Whether you are going on a special night out, going to the Races or it’s your Prom night, nothing beats wearing a glamorous dress. What could be better than going to an Aladdin’s Cave full of dresses, a specialist boutique, whose mission is to dress you up to the nines for your special event, regardless of your budget? Dress Code Nine based in Kelvedon, Essex is the Aladdin’s Cave owned by Carla – she has over 200 stunning dresses, stylish heels, fascinators & jewellery – plus a dedicated Prom dress department too! I caught up with Carla recently to chat about dresses….
Hi! My Name is Carla Lynch and I am the proprietor of Dress Code Nine which opened on October 7th 2017, offering evening and occasional wear for ladies all ages and sizes.
What inspired you to set up “Dress Code Nine”?
I love a dress and always have, I think most ladies do, but you can not always find the dress you need for the budget you have at the time. I wanted to address this with my boutique.
Although you do have dresses available to purchase, you have over 200 dresses available for hire from sizes 4 -24. What are the advantages of hiring a dress for that special event?
Not everyone has the funds or feels comfortable to spend so much money to buy a ball dress which you only wear once. This gives my clients both options: a hire collection and a purchase collection to choose from.
Your range of dresses include high-end designers such as Gino Cerruti, Jora Collections, Kiss Me Kate Designs, Eliza and Ethan – all are totally gorgeous! What dresses are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
It is the Jora Collection. They are gorgeous dresses at a very reasonable price. I love them, the quality and designs are stunning.
Out of all the dresses, do you have any favourites?
Oh yes the one which springs to mind at the moment is one of the Jora collections. It is a gorgeous wine/burgundy colour with a diamante back with a train coming down the middle. If you have a look on our website www.dresscodenine.co.uk under the Jora collection you will see this, it has proved to be a Prom favourite this season.
When going out for a special event, I tend to choose a red dress – occasionally I pick blue or green. My daughter, for her prom, picked a stunning black lace dress. Do you think age plays a part in picking a colour of a dress? Which age group do you find most adventurous when it comes to picking colours for dresses?
I do not think age plays a part, It is more what matches your skin tone, hair, eye colour. Ladies of all ages can be adventurous when you least expect it.
Not only do you have a stunning range of delectable dresses but you also have accessories too. What accessories do you offer to match the dresses?
We offer bags, Fascinators, Hats, Jewellery, Shoes, Wraps.
You have a dedicated department just for prom dresses – what do you feel makes a good “prom” dress?
A style which suits your body shape is a must, as well as colour. A good quality dress also is a big thing for the ladies that come and see us.
If a lady is going to a special event, for example, a Valentines Ball and is interested in hiring/buying a dress – how do they go about visiting “Dress Code Nine”? Can they purchase online, is it appointment only or can they drop by and visit your boutique?
We are appointment only so we can give that one to one service for each lady that comes to our boutique to find their perfect dress so they are dressed to the nines.
When choosing dresses to add to your hire collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
Everything you have said is important but the most critical purchasing decision for me when buying from designers is catering for my client base.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
A dress with 3 inch heels
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
The high street has its place and for me, it is great for mass produced but good value outfits. I do love a Karen Millen dress and heels.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
More dresses, sparkle diamante flip flops and shoes and another bag or two.
Boots or Shoes?
Has to be shoes. You can wear shoes throughout the whole year for different occasions where boots are more just for winter.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Dress Code Nine.
It’s September already and here in the UK, harvesting is in full flow. It’s time to think about farmers around the world who toil endlessly – growing cocoa beans, coffee, cotton, tea, bananas, flowers. I found out the other day that September is the time to celebrate all things organic. When I think of “organic”, I automatically think of Fairtrade – The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK based organisation behind the Fairtrade trademark – although, to be fair, not all Fairtrade items are organic.
So, what is Fairtrade? Fairtrade is a global movement with a strong and active presence in the UK. There are over 4,500 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold. According to Fairtrade’s website, their mission is “to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives”. Fairtrade’s vision: ” a world in which all producers and consumers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future”. Fairtrade has strict standards for companies, farmers & workers as well as ensuring that worker’s rights are maintained, that payment is made of at least the Fairtrade minimum price and that extra money is given to reinvest in business/community projects of the community’s choice. By choosing to buy Fairtrade goods, you can positively help farmers, workers & their communities.
Buying Fairtrade products is easier than you think – products are on sale in supermarkets, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, catering suppliers & wholesalers, as well as online. I’m lucky, my local village coffee shop/book shop is also the local mecca for Fairtrade goods from companies such as Divine and Traidcraft. It’s great to see the crafts, products, jewellery and clothes – they make fantastic gifts and it is great to have a browse.
Divine chocolate – I love the plain dark chocolate but I am tempted to try the Dark Chocolate with Himalayan Salt! Divine is the only mainstream chocolate company 44% owned by the farmers who supply the cocoa! Other Fairtrade chocolates include Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Green & Black’s Organic, M & S, Rawr Foods, Sainsbury’s “Taste The Difference” White, Dark & Milk chocolate bars, The Co-Op; Meaningful Chocolate Company, Raw Chocolate Company, Traidcraft, Waitrose “Seriously” & Belgian range, and Zotter Chocolate.
