An Interview With Sian Welby

My guest this week is the gorgeous ray of sunshine that is Sian Welby, the lovely lady that reads the weather on Channel 5 as well as getting our hopes up on the live National Lottery updates; she is also a presenter on BT Sport, Eurosport and ITV4… plus she is the female face of Electronic Arts… welcome Sian…image

Hi! My name is Sian, I’m 27, from Nottinghamshire and I’m an alcoholic! Sorry, couldn’t resist! Basically I’m a tea loving northerner masquerading as a Londoner, now living in Clapham and working on the telly. After 5 years of travelling the country, working all hours and putting in ground work I finally got my big break in 2010. The way and route I got there is certainly unconventional and here’s my story.

imageYou’ve been presenting since 2007. Have you always hoped to be on TV as a presenter or a weather girl or something completely different?

After I finished 6th form I knew that uni was going to be a waste of time for me. Time has always been an important factor in my life. I knew if I wanted to be an actress or entertainer I had to start the second I had finished my A levels if I was to stand any chance. I initially did a few drama school auditions, but to be honest I couldn’t afford to do more than 3. Some cost £50 an audition, then there’s the travel on top as well as accommodation if it’s a two day event. I was skint. Working Saturdays at Waitrose, doing A levels and learning to drive, it was all too much. I ended up on the ‘waiting list’ as they call it, for Mountview School of Acting, but when that fell through that’s when I decided to have a year out, save some money and try again properly the year after. That one year out would become five. After landing a job at New Look in a town called Newark I decided that I would just try and work as many hours as I could. Meanwhile, I had had this new idea of becoming a presenter as a few mates had likened me to Cat Deely who at the time was a bit of an idol. Mainly because she wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself and be silly. So I literally googled ‘how to be a presenter’ and a website called startintv.com came up. Once I had joined that I uploaded a pic, wrote a quick bio and to my surprise instantly got an audition. That audition would be successful and take me to LA and Las Vegas. It was an incredible start to the world of television and it taught me so much. When that ended I would get another presenting job and so on and so on until suddenly five years had passed and I was STILL at New Look. It was crazy. I had an advert in Times Square one day and was picking up sale clothes off the floor the next. That was it. 2010 was the year I HAD to make it. I remember having an unopened bottle of champagne in my house and I vowed I couldn’t open it until I deserved it. The year flew by, it was suddenly September and to cut a long story short after applying for an agent through a Facebook competition, I was asked to do an advert for New! Magazine. I literally had to say loads of words, DIETS, CELEBRITY, GOSSIP etc etc when the advert went out the line they used of mine was PETER ANDRE. Who knew that line and that moment would lead to one of the biggest names in media and publications spotting me and ultimately giving me a job on his new channel, Channel 5, as his weather girl. I started that November. Amazing. I still haven’t thanked Peter Andre!

imageBeing a former New Look sales assistant, you have hosted some fashion week shows and being on TV presenting the weather you are in the spotlight fashion wise (more so than when presenting sport, I feel). Do you pick the outfits you wear to present the weather, or does the wardrobe department have a say or bit of both?

Once you’re in the lime light you always feel under pressure to look good. It took a bit of fine tuning on the weather because you are only shot from the waist upwards. So I quickly learnt that dresses have to be fitted and shirts tailored. Block colours look really good on tv. Black actually isn’t great on tv, where as reds and blues look amazing. On the weather I have a green screen so I can’t wear certain colours. I choose all my own outfits, because I know now what works. On the health lottery it’s quite fun because I actually have a stylist and she finds me some awesome outfits that I might not have ever chosen myself. Always high street brands. You really can’t go wrong nowadays with the high street because there is so much to choose from! Oasis and Miss Selfridge are my go to brands.

imageDespite your blonde hair and ultra feminine exterior, you are a tomboy at heart and a gaming geek! You are the female face of Electronic Arts and Xbox 360 features the show on their live dashboard. What do you love most about the world of gaming?

I landed the job for EA sports the same time as getting the weather job. I have always been a tomboy and grown up, me and my sister were like brothers! Building dens, climbing trees and playing on a the mega drive! It’s funny because from working in the games industry I learnt that it really can be such a fun and sociable hobby. It’s not all sweaty geeks in damp fusty bedrooms, it’s so much more interactive. I got hooked on this snowboarding game SSX when it came out a couple of years ago. Basically it was who could ski down the mountain the quickest and most stylish. Simple. But when you’d get home, you’d get a notification to say your mate had beaten your time and suddenly the battle was on! I can get quite competitive, especially against boys, and especially against the proper geeks, because I knew it would kill them knowing this blonde girl had beaten them!! Last year I hosted the launch of the new xbox one in Leicester Square and that was a real career highlight, it was the first time live music had EVER been played in the square, and I was there, hosting it all.

Your TV presenting career has also veered towards the sporting world – especially the cycling events on both Eurosport UK and on BT Sport too. Do you participate in any sport? What’s your favourite sporting activity that you love presenting and/or watching?

imageSince presenting for ITV, BT sport and Eurosport covering the cycling I have really got into riding my bike, there are some beautiful parks in London and it’s a great way to see them all. I also went skiing this year for the first time and loved it. I think it might be something I try and do once a year.

Is there any style of presenting or TV role or job that you would like to try that you haven’t yet experienced?

I’ve always been sad that I never got to do kids tv. I want them to bring back the types of live Saturday shows I grew up with like SMTV and Live and Kicking. You can’t beat shows like that. You get to have fun and make mistakes and laugh along the way. It’s an ideal job.

imageMy youngest son and myself share a mutual interest in the subject of weather, climate, natural world, earthquakes and volcanoes etc. In fact, he checks the weather app every morning for the weather not only where we live but to check other places around the world too! Not only that, he has been known to role play as a weatherman in games with his brothers! When you was a child did the weather fascinate you?

I have also always been fascinated by extreme weather. I love a good thunderstorm! I would really like the chance to go storm chasing tornados in America. I just need to try and find a tv crew who dare to come with me!

imageYou’ve also presented the National Health Lottery Draw live on Channel 5. Just supposing you won a substantial amount on the lottery, what would be one of the first things you’ll buy?

You know what. I really think if you won that kind of money you should really think about doing something that would literally otherwise be impossible without it. If you earned good money you would get a mortgage, new car and set up a savings account. If you won good money, you should really try and make a difference. I would definitely start up a charity or get involved with an awesome project that would fall through without your input. I would also buy something ridiculous, like a pet giraffe.

Have you got any future plans lined up for 2014 that you can tell us about?

Well I’ve had lots of exiting meetings, but as I’ve come to learn, in this industry you just have to be patient and hope the right job finds you at the right time. I can’t wait for the next new challenge and something I’ve realised is, I really enjoy radio. So we’ll see!

imageBeing a presenter you have come across many colourful and influential characters I’m sure – have you met or interviewed anybody who was either your idol or has left you lost for words? Who would make you go giggly & all unnecessary?! Who has made a lasting impression on you so far?

I have met some great people. Actor Nick Frost is one of the best celebrities I have ever met. A very funny,very humble bloke who got me in a headlock on the red carpet in Leicester Square and gave me a ‘nuggi’ it was hilarious. Jonny Depp once looked at me and said ‘alright?’ That. Was. Amazing. Ha! It’s funny all the little moments you remember. I’m meeting Simon Cowell in June and I’m actually so excited. He really is an icon.

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

Fashion wise I always get pulled back to my tomboy roots. I love a pair of jeans with a loose fitting t shirt and a pair of converse. Although I am into fashion and when I’m working or going out I like to be in the latest trends. Recently I’ve been loving the big shirt and jumper look, with skinny jeans and a pair of boots. Although I tried out that look on the weather one week and someone tweeted that I looked like a little school boy! Ha!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Love ASOS, TopShop, Oasis, Miss Selfridge, Bershka and even Missguided the new online store. It has some right gems on there.

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

One day I must own a pair of red soled Louboutin’s. Even when they break my ankles when I fall over in them, I’ll still love them unconditionally like a child.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are great because I love wearing socks! Weird fact about me is that I always wear odd socks!!

