An Interview With Club Hub UK

If you have children and live in the UK then you may be interested in a free app that has just been launched in July 2016 – Club Hub UK.  This app helps to locate children’s clubs and activities around the UK, covering a wide range of interests, ages and locations. I caught up with founder, Tessa Robinson, to find out more … Hi Tessa…

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Hiya!  I’m Tessa and I’ve created an app called Club Hub UK – a free app to locate children’s clubs and activities around the UK.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of Club Hub UK?

What inspired me to create Club Hub U.K ? Well I guess it was creating my own kids club. I found it difficult to advertise it in the local community as local magazines had high rates of publishing and I just didn’t have the income at the time to pay for it.

There are quite a few websites about advertising various children’s activities, so what makes the Club Hub UK app so appealing?

Yes I know there are lots of competition in this area but I have heard from parents that it can still be a confusing and long process that can be made a lot simpler. Also is available to the whole of the U.K rather than just London.

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So how can a company or club register their interest in appearing on the app?

A company or club is able to simply enter their details into the app and with admin permission become live on the app within 24 hours.

What type of clubs/activities are featured?

All clubs and activities are featured – anything that will help people to venture their children away from their tablets and gaming devices.

As you are based in the UK, have you any plans to extend globally in the future?

Yes I am based in the U.K but I really do hope the app will become successful and help people around the world in the future.

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You run your own club – “Tessa’s Jazz Hands” – what was the inspiration behind setting up your own club? What do you enjoy most about running a children’s club?

I trained at a drama school in Beckenham studying musical theatre. When I graduated I found I had a lot of time on my hands, not getting as much acting work as I had hoped for. I always loved working with kids so when I turned twenty one,  I was able to hire a local hall out and start my musical theatre club. I enjoy helping children gain confidence: many of the children that come are very timid and shy but after about a month they are able to sing a solo and perform to their parents without feeling self conscious.

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

Outfits ummmm something comfortable as I do end up dancing if I hear music. Probably leggings and a flowing top with high top trainers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Favourite shop would have to be H&M, although I do like to get a nice top or dress from Miss Selfridge or River Island.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Dresses, every time! I had to get a new wardrobe recently as I was buying too many dresses. Oops!

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, definitely!  High tops trainers are my favourite though, as they are the easiest to dance in. Although I do have a lovely pair of high heel boots I wear out to every party.

Links you would like to share so that readers can find out more about Club Hub UK

E-mail: tessarobinson@club-hub-app.co.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/clubhubuk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/clubhubapp/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/clubhubuk
Website: www.club-hub-app.com

Thank you for chatting to us and I wish you much success with the app – it’s a fab idea and I’m sure it will be popular.  Dear readers, what activities do your children/ grandchildren enjoy away from the computer/gaming world?  My young sons enjoy den building, skateboarding, cycling – and recently my youngest son has been enjoying the delights of rock climbing/climbing walls/abseiling …. his hero is Bear Grylls.

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tessa Robinson.

 

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An Interview With Motus3 Personal Training

Personal training with a twist – personal trainer & fitness expert Paul Yates and his company, Motus 3, are licensed to conduct personal training sessions in London’s picturesque Royal Parks – not only that, Paul can act as chauffeur and collect you from your front door in his own black taxi to the park! I caught up with the former Chelsea professional footballer apprentice recently  to find out all about his personal training style…. Welcome to the blog, Paul ….

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Hi! My name is Paul Yates and I’m the founder of Motus3 Personal Training. I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for over 15 years and launched the Motus3 concept in 2010.

Where did you get the inspiration from to start Motus3?

The genesis for Motus3 was born while managing a popular gym in Covent Garden. Apart from the hardcore regulars I knew that most people overestimate how often they’ll go the gym by about 70%. It was apparent to me that by offering to bring the gym to a clients home or uniquely pick them up in a black taxi to train at one of London’s Royal Parks, I could provide a service that overcame the biggest hurdle to successful fitness: namely going to the gym and doing the training on a consistent basis that is necessary to achieve results. By combining a complete mobile personal training service with a style of training that keeps people both motivated and engaged with the process, I knew I could greatly enhance the chances of a client reaching their health and fitness goals.

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Motus3 is a personal training brand – how does Motus3 provide a real alternative to traditional personal trainers and mundane workouts in the gym?

The Motus3 philosophy is all about the discovering of movement. A client can expect everything from swinging kettlebells, punching boxing pads,parachute sprints, going to war with battle ropes to animal inspired movement patterns and flows but where Motus3 differs to most training methods is that we don’t adopt a one sized fits all approach. We are not concerned with what works for any of our other clients but only what is going to give the person in front of us the greatest chance of transformation and success. Although we’re obviously serious about getting real results we never loose sight of the fact that the process should be fun as well.