Traidcraft do some fantastic stem ginger cookies – I devoured packets whilst I was pregnant with my children ( ginger cookies and lemons/limes were my pregnancy cravings!) Traidcraft itself has been at the fore front of Fairtrade since 1979. The company offers the widest range of fair trade products in the UK. They even do Fairtrade wine – but I haven’t tasted it yet so I can’t comment. I can recommend their range of spices, dried fruits and rices; their craft boxes, jewellery, socks, scarves are all pretty and make good gifts. Their clothing range is pricy but having said that the Fairtrade ethos is fair price to the workers and to be honest I rather pay a bit more knowing that the workers are not young children toiling under horrendous conditions to produce a t shirt. I know that they are getting a decent wage for their labours.
I have included some pictures of the Fairtrade items sold in my local shop … if you wish to find out more about Fairtrade or wish to shop/browse Traidcraft’s goods online, here are some websites you might find useful:
I was born in Stratford, East London in 1965 and lived in the area until 1987. Although I moved out of London, in the early 2000s I commuted to London via Stratford. In the 1970s/1980s, Stratford had a small shopping centre – there was a small Mary Quant store, a Sainsbury’s food store and a large Co-Op store which had a small Top Shop area amongst other small shops. It wasn’t the nicest of shopping centres to visit – it had a small seating area in the middle of the centre which usually had a few “skinheads” sprawled menacingly over the seats – the best part was actually the small theatre to the side, Theatre Royal Stratford E15, where many West End shows started life. Attached to the centre was the railway station – central line underground and British Rail to Liverpool Street – plus a large bus station. Later the Docklands Light Railway was born – I can remember travelling on the line for the first time – the monorail was brilliant and “so modern”.
When London won its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, a transformation took place in Stratford. A new station was built – Stratford International, parkland created, Olympic stadiums built, hotels, new roads, new train lines … and a new shopping centre. I watched the progress of the building of the new shopping centre as I commuted via Stratford. Westfield Stratford City was finally opened on 13 September 2011. Although I have visited the Olympic Stadium, and skirted the outside of the shopping area – it was only last Sunday that I actually visited the shopping city properly!
“Shopping city” is the ideal word for this centre – it is massive – covering a total floor area of 1,905,542 square feet – making it the 3rd largest shopping centre in the UK in terms of retail space, although if you take into account the surrounding shopping area as well as the indoor centre, it is the largest shopping urban area centre in Europe. The centre has approximately 280 stores, 70 restaurants, 2 hotels (Premier Inn & Holiday Inn), 24 – hour casino, 17 screen all digital Vue cinema, 10 pin bowling alley, pubs, champagne bar…
Its 3 anchor stores are John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Fashion stores – spoilt for choice – include Jaeger, Mulberry, All Saints, Hugo Boss, Victoria’s Secret, Missguided, Ann Summers, Armani Jeans, Diesel, Calvin Klein Underwear, Charles Tyrwhitt, DKNY Men, FatFace, Fred Perry, Gant, Gap, Hollister, Topshop, Topman
Shoe shops…. Dr Martens, Dune, Kurt Geiger, Linzi, Russell & Bromley, Skechers, Vans ….
Other stores include the Disney Store, Apple, Foyles, Guess Accessories, Hawkins Bazaar, HMV, Hotel Chocolat, IKEA, Kiko MakeUp Milano, Krispy Kreme, Lego, Lush, MAC cosmetics, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Nespresso, Swarovski, The Body Shop ….
And the old shopping centre is still there, with its own array of shops, over the other side of the original Stratford station.
According to Westfield, there are 3 car parks supporting 4,500 car park spaces but 80% of shoppers arrive via public transport. When central London (St Pancras) is only 7 minutes away by high speed train plus 2 bus stations, 2 railway stations – served by London Underground (central & jubilee lines), TFL Rail, Overground trains, Docklands Light Railway and the new Elizabeth line is due to be opened later this year – there is never a better case for letting the “train take the strain”.
So, what did I truly think?
– I’m not a fan of large indoor shopping malls BUT this centre is large but very airy with wide walkways and has outdoor areas too – it avoids being too claustrophobic!
– It gets very busy on Saturdays, especially on days when the stadium is in use ( football & music concerts). I preferred visiting on a Sunday – Sundays are busy but it was a better day to wander comfortably around the shops.
– The array of shops is mind boggling and makes a nice change to physically shop rather than being online.
– The centre itself is very clean and impressive – and a far cry from the Stratford I knew in the 1980s!
Have you been to Westfield Stratford City? What do you think? Do share your opinions, I’d love to know!
From Machynlleth in Wales, my guest this week is the lovely shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey who has been making handcrafted shoes designed to last for over 12 years. She began shoemaking when she was apprenticed to designer shoemaker Alan James Raddon – she still makes Alan’s designs under licence as well as having a range of her own designs too. In 2016 she travelled to Mexico and Japan to investigate the passing down of shoemaking techniques between master and apprentice; in 2013 she won a QEST scholarship to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis; plus she has trained to be a reflexologist so she really does know how to create shoes that benefit your feet. I caught up with Ruth recently to find out more. Hi Ruth….
Hi! My name is Ruth Emily Davey. I am a Shoemaker, trading under my label Ruth Emily Davey or RED Shoes. I make footwear for people from all walks of life from my shop in Machynlleth, Wales which I opened in May 2016. My shoes are made to the unique shape of your feet, so they are broad in the toe box, narrow under the arch and flat, which is much better for your body. They are made from bespoke Italian leathers which last for years and years and are repairable too.
