to the unattainable standards the media expects of women. She does not pretend she is super slim and always looks perfect unlike women like the Kardashians portray/ project. Instead Adelle is a talented singer and songwriter and she is respected for this. I  think women like the Kardashians, the wags, the Instagram models and others are unhealthy for the girls of today, ladies of tomorrow. Adele gives girls/women who have not been blessed with today’s version of what beauty is, the confidence to pursue their dreams and see her as living proof that talent is what counts. Our nails, I hope give women that same feeling, a way to express themselves and use medium like social media in a positive woman friendly way. They can simply apply them and if they feel like, take a picture and share (if they wish). No need to add makeup, pout like a goldfish, dress up and worry about everything else a visual selfie might entail.

Where can people buy your nails and do you deliver outside the UK?

Our Nails are available to buy online from our website as well as on Amazon and eBay. We have managed to amass a loyal following globally and in order to improve service standards and particularly delivery times we have our nails in the Amazon depots in US, UK,DE, FR, IT, and ES. Therefore any orders placed in these countries means women can enjoy the same delivery times as our UK customers enjoy. In time we hope to work with strategic partners and make them readily available in retail environments globally.

Any new nail ranges coming out soon?

We have a brand new selection of 25 + Stiletto Nails to our range. It has taken us years to perfect and I am very excited as I know not only have we cracked it on the design and quality but the quality is out of this world. My only worry is getting our pictures to do the nails justice. I think for this collection we will need to show them using hd video.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wear business attire during the day, smart black pants, white blouse topped off with a coat and boots. I know I should wear comfortable shoes but boots do it for me (and I am the boss) so I wear black suede ankle boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I must confess I am lipstick mad and my favourite online store is Mac. I find the site so engaging and the colours on offer are so rich and intense. If I have a busy day I often find myself looking through their offerings and treating myself to the latest colour.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/ bag wish list?

Most probably red boots with a shade of lipstick to match!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots most definitely. I am passionate about beautiful designer boots. Not the sky high heels( I’d break my ankles and neck ) just the ones that at first you don’t notice but when you do you can’t take your eyes off of them. Beautiful boots complement most outfits and if possible I will wear them over shoes any day. They give me confidence, a little more height and are perfect for the British weather.

Links you would like to share:

www.blingart.co.uk

www.artplus.uk

Thank you for persuading me to give false nails a try Sophia!  Dear readers, look out for the new nail styles coming out later this month – stiletto nails no less! Have you any nail tales to tell?  Have you tried false nails or are you a proud owner of natural long nails? Do tell!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Nail pics – Linda Hobden

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An Interview With The Pommier

Independent online retailer, The Pommier, has launched a brand new app giving users the chance to shop for stunning artisanal fashion accessories from the palm of their hand. The chance to see the styles created by independent designers in one place interested me … the bags, jewellery and other accessories are simply gorgeous!  I caught up with Lewis Phillips, the founder of The Pommier, to find out more about the app and the fabulous designers whose bags etc are showcased.  Hi Lewis!

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Hi! My name is Lewis Phillips, I am 28 years young and I am the founder of the online marketplace, ThePommier.com

Although The Pommier is a successful independent online retailer, what was the inspiration behind developing an e-commerce app for The Pommier?

Everything I do for The Pommier, I always think from the customer’s point of view. We naturally get a lot of traffic from mobile users but mobile sales have stayed steady. Understanding that people use their phones to browse websites usually when commuting or relaxing at home, I realised that punching in our website on your browser was slightly forgettable but opening an app was more convenient. Through our App, we can also keep customers in the loop as soon as something happens by sending notifications direct to their phone.

There are a few fashion websites, blogs and apps that offer fashion ideas and items, so what makes The Pommier so appealing to customers?

The Pommier is a destination for fashion enthusiasts to break away from the high street mass produced accessories. We focus solely on hand made jewellery and bags that are mainly created by the hands of the designer themselves. All of our designers are independent brands usually working on their own. Our focus is to discover the best emerging designers and connect them with a larger audience and vice versa.