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

@sianwelby on twitter

Sian Welby presenter on FB

Thanks Sian… it has been great chatting to you! The storm chasing idea sounds absolutely awesome… I’d love to do that too but I may be a teeny weeny bit scared but it sure would be an ultimate adrenaline rush!

Linda x

Photo credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Sian Welby.

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An Interview With Chanii B

I’m talking shoes this week with my guest, the vivacious Chantal Pilon, whose shoe collection has been wonderfully inspired by architecture, movies and clothing; as well as being born and raised into the shoe industry, with 3 generations of shoe retailers in Canada…. welcome Chantal…image

Hi! I’m Chantal Pilon aka Chanii B. Full of energy, I never stop. Slightly crazy too… you have to be – it’s part of being artistic and a designer. I need to be to keep the inspiration flowing!

You were born and raised into the shoe industry, with 3 generations of shoe retailers in Canada, having studied at Cordwainer’s College and having worked for over 11 years at Clarks, England and Kenneth Cole in New York; there’s a passion for shoes in your blood. However, as a young child did you have the same desire to enter the shoe industry or did you have other ambitions?

I always wanted to be a biologist or an archaeologist and studied towards this as I grew up, but my creative side was overwhelming; I wanted to create and invent something. I was working with my family in their shoe shops as a teen and tried hard to separate from the shoe business and explore other areas. Until one day I met another designer at a trade show and we talked about how I had a love for art and design and loved shoes. He told me I must go to London and study footwear design. It was like a light switched in my head and I’ve never looked back, I knew I would be able to fulfil my creative mind with something I knew and loved. So off I was as soon as possible to study at Cordwainers!

imageWhat do you like best about being a shoe designer?

Travelling around the world for inspiration then drawing what is in my head, then amending it, then seeing my final creation come to life. Every shoe, boot, handbag or accessory is a piece of my passion and love for what I do. All my passion and hard work goes into everything I make. I tell my customers every style I make has a story, so they are all close to me. Some styles I have worked on for 2 years until they were just right. So once I see them in the shop and sell them to my customer I am proud of the journey they took to make someone happy. I also love seeing my customers come look in awe and excitement when they see the collection… I bring smiles to people.

imageWhere do you get your inspiration for your shoe collections?

Everywhere… I travel the world and see all kinds of architecture, furniture, clothes, people on the streets, vintage… I get a real buzz and can’t wait to put pen to paper to get the idea in motion.

When designing your shoe collections, do you go for on trend colours/styles; your favourite colours/designs; colours/designs requested or that have proved popular in the past with your clientele; or a bit of each?

It’s a bit of each; what trends are happening and what I feel would be really new- but I also think of a few customers that each have a fit or style I follow…so really I think they are my muse.

imageNot only do you sell your shoes online but you have a fab shoe shop in Bath where you showcase all your designs as well as having your shoes sold in over 35 shops worldwide. Which shoes are currently proving popular with customers visiting your shop in Bath? Your website?

Best shoes are the Tresor and Coco as they’re very iconic Chanii B. The pony handbags (called Deux Visione) are huge sellers as well as they are part of the limited editions, where only a very select amount are made.

As your shoes are stocked worldwide, is there a marked difference between what is popular in UK and what is popular with your worldwide stockists?

No the client is the same all over. The Chanii B customer, whether she is from the UK or overseas, wants to find something different but also likes the idea of buying something you will not find everywhere, and has a real person behind the brand. This is why I have customers emailing me from all over the world asking for shoes that are sold out in the shops where they are…

imagePersonally, I love all your shoes but I have a soft spot for the Bebe heels in both fuchsia and royal blue ( I think it’s the stripy heel that first caught my attention!) And, being a boots addict, I couldn’t ignore the gorgeous zipp boot – I adore all 3 colours in that style too! Have you got a favourite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?

I have the Bebe in green and wear them a lot as they are really comfortable. I just introduced this season the royal blue which is amazing, teamed with all white and natural colours, and especially jeans. Plus I have the Zipp boot in grey, which are hot with all my new spring clothes. But my most favourite shoes as my customers know is my Coco pony hair shoes in fuchsia. The most comfortable shoe I have ever owned, with a heel! It is like wearing nothing on your feet. I have a regular customer that owns 8 pairs in different colours! I do have many other favourites though, as when I design them I get very excited and when they arrive, it’s as if I have given life to a new creation.

imageYour range also includes some delightful shoes ideal for weddings – I particularly adore the chablis shoe in ivory – it is so pretty and elegant and with a heel just the right size to elongate the leg but sturdy and comfortable to boot! Just what you need when you are on your feet all day and all night! What shoe style seems to be the most popular this season with your bridal clients?

The most popular is the Tresor for all weddings with the ruffle on the back; it is elegant and creative looking on the foot. You know you will not bump into anyone wearing this piece of art… with a comfortable heel height. The other best sellers are the Soliel t-strap, which is very vintage looking but has a flexible cork foot bed. I made them in many colours this year with weddings in mind. You could dance all night in them after a long day and still be comfortable.

imageWhich famous lady would you like to see parading around in your designs?

Any woman with style and a sense of individuality of course! Like Katy Perry, Holly Willoughby, Patty Boyd, Lily Allen, Emma Bunting, Rachael Bilson…

You wanted to achieve a brand that expresses the individual in all of us by incorporating limited editions, wearable heights, colour and creative pieces of art – I think you’ve achieved that aim! So, what can we look forward to this summer and what have you got up your sleeve for autumn/winter too?

imageThis spring was all about soft colours or monochrome. Mirror heels are very Italian and in vogue, so I have the highest quality Italian units with the mirror heels in shop. Like the Valour zebra pony hair wedges, Aloof snake print wedges, and the Voici low wedge in natural or white snake print. Very chic and very comfortable with a raised elevation while not being very high. But for dress wear I am really excited about the high platform rainbow unicorn heels – Mag, my limited editions for this season with only 18 pairs made globally. And I have a pair! My plan is to make a low flatter version of this pony as it is incredible and so individual. AW line is of course finished and I’m already looking forward to them coming in (but let’s not push summer away too soon!) I am feeling teal, red, and black with gold. I have some amazing flat boots with velvet trim and mini studs coming and I can’t wait to have a pair! Also coming in are my new cork foot bed dress shoes, which are cushioned foot beds with textured leather prints and mirror trims… fashionable and practical with comfort. Plus my new flat, up the knee boots in distressed suede and also in patent with mirror trims, will be arriving. These flew off shelves overseas as they were so unique from all other brands trending them for next season.

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

I love Custo Barcelona, well until it becomes too mainstream, I’m a fan. Shoes are always my fuchsia coco they are my favourite Chanii B. I’m also super excited to be the first to be showcase a new line of clothing made from 100% alpaca wool from local designer Lucy Cox in my shop in Milsom Place, Bath.

imageDo you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

Custo, but I must go to the shop to try everything on… I am in heaven…online ASOS for that impulse buy, but with all my travels I prefer to buy in shop and be part of the moment and experience of being in a shop and feeling the product.

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

A colourful summer dress, I’m always in need of a new one. Plus the perfect leather jacket and maybe even a leather dress to wear in the fall!

imageBoots or shoes?

Hmm that’s hard… I love my dress shoes as I like to not lose the identity of being a woman. But boots are for when I need to throw some attitude around and not be so dressy and feminine. But being feminine is always important to my mantra!

Links you would like to share e.g. Website/facebook etc. So that my readers can learn more about Chanii b shoes

www.chaniibshoes.com
www.facebook.com/shoesbychaniib
www.twitter.com/chaniibshoes @chaniibshoes
www.pinterest.com/chaniibshoes

You’ve got a fabulous collection of shoes, Chantal, and I’m looking forward to seeing your Autumn collection too ! Thank you for stopping by for a chat and I expect many readers in the south west will be popping along to Bath and your shop to experience the shoe collection at first hand… if so, let me know what you buy !

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission of Chantal Pilon & Chanii B Shoes.