What was the inspiration behind your venture into shoemaking?
I am from an art based background, so I had just finished 3 years of Art college and was a bit unsure of what to do next, lots of my friends were going on to university and I felt like I wanted to do something much more creative and hands on instead of spending hours writing about conceptual art projects. It’s all about who you know in Wales and Alan was a friend of a friend and my mum had heard he was looking for an apprentice. I went to see him, we clicked and it began as an informal apprenticeship which developed into a 5 yeas of learning how to make shoes and also how to run a business (Alan left his successful career in advertising to begin life in Wales in the 1970s). This was 12 years ago so I have been making shoes independently of Alan for 7 years. I have won several awards for my work which has really helped boost my business. I am a Balvenie Young master of craft, a QEST Scholar and a WCMT fellow and I have been on judging panels with Kevin McCloud, all of which has helped me on my way.
You still produce shoemaker Alan James Raddon’s designs under licence as well as having your own range of designs. What styles are popular requests?
So I had the need to breathe individuality into my work as well as continue the legacy of Alan’s designs after I had finished my apprenticeship and so I made a range of boots which are really popular amongst my own age group. The Shandals®, which are Alan’s creation are timeless and people of all ages wear them all over the world as they are so unique looking and really good for the feet.
Have you got a favourite style from your collection?
I have been busy making a collection of footwear using handwoven cloth from my travels and I love the combinations of leather and fabrics together, I am greatly inspired by colour.
Early in 2016 you were awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which enabled you to visit both Mexico & Japan to investigate the passing down of techniques between master & apprentice. What were the most interesting/ surprising things that you learnt whilst in Mexico & Japan? Do you use any techniques/ideas that you learnt whilst abroad in your shoemaking nowadays?
The trip was one of the best times of my life. I got to visit small indigenous weavers in Mexico and amazing craftspeople all over Japan that continue the work of their ancestors. I learned so much about what craftsmen and women put into their work and it reaffirmed the reason why I believe making things are such an important part of our skills as human beings. I also learned a lot about the passing on of skills and how important it is to bring forward the work of our past. Like here in the UK, for example, we have a kind of devotion to the handmade product but there is masses of infrastructure to encourage us to bring workmanship from abroad instead of employing the hands of people here. It means there are thousands of young people with no skill sets and as time goes on people are becoming emptyhanded and a bit depressed. Skills are becoming lost or forgotten and I think that is criminal. There needs to be way more support for individual apprenticeships to bring back the revival of cottage industry. Children need to be taught hands on skills and creative education needs to be brought back into education to bring forward a new generation of makers and creative thinkers.
Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of RED?
That’s a good question! Hmm Natalie Portman because she has nice feet! And I always wanted to get a power woman like Alex Polizzi in my shoes, I always see so many celebrities teetering around in high heels and their feet are so squashed it must be excruciating! I always think they would look so much better in shoes that are the right shape for their feet and COMFORTABLE so they can feel grounded and powerful and their toes would look so much better!
Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what new colours/styles do you hope to introduce?
I can make shoes in pretty much any colour and I love seeing outside inspirations coming through people’s choices, so someone can walk into the shop and choose combinations that I would never have expected to go together or they might have always dreamed about a pair of scarlet brogues or sapphire blue suedes and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to fulfil that inner desire. I recently made a pair of bright red/yellow/green brogues for a woman in her 60s who was determined to turn heads as she walks down the high-street. I love making shoes for men and and women of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds.
Although you are based in Wales, are your shoes & boots available to purchase overseas?
I am based in Wales but have a postal order service so you can send your measurements and I post you a fitting. This means you can order my shoes from anywhere in the world. I have several customers in the USA and Australia and all over Europe. It’s always nice to meet the person you are making shoes for though and this week a lady from Sweden came all the way to my workshop to order her shoes in person.
You won a QEST scholarship in 2013 which helped you to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis and also enabled you to train as a reflexologist. How important was it to you that you trained in reflexology and how has it helped with your shoe designing?
I think Reflexology is such a fascinating and deeply ancient practise, I wanted to learn more about the feet from a holistic perspective and the course has been great at really understanding how important the feet are and how many ailments can be targeted through reflexes in the feet. We so often bundle the feet into shoes that are totally immovable; we have lost the connection we should have to the earth and as a result SO many problems begin with the feet. You only have to walk barefoot in grass for 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits and although I am a shoemaker I tend to be barefoot as much as possible!
With travel on my mind, if you could visit any other place to study footwear/shoemaking or just to gain inspiration – where would it be and why?
So many places… I would love to go back and spend 6 months solidly learning how to make traditional Huarches in Mexico (one day..) and in terms of fabrics there is some really interesting places all over the middle east, India and Africa. One day I will have made shoes from fabrics from every continent in celebration of the work of craftspeople all over the world.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I can normally be found wearing boring black suede ankle boots despite having access to literally any shade of any colour under the sun.. but I love unusual designers and cuts in clothing that are really original so you know you are the only one wearing it.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)
I only wear my own shoes, I have tried other shoe designs that I like but it just feels wrong! I love quite understated but unusual clothes but often don’t have time to search for them. I am 8 months pregnant right now so all I am looking for are nice stretchy clothes at the second!
Boots or Shoes?
