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!


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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

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!


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.


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 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!


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’s hard to embrace that when you’ve spent your life dreading it. I recently hit the menopause, the weight went 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!


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 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 !


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!


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 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.

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!


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.



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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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 😀 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


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 –
Crystal Parade TV –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Pinterest –

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 
[ ]

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:


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 ….


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.


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.


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.


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


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:

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!


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

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.

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!


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!


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!


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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Just Say It

“Communication always leaves me incomplete,
The grass is greener, but it’s grown beneath my feet…
Love inspiration is a message on a wing,
But I have left it in the words you’ll never sing…

Communication let me down,
And I’m left here
Communication let me down,
And I’m left here, I’m left here again!……”

As Spandau Ballet’s song “Communication” plays in my mind, it seems a great intro to my guest this week,  Dr Cheryl Bauman, whose book “Just Say It” explores the power of the spoken word. Inspired by the change in her own relationships, Cheryl encourages people to use face-to-face communication whenever possible and to  wean off of relying on social media to develop and maintain connections with others.  I caught up with Cheryl to discover more as well as to indulge in a bit of fashion passion too….


Thank you so much Linda for inviting me as a guest on your blog site and for interviewing me in this capacity. I truly appreciate it. I am very excited to discuss my new book called, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER! “My name is Dr. Cheryl Bauman. I am very grateful for the ways that God has faithfully blessed my life. I have been married to my husband Pino for 18 years and we have a beautiful 12 year old daughter named Sara. We reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I have worked in the education field for over 25 years. I have been very blessed to have had a number of roles within the educational system including university professor, principal, learning support consultant, special education teacher and guidance counsellor. I received my Doctor of Education from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and I was awarded the ACEL Queensland Research in Educational Leadership and Management Award. Currently, I am teaching for the Faculty of Education Departments at several Canadian universities and I work on research projects for an International university. I also own a consulting firm where I provide workshops, seminars and consulting services to large and small private and public corporations. God has provided me with the gifting of communication and I gladly share this gifting with others through speaking, researching and writing.
As I was writing this book, I drew upon many life experiences that included those as a wife, mother, educator and consultant.


Congratulations on publishing your book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That will Change Your Life FOREVER” – a book that explores the power of the spoken word and focuses on the importance of self-worth, positivity, forgiveness, spirituality and purpose. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

As I mentioned above, I have been working in the education field for over 25 years. As a result of this experience, I have had the privilege of being in contact with many people of all ages and walks of life. Presently,as well through the writing and publicizing of my book, this privilege continues to grow and my passion regarding the essential message that there is power in the spoken word is forever increasing. This book was birthed out of many life lessons and I acknowledge that I have been both the sender and receiver of unkind words. In my book,  I confess that I am not perfect, however, by understanding the power that is in the spoken word, by speaking words of encouragement out loud, I found that it confirmed to others what I thought about them. I also noted that our relationships changed for the better. As I watched my relationships flourish due to being purposeful with the words that I spoke I decided to become increasingly more purposeful with my speech and to form a habit to speak genuine, positive messages to the people in my life every single day. I decided to make this a priority in my life, to be grateful for the many blessings that I have and to let people know what a blessing they are to my life and to those around them. I believe that we all hold within us the power to choose whether we will speak positive messages to others filled with hope and truth or speak negative discouraging messages. I also believe that at some level everyone has the desire to fit in, to be cared for, and to belong. I value that our attitude is a mindset, and what we believe we will achieve. If you believe and want to form a habit of speaking positive words of truth to others, then I encourage you to begin today! We all have a responsibility as parents, spouses, co-workers, supervisors, grandparents, aunts and uncles to speak words of life and encouragement into the people in both our inner and outer circles so that they can grow to the potential they were created for on this earth. Through many life lessons I know that the good news that I am writing about in this book works! I have chosen to be a person who builds others up by giving them the gift of encouragement. I believe that you can also discover firsthand that there is power in speaking positive truths aloud to people in conversations. Through the power of the spoken word you can encourage the people around you to fulfill their purpose here on earth! I encourage people not to wait until someone retires from work, or until you say the eulogy at a loved one’s funeral to let others know what you think about them. In my book I challenge readers to begin a worldwide phenomenon and Just Say It! every single day to someone in your life. Choose to be the difference! “I believe in you”. I know you can do it!