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An Interview With n-1 Couture

From Argentina last week to Italy this week, my guest this week is the independent fashion company for women whose outfits are hand tailored in Italy, offering a look and lifestyle based upon beauty and sensuality in harmony with our being and the natural world around us.  Watching the cycle race, Giro D’Italia , at the moment and seeing the gorgeous scenery that is Italy,  you can not help but to embrace the natural earthy colours and florals that comprise the n-1 Couture’s collection.  Without further ado, welcome Darren …image

Hello my name is Darren Eryou and together with Paola Morandi we form the core of (n-1) couture. We have backgrounds in such diversified fields as fashion, art, architecture, graphic design and photography, which makes us slightly schizophrenic but also provides us with different perspectives and approaches on the way we do things. We live in a small town in northern Italy called Cremona and we have a firm and steady belief in local production and have always been convinced that small scale “artisan” designers and workers will continue to have a relevant role in the fashion industry. Empiricists by nature, we like to participate in every level of what we do. This means that we don’t just have an idea or draft up a drawing of a design and have it sent off to be made – we make it ourselves. Sourcing fabrics for us means seeking out local textiles, visiting them, touching the fabrics, discussing with the producer how they were made, etc. We want to know as much about it as we can before deciding to work with it. This kind of approach can at times be exhausting, but it’s the way we work and is ultimately rewarding. There is no stitch or hem in any garment that we have made that doesn’t reside in some part of our minds.

imageWhat inspired the founding of n-1 couture?

We had been working in the field of what we could call “couture” for some time – making unique, custom designed outfits for dance performances, video productions, historical reproductions ecc. We have always been passionate about what we call the “plastic arts” – a very open concept – but something that could be defined as the moulding of colour and form, like with painting, sculpture or film. The step to founding (n-1) couture was a big one – because running a brand is not quite the same thing as creating individual couture pieces, for obvious reasons. As contradictory as it might sound – one of our goals with (n-1) couture is to maintain that spirit of artisian uniqueness while being a brand at the same time.

imageWhat’s behind the brand name, n-1 couture pronounced ENNE MENO UNO (or N minus 1 in English)? Was it difficult to find a name that really sums up your ideals?

In our case, our brand name preceeded us. Given that we still don’t have aperfect grasp on the meaning of (n-1) one could say that from a traditional brandind point of view we are a bit unorthodox. In any case – (n-1) is an ideal or philosophy which guides us. The further we go down our path, the more we begin to understand the meaning of our brand name. It may seem paradoxical, but (n-1) is an ideal that we understand by creating, constructing.
In a technical sense, (n-1) means subtracting the “transcendental” aspect of something, and discovering that “something” as it is in itself, without any form of prejudice. In a simple sense, (n-1) means discovering a kind of newness in things themselves by finding new ways to look at things in themselves. This is praxis for great painters. Take Paul Cézanne and his paintings of apples. Apples can be a seemingly banal subject – but Cézanne discovered new ways of looking at such a seemingly banal subject – an in the act transformed the art of painting itself. It is an approach that doesn’t explicitly attempt to create something radically new, such as with cubism – or by extension – “avant-garde” fashion circles. It’s a form of patient discovery, a labour of love – trying to see things are they are in themselves. Slowly, day by day. With Cézanne we see the same thing with his paintings of Mont Saint-Victoire. Cèzanne wants to see the Saint-Victoire mountain in an (n-1) kind of way – not as a landscape or a postcard or as a pretty picture but as a thing in itself stripped of all prejudice. The mountain becomes a kind of living mass of sensations – majestic, violent, burning hot, ice cold, etc. So that’s what (n-1) means to us. “n minus 1” or “enne meno uno” in Italian. Hope that makes sense
.

imageMy favourites from your Spring collection are the Matisse drop waist A-line Spring Dress in floral Liberty cotton; Sand Feather A-line lace dress; and the Fluo tailored shift dress. What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our Liberty 2014 collection, of which the Matisse, Renoir, Seurat and Degas dresses are a part of has done very well. We are very passionate about Liberty so this has been gratifying – we wanted to engage the floral trend but in our own way – and that’s where Liberty Art fabrics came into play. The Sand Feather dress has gone over well, as lace seems to have become a constant trend and that has also been the case with the Fluo dress – flourescent colours seem to be in the spotlight this season. Our line of tunics continue to be a success and one of our big present and future challenges is tranforming our line of tunics into a line made solely out of GOTS certified organic cotton. We want to be as sustainable and responsable as possible but trying to convince consumers that they should be as well is not an easy task. We still have alot of ground to cover.

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

It’s difficult to pick out just one item – we tend to think less and less in terms of finished “items” or “objects” and more in terms of concepts. “Liberty” is a concept we really like – some dresses have been more successful than others in terms of what we sought to accomplish – but we see the Liberty concept as kind of having its own organic being that pulls us into new and often unexpected directions. At present we are releasing a series of clutch handbags made in Liberty Art cotton fabrics which is something that we had never planned to do but just kind of “happened.” Such are the pleaures of being small and flexible. “Sustainable is Beautiful” is another concept born from our desire to put sustainablity at the forefront of our thinking and we are quite fond of the designs and the packaging as well – the idea of making the consumer a producer through packaging the garments in planters together with a bunch of seeds to plant and grow is a small step for us in attempting to propose a more multi-faceted notion of fashion that can enable us to expand the meaning of fashion and its role in the world at large. So in the broadest sense possible – “Liberty” and “Sustainable is Beautiful” are concepts which we feel very much a part of and hope to develop in new and unexpected ways in the future.

imageApart from your passion for sewing, you have a passion for keeping the Italian artisan spirit alive – by using materials, tailoring and packaging in Italy. what place in Italy has most inspired your designs?

(n-1) couture has a longstanding love affair with the island of Sardinia. We could list so many reasons as to why we are so fascinated with this island but I think what intrigues us most is this kind of spirit of austure beauty which kind of overwhelms you. The history of Sardinia and its unique maritime position have given Sardinia a very rich heritage which somehow never overcomes the sometimes savage beauty of the island itself. Sardinia has been colonized by different Mediterranean cultures since the prehistoric period – yet at the same time it has always resisted colonization. Each culture has let a series of traces – but they remain just that – traces, as if they were small zones of intense ornamentation and articulation which are knots on a tapestry which is the island itself. It has been crosses upon by the Greeks, Romans, Phoenician, Saracens, Byzantines, Catalans, Genovese and more. But more often than not these cultural traces are expressed as tiny fragments in local tradition, customs and festivals. If we imagined Sardinia as a garment, it would be an enormous, austere flowing sheet of fabric adorned sparsely with small but functional exquisite ornamentations: a gilded byzantine decoration here, a phoenician decoration there. The ornamentations are signs and would never be central to the garment itself – and they are always in a kind of reasonation with one another.

imageWhich famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of n-1 couture?

We have mentioned elsewhere that our “ideal” customers would be either Monica Vitti in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “The Adventure” or Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Pierrot le Fou.” And this is because they are women who are forced to reinvent themselves and the world around them – they must reinvent “love, language and themselves.” So those are two examples of possible ideal “faces” for (n-1) couture. In terms of a real, present day faces or a famous lady we really don’t have a single answer. Nowadays the very notion of the “icon” or “face” is in crisis – it’s kind of dissolving in the high speed rapid rotation of contemporary media culture and it’s rapid rotation. If we were to choose someone who could still represent a traditional face it could be Laura Morante. We love her work in theater and as an actress and above all her courage. If we wanted to choose amongst the faces that represent the new kind of icons of our changing contemporary culture it could be Lorella Zanardo – a writer and activist or Annalisa Leone – a colorist or illustrator. These are also talented women changing the world we live in.

imageYour collection is full of colours of every hue – what colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

We are becoming increasingly interested in colour relations as compared to just colours in the strict sense. Pastels are definitely a trend this season and we have followed suit with our Liberty collection – but what we increasingly like to do is propose a complementary item, often worn in layering, which creates a far richer dynamic in terms of colour. For each of our Liberty dresses – Matisse, Renoir, Seurat and Degas – we propose pairing a colored semi-transparent top which creates a distinct colour relation with the pastel dress. From a simple white chiffon top to a subdued gold-green organza top to a more flourescent fuchsia-organza gradient silk top – the idea is that through layering the perceived “sum” of the colours creates a sensation which is greater than the simple addition of colours. This was something discovered in colour theory or in pointillist painting in the 19th century called “colour contrast” – two colours, juxtaposed or overlapping – have the effect of a third colour when seen from a distance. We can call these colours something like “colours of the eye and mind” – if we juxtapose two primary colours we will peceive a third colour which has an intensity much greater than the sum of the two primary colours alone. So these kinds of colour relations interest us more and more. We are currently working on some flourescent designs but what interests us most is finding a way to increase the perceived intensity of the colours through “complementary” items with varying colours.

imageLooking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014 – what styles/colours do you hope to see being worn?