So what do you enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness expert? Have you a favourite exercise?

I really enjoy connecting with people and showing that you can achieve real results while having fun at the same time. It’s so gratifying to work with people that may have become disillusioned and frustrated with previous attempts at getting fit and see them embrace and enjoy the process of discovering movement again. If I had to choose a favourite exercise it would have to be the kettlebell swing. It’s a great conditioning exercise and is the perfect antidote to the amount of sitting we do in the modern world.

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What exercises or aspects of your personal training programme seem to be the most popular with your clients?

There must be something “primal” about boxing because everyone loves hitting the pads. It really gives you a lot of “bang for your buck” in terms of fitness benefits and apart from being a lot of fun It has great cathartic value as well – plus my clients know I’m not going to hit them back!

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it? (I hate push ups personally!)

I’m a big fan of High Intensity Interval Training which means short bursts of intense effort followed by brief rest periods and repeated a number of times. It’s a great training method for blasting away at stubborn body fat and any fitness tool and series of exercises can be used to achieve this. In general people groan about push ups and squats the most but I’ve become very good at distracting clients from realising they’re actually doing them.

Being a former apprentice professional footballer of Chelsea FC, you must have come across many famous names. Which famous lady or gent would you love to do a spot of personal training with?

Wow…that’s a tough question but I think a double training session with Adele and Jamie Oliver would be a lot of fun. I enjoy training real people and although they are both massive celebrities I admire the fact that they’ve remained authentic and stayed true to themselves in spite of their fame. After our training session I could drive them out to Jamie’s cottage in my taxi where he would prepare a healthy post exercise meal and Adele could literally sing for her dinner.

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Have you had any funny moments that you can tell us about whilst conducting a personal training session?

I once had a Russian lady come up to me while I was training a client in Kensington Gardens and ask me if I could train her 3 year old daughter. She was deadly serious but I was literally looking for a camera to see if this was some kind of Candid Camera practical joke. I’ve also lost count of the times someone has stopped my client and I after training and said “let me get this straight, he picks you up in the taxi, trains you in the park and then drops you off home?”- it always make me chuckle when I see the look on their face as they process the information.

Motus3 is currently based in the London area. Have you any expansion plans?

I’ve had a number of discussions in regards to training other PT’s in the Motus3 style but without sounding conceited my training is very personalised and my clients want me. A lot of the people I train in London are American and Brazilian so I’m in the process of developing an online platform so I can better serve them when they are travelling.

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

I live in fitness clothing so I enjoy putting on a pair of Harrys of London shoes with Paul Smith or Diesel jeans and a smart blazer at the weekends.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I enjoy visiting the Bicester Village shopping outlet a couple of times of year to bag myself some bargains.

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

A trip to South Audley Street to visit Harrys of London is imminent as I’ve got my eye on another pair of the Mr Jones 2 sneaker/shoe – they look great with either jeans or trousers.

Boots or Shoes?

I prefer shoes as they’re more versatile. I did purchase some boots recently but they make me feel like an oversized golf club.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Motus3

www.motus3.co.uk

https://twitter.com/Motus3Pt

Wow Paul – I don’t know what is more appealing – exercising in the open air in the beautiful London parks OR being chauffeur driven after a session!  I’m not sure how you can make push ups more appealing but I’ll take your word for it but I must say the kettleball swing sounds fun!  Dear readers, have you any favourite exercises or any exercises that you loathe? Do share your views, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Paul Yates.

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An Interview With KIKI Clothing

I’m pleased to welcome on the blog this week the gorgeous fashion designer, Titi Ademola,  whose brand KIKI Clothing  has graced the Red Carpet and has been exhibited in  various cities around the world including Accra, Lagos, Mauritius, Johannesburg, London and Rome. I caught up with Titi recently to find out what it was like to be an intern with renowned designer Betsey Johnson in New York City, and to find out more about her vibrant designs that are creating waves in the fashion world….Welcome Titi…

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 Hi, I’m Titi Ademola and the founder and creative director of KIKI Clothing.

What inspired you to set up your fashion brand KIKI Clothing?

My late father was Nigerian and my mother is Ghanaian. Although born in London, I’ve always been passionate about where I’m from and Africa as a whole. 50 plus countries are found on this continent with rich cultures, traditions and a wealth of creativity. It used to really disturb me when observing how the media portrayed Africa as a “dark continent” I so wanted to see both sides shown on television or in magazines. The Africa I know is full of colour, vibrancy, flavour and amazing, contagious energy. In a small humble way, I wanted to show a positive side of where I am from, through fashion.