You believe that effective communication is personal, positive and purposeful; also you feel that we are relying heavily on social media to develop and maintain connections with each other. How important is face to face communication?

Unfortunately, I have been noticing a real steady decline in the way that some people are interacting with others. As a society some of us are becoming less social. As well some of us are not nurturing our usage of face-to-face communication to build and maintain our relationships in a personal way. Instead, some of us are relying solely on social media to connect with each other and to continue relationships that also require face-to-face communication and verbal connection in order to maintain a healthy balance. There is definitely an increase in the use of social media, and for some time now, I have been contemplating the question, “is social media making us less social?” I have also been noting that some people are becoming more isolated and disconnected. People are created to be connected with each other. We are designed to be in right relationship with others. We all have a need to belong and to find our purpose in life. We are not designed to be alone. As some people become more and more isolated, I have recognized that some people are more sad, and less kind towards each other, and also most notably less encouraging and kind to themselves. Statistics support an increase in depression and mental illness. People who live under a cloud of negativity do not believe that they belong and are cared for; they lose their direction in life, their sense of purpose, and their willingness to seek resolution. I believe face-to-face communication is essential to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Most of us have the unique opportunity of communicating with many people throughout the course of our day. The people in our lives may include people who are both in our inner circle, such as our family members, and people in our outer circle such as our neighbours and co-workers. I believe that these opportunities are a gift that we can positively pass along to others. I believe face-to-face communication is essential, however, I will qualify that by stating that geographical constraints often play a role in not permitting people to have these very vital face-to-face communication opportunities. If you live far away from the important people in your life, then Skype and/or the telephone is a great way to connect and still be able to at least hear the tone of a their voice. If you work in one city and need to communicate with companies in another city, of course modern technology is the most effective and efficient form of communication. I believe that social media is definitely here to stay and I also believe that it is a very effective tool in communication, but we must not neglect the importance of face-to-face communication. We must continue to nurture relationships based on our human need to belong and to care for each other. Body language and tone of voice are essential components of verbal communication that we are missing out on if we completely rely on texts or e-mails to communicate. In my book, I talk about the fact that many misinterpretations are happening because people are relying solely on technology to communicate. I address the fact that many problems could be avoided if we had face-to-face conversations where we could look people in the eye, they could view our body language and we could view theirs as well as hear their tone of voice. I also discuss how we must be personal, positive and purposeful with our verbal communication. It is essential to our well-being and the well-being of others around us.


Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from. What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you have learned from your life experiences so far?

Linda, you ask some great questions!

I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that I always make a purposeful effort to be genuine, honest and positive with people. Due to some extremely priceless lessons in life, I believe that we all have a choice to decide as to how we are going to interact with others. Are we going to view others in terms of their strengths and encourage them with their strengths? Or are we going to focus on their weaknesses and discourage them by always pointing out their mistakes? My perception is that it is very easy for people to find fault with others and to continually be critical of them. Finding fault with others does not take a lot of talent or skill. In many facets of the current world we live in, it is being emphasized and modelled that it is OK to be critical, to say cruel and mean things to each other. Saying and doing cruel things seems to be the norm. We don’t have to look very far for this unfortunate truth, we just need to turn on the TV and listen to some of the reality TV shows that are being hailed as “reality”. What I believe to be more challenging in this day and age that we live in is to focus on the strengths and talents of people, to uplift and admonish them. In my book I am encouraging people to make saying kind, genuine, truthful words to be the new norm. I am encouraging people to begin a worldwide Just Say It! phenomenon and to use the spoken word as a powerful and positive encouragement tool.

Although you live in Canada, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Information as to how to purchase my book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER” is available on my website as well as on-line through and throughout the world as numerous on-line book distributing companies carry my book. If readers have a favourite on-line book distributing company that they normally buy from they can enter the name of my book and my name and there is a high possibility that their distributing company does carry my book.  I encourage you to start the worldwide phenomenon to Just Say It! Post your success stories on my website! Also on my website you will find a free downloadable study guide, bookmarks and postcards.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I am currently working on a Just Say It! book series. I have completed the second book in the series and I am now writing the third. I have already outlined the fourth!