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I love the heady mix of accessories available on your website & app – from novelty necklaces to high end handbags; 80s inspired earrings to delicate charm bracelets. I’m a fan of the bags by Meckela, an Israeli designer that you feature. What kind of items are most popular with your customers?

I am glad you said that, Meckela has recently just joined us and I am pretty excited to see what the future holds for them as they are becoming popular pretty quickly! Necklaces seem to be very popular right now especially from Tadam! Design and London Bird but the most sought after designers in general are Tessa Metcalfe and Momocreatura.

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Many of the designers featured are from the UK, but others are from Lithuania, Israel, Italy, USA, France and Netherlands too. Are the items available to be purchased & shipped globally?

Our designers ship worldwide and 95% of them ship worldwide for free too!

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Being the founder of The Pommier, have you always wanted to pursue a career in the fashion world or did you have other aspirations?

I have always been interested in fashion but I never knew I would pursue a career in it by no means. A lot of my friends are either jewellery designers or shop owners and I was always fascinated by what they where doing. I am no good with my hands so making a jewellery line was out of the question and I never had a lot money so starting a shop wasn’t possible at the time. I was more into the internet side of things and had managed a few online projects for jewellery stores when the idea of The Pommier came to me. I realised that everyone I was helping all had the same problem and that was getting noticed. The Pommier is a platform where I can help thousands of people at once with only one platform to manage. I started to build the website in my spare time, put a few of my friends on there and then more designers started to come so I went full speed ahead and I am really enjoying it.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am going to sound a little like Simon Cowell now ha! I usually always have a plain white T-shirt with black jeans and some flat soul Vans on a normal day but I love a pair of tracksuit bottoms when I am relaxing. When I’m heading out I like to add a bit of punk/mod to my style. Growing up I was very punk rock influenced.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own)

There’s a store called Sherry’s Carnaby Street that I love going into – all their clothes are handmade and it’s a proper Mod’s & Rockers boutique. I brought the best two tone suit from there and I can’t resist a re-visit when I am in the area.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/ bag wish list?

I definitely need to get my hands on Momocreatura’s Spirit of Love Ring and I really want a black Burberry Suit with the the traditional burberry check on the inside. These are like lusts I have had for ages haha.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, because I have never tried wearing boots. I probably should?

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Pommier.

www.thepommier.com

www.facebook.com/thepommier

www.instagram.com/thepommier

Thanks for visiting us on the blog Lewis – there are quite a few things I’m lusting after on your app/website – having an app is a great idea.  You took me back to memory lane – I loved shopping in Carnaby Street – I used to have a pair of blue/lilac two tone trousers – ah, the 80’s!  My favourite item from there, my first major purchase as a 16 year old with my first wages, was a full length black leather coat!  Sweet memories!  Dear readers, do you remember your first outfit bought with your first wage packet? I’d love to know, so come on, spill the beans & comment below! 🙂

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission from Lewis Phillips/The Pommier.

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Between The Lines

An extra post this week you lucky readers!

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Every Tuesday, for the next 9 weeks, the blog Katherine’s Corner is shining the light on bloggers aged 50 plus from around the world – and I’m just so excited to be included as part of her blog series “Between The Lines” featuring bloggers aged from 50 that you should be following!

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So, what do I feel about being a blogger at the age of 50?  I love it.  When I started blogging backin the summer of 2012, I was looking at concentrating on talking about just fashion and shoes ….. Then I realised that I was meeting interesting people when I was out and about, and online through networking … And pretty soon my “An Interview” series was born.  It is great chatting to people about their passions and if that fashion includes a fetish for shoes… even better! I interviewed a councillor a few years back who was in charge of the running of the Northampton Shoe Museum … after the interview he admitted to me how much he actually enjoyed talking about what lurks in his wardrobe!

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Katherine asked me and some fellow bloggers a couple of probing questions on her site … So go ahead and check out the post and discover some new blogs to read in the process too!

Between the Lines Featured Bloggers

Catch up with you all again on Friday!

Linda x

 

 

 

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