We will be moving forward with our Liberty 2014 and Sustainable is Beautiful collections with neutral and soft tones for autumn. The so called “street style” or “luxe sport” is something that we have begun working on with our “Inuit” hoodies in boiled wool and is a style we are developing in our own individual way – the idea of mixing couture with wearable and athletic sihlouettes is something destined to grow as the line between haute couture and everyday life continues to blur. Layering is also a trend we will be following up on. And, of course, knitwear. Which will be a big step for us.

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

Argh! This is a question we want might to skip. We put everything including all of our energy into what we make – what we wear boils down to what is most comfortable to work in. A pair of supergas, jeans, linen smocks. Essential and extremely practical.

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

One online store which has always stood out for us is Nastygal. Beyond the whole issue of content driven e-commerce which Nastygal does so well, there is an underlying sense of style and “essentialness” which make it stand out from the others. It’s chic but there’s something so fun and elegant about it at the same time. And that takes talent – so it’s a well earned success.

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

As far as shoes go – anything by Charline de Luca will definitely go into the wish list. For clothing – Antonio Marras.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, shoes, shoes…It’s not that we don’t like boots – quite the contrary, it’s just that we weren’t genetically constructed for them.

Any links you would like to share so that readers can find out more about n-1 couture

Our website is www.nmeno1.com and drop by and visit us at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nmenouno.couture.3
Twitter: www.twitter.com/nmeno1_couture
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nmeno1
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nmeno1
Google+: www.plus.google.com/b/109586194278781359290/+Nmeno1

Thank you very much for talking to me tonight, the essence of Italy has certainly captured me and I’m sure that many blog readers will feel just as inspired….

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with the kind permission of n-1 Couture

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An Interview With Bizi Buenos Aires

On this week’s blog I’m going south of the Equator to the land of the tango, cowboys. steak and leather… Argentina! I’ve been chatting (or nattering!) with the delightful Meredith who has designed some rather funky luxury handbags and accessories for playful personalities, all handcrafted in Buenos Aires and inspired by the energetic explosions of colour found not only in Argentina but throughout Latin America!  So, Meredith, a big warm Hola to you!

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Hi! My name Meredith Wilkins a Virginia girl, turned expat, accessories designer living in Buenos Aires with my darling dog Biscuit with the goal of creating accessories that are so yummy you might just want to eat them.

You spent years working in the fields of technology and real estate in Virginia, so what inspired you to change career direction, start up your business and move to Buenos Aires?

I have been a maker/designer of all kinds of things since I was very young. At age 4, I went to an Egyptian mummy exhibit and was floored by the ornate jewelry and decoration. Using items from my granddaddy’s junk drawers and workshop I made an elaborate headpiece inspired by my girl Cleopatra. I was so happy making it and even prouder wearing it around. These creative projects never ceased. But while I have a very creative mom, a creative career in my family was never given much attention. So I never esteemed design or art as a career for myself and I discounted my creative abilities because they didn’t feel like hard work. So this industry change has been coming for a while it just took me a while to figure it out. I moved to Buenos Aires for many reasons, but one was just the access to great leather and craftsman to make this possible. The outdoor cafes and handsome polo players don’t hurt either!

imageYour bags have been created for women with outgoing & playful personalities! When choosing designs/styles/colours for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?

I really don’t start designing thinking about any specific handbag trends, but I do think we are all exposed to a lot of the same art, culture and fashion, etc. so that there is a general wavelength from which all designers draw inspiration and it results in designs that may be considered “on trend.” I do like to make sure that I offer handbag shapes that are appealing and complementary to some of the current clothing designs and any prints I may be developing. For my next collections Fall/ Winter + Resort, everything started with an abstract painting and another one a random doodle, which I have developed into a print for leather and was the foundation for the whole collection. I definitely create pieces that I would like to wear.

How did you come up with your brand name, “Bizi”?

I always wanted a name that was easy to remember and a bit unplaceable. My feisty mutt Biscuit or Bizcocho in Spanish was christened by her Argentine amigos as Biz or Bizi. And quite frankly, she is a total inspiration to me every day in innumerable ways. So because this project was so dear to me just like her – it fit. 

imageMy absolute favourite of your bags is the very funky futuristic Llao Llao Pleiades Collection Large Tote. To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

Thank you! Actually it would be that one and the large frame in the same Pleiades collection. The Lucite geometric mirrors give what is a classic shape an ultra contemporary space aged feel. The silver leather is muted so it provides a nice contrast with the Lucite mirrors. And this silver leather is amazing, goes with everything and is a year round item.

imageOut of all the handbags on your website, what is or has been your favourite?

I love the same ones you do. The Pleiades Llao Llao bag is so striking, but also practical as it fits everything plus your small dog and so comfortable to wear. But I also ADORE the pink Nahuala Palermo Chico small frame satchel. The pink print is tribal but feminine, and I developed it from a collection of vintage Guatemalan textiles I have collected. I use this as a cross-body bag for running errands or going out to lunch. It holds all the essentials and the hand-forged custom frame hints of the fabulous French ironwork found throughout Buenos Aires. The Lucite rooster makes it a little quirky and upbeat. And it goes great with jeans or a dress. So quite a versatile little satchel.

Your designs cannot fail to be inspired by the energetic explosions of colour found throughout Latin America – from the sultry Argentine Tango dancers to vibrant flora colours of the jungle, the white sands and the azure seas….I’m dreaming now!! What place have you visited that really had the WOW factor and gave your imagination a real boost? What place would you love to visit for inspiration if you could?

The indigenous markets I have explored in Ecuador and Mexico have been great sources of inspiration for all their colorful and geometric textiles. In Latin America, I want to go to Guatemala and Peru next. These markets from what I discern online will be for me like walking into a colorful candy shop. Plus I love to see the process behind how their textiles are made and the love and pride that goes into their pieces.

India is right now is tops on my list. But if I go, I really want it to be for a month at least so I have to figure that out. And I think that will be after I am feeling better! Online, I am getting to know each region of India and the textiles for which they are famous. Also I am a fan of many a Bollywood movie with all their color, music and beautiful costumes, I could happily draw inspiration just from Bollywood for years to come.

imageTalking of women with outgoing & playful personalities earlier, and bearing in mind you’re based in Argentina, I could just imagine your bags would have been Eva Peron’s cup of tea as well as the feisty Madonna who plays her character in the film, Evita (one of my favourite films!) What famous lady, dead or alive, would you love to see wearing your handbag with pride?

Well, if you visit Buenos Aires you must visit the Museo de Evita, which is home to a lot of Eva Peron’s dresses, hats, handbags and shoes on display. Afterwards you can have a wonderful brunch in the outdoor garden café. It’s a lovely place, nestled beneath a green, tree-line street in Palermo Chico. Since you are talking along the lines of Eva Peron, then I would say I would be honored to have beautiful Argentine born, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands wear a Bizi handbag. Couldn’t get much better than that!

imageHave you got plans to extend your range in the future?

Yes! I am adding about 6-8 new styles and some complementary necklaces for FW and Resort as well as adding some coordinating solids that compliment the upcoming, featured prints. But still in interesting leather finishes that I think Bizi customers will love!

Unfortunately, you were diagnosed as suffering from the debilitating disease, Lyme Disease, which at first put paid to your designing ambitions. How hard was it to overcome the problems and actually get your dream career going in the end?