I find a short ankle boot goes with nearly everything. I also have a pair of gold brogues which I love wearing at the moment.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you & your footwear.
Thank you Ruth for joining me on the blog today and I hope all goes well with the birth. I love the bright colours and I do so love the Shandal … in fact I would like all the shoes in your photos! 🙂 So, dear readers, what colour combinations would you go for? For me, a combination of turquoise, teal & cobalt blue would be my choice. What about you? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!
All photos published with kind permission of Ruth Emily Davey.
Near enough every day on the news one hears about a chain of stores closing down, shops boarded up, flagship stores opening, restaurants changing ownership, pubs being converted into houses, pop up shops opening for a season… the High Street is constantly changing due to many factors from the introduction of online shopping through to changing needs of the consumer. It’s not all doom & gloom – however, when I was a teenager there were many fashion & shoe stores lining my local High Street – shops such as Freeman Hardy Willis, Chelsea Girl, BHS, Woolworths – now the High Street is more likely to house coffee shops, convenience stores and beauty salons. ParcelHero, e-commerce fulfilment specialists have launched findings of their major report: 2030 – The Death Of The High Street. I spoke to David Jinks MILT, Parcelhero’s Head of Consumer Research and the main author of the report, to find out more. Hi David!
Hi! I’m David Jinks, Head of Consumer Research and Public Relations at ParcelHero. ParcelHero is an online parcel broker that gets lower prices with the likes of DHL, UPS and DPD than consumers can get if they book directly. We also ensure your parcels are picked up from your home or preferred location. E-commerce and home deliveries are transforming retail right now; so it’s a fascinating industry to be in. Before I joined ParcelHero I was publisher and PR Manager for The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport; and before that an Editor at Time Inc on magazines as diverse as model cars, coin collecting and sci-fi toys and merchandise. You get the picture… don’t come looking to me for fashion advice!
You are the main author of the recent ParcelHero report: 2030 – The Death Of The High Street. What inspired you to put pen to paper?
Our retail-based customers are enjoying booming sales; which is great for us as well as them! But at the same time several rather niche but loved shops in my home town have closed. Looking at the rising online sales figures there was obviously a direct correlation between the two. As a part of the home delivery industry we wanted to draw attention to what could happen to our town centres if businesses and local councils, etc, don’t wake up and smell the coffee. The impact on our High Street could be profound if shops are just left to fall empty.
The report has revealed that by 2030, the impact of online shopping and home deliveries will mean that over half of today’s UK town centre stores, including the majority of today’s fashion outlets will have vanished. What do you think has contributed to the decline of the High Street & the rise in online shopping?
It’s all about price and convenience. You can order up-to-the-minute quality clothing online in the comfort of your own home for prices even Primark may find hard to beat. You are not at the mercy of what’s in stock right now in your local fashion stores. The tense and depressing trog around shopping centres, unable to find the item you really want, is behind us. And buying online gives you better rights. You can return most items within 14 days without giving any reason whatsoever. So it’s easy to order the same item in a couple of different sizes and simply return the one that doesn’t fit. Or simply send the lot back if you don’t like it. Online sellers don’t have the overheads involved with stores; and are not at the mercy of what their buyer thought would be in fashion when ordering many months before. It’s far easier for, say, ASOS to introduce new lines swiftly, than it is for M&S who have to stock all their stores; or your local indie fashion store that will have had to commit to a certain order weeks in advance. So there’s little wonder High Street fashion stores are suffering. They are the new fashion victims.
In 1950 there were 600,000 stores in the UK, in 2012 there were 290,000 and just 220,000 will survive by 2020. It is not only fashion outlets that struggle but other outlets like bookstores too. What types of stores have lost their High Street allure?
There’s a list as long as your arm. Department stores suffer from the same issues as fashion retailers. They must commit to large stocks and are then unable to respond swiftly to the latest retail trends. BHS won’t be the only big name to disappear. There’s likely to be an unhappy ending to toy story either. Toy shops are disappearing faster than you can say Buzz Lightyear. Even supermarkets are not immune. As more and more of us do the big weekly food shop online they will be left as white elephants in our town centres.
It’s not all doom and gloom though – what types of outlets are more likely to prosper in the High Street in 2030? Why the growth of these particular outlets?
Nail bars! Seriously, any beauty place where physical contact is needed, such as hair dressers and beauty salons will always be needed. If things go on as they are then most of the rest of our streets will be full of chicken shacks and charity stores. However, if local authorities and retailers learn to live with e-commerce then there is indeed a bright future. People need to move back into our town centres; turning some sites that were once stores into homes. Around these houses will spring up convenience stores, restaurants etc; ensuring our city centres cease to be no go areas after 6pm. A 24-hour community will need local stores serving niche needs with expert service to compliment what’s available online. Local stores will also offer parcel pick up and drop off points and even 3D printing stores as technology moves on. The High Street could become vibrant even in the evenings again.
When you compiled the report, were you surprised by the end results? What was the most unexpected fact?
When I started, we still had American Apparel and Banana Republic, as well as stores such as Staples. The swift collapse of major brands in the UK had me rushing to keep the report up to date and get it out before any other big names vanish!