I am also writing chapters in two educational books. One of the books should be released in December, 2016. It is entitled ” Cultures of Leadership: Exploring educational leadership across cultures”. The second educational book will be out in late 2016 or early 2017. It will be called, “Leading, Learning and Aligning: Keys to sustaining school improvement”. So, watch for these books as well, especially if you are in the educational field.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I enjoy reading various genres. I love books and I love reading. Our house is filled with books, and I always have two or three on the go at one time. Some of my favourite types of books are autobiographies and biographies. I love learning about people’s lives. I also enjoy reading suspense novels with an action/adventure plot; mystery books; self-help, motivational and books about business; and educational literature. Due to the fact that I am a university professor, my work involves a great deal of purposeful reading to both enhance my professional growth as well as the knowledge and skills of the students that I teach.


You earned your doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia; although you currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. What do you love about being in Canada? What place is at the top of your “Must See” Travel bucket list?

I really love living in Canada. Canada has so much to offer in terms of varied geography and the four seasons. We are able to experience spring, summer, fall and winter. Although, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in my opinion, our winters are just a bit too long…. Canada has the rocky mountains, the flat plains of the prairie provinces and the red sand in Prince Edward Island. Where we live in Ottawa, we have beautiful beaches, bike paths, hiking/jogging trails and ski hills. I enjoy the freedom that Canada provides for both me and my family. Our daughter is provided with an excellent education through our public school system and she also has the opportunity to play sports both at school and after school. Our immediate extended families live near us. Although, some of our relatives live further away in other countries. We are fortunate and feel blessed that we can visit them from time to time. The United Kingdom is on my “Must See” Travel bucket list. I have never been there before. Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to travel and visit the UK. I believe one day this dream will come true!

Confession time! Do you have a favourite social media platform that you enjoy using on a personal basis? Does it differ from your favourite business medium?

I enjoy using both facebook and twitter. Due to the fact that my life is extremely busy, as I am sure most of the readers’ lives are as well, I do not spend a lot of time on social media. However, my business and book series are promoted on Facebook and Twitter.

When you’re not writing, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I really enjoy sports and staying active. I have tons of energy and I believe it is important to stay fit and to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle! I run three to four times a week, often with my husband and sometimes with our daughter, Sara. Although Sara is now much faster than I am, so she will speed ahead of me! When the weather becomes colder and there is snow on the ground, we have a treadmill in the basement, so we all take turns to run on it. That is one of the downfalls of our Canadian winter weather. The up-side to having snow and ice is that I enjoy participating in winter sports such as downhill skiing and skating.  In Ottawa, where I live,there is an outdoor skating rink that runs along the Rideau Canal. The cleared length of the canal is 7.8 kilometers or 4.8 miles. This is the equivalent surface area of 90 Olympic hockey rinks. As a family, we enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal. I  also enjoy cooking. I like creating main dishes and experimenting with ingredients and recipes. I have a lot of fun doing this and my family and friends enjoy eating my food, so I take it that my experimentation with ingredients is working! Our daughter Sara plays competitive soccer in a provincial development league. Pino and I are busy running her to practices or watching her play games. This is her passion and it has become ours! As a family we are active in our local church. We also love spending time up at the lake. It is a generational family residence. As a family we like to travel and explore new places. I believe these times that we set aside to connect with each other as a family are foundational to our growth and communication. The memories that we create through these quality life experiences continue to strengthen our bonds and love for each other.

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

So excited to answer fashion and shoe questions. Linda, you have really provided me with an opportunity to talk about my favourite loves which are writing, reading, fashion and footwear. This site is truly the BEST! To answer this question about what type of outfits and shoes I would normally be found wearing, it depends on the context. I play sports and I run about 3-4 times per week, so I can be found in jogging shorts and track pants to a business suit to a very formal evening gown.


This red leather jacket is one of my favourites. I like to buy jackets that serve a dual purpose. A jacket makes a statement about a person’s fashion. I believe a jacket is a stand-a-lone outfit. I always want to ensure that when I “step out” that my clothes define who I am. Living in Canada I have many jackets to keep me warm, as that is a requirement for the cold climate. So, I am very purposeful in the jackets that I buy.

Do you have any favourite shops?

I often shop at a store called Winners. Winners stores are found throughout Canada and they are also connected to the TJ MAXX stores in the United States. Winners’ stores offer a great selection of designer clothing, shoes and boots at discount pricing. I really enjoy getting a deal on my purchases. I also believe in buying quality clothing and footwear, as I like my clothing and footwear to fit well, to last a long time and to look good. In Ottawa we also have stores called “Jones New York”. These stores are throughout Canada and the United States, as well as online. I really like to buy a lot of my work clothing at the Jones New York stores, as the style suits me and the cut of the clothing fits me well. I buy a lot of Anne Klein clothing as well. For my sports clothing and equipment I often shop at Sport Chek which is another store found throughout Canada and online.