Well, very hard. I had just started with this business when I started getting sick, It took a long time to get properly diagnosed and this project was put on hold. But I regarded getting healthy as my new full time job and went about it with extreme intensity. A tube was placed into my heart, which was used to pump in strong antibiotics every day for over a year. This was the nuclear option and I made some good improvements, but eventually went downhill again. I then researched alternative treatments and one was extremely helpful. I am better in some ways, but not 100%. But I plan on getting there ASAP. So it is an added challenge because I still deal with a lot of unpleasant symptoms that I have to manage while growing a business. However, Bizi has definitely been a medicinal outlet for my own creative expression and a wonderfully positive distraction. I think when we go through trying times it is important to surround yourself with uplifting art, design, music and movies that energize you. And that is what I hope comes through in my designs because I am creating what I am most craving now! Bizi is meant for the girl who wishes to inject a little levity and festive whimsy into her life. For her life is serious enough, so fashion is her refuge for all things quirky fun and joyful!

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

Argentina is very casual. So when I “dress up” its mostly casual chic. I live in jeans and I like to dress them up with a cool top, statement necklace or colorful scarf and of course a great bag. I tend to gravitate towards expressive accessories paired with quirky basics as a general rule. But since I am at the dog park a lot and out visiting suppliers my day is more dirty than dressy and I can assure you this look is far less interesting and may even require a fashion intervention! HAH! Just keeping it real!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Well in Argentina, I love JT by JT because she stands out for being more experimental, Tramando for his futuristic clothes and interesting transfer prints. I also love Rapsodia for ethnic inspired clothes and scarves that are very wearable.

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

Like most expats living here, I have a HUGE clothing list when I head back to the U.S. There are amazing designers here, but there isn’t any consistency to sizes so most expats unless super petite can find shopping hit or miss. So I can’t wait to go home and stock up. Right now I want a really nice classic black leather biker-jacket, which I hope I can find here. And I’ll take most any shoe by Sophia Webster although I can’t promise I can walk well in them.

Boots or Shoes?

It just depends on what I am wearing and my mood. Because Buenos Aires has a short winter I try to get away with sandals as long as possible which I adore best of all. I am pretty clumsy in heels so flats are my friend. Come winter I live in boots because I am always freezing. Argentina is great because there are only 2 months that are really cold so the rest of the year I can try to get away with my beloved sandals.

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

I’d love to connect with your readers!

Also be sure sign up to our emailing list for 15% off your first purchase over on on our blog!

http://shopbizi.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shopbizi

Twitter: http://twitter.com/bizibuenosaires

 

I hope you find your black biker jacket Meredith, it’s the one item in my wardrobe that has constant wear – with jeans or dresses! Thanks for introducing us to your  fab bag collection and I am sure that many of my outgoing readers will be heading for your website for a taste of Latina fun! 

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Bizi Buenos Aires/Meredith Wilkins.

 

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An Interview With Wear Eponymous

Hailing from Glasgow,  new fashion brand Wear Eponymous have introduced a fresh and fun approach  by strongly championing emerging designers and showcasing exciting limited edition lines as well as believing the fact that everybody should embrace their individuality.  So this week I’m chatting to the lovely three founders – Elaine, Laura and Alan, to find out more …welcome…image

ALAN: Hi! Wear Eponymous is a new fashion brand with a fresh and fun approach to the industry we know, love and as individuals have worked in for many years. We think everyone should embrace their individuality and eponymous means uniquely you. Shopping with us you’re choosing to dress for yourself, to follow key trends without following the crowd and, most importantly, be your own story.

You’ve all got good vast knowledge of the fashion industry from the photographic, MUA, and technical knowhow. What inspired the founding of Wear Eponymous?

We wanted to create a sustainable future for ourselves after many years working as freelancers but we have key goals to achieve that align ethically with our own sustainability plans. As many creatives will tell you, there is very much a ‘working for free’ attitude that has crept in to the creative industries (and others) over the last few years and we want to address this. We feel that providing quality products at affordable prices will allow us to achieve our goals of sustainability and in return will allow us to pay creatives and give something back to people in the industry.

imageYour idea is that everyone should embrace their individuality and the word “eponymous” means “uniquely you”. So who thought up the brand name? Was it difficult to find a name that really sums up your ideals?

We wanted to create a sustainable future for ourselves after many years working as freelancers but we have key goals to achieve that align ethically with our own sustainability plans. As many creatives will tell you, there is very much a ‘working for free’ attitude that has crept in to the creative industries (and others) over the last few years and we want to address this. We feel that providing quality products at affordable prices will allow us to achieve our goals of sustainability and in return will allow us to pay creatives and give something back to people in the industry.

imageYou’re a new fashion brand with a fresh & fun approach to fashion and you also feel strongly about championing emerging designers, such as your first guest emerging designer, fellow Scot, Laura Sherriffs. So, when designing or choosing outfits to represent your brand, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

LAURA: As a team, we have an extensive background working within the fashion and beauty industries and as a result, working at the likes of London Fashion Week helped to educate us in trend forecasting and observe the process of runway collections translating into high-street everyday looks. When choosing collections to represent our brand, we’re always mindful of our customer base and combine their thoughts with trend forecasting to deliver an affordable but high-quality product. When it comes to selecting our emerging designers, we use a criteria of exceptional talent and originality of design.

My favourites from your collection are the turquoise checkered shirt and the black classic clutch bag. What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The dress collection in particular has been very popular and we have seen a sellout in our classic black bag.

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

I’m torn between the contrast collar dress and the high-waisted faux-leather skirt! The great thing is our products are designed to be extremely flattering on the body and as a petite but curvy lady, the struggle to find dresses and skirts that don’t swamp my figure up is over! The contrast collar dress is completely timeless, but with the collar, it adds that little element of personality other little black dresses are missing. As for the high-waisted faux-leather skirt – being a fan of leatherette textures, it’s perfect for helping the transition into spring/summer – black faux-leather is too harsh for summer! It teams up perfectly with pastels.

Wear Eponymous aims to prioritise good ethics in everything you do from chosen suppliers through to product packaging and model casting. How important is it to you and your designers that your models promote a positive body image?

ELAINE: We think it’s so important to promote a healthy image as life is tough enough without scrutinising your body and focusing on what you don’t like or wish was different. No-one is perfect and we don’t want to promote an unachievable image. We want everyone to embrace our tagline of ‘be your own story’ and encourage our customers to dress for themselves.

imageWhich famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of Wear Eponymous?

We love and admire anyone who has fun with fashion and dresses for themselves. From a fun point of view, someone like Paloma Faith clearly epitomises ‘be your own story’ and injects so much of her personality into her outfit choices and we love that! We select pieces that fit with trends but are also timeless too so a classic beauty such as Jourdan Dunn fits our eponymous ethos; you instantly know her style.

Your collection is full of cutesy pastels and striking monochrome – What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

Always a fan of pastels, I’m really channelling baby blue and pink! The blue hues seen in our pastel skinny jeans and pastel blazers are so fresh and bright – just what we need after what seems a very long and miserable winter. I’m always a champion of monochrome as it really is seasonless – it will never go out of fashion, but as always, in summer I lean more towards white, and in winter towards Black. The third trend I’m really tapping into this season is “Geo” – which is the trend based off of an earthy palette. Nudes and earthy tones are very underrated and used, but incredibly complimentary to all skin tones – the trick is to select the right hue for you. I’m personally in love with the W.E. Classic trench coat in beige – the toning is so rich and unusual for a trench coat.

imageLooking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014 – what styles/ colours / era do you hope to see being worn?

There is a fair emphasis on a neutral colour palette predicted – a lot of grey, black and nude tones present on the A/W 2014/15 runways. That being said, there’s also hints at colour bursting through, particularly in tones of burgundy, purple and burnt orange, as well as a touch of deep blue. In terms of shape, we’re definitely moving away from skin-tight clothing and heading towards traditional feminine silhouettes, as well as boxy oversized tailoring.