In 2006, just 2% of UK fashion spend was online, now it is almost 25%. The online fashion industry could reach £36.2bn by 2030. This figure doesn’t surprise me as I now do most of my fashion shopping online. I do miss the old shops, especially the shoe shops such as Freeman Hardy Willis ..However, in Colchester, a new Primark has just opened on the site of the old BHS; and in Chelmsford, a new shopping centre with John Lewis as the anchor has just opened. How are retailers fairing who have both a High Street & online presence?
Good point! Don’t forget it was our very own Tesco’s that sold the first ever item online – groceries to a Mrs Snowball way back in 1984. Tesco’s is now frequently our second biggest e-commerce site after Amazon. And John Lewis makes more money online than from its entire flagship Oxford Street store. So those retailers that embrace e-commerce do have a future. The problem is that sometimes online sales are cannibalizing a brand’s own High Street shop sales. If you bought a dress or a washing machine from John Lewis online; that’s a sale that could have gone to their local store. So their internet sales could end up propping up your local branch. It’s a tradeoff that all multi-platform retailers must keep in mind.
If town centres/High Streets are not rejuvenated they could potentially become “no go” areas after dark. What do you think could be possible solutions to prevent that happening?
As I’ve briefly mentioned, planning regulations need to be relaxed so town centre commercial properties can become homes for a community returning to our towns and cities to live. We need to go back to the future, returning to a Victorian style scenario where people live and work locally and there’s a thriving local retail scene that’s a sociable experience; to compliment the home deliveries that will form the bulk of retail in the future. More homes mean more convenience stores and restaurants open till later; and a vibrant place people want to go to – and we won’t need to build on Green Belt land!
Although the report is based on the scenario here in the UK, have you read or looked into similar reports in other countries, such as the USA? Is the outlook similar?
Your average Market Street or mall in the US is facing exactly the same problems. Macy’s and Sears for example are closing hundreds of stores nationwide. And once the main department store in a mall closes – they are known as anchor stores to US retailers – the whole future for all the stores is endangered as footfall decreases rapidly. So, the US retailer is facing the exact same issues; if not worse.
Are there any shops that you used to visit yourself that are no longer on the High Street?
I’m a bookshop addict! From Borders to Booksetc to Ottakers I miss all the old stores. And I still pine for our local Woolworths; and do you remember Times Past? I loved that shop!
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
You may already have guessed I’m not the best dressed man in London. Among the young and fashionable team here at ParcelHero my choice of ties – which no one else wears – is a constant cause of amusement. My 14-year old son, who spends hours agonizing over which jeans to wear, always walks several feet behind or in front of me so people don’t think we’re related.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
If ever I do have any money to spend on clothes I like Next; otherwise it’s Primark for me. Apart from clothes I love Waterstones, Argos, Ikea and, of course, Amazon!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
This question has got the many more fashion conscious staff here chuckling. I can make a shirt and tie look messy. If I sit down on a bench at the weekend people give me money. But if I am dressing up for something I do like a nice shirt with cufflinks.
Boots or Shoes?
A pair of Oxford brogues thanks. Ideally with magical self-cleaning powers. Unless by boots you mean wellies? If so Hunters; and as this is a fashion site I’ll make them green, of course!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about the report.
Thank you very much David for joining us on the blog. I really did enjoy strolling through the fun interactive graphic – shops such as Dixons (bought my first DVD player from there), Radio Rentals (I remember all the TVs that adorned their shop windows all showing a channel & you could catch a glimpse of the latest football match on a Saturday afternoon, and crowds used to gather around at full time when the tele printer issued the full time scores!) So dear readers, do you have fond memories of stores you shopped in that are no longer trading? Do share your memories!
All photographs are published with kind permission of David Jinks/ParcelHero
It was all about boots last weekend in my household – a trip to London to see the West End smash hit musical, Kinky Boots. Wearing my favourite boots (not kinky, but stylish) – cowboy boots by Jeffery West – my husband and I set off to be wowed!
First stop was Piccadilly Arcade and a visit to the iconic Jeffery West shoe shop. Although my boots are by Jeffery West, the brand is mostly male orientated. The shop oozes sophistication from the shining array of leather shoes and boots on display, the comfortable snakeskin sofa to the iconic rock posters on the wall.
Jeffery-West is the brainchild of Mark Jeffery and Guy West, who both hail from the shoe making capital of the UK, Northampton. Using an array of colours, leathers and imagination not often found in men’s footwear – if you’re looking for classic English brogues, then this is not the shop for you. The shoes and boots are inspired by actors and rock legends, such as Keith Richards, Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, Roger Moore, Bram Stoker, Richard Burton. The footwear all have the signature red lining and even their men’s accessories, eg the leather gloves are red silk lined and the men’s briefcase is fashioned in black snakeskin and lined in red suede.
However, I was not here to merely window shop or to buy boots for myself. My husband has had a pair of Jeffery West boots on his wish list for a while. He was all smiles when he opted for some black snakeskin boots. They did look fab! As all the boots and shoes are named after icons, it was great to discover that the boots he chose were named after one of his favourite musicians, Phil Lynott.
If you fancy checking out Jeffery-West shops, you can find them online or visit their shops – they have 2 in London (Piccadilly & Cullum Street, part of Leadenhall Market); Barton Arcade in Manchester; The County Arcade in Leeds; and at 19 Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.
Having changed into his new boots, my husband and I toddled off through the crowds that were celebrating Chinese New Year onto our next port of call, the Adelphi Theatre, to see the musical Kinky Boots. The musical, written by Harvey Fierstein, is based on the 2005 film of the same name. The film is a big favourite of mine so I was looking forward to seeing how the story would act out on stage, so to speak.