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

I believe it is “better to give then to receive”. I enjoy buying presents for others, especially clothing and footwear. My mother’s birthday is coming up shortly and she has told my daughter that she wants a pair of Nike shoes exactly the same as Sara’s. I think this is great, as my mom is going to be 75 years young! She is still very active and in great shape. The Nike shoes for my mom will be the next piece of footwear on my list of purchases! I have my eye on a navy sweater dress. Any shade of blue is my favourite colour. I also love wearing dresses, especially with a great pair of leggings or tights and a pair of boots. I can often be found wearing a dress at any time and for any occasion – even when I am watching Sara play soccer. I find dresses just so comfortable!

image Continue reading Just Say It

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An Interview With Hair Development

Talking hair this week with Hair Development, a company founded in 1962, who are not only celeb hair extension specialists but they also specialise in hair loss methods and procedures.  From making bespoke hair extensions for films & TV – including projects such as Strictly Come Dancing, Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord Of The Rings – to supplying over 45 different hair colour extensions in such vivid colours as Peacock Blue and Cerise – there is not much this company doesn’t know about hair! I caught up with Janis, daughter of Stan Levy, the founder, to learn more about the ins and outs of hair!

Hi! I’m Janis Levy MTTS, Creative Director at Hair Development

In 1962, Hair Development was founded. What was the reasoning behind setting up the company?

My father, Stan Levy MTTS , CEO of Hair Development, founded the company in 1962 after training and working as a hairdresser in Knightsbridge and Paris. He is known as the UK’s Guru of Hair Replacement and highly respected and loved in the industry.

Hair Development can create bespoke solutions for all clients suffering from hair loss, from laser re-growth therapy to state-of-the-art non-surgical procedures. What are main causes of traction alopecia? What is the most popular treatment?

Traction Alopecia can be caused by many reasons including: Pulling of the hair into buns that are too tight; Continuously curling hair tightly around rollers against the scalp. Trichotillomania , the compulsion to wind hair around the fingers and pull it out. Over bleaching and brushing too vigorously. Continuously using hair relaxer, pulling it too much can cause the hair to weaken and break.


Another string to Hair Development’s bow is specialising in 100% human hair extensions and can offer over 45 colours to salons, stylists and the public. Latest colours include Peacock Blue, Orangeade, Cerise Pink & Purple People. Which colours were most popular this season? 

Winter brought festive shades, fiery reds through to warm chestnuts and honey blondes, warmth from hilites and hues to remind us of the taste and colours of the season, cinnamon, chestnut and clove.

Your company has made bespoke hair extensions for TV & film projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, 42nd Street, Spitting Image and Strictly Come Dancing. How exciting is it to see your creations on the screen? Any projects for 2016 planned?

The Hair Development research and design team work to ensure that this industry is constantly improving, finding new and innovative ways to create only the very best for our clients. We recently supplied hair that was 100 metres long for an artist’s incredible installation. 2016 will show the launch of more exciting products in our ever developing range. We look forward to a brand new product in the Spring. And we love seeing HD Hair adorning people on the stage, screen, theatre and High Street.


Have you got any tips for readers who may wish to get extensions yet keep a healthy scalp?

The most important thing is to use a company who are ethical and trustworthy. This is a specialised industry so it is vital to place yourself in the hands of someone with knowledge, expertise and who comes highly recommended. Hair Development are proud to be the only Extensions Company in the UK recommended by the highly prestigious Trichological Society. HD’s aftercare is also second to none. Our team are always here to advise and help you.

For stylists, you offer training in all methods of hair applications. What is the most popular training course offered?

Our HD Training Academy offers courses in every method of Hair Replacement and Hair Extensions. One of the most popular courses currently is M-Fold, an incredible method that uses no heat, no glue, no chemical and no damage to the hair. Students will be awarded with a certificate after completion of training.

Have you any plans to add to your repertoire in the future, for example, new treatments, shampoo range etc?

HD is developing a new range of products as we speak! These products will be free of anything artificial, yet have a natural gender-free fragrance. Our new laser therapy is proving to be extremely popular too. It stimulates blood circulation to stimulate hair growth and strengthen each individual hair follicle.