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

I love classic pieces that are comfortable to wear and allow me to go about my varied working day knowing that I won’t be held back by an uncomfortable heel or super tight skirt! When I’m working on shoots or rushing between meetings I opt for a tailored trouser, classic shirt and a ballet pump or boot. I love dresses for events and will definitely opt for a heel then but at 5ft 9” it’s never too high!

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

I always like to visit House of Fraser as they have a great selection of brands (personal favourites being Biba and Mary Portas). Warehouse has always been a go-to for classic pieces and you can’t beat New Look for some fast fashion.

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

We’re already looking towards our autumn/winter collection, but for spring/summer we’re hoping to bring in some more pastel palettes in our shirts and dresses and we love the monochrome trend, in particular we have spied the most stunning dogtooth heels which may have to make a debut before the change of season!

Boots or Shoes?

This is hard! I’m always a sucker for a great court heel – get the right pair and you can wear them with anything! However, if I were to base it on trends, it has to be the cut-out boot – black for winter, tan for summer! They have a great versatility and I just adore how clunky and grunge-like they look with any outfit. Other classics include a Chelsea boot for a great 60’s mod vibe and a pair of tan Oxford brogues – comfort, androgyny and sophistication all in one shoe!

Links you would like to share:

http://www.weareponymous.com

http://www.facebook.com/WearEponymous

It’s been great chatting to you and learning about what Wear Eponymous is all about.  You have a great future in front of you and I’m sure you’ve gained some new customers/fans amongst my readers!

Linda x

Photo credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Wear Eponymous.

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An Interview With ROSAvelt

This week I’m interviewing Sadia of ROSAvelt, an independent British clothing label whose women’s clothing has wowed me with their fab mix of classic, contemporary and vintage influences. I really adore touches of lace, crochet and the sensualness of silk –  classic touches that can be updated each season to accommodate passing trends, that can also easily be worn during the day yet still come alive at night. Welcome to the blog, Sadia…image


Hi! My name is Sadia, founder of ROSAvelt. From a very young age I had a lot of interest in fabrics, colours and fashion; as a child, I used to design my own outfits and hand-sew doll outfits for my crafts homework. I embarked on a career in Engineering and Investment banking, but it didn’t allow me to pursue my creative interest to the degree I wanted. However, I persevered, slowly working towards my goal and after years of background work, research and personal enthusiasm, I was able to launch ROSAvelt in 2012.
imageROSAvelt is an independent British clothing label established in 2012. What inspired you to start the business?
I feel that most retailers and even designers are easily going out to markets abroad, sourcing products in mass quantities and pushing them onto buyers well over 4 times a year on the name of “Fashion”. Salaries unfortunately do not change with the same rate as does the fashion, so consumers are left out of pocket with these ever changing looks & trends. I researched the products which were loved by consumers season after season, year after year – call it the “wardrobe constants” if you will. These are the products which ROSAvelt specialises in. We want to bring evergreen, all season boutique concepts so our customer make the most out of their money and wear an outfit with many seasons, holidays and parties to come. Our dresses are classic, clean cut and tailored beautifully, with an added benefit of them being Limited Edition. Let me elaborate on the Limited Edition concept a little bit more – I once went to a wedding where 3 girls turned up wearing the very same electric blue dress which was retailed by a well-known high street clothing brand. Much to their annoyance of course, let’s face it – it’s hardly an ideal situation! So going completely against the mass production retail market out there, we are creating pieces in truly limited quantities using old school, traditional tailors. You’ll never bump into someone wearing the same outfit at a party ever again.

imageYour limited edition women’s clothing combines classic, contemporary and vintage influences. So, when designing your outfits do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

 I follow and research all possible fashion events;  red carpet looks, colours of the season, fashion runways, Oscars, movies, all-time favourite fashion icons…you name it. Sometimes just a passing by bus with a massive promotional banner can give me an idea. My main source of inspiration is nature, which is why I used a lot of natural backgrounds in the photography and used real pictures with no air brushing of any sort.

imageMy favourite dresses from your collection are all the floral printed silk dresses and the flower printed silk dress. What dress/outfit is proving popular amongst your customers this season?

Linda,you certainly have a good taste! Indeed, our silk dresses are proving quite popular – I like to call them our “Multi-tasking dresses” because they are made of pure silk, very lightweight for your holiday wardrobe, colourful for a summer party, barbeque or a wedding. We intentionally use pure silk to create these dresses because silk is natural fibre,so it adjusts itself to your body temperature, unlike polyester which sticks to the body and works against its natural temperature. Also very popular is our handmade collection which required a lot of effort and precision.

imageOut of all the outfits in your collection, what has been (or is) your favourite?

I personally love our pure silk printed trousers. They are very versatile; easy wear yet luxurious for all season wardrobes, especially spring/summer. I like the comfortable, no fuss look which doesn’t require too much time but still look fashionable. Our silk printed trousers always receive many compliments and I wear them with our lace tops for work, casual T’s for a holiday and with plain T shirts/cardigan for a day out.

What do you feel are the advantages of shopping for limited edition outfits?

I think it’s for women who do not wish to be consumed with the ever changing fashion industry. They want to own looks which they know they can safely wear for a few seasons for a few different occasions. Also, for women with certain taste who like the delicacy of pure silk, pure guipure lace, original jacquard and of course hand embroidery.

imageI’ve also a soft spot for your white embroidered crochet dress – it has a definite 60s wedding dress vibe to it – reminds me of the sort of thing that the young Twiggy would’ve worn!  Which famous lady would you love to see strutting their stuff in one of your dresses?

I can see Olivia Palermo and Big Brother House’s Emma wearing it. This dress was in fact inspired by an Oscar after party look which caught my eye and I created a more “wearable” version of it.

I love the idea of the monthly competition on your website, “Face of ROSAvelt” giving customers the chance to appear on your website and could potentially get a chance to model for future collections. What were the reasons behind launching such an initiative?

We are a young company and really want to connect with our customers. I mentioned above that photography was real with no magic wand techniques of air brushing so it’s something we want to adhere to in our future shoot, therefore we want to find models from real life instead of professional models only. It’s a win- win situation both ways because it gives newcomers a chance to start their modelling career and it gives us a platform to connect with our customers and see how they wear our clothes. We are open to ideas and all ages are welcome to become Face of ROSAvelt.

Your collection is full of bright colours! My summer wardrobe seems to be leaning towards the bright citrus colours, intertwined with shades of blue and snatches of red, white & navy too! What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

Yellow! An all-time summer favourite! Yellow is a very safe summer hit almost every season and I love the Canary yellow Crochet dress in our collection. Pink is another colour you can’t go wrong with; it instantly lifts the mood. In fact, I was reading an article just the other day and one of the recommendations to enhance your mood is to wear bright colour outfits – I couldn’t agree more. We also have some great new additions to our collection coming up soon so look out for Nautical dresses, Ceramic print silk and sequinned shift dress featured on our website in coming weeks.

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

In summer: Sandals, skirts and tops as casual and always a dress for some outing/formal event.Winter: Velvet skirts, Cashmere clothing, boots/heels etc. This winter I teamed our hand embellished velvet skirts with some cashmere plain tops for evening outs and they gathered many compliments because they are so lightly embellished without overpowering the entire clean look.  

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

I like Vivienne Westwood for her edgy looks, Marc Jacobs for his laid back approach and Jenny Peckham’s styles.

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

This summer I plan to experiment with many of ROSAvelt’s collection for nights out and work, I do however have a Burberry black handbag on my wish list at the moment.

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – they are easy to run around in rainy London.

Find out more about ROSAvelt by checking out their fab website:

www.rosaveltonline.com

Thanks Sadia – I certainly love your current collection and I’m going to give those printed trousers a try too!  

Linda x

Photos Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from ROSAvelt.

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An Interview With Valencia Christina

Rising out of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the sazzy city of New Orleans, my guest this week is not only gobsmackingly gorgeous but she has weathered bad luck and has emerged like a phoenix to grace the catwalks in New York City and New Orleans; as well as being on magazine covers and featuring in films … but that’s not all, this beautiful model/ actress/ promoter/ MUA  may wear a few “hats” but she also helps other aspiring young talents … Hi Valencia Christina…image

Hi!  I am Valencia Christina aka Vcbarbie.