The basic plot: “Price & Son” is a fictional traditional menswear factory based in Northampton. Although Mr Price was into his shoes, his son Charlie did not have the same enthusiasm. He ups sticks and moves to London with his fiancée – then he gets a phone call telling him that his father has died. Charlie returns to Northampton and immediately everybody in the factory assumes that he’ll be taking over. Charlie finds out that the company was verging on bankruptcy, orders had been cancelled but as Mr Price couldn’t bear to see his workers suffer, he continued to make stock that was virtually useless. He thought about making the workers redundant, he thought about taking some stock to an old friend in London to shift at his store. Whilst in London, Charlie spots a lady being accosted in an alley and goes to rescue her, but he wasn’t prepared for the lady’s deadly right hook. The lady was drag queen, “Lola”. Moaning about her cheap useless boots whose heel kept falling off, Charlie & Lola collaborate to save Charlie’s factory by developing a line of high heel fetishwear sexy enough for a lady yet strong enough to support a man’s weight. There were hiccups along the way – “it has high heeled, it has to be red, and scream sex” as Lola was trying to convince the straitlaced Charlie that was the way to go. Especially as they want to make inroads into the Milan footwear catwalk show! Interlaced with the main story, was factory prejudices, “Lola’s” story and a moral ending that is not exactly what you would at first think.
My verdict: The show stuck to the plot of the film, near enough – a couple of variations that did work better on stage, for example, the background of the factory & Lola’s story featured in detail at the start of the film was condensed in the show; in the film there was a hand wrestling match – this was replaced with an awe inspiring choreographed boxing ring bout. Oh, the live drag show was spectacular – how do those blokes dance in heels? And, they were all utterly gorgeous! The songs/music were written by 1980s pop star Cyndi Lauper (remember “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”?) so the 1980s vibe was alive and kicking. I was mesmerised from start to finish – I laughed, cried, sang & danced.
Purchasing a T shirt to remember my fantastic day – I urge you all to Keep Calm and Buy Kinky – buy the DVD, buy tickets to see the Show or Film – honestly, you won’t be disappointed.
Finally I want to thank my gorgeous husband, Adam, for buying me the DVD & show tickets for Christmas – and for a brilliant London trip!
All photos are by Linda Hobden
Disclaimer: I have not been paid or sponsored to feature either Jeffery-West or Kinky Boots. The boots were purchased by my husband. I’m such an avid fan of Jeffery West that I just couldn’t let this post go by without mentioning their website!
Snow has already descended on parts of Canada, USA, Scotland and Northern England, heralding the start of the winter ski season in the Northern Hemisphere. It seems most fitting, therefore, to introduce onto my blog one of the finest, if not the finest (in my opinion), alpine designer fashion & ready-to-wear ski wear shop in the world – Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel. Founded in 1975 in Courchevel, Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel was named after the famous alpine skier. Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel is more than just a shop, as I found out…..
Why did you pick Courchevel as the location for your shop?
Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort located in the French Alps, with one of the largest ski areas in the world: 3 Valleys. The ski resort hosts the most prestigious international clientele. This ski paradise is also one of the most luxurious places in the world with a high concentration of 5 star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique boutiques.
What are your most popular products?
Just like every year since forever, Moon Boots are very popular. The most popular shoe brand is Jimmy Choo, so it stands to reason that their moon boots are a great hit.
What’s new for the 2016 winter season?
Chiara Ferragni Moonboots, some exclusive Fendi Sportswear, and the launch of Balmain Man at Bernard Orcel.
What makes Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel special?
Maison Bernard Orcel offers customers the chance to unwind and relax by being surrounded by beauty and quality. Florence, the Head of House for 25 years, knows and recognises the very dear Bernard Orcel clientele. Like a real concierge, the whole Bernard Orcel team supports our customers during their stay in Courchevel for any of their requests. We offer our customers a shopping service at home. The collections (ready-to-wear or skiwear) are presented by a personal shopper from our team. Our seamstress is also at the disposal of our customers throughout the season to adjust and retouch their purchases.
Although you are in France, do you deliver worldwide?
According to the client’s wishes, we offer the possibility of a delivery service any time in Courchevel, and all over the world.
AZ Atelier, Bogner, Dsquared Ski Capsule, Fendi Ski Collection, Jet Set, Kru, Toni Sailer, Zai, Zero Ski. We also provide sales services and ski rental delivery directly into the hotel or chalet in Courchevel. This service also includes the possibility to try and buy our skiwear collections. A full service from the ski outfit to the technical equipment!
Buscemi, Emma Salimova & Ugg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Ludwig Reiter, Santoni, Tod’s.
Fashion & Art
Bernard Orcel has invited the famous artist Leo Caillard to exhibit his work as a tribute to the classic sculpture. The exhibition, entitled “Hipster In Store”, offers an unique alliance of fashion and art through sculptures of antiquity. Dressed in a contemporary way, the gods Zeus, Hercules and the goddess Diana enter our era wearing shirt, jeans and a little dress.
Bernard Orcel, Rue du Rocher Courchevel 1850, 73120 Saint Bon Tarentaise.