You are based in London – are your services/products available for international customers?

Yes, Hair Development ship worldwide daily.

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

Paige or AG jeans with Uniqlo or American Vintage Tees! I will only climb onto heels and platforms if necessary.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Love BooHoo & Amazon online. Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis on the street. I’m also backing the #supportyourlocalshops campaign.

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

Anything shiny by LV! Fresh, soft cotton, well-cut T-Shirts are always a must. I think it stems back to my modelling days, when we were always told to wear jeans and plain T’s for casting and auditions! I remember wearing my favourite baby blue T-Shirt when I auditioned for the Flake ad!

Boots or Shoes?

Adidas Superstars. Walk everywhere! But I bought orange DM’s when my daughter was buying shoes (just because …!)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Hair Development.


Hairdevelopment1 (Instagram)

Extensionshairdevelopment (Instagram)

Thank you Janis for telling us all about hair extensions – when applied properly they do look fantastic- and I love the variety of colours available! Dear readers, do you have hair extensions? Would you have them? Would you be daring enough to try a bright colour ? Do tell!

Linda x

Photos:  Extension photo supplied with kind permission from Hair Development.  Models pictures supplied by Pixabay.


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An Interview With Durga Universe

Hailing from Amsterdam, new designer brand, Durga Universe, created by Dorit Kozlovski, brings a spiritual edge to contemporary fashion. The collection is a delicious mix of eccentricity, extravagance and colour – all underpinned by the brand’s motto of “reuse, reduce & recycle”.  This is daring fashion at its very best and not one for shrinking violets!  I caught up with Dorit to discover what makes her tick and what actually lurks in her closet…..


Hello lovely Boots Shoes and Fashion readers! I’m happy to contribute to this wonderful blog. I am Dorit, the creator and designer of Durga Universe. As the name Universe suggests – it is where everyone and everything exists. The fire Goddess Durga is my highest self / deity according to an Indian magi astrologist. (Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine feminine energy/ power that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. Durga slays negative traits and is the joy in the cosmic dance of life.) These powerful names give me complete freedom to create sustainable fashion, music, art, shows and involve amazing artists of all areas! My mission is not only to create, but shed the light on a love based economy, where mass-production, greed and exploitation of people and resources have no room! I promote conscious consumerism.

What inspired you to launch Durga Universe?

I’ve always loved creativity. Living in Amsterdam for 10 years, I realized that creativity was a way to distract the mind from the desires that Amsterdam offers. This was really important for myself and  my friends around me, who were all captured by an unhealthy lifestyle, yet at the same time so inspired by Amsterdam and the deep exploration of the almighty consciousness. In my darkest times, Durga was always the light at the end of the tunnel. The more I’ve been diving into the creativity, the happier I feel.


Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I’ve always had passion for beauty and fashion by expressing through colours and mismatching styles, mainly rebelling against the political constraints or people’s mindset. Many other reasons, for example: growing up in the Soviet Union, within the grey dullness; my father having been sentenced for 4 years in prison for secretly exporting vintage clothes to Estonia for “capitalist” activity; people wearing certain clothing in what was considered to be “appropriate” for the style of music or group setting –  got me to express myself passionately. My dear friend,  Manchester born Zoe Edge, says it well in a song we produced together “Be a lion,not a sheep”. I think that has also become the motto of Durga.

The collection is eccentric, extravagant, and brimming with a kaleidoscope of edgy colours – I do so love colour- what was the inspiration for the vibrant collection?

Durga is all about colour. To liven up the streets from being dominated by grey, black and blue shades, that seem to be absorbed by the masses. To awaken to oneself as a God/ Goddess and realise that we are all responsible for how we live our life and how we live/think/feel/perceive each day. Durga creations emphasize the uniqueness of each and every one of us, therefore, they are one of a kind designs that I try not to define as a “collection”.  A collection to me is the notion of time and season, whilst Durga is about creating timeless designs not constrained by specific year or season.


I totally love the “Durga Psychadelic Metamorphosis Butterfly Dress” and the  “Extravagant Eccentric Vibrant Purple Faux Fur Coat”. What outfits have proved popular so far this season? Have you got a personal favourite?

Thank you very much. I can’t define the popularity of Durga designs in a particular season. When I checked the favourites that people have chosen in the Durga Universe Etsy shop, the most attention has been given to the up-cycled art coats/ jackets for men by graffiti artist Cian Muggler and my crochet blended colorful scarf dresses.