You’ve been modelling for over 5 years, acting since the age of 5, promoting for over 7 years and a make up artist since 2009. So, when you was 5, did you hope to be an actress or a model or something completely different?

I’d hope to be a veterinarian or marriage counsellor. 

Sadly after Hurricane Katrina hit your hometown of New Orleans you became separated from your family members, and you left school to search for your mum. How did you manage to get your life back on track to pursue your modelling/acting aspirations?

Honestly I’m a mother. It was never my dream to be a model but acting I’ve loved since a kid. I just looked at it as if it were my hobby instead of a career. Where I come from you get through it. No matter what you keep pushing. Once I got in contact with my mom, my dad, my brothers and housed a few family members I was cool. Still very emotional subject and I’ll leave it at that. 

imageYou have modelled in fashion shows both in New York City and in New Orleans, but have you been on any unusual or strange modelling locations? Have you had any strange/unusual modelling experiences?

OMG yes! I’ve done a show walking on a bar, I’ve been in a show in water, body paint photo shoot, abandoned buildings…. 

To date, what has been your most favourite photoshoot?

New Orleans CVBtourism was my absolute favorite because I was representing my city and getting paid to do it!

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

There are several photographers I’d like to shoot with. A style I would like to try is GOTH.

Have you any favourite models whose style/attitude you admire?

I know you might have heard this name before but I’ll say it anyway… Tyra Banks, Naomi, Eve, and Meagan Good. Why? Each of these beautiful black women came into the game being told no, no, no and still continued moving forward and now look at them. Not to mention they also crossed over from model to actress and one even has her own talk show! I admire these women not only because of their ambition but the fact that they are still relevant and killing the game.

imageYou have featured in films such as The Green Lantern and the Revenge of the Bridesmaids. Just supposing you can have any film role you desired, what role & film would you love to star in?

Im pretty versatile when it comes to acting so I don’t have a set role I’d like to play. I have serveral names that I would love to work with. Producers, directors, and actors/actress such as Stephen Speilberg, Ice Cube, Tyler Perry, Kimberly Elise, Kevin Hart, Kyla pratt, Waynes, Taraji, Dana Elise Owens (Queen Latifah), …….. This list goes on and on. In a nutshell I could fit any role anytime any place. Just hire me!

imageStill on the film theme, have you got a favourite genre of films you like to see? Favourite film?

I have some fav movies but I won’t name them because you’ll see how much of a tomboy I am. LOL . I like action, comedy, horror/thriller and romance.

You give inspirational speeches and give help to other aspiring young talents looking to find their feet. What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to aspiring young models or actors/actresses?

Be patient and research your butt off! Get some training by credible professionals and make sure your portfolio is on point at all times. Depending on what type of model you want to become the research varies. (Fashion,Vixen,Glam,Print,Commercial,Editorial etc) But the most important thing it to do is KEEP GOD FIRST!

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

Normally I’ll have on some BEBE/BCBG jeans with my Michael Kors boot/sneakers and cute designer shirt and DVF/LV speedy/clutch purse.

Have you any favourite shops or online stores?

I’m really not a “fav shop” type person. I’m more of the ” I don’t want nobody wearing it” type so I go anywhere even a thrift store when I’m looking for something to wear.

imageWhat’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

Actually right now I don’t have my eyes on anything in particular. Just shopping and looking for pieces. When I see it I know instantly I want it!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots and shoes! Why can’t I have both? When I want to be cute I need my Girly Gianni Bini flats or Tory Burch. If  I’m feeling like taking on the world I like to be comfy and I’m not a sneaker head so boots are my choice.

Any links you wish to share?

You can follow me on twitter: @vcbarbie; on instagram: @valenciachristina and like my facebook page: Valencia Christina XOXOOXOXO

For All serious Business Matters Contact Gate City Management www.gatecitymanagement.com 678-249-3467

It has been a real pleasure chatting to you  and I wish you continued success in the years ahead.  I’m sure readers of this blog will keep an eye out for you on the silver screen and in the glossy mags …. 🙂

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Valencia Christina.

 

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An Interview With Booticamp Babes

Now is the time to get our bodies in bootilicious shape for the beach and the pool and apart from the inevitable chocolate blip at Easter ( and if you’re a mum, this Sunday too!) we have a few weeks to make an impression – the weather is warming up so let’s warm up our bodies too!  If you’re bored with the diet and exercise DVDs or you need an incentive to get going, why not go for some action that is fun, exciting and motivating? What about a boot camp run by women for women? – it’s a great way to achieve rapid fat loss, tone up and feel great!  Tonight I’m chatting to the beautiful Sarah who launched Booticamp Babes in July 2012. Hi Sarah …image

Hi! My name is Sarah Whitehead, I’m 35 and I have been a qualified nurse for 14 years and specialising in aesthetics for the last 10 years. I am MD of a fitness company called Booticamp Babes and have just launched my brand new Aesthetics Clinic called SW Aesthetics offering globally award winning products, treatments and procedures to help you look and feel your best, with the name you can trust.  I’ve been with my husband since I was 18 and we have 3 children.

Where did you get the inspiration from to start Booticamp Babes?

I was overweight through most of my childhood and pubescent years, so I have never been skinny. I put on nearly 5 stone during my pregnancy and tried every diet with short term success, it was the same old story I lost weight then gained it again. I then started attending a local bootcamp, started clean eating and exercising 3-4 times a week and the pounds fell off. When the opportunity arose to start my own bootcamp, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands as I knew I could add value to the programme and put a unique spin on it. I can relate to every woman that comes through the door as I know what it feels like to be miserable, overweight and unfit.

imageThe Booticamp Babes have an unique “Real Women Real Results” plan- so what is this plan and how does it provide a real alternative to traditional “bootcamps” and mundane workouts in the gym?

We follow a clean eating plan, no wheat, dairy, sugar,caffeine or alcohol. It’s not easy to start with but when the girls start to see the results it spurs them on to keep good habits and even if they fall off the wagon they get back on it easily. We offer constant support motivation and send out weekly recipes, meal plans, tips and advice, ranging from choosing a good sports bra to how exercise can spice up their love lives.We also have a lot of fun and ensure that no one is left out or made to feel uncomfortable. We offer our class’s to any women over 16, any shape, size or fitness ability. My nursing background ensures that I can also offer medical and nutritional advice. With being an aesthetic nurse I can also discuss and consult on what treatments and procedures can help my ladies look and feel their best. At the gym you start off with good intentions but there’s no one there to keep you motivated, so you lose interest quite quickly, we have a secret Booticamp Babes members Facebook page to keep everyone motivated and up to date with the latest news,recipes etc…. There are absolutely no cliques and everyone supports one another which is truly fantastic.

imageSo what do you enjoy most about instructing at Booticamp Babes?  Have you a favourite exercise?

Instructing gives me a real buzz, some nights I’m tired but as soon as I start shouting and hollering and having fun banter with the girls my mood is instantly lifted – it’s kind of a natural anti depressant that’s totally free of side effects. My personal favourite is a Burpee as it works your whole body.

What exercises or aspects of Booticamp Babes seem to be the most popular with your clients?

The girls like to work on their abs, as it’s a place where all women struggle with reducing especially if you’ve had children.

imageWhat 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!)

Most popular is anything ab related, for reasons above, Least popular are either one leg squat thrusts as they burn your legs or Burpees as they require effort and leave you breathless if performed correctly. However it’s our press ups that leave our girls with fabulous toned arms- they are so proud when they finally do a press up on their feet as opposed to their knees- it gives the girls a real sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Must admit I’ve now managed to do press ups properly but I still like to cheat occasionally and use my knees! 

imageYou have some famous supporters eg Sky Sports presenter Clare Tomlinson. What famous lady would you love to see strutting through your doors?