So, when you next go skiing in the French Alps check out Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel and have a browse amongst the rails and enjoy the unique art exhibitions too! What a shopping experience! Dear readers, do you enjoy partaking in winter sports? Do you have a favourite skiing location?
All photos published with kind permission from Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong …. and now East Shopping Centre in London – Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor is one of India’s leading couture brands and since opening their first UK boutique in London in June 2015 they have been looking forward to introducing fashion straight from the catwalks in India to the British Asian Market. Not only is it their first UK boutique, but Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor are the first couturiers from India to have a stand alone store in the UK. Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor regularly dress A-list Bollywood celebrities like Bipasha Basu, Anushka Sharma, Kangana Ranaut, Katrina Kaif, Hema Malin, Mallika Sherawat, Lara Dutta – as well as some of India’s elite socialites. I caught up with the lovely Anjalee to find out more about her brand and her hopes for the brand’s influence in the UK.
Hi Anjalee and welcome!
Hi! I’m Anjalee. I am a perfectionist in everything I put my hands on. You probably won’t know this but…I love to paint (canvas) and Arjun has a great flare for interiors. Had he not been a designer for clothes, he would be designing homes. He is extremely houseproud and the little details in our house are his magical touch.
What inspired you to enter the world of fashion?
Because I was passionate about it, I have been creatively inclined since my childhood. I paint as well. I believe creativity cannot be restricted only to one medium. For me, designing clothes is like nurturing my child; step by step and putting in my best. Playing with colours comes naturally to me, and putting a mix and match in and styling the silhouettes gives me a lot of creative satisfaction.
What attracted you to designing wedding outfits?
My mindset was always fascinated on effective artwork. I love to choose different article themes every season and interpreting them my way on the garments. Rich ornamentation, vibrant colour mixes, mix and match of fabrics, styling the garments – all leads to creating one of a kind couture garment. I love playing with the details that are present in every outfit of ours. So I guess our style mantra is more inclined towards occasion dressing.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your collections?
Season to season I look for different inspirations which I could incorporate into the collection. The Spring/Summer collection influence has been from the Persian architecture and culture. I have incorporated rich motive grids combined with a lot of layering techniques. My previous themes have been jamavar aria, Mughal Opera, Phantom of the Opera, etc.
Who is the Anjalee and Arjun Kapoor customer?
The typical AAK girl is a glamorous girl with great body language, great carriage and the right attitude. She is flamboyant and wants to wear an impactful statement piece for the most important day of her life.
What is your definition of style?
Being glamorous and making our AAK girl stand out. Our garments have a strong signature look which we have followed. Since we started the label it has that zing factor which is a complete transformation when one wears it. We aspire to give that feel good factor to every AAK girl and guy.
What do you consider is the perfect outfit?
We style a variety of outfits giving options to our clients and tailoring each look. Each outfit looks different on different body types, but as long as the outfit brings out the best in you, I would consider that particular ensemble as the perfect outfit.
When grooms and brides visit your studio in London, what would they find?
Stylish ensembles that create a strong statement when worn. Glamorous outfits with a lot of oomph!
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Our standalone stores in different parts of the world. We are planning for more flagship stores in the coming future in other countries as well.
What is your dream for the future?
I would like the AAK brand to become a sought after global brand with stores all around the world.
What will your next fashion challenge be?
To set up a western global couture line and have it available all around the world.
What do you predict would be the bridal look for the next season?
Lots of interesting drapes over their lehengas, (skirts) fusion concepts for pre-wedding functions, lots of floral ideas in ornamentations, layered styles in anarkalis, mughale styles for the grooms on the wedding day.
What difference do you find in brides overseas for example, UK and Indian brides?
The Indian Brides in India are more experimental in the silhouettes, colours and concepts. They are willing to try newer looks. The Brides in UK are more traditional in their dressing and love to stick to conventional colours for their wedding day.
You can find the Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor studio in London’s East Shopping Centre, Green Street, London E7.
You can also follow Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor on Twitter :
For details of East Shopping Centre, check out my blogpost HERE.
Thank you for chatting to me Anjalee and those dresses are absolutely exquisite. A friend of mine got married a few years ago in a gorgeous red taffeta and black lace wedding dress – she looked stunning. Did you get married or are you getting married in a dress/outfit that isn’t in the conventional colours? Do tell & share your stories…
All photos published with kind permission from Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor.
“Real Clothes For Real Ladies” is the mantra of my guest this week. Penny owns Boutique 11, a store located in a busy suburb of Nottingham. Apart from her obvious passion for fashion, Penny makes sure that her mantra is always adhered to and with fortnightly stock change, regular ladies nights/instore events and a monthly customer prize draw – this little store is making big waves. I caught up with the lovely Penny to find out more….
Hi! I’m Penny Britton..I have as long as I can remember LOVED fashion! Looking at it in magazines feeling and touching it and of course wearing it.
What inspired you to open a boutique?
I have been in the fashion industry on and off for about 15 years. I think I really began to realise that I had a real flare for connecting with other ladies when I was the fashion advisor at John Lewis in Nottingham. Ladies would make an appointment to see me for either that special outfit, an everyday outfit or just fed up of their wardrobes or their look – they were looking for inspiration.
What do you like best about having a boutique?
What I like best….the look that my customers have on their faces when they have found something they look lovely in..(sounds corny doesn’t it? but I really mean it).I love choosing and buying all my own stock.When I go buying I am like a child in a candy store every time!