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

I’ve always had a passion for fashion. The familiar stories of dressing up dolls as a child and playing dress up in my mother’s clothes and accessories, was part of growing up for me. As I got older, in my teens, I wasn’t sure I could actually pursue fashion design as career and be taken seriously. I’m grateful my family and peers were very supportive. I undertook a Bachelors degree in Fashion Design and interned after graduation with Betsy Johnson in New York. It has been very rewarding being able to enjoy my work day to day and earn a living also.

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I love the Two Tone Dress – it’s gorgeous! What styles are proving popular already amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you Linda. Yes,the Two Tone dress appeals to a wide range of clients, along with the Pencil Dress with wing sleeves and the Bell Sleeve Peplum Top.

Out of all the outfits in your collection, do you have a favourite?

I’m very keen on the Kimono Drape. We’ve done different variations of it over the years and it’s extremely flattering on too.

You spent time being an intern for one of my favourite designers, Betsey Johnson, and for Burberry in New York City and now your own brand is exhibited in cities such as Accra, Lagos, Mauritius, Johannesburg, London & Rome – and although your brand is influenced by the West African love of colour/patterns, if you could go anywhere in the world to get inspiration for a new collection, where would you go?

Brazil, definitely Brazil. It reminds me of West Africa. The food, the music…I’m always so happy when I hear Bossa Nova…there’s a lot of joy in their culture and I find it infectious. I was privileged to travel there a few years ago and would love to go back and explore, as it’s such a big country.

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The KIKI brand has already had dresses that have graced the Red Carpet – namely actress Nicole Ari Parker & reality star Tiffany Jones. However, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of KIKI Clothing?

Yes, it was quite an honour seeing these well-known reputable women wearing our designs on the red carpet. Amazingly enough, they both are the ideal KIKI woman. They’re beautiful inside and out, hard working and ambitious, they have fantastic drive and determination and love to have fun in life. Other famous ladies that comes to mind would be, Lupita Nyong’o or someone quirky like Paloma Faith.

Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – will you be adding more styles and/or colours?

Yes, we’re looking forward to introducing new silhouettes and fabrics for the next season, so keep an eye out for updates.

As you are based in Ghana, are your outfits available to purchase overseas?

We found that although we are based in Accra, we have clients coming into our shops from other parts of Africa, North and South America, Europe, Asia and really all over. These are business travellers, expats living and working in Ghana and tourists. This encouraged us to launch an online shop, www.kikiclothing.com/shop because we wanted to make KIKI Clothing more accessible, globally.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, or bits of all those?

I try to factor in all the above, but ultimately it really comes down to what the customer wants and listening to them.

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

I wear a lot of trousers, either loose and long in length or fitted and slightly cropped and I tend to wear pretty sandals and slippers, some with a bit of a heel and usually from KIKI, as we make footwear also.

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

I love Zara!

 Boots or Shoes?

Because of my location in sunny Accra, it would have to be shoes 🙂

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

www.kikiclothing.com/shop -Online Shop
https://www.facebook.com/KIKI-Clothing-226374854092469/ -Facebook
http://instagram.com/kikiclothing/ -Instagram
@KIKIClothingGH -Twitter

It was lovely talking to you Titi.  I really do love bright colours – wearing bright colours make me feel happy and confident – especially red, yellow, green and turquoise! What colours leave you with a smile on your face?  Do tell! 🙂

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Titi Ademola/KIKI clothing.

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An Interview With The Changing Factor

We do like talking bags on the blog and this week’s guest is no exception!  Inspired by Alexander McQueen & architecture – Magda Daniloaia founded & launched The Changing Factor in March 2016, providing cutting edge handbags and accessories for the sophisticated individual.  Coming into the arena with some fun designs, I am sure that The Changing Factor will be featuring in all our closets before too long.  I caught up with Magda to find out more… Hi Magda…

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Hi! My name is Magda Daniloaia. I am the founder and creative director of luxury leather goods brand “The Changing Factor”.

What inspired you to launch your company? What was behind the naming of your company “The Changing Factor”?

I’d always imagined I would have my own company. I decided to go forward with The Changing Factor because, from my point of view,  at the time no one was really innovating in terms of design in the industry. I felt I could bring a fresher, stronger and more relevant perspective on accessories design – one that would really be compatible with the ever more sophisticated, more powerful and more complex modern women from all over the globe. The name  “The Changing Factor” came from our desire to always be changing, always reinventing. We want to not only constantly be changing ourselves, but also everything around us. We also want to support our clients in changing and being the best version of themselves!

Who is The Changing Factor woman?