My personal favourite is the Ethnic Eccentric Faux Fur coat, it reminds me of Mongolian shamanism, Asian spirituality, accentuated with glam rock faux fur. The coat combines so many different elements, even pieces of my sons’ red vintage jeans…


All your photo shoots feature local talent and locations that showcase the allure of Amsterdam. It certainly is a fantastic city and really epitomises your motto – daring fashion for urban gods and goddesses. Have you got any favourite locations in Amsterdam?  Where was the most oddest/most daring photoshoot spot?

Amsterdam is truly the playground for magic and creativity. The oddest shooting was in my favourite bar, the Blarney Stone. After 2 attempts of filming a bar scene for the video “Forgiveness”, after getting the whole crew together – firstly, there was a problem with camera; second time,the light.  On the third attempt, the gathering of people for our shoot disappeared and our leading man Tom could not stay.  However, we found a Welsh rugby team enjoying a stag party in the bar. I asked them all to get involved in the set: as security for holding  back the crowds passing by during the filming and of course, the stag himself playing the actor part. It was getting very dangerous as the shoot was going on a long time… some team members got a bit messy and the expensive equipment was in jeopardy! It really tested the patience of Xander productions and Visual Susana. As crazy as it was with all the mad energy in and outside of the Blarney; it surely was the most odd and funniest experience so far during the set.

Which famous lady and gent would you love to see as the “faces” of Durga Universe?

A Durga bearer can be anyone appreciating a bit of magic, daring, perhaps in the path of reconnecting with one’s true nature. I do admire free spirits, those not afraid to express themselves. It would be an honour if Roisin Murphy would wear Durga. My new project – 100% hemp coats representing Goddesses/ Gods painted by different artists should be completed by the end of Spring 2016. I would love to ask Sinead O’ Connor to wear one of the coats (perhaps the “Tree of Life”), to remind her how significant her music and poetry has been in raising awareness about paganism, showing true emotions, standing up against injustice. She was such an inspiration to me as a teenager. Perhaps I could regain her faith in herself and humanity. I could imagine Ian Brown from Stone Roses wearing the Fireface jacket painted by artist Cian Muggler.


You have travelled far and wide and Durga’s textile inventory includes ethnic handwoven textiles handmade by local Laos artisans, luxurious Indian silks, rare faux fur and vintage fabrics. What do you look for when choosing your textiles? What place/country impresses you most with its array of textiles?

Fabrics that are inspiring, colourful and have some sort of emotional value are unique and sustainable. I mostly go with the feeling and a lot of times, I get an idea when I see a certain fabric. Some fabrics are gifts from friends or family that later evolve into ideas. For example, the Long Classic Peacock Dress is made from  sari material given to me by my mother years ago when she visited India and I just recently got an idea to make it into an open back dress with a longer back flair.


As you are based in Amsterdam, are your clothes available to overseas customers?

Absolutely. I have an online webshop and I also sell via, shipping worldwide. I intend to open my own atelier shop in Amsterdam soon.

Being well travelled, where is the most unusual place you’ve visited? What’s your favourite location? What country/place is currently number one on your travel bucket list?

Travelling is truly important in my life and such a contribution to my happiness. I think I’ve always travelled whether physically, in my imagination or within my consciousness. The most fascinating has always been travelling within myself. Regarding the physical travels, the most humbling and extreme was the Amazonian jungle in Ecuador, with massive spiders, huge paralyzing ants, big beautiful slow-motion colourful butterflies, birds and the dangers of anacondas etc. Closest to my heart is the ashram of my spiritual teacher, the hugging mother AMMA India. Number one on my bucket list is a Columbian jungle trip, visiting 11 shamanic tribes.


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

I am a huge fan of spontaneous vintage shopping. Most of the outfits I wear are vintage designs found from all parts of the globe. I also shop consciously in alternative stores. For example, Alien boots from Cyberdog in Camden.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love, where artisans from all over the world sell unique clothing. Vintage shops and markets everywhere. I do not support global corporations and corporate brands based on a greedy economy, pollution and slavery.

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

I am grateful of everything I have and not in need of anything particular. I do admire inspiring artists and recycling, which I gladly support.

Boots or Shoes?

Depending on the environment… definitely boots in the Netherlands, very practical due to the weather conditions; sandals in any warm country and barefoot whenever I can.