When picking stock for your boutique, do you go by the latest trends/colours, customer requests, popular styles, your own tastes or bits of all those?
I have a great variety of labelled fashion and stock fashion which I get directly from Italy/France. Personally I love colour and in the spring & summer months when I can buy colour, I certainly do. It makes me happy when ladies come into Boutique 11 and comment on how pretty all the lovely colours are that they have to choose from .I always pride myself on the fact that neither age nor size is an issue in Boutique 11 – my size and price range is fab..
When a customer visits your boutique, what would they experience?
My advertising line is “real clothes for real ladies”. My customers really do range from size 6 to 26 and ages early 30 to 90. I have been told that “I have funked up the ladies in my area”! The secret I think, is to buy the correct shape for you, of course, in a colour which suits your colouring but most importantly, when you look in that changing room mirror that you are smiling. Another thing we at Boutique 11 pride ourselves on is honesty.No one will go out of my boutique with anything which does not look FABULOUS on them. I am also being told over and over again ..we love coming here Penny, because you will always say if it’s not quite right and never try and sell us something for the sake of making a sale.
What famous lady would you like to see visit your boutique?
Mary Portas of course..she doesn’t need any fashion advice from us but I know I would be very proud of the service she would have received and gone away with smile.
Where did you get the inspiration for Ladies evenings from?
Well it’s just an excuse for a girlie night really..I fill the boutique with FABULOUS stock, offer my ladies something else – makeup artist, facials, nails done – anything ladylike really and of course, get in some bubbly…what else does a lady need? They are very successful and getting busier each time.
You hold regular monthly prize draws for your customers spending £100 or more at your boutique. How has that been received by your customers?
My latest competition is going very well, it encourages the ladies to spend while giving something lovely back. It’s a great talking point.
Anything else planned for this year?
I have been invited to put on fashion shows at two ladies charity lunches, one was in July and one in November. A ladies “afternoon tea party with fashion” in August. I have Summer, Autumn, Winter open evenings in Boutique 11 in the diary for the rest of the year!
Have you any favourite shops/online sites?
My favourite shop is Boutique 11 for sure… I love Mint Velvet label and James Lakeland fashion. Anything a little quirky really. I tend to shop in other small boutiques selling something a little different from the high street.
I really don’t have a favourite. You will find every single colour out there in my wardrobe from bright blue to acid green to the palest pink and lots of white linen for the summer. I think I do have a bit of a linen fetish!
Thanks very much for chatting to me Penny – I’ll be sure to pop in when I’m next in Nottingham. Although I love shopping online, boutiques like Boutique 11 make it fun to spend an hour or two looking through stock, hunting out those gems and what a fab way to spend a girly night out at a ladies shopping and pamper night! Do you agree readers? What are your likes/dislikes about shopping in boutiques as opposed to online? Do tell!
Photo Credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Boutique 11.
Saturday 14th March 2015 sees the grand opening of not only London’s latest shopping centre but it is Europe’s first purpose-built boutique Asian shopping centre, East Shopping Centre, based in Green Street, London E7 – not far from West Ham’s football ground and Newham’s other recently built shopping centre, Westfield Stratford. Following its successful soft launch on January 24th 2015, East Shopping Centre has generated around 200 jobs for the local area as well as injecting much needed enthusiasm for shopping locally. Built on the one acre site of the former bus depot, the centre has retained its original facade but has incorporated the latest eco friendly touches such as solar panels, water flow restrictors, and carefully resourced building materials – protecting resources and saving money too. Green Street has always had an important trade and cultural heritage – my own mother bought her wedding dress from a Green Street dressmaker back in 1962 – and East Shopping Centre hope to build upon and become part of that heritage too.
So, what’s inside the shopping centre? Major Asian fashion outlets are represented including Zarkan of London, Andaaz Fashion, Memsaab, Imaani London…plus other non fashion companies including Urban Chocolatier and Coffee Republic too. There is a “souk” comprising of smaller, local stores selling everything from costume jewellery to mobile phones – menswear, shoes, bags…
Overlooking the shopping centre is a spectacular food court where you’ll find food delights such as Piri Piri Chicken from the Roosters chain, desserts and mocktails galore from Lost Asia, American-style burgers from Brioche Burgers… getting hungry?
Being indoors, the centre is ideal as an all year round shopping venue and with its late night closing time, your shopping pleasure is not hurried.
So, as I was saying, Saturday 14th March is the official opening day and from 12pm West Ham MP Lyn Brown will be cutting the ribbon. There will be lots going on – the centre will be creating a mela atmosphere with music, dhol players, face painting and much more. East Shopping Centre is also offering raffle tickets giving one lucky winner the chance to win a luxury weekend holiday for two in Dubai, £1000 gift voucher to spend at East Shopping Centre and two iPad Mini 3’s. The first 100 people to arrive on Saturday will receive vouchers to the food court worth £10. All proceeds raised from the raffle will be donated to Masoom, a locally based charity that supports vulnerable women and children around the world.
East Shopping Centre can be found at 232-236 Green Street, London E7 8LE.
For more information, you can follow East Shopping Centre via their website – www.eastshoppingcentre.com – or via Twitter @EastShopping; Facebook: East Shopping Centre; Instagram: EastShopping
Hope to see you all there! Happy Shopping!
All photos have been published with kind permission from Puja Vedi