She is a global citizen. She is always in a quest to improve herself, to reach her full potential. No matter if she is girly or a tomboy, if she is an entrepreneur or works in a corporation – she’ll  certainly be unstoppable.

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When designing products to include in your range, do you go for uniqueness, current trends, previous popular styles, your own personal tastes or bits of all of those?

The initial inspiration – the aesthetic concept – will always come from architecture or nature – looking at volumes and shapes, at the different ways things are constructed – but afterwards when developing each product, I will look to create styles for different women, all this whilst maintaining an artistic approach. For example – in the current collection you will find many references to the work of architect Santiago Calatrava, especially when looking at all the angles and the volumes, but I took a more artistic approach when designing the details, almost leaving the elements to discover and define each other – if you look at the way the chain is simply left to fall and it goes through the rivets which are mounted not in a straight line but go up and down forming a rhythm, almost like a metaphor for an untamed spirit, or the musical notes of a song, or a poem. This will always be in The Changing Factor DNA – reserving some space and time for an artistic approach, for the design to take its course – quite the opposite of what is happening in the fashion industry today. At the same time, I have designed the launch collection to be very practical and usable by different women and for different occasions. The two Alien briefcases are very practical and can be used by women who often carry documents or technology, from entrepreneurs to PR executives: the Alien Mini is perfect for an afternoon stroll around town and the Alien Clutch, the ultra versatile bag, can be easily worn either in the day or night and can be carried in three completely different ways.  I have also made the minimalistic Alien Tablet Cover and Alien Laptop Cover that double as clutches and are total life savers… they go with
absolutely any outfit – I think they are amazing!! You can carry your tablet during the day and then carry all your evening essentials for after work cocktails! Day-to-night perfection!

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Your bags are certainly very sophisticated – I do like the look of the Alien clutch. So,you are based in London. Are your bags available to purchase & ship worldwide?

I am based in London but all our products are available on our website and we do ship worldwide! Standard and express delivery are both available.

If you had the chance, who would you pick (dead or alive) to be the “Face” of The Changing Factor and why?

Oh, this is the hardest question of all!! I find so many women inspiring for so many different reasons. I will give you my top three (not necessarily in this order): Rihanna, Emma Watson, Rooney Mara?! Or even better: all of them in the same campaign !  In general, women with strong personalities.

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for your next collection, where would you go and why?

I would do an expedition in the Arctic to see the astonishing ice formations and enjoy the incredible wilderness. It would certainly be awe-inspiring and that is what I want my products to be.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, are there any plans to expand your range of products at all? What colours feature in your A/W mood board?

As we have just started we will be keeping the same shapes and silhouettes but introduce very different colours! New colours will be revealed soon! Stay tuned!

Have you always wanted to be in the leather bag industry? What do you enjoy most about what you do?

When I was very little I was convinced I would be a business woman. But then I was also very creative, constantly drawing different things, including fashion silhouettes and all sorts of garments and accessories. To combine both my practical and creative sides, I studied architecture which I then renounced to take on Accessories Design at London College of Fashion. Now I have my own company – so the little me was right all along… haha! My father did have a small leather studio when I was very young, making bespoke leather jackets and leather bags, so funnily enough I ended up doing what he was doing – only in a different place, in a different way! I could not feel more fulfilled.What I enjoy the most is helping women create the best version of themselves. My designs help many women feel more bold and powerful and that is definitely my favourite part!

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

I used to have a very varied wardrobe but now I am moving more towards blocks of colours and strong, daring tailoring. I currently banished all florals from my wardrobe. Sounds extreme, I know… (laughs) … it might be just a phase. In terms of shoes I love wearing lots of trainers/high-sole flat shoes, but I probably feel at my best when I wear pumps.

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

I think The Row and Dover Street Market are great! I also love pretty much everything on www.serax.com – I still remember discovering Roos Van de Velde’s ‘Perfect Imperfection’ in a NY restaurant and being in complete awe.

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

Lots of interesting white shirts – still looking for the perfect shop to buy them – and more high sole flat shoes!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes! Cannot find many boots I like – I hope to make my own in a few years!!

Links you would like to share e.g. Website/Facebook/Twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Changing Factor.

http://www.thechangingfactor.com

https://www.facebook.com/THECHANGINGFACTORluxuryleathergoods

https://www.instagram.com/thechangingfactor/

Thank you Magda – I find the idea of architecture influencing  your designs very interesting – even the thought of nature’s architecture through its  ice features – stalactites, etc.  Can you imagine bags curved like the Sydney Opera House? the Eiffel Tower?  Which landmark do you think could be replicated as a handbag design?  Do share your thoughts, dear readers, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from The Changing Factor.

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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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