Links you would like to share:

Durga Universe social media links and shops:
Etsy shop

Wow, Dorit, you are one interesting and sassy lady!  Your clothes are very vibrant and I love your use of textiles too. I must say, your bucket list number 1 trip sounds very adventurous – if you do manage to go, I’d love to hear all about it! Dear readers, are you vintage/textile fans? Are you brave enough to wear bright colours?  Are you adventurous?  Do let me know how adventurous you are ! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Dorit at Durga Universe.  The photographers are: Xander Productions, Elena San Francisco Photography, Luca Chiapatti Photography.  The models are: Sasha Kalashnikova, Marta, Sonia Lawicka, Ramona.


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An Interview With Lustrous Jewellery

Reminiscent of old world glamour, pearls and pearl jewellery are currently enjoying being thrust into the limelight once again, championed by the likes of style icons such as the Duchess of Cambridge, and complimenting virtually any outfit.  Available in a vast array of shapes and colours, there’s more to pearls than meets the eye! I chat to Lin Johnson of Lustrous Jewellery to find out more….


Hi! My name is Lin Johnson and I am the founder of Lustrous Jewellery.

What was the inspiration behind Lustrous Jewellery and your choice to concentrate on pearl jewellery?

I loved pearls from a young age – my mum wore them often. My mum gave me my first string of white pearls for my 16th birthday. I always loved and treasured it and wore it on occasions – pearls really go with everything! When I decided to set up a business and was searching for a business idea, I saw my pearl collection, and just thought dealing with pearls would be a glamorous business! Pearls have been loved for hundreds of years and will never go out of fashion/business!

Hypothetically speaking, what famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “Face” of Lustrous Jewellery?

I would love to see one day the Duchess of Cambridge wearing our jewellery, she loves fashion and pearl jewellery, and that’s what we do!


I do like the “Fish Bone White Pearl Drop Earrings”. To date, what has
been your most popular jewellery item?

Our most popular jewellery has been ‘Three Strand White Pearls Bracelet with Heart Buckle’. Like many other pieces in our range, this item has a contemporary aspect on classic pearl jewellery – the beautiful heart buckle. It’s also a very versatile item, can be worn everyday or on special occasions and it’s even the perfect bridal jewellery!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

I, of course, love all our pieces but if I have to choose a favourite, it’s
possibly the 18ct Gold Tassel White Pearls Drop Pendant Necklace. Tassels are trending at the moment, and pearls just go so well with them, the white pearls look like they are flowing in a golden stream!

Cultured pearls are available in an array of shapes and, until recently
did I discover that they come in a variety of colours too ( I had just
assumed they were just creamy white)! What colours are available and are particular hues/shapes better for certain items of jewellery?

Yes, pearls can be dyed nowadays in all colours imaginable! It’s really nice matching the colour of pearls with your outfit. Regarding shapes, round shape pearls are always classic and can go with any design but irregular pearls have been popular too due to their natural appeal. They are most used in pendants and earrings.


Are you introducing any new items to add to your collection into for

Yes, we bring new collections every few months. For 2016, our emphasis is still to combine fashion with pearl jewellery.

Are your exquisite pearl jewellery pieces available to purchase outside
the UK & Ireland?

Our online boutique can ship all over the world, in fact, we have some
customers based in Europe and Asia too.

Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a. different career path whilst growing up?

I think a woman’s instinct always is to like beautiful things including
jewellery, but since I chose jewellery as my career, I’ve found it can be a beautiful piece of art as well as high fashion too. It says volumes about an individual and adds depth to any outfit.


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

I liked dresses and heels but since becoming a mother, I am definitely
wearing more jeans and flats.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love ASOS and Net-A-Porter, and it’s so easy to shop on devices nowadays.

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

I’m currently trying to go back to all the nice clothes I loved wearing before children! But I’ve been buying more shoes already than I need!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots for the winter, they are cosy and look nice!

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

We have a blog on our website and
facebook page  – we share news with our customers.  Our website is

Thank you for sharing with us your passion for pearls – your collection is  gorgeous and I have certainly had my eyes open to the types and colours available.  The only pearls I have owned are a pair of stud earrings so I am looking forward to expanding my pearl horizons! Dear readers, what about you?  Have you got a favourite piece of pearl jewellery?  Have you got your beady eye on some?  As always, do tell  – I’d love to know your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Lustrous Jewellery.

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