I would love Jennifer Lopez to come strutting through my doors, but would equally be as happy with someone like Chantelle Houghton, Lauren Goodyer as to me they are real women with realistic curves- women hate to feel intimidated by a body shapes that requires complete and utter daily dedication to maintain. However just by exercising and clean eating they are all realistic shapes and sizes and are happy with the way they look.

imageHave you had any funny moments that you can tell us about whilst boot camping?

The funniest moments are always the partner sessions – every Valentines Day we invite women’s partners to attend the session with them, the men think we just gossip at Booti but they are hit with the stark reality at these sessions. There is nothing more satisfying and funny as seeing the women whoop their partners ass into gear with the men dripping with sweat and not being able to walk the next day.

imageBooticamp Babes are currently in Derby, Belper, Ripley and Long Eaton. Have you any expansion plans?

We would love to expand in the future and have got interest from around the country and even international interest – I’m off to India in October for discussions on franchising and teaming it up with a well-being clinic. Hopefully it will be the blueprint to launch in other parts of the world.

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

When I’m not in my workout gear I love to be immaculately dressed, so I like classic tailored clothes. When I’m in my aesthetics clinic I like to look professional so fitted dresses and heels are the norm.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Zara, my daughter works there so I’m lucky to get the best pick of the outfits first. For professional outfits you can’t beat House of Fraser.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Mulberry Handbag

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes- as I’m quite short, I like to wear heels

Links you would like to share:

Check out www.booticampbabes.co.uk to find out more about us and my new website www.sw-aesthetics.co.uk, to find out about the latest aesthetic treatments and procedures to help you look and feel amazing.

Thank you for taking time to chat to me Sarah… I hope the predictions of a long hot summer in the UK this year will get us all in the mood to get fit and toned….

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Booticamp Babes.

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An Interview With Gate City Management

This week I’m truly honoured to chat with the suave, family-orientated and musically talented Chris from Gate City Management.  Hailing from Atlanta, the “Gate City”,  Chris grew up with a love for the entertainment business and by the time he left  high school he was proficiently playing 5 instruments.  But that’s not all… fashion is also in his heart.  So, without further ado, let’s welcome the man himself… hi Chris, a big warm welcome to the blog..image

Hello my name is Chris Waymon, CEO of Gate City Management. I am a musician, businessman, a father, a husband, and a friend.
Where did you get inspiration from to start Gate City Management?
I was once an artist myself. Growing up and learning the entertainment industry, I saw and experienced what it takes to be a successful artist through artist development such as, vocal lessons, stage presence, dance lessons, interview techniques, styling, branding plus many more. Longevity is what we are striving for through artist development. This is why the artists I grew up on were so successful. This is what a lot of artists now are truly missing and they are wondering why they are one hit wonders. So I created Gate City Management to help bring this concept back.
imageYou have experience as a producer, production manager, and event organiser as well as a big love for music. So what “hat” do you tend to favour the most?
My favorite hat will always be music. It has always been an outlet when I needed to express myself. Over time I have evolved to be a producer/ production manager, and event coordinator but each one was still for a musical project.

Gate City Management only seek those who have worked a minimum of 3 years in their chosen genre of the entertainment industry, and currently working full time in that said career.  You are not a firm for those seeking to ‘get discovered’. However for those new to the entertainment business you do offer workshops, conferences and career consulting.  What seems to be the most popular type of service you offer amongst your clients?
We are also looking for the next superstar, whether it’s a model, actor, or artist. How the entertainment industry used to work is the record label used to pay for artist development, but since most artists are looking to go the independent route they miss out on the artist development phase. Being the “Starving Artist” many can’t afford or understand artist development. So as of now our most successful service is being a producer/ production manager.
imageYou were born & raised in Atlanta so it’s hardly surprising you have a love for the entertainment business. In fact, Gate City Management is named after Atlanta’s nickname back in the 1800s, Gate City.  Was it difficult to pick a name for your company or was it just an obvious choice? 
It was kind of hard, because I love my city and the history of Atlanta so of course I had to do my research to find a way to show my two loves music and Atlanta. The problem I had was finding a way to represent Atlanta and still connect with others, because overall I want it to be a universal household name.
You went to Georgia State University and majored in music;as well as when you were in Middle School you formed a group which emulated The Fugees; so what career did you dream of having when you was studying?
Growing up I idealised Sean “Diddy” Combs as a successful businessman in the entertainment industry. I planned to be an artist, and afterwards have a record label. So once I stopped being an artist I could focus on my own entertainment company almost like Bad Boy.
imageI’m impressed that you can play 5 instruments including the iconic sax! What’s your favourite instrument to play?  What sort of music genre do you enjoy listening to?
My instrument was the sax even though I learned the bassoon, trumpet, baritone, and drums I still appreciated where it started from which was the sax. As far as the type of music I enjoyed, I like jazz & blues with a appreciation of the instruments and if it was R&B and Hip Hop, it’s lyrical content. 

Are there any new services you hope to introduce in 2014?  

I have one of my consulting managers that wants to do sports management so we have been discussing it but as of right now not at the moment.  We have enough on our plate. 

You have worked with talent in the past such as Jermaine Dupri, Nivea, Young Bloodz, Bone Crusher…. is there anybody (alive or dead) you would love to work with if you had the chance?  Who would make you totally awestruck?

If I was still an artist, I would love to work with Andre “3000” & Kanye West. I would also like to work Jay Z  from a business aspect of the entertainment industry. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
 A lot of people don’t know but I have a background in fashion. I am slowly working on three different clothing lines but that is further down the line. So I like to consider myself being fashion forward. My favorite brands are Akoo, Polo, and Gucci. As far as shoes are concerned, I’m a sneaker-head and collect shoes but I only like Air Force Ones and Retro Jordans, and Gucci and Prada dress shoes.
 
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Being that I’m 6 ft tall I don’t have many shops that cater to my height, so my stylist gets most of my clothes from different places. I’m  just not sure where from.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’m looking to work with upcoming designers to help build their line as a brand ambassador, so if there are any designers reading this, please contact so we can talk. I’m looking for something different.
Boots or Shoes?
Both it depends on what I’m wearing that day jeans or a suit.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and Gate City Management.

It was so nice chatting to you Chris and I wish Gate City Management all the best in 2014 and beyond. Don’t forget, my designer friends, to get in touch with Chris …

As always, join our Facebook group Boots Shoes et Al, for daily shoe pics, shoe bargains, and lots more …just press the button! Whilst you’re pressing buttons, press the subscriber button and be one of the first to receive my new blog post each week… I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Linda x

 

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission from Chris Whymon and Gate City Management. 

 

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An Interview With Alex Proud

Tonight I’m really proud to be interviewing the man about town, Camden Town that is, Alex Proud.   I can’t remember exactly when I first became aware of Alex – it was either through watching one of my favourite TV programmes, Channel 4’s Four Rooms, where Alex is one of the regular dealers; reading one of his highly entertaining articles for the Telegraph Men section ( I know I’m not male but I love Alex’s writing style and wit and quite often I agree with his sentiments);  or, hearing about his fab entertainment venues – BUT most recently I discovered that he had a love for Jeffery West shoes, a love shared by most of the men that I’ve interviewed as well as by my darling husband too.  So, without further ado, let’s meet the man himself….hi Alex, welcome to the blog:image

Hi! Alex Proud, pleased to meet you.

Although you are a nightclub & gallery owner & dealer & TV dealer & journalist, you studied politics at the University of York.  Do you still have a love for politics?  Is being a politician next on your impressive career list or is writing a regular column for Telegraph Men a sort of “political” outlet for you?

Yes I still love Politics, I used to be Charles Kennedy’s advisor, and I still actively engage with the Liberal party. Also, I am the Vice Chairman of the local business improvement district and I’m heavily involved in Camden politics. But yes, sometimes I do see this column as an outlet for my political passions.

You started your dealer career by selling Japanese art and eventually moved on to Rolls Royces.  Were you driven to selling items that personally appealed to you or because these items were in demand?  What made you opt for Rolls Royces?

I hate to destroy any romantic imagery, but I did what I did to make a living. Ha! But I do love British cars – I currently drive an Aston Martin and I love Jags – the new advert is fantastic; it is good to be bad!

imageYour fabulous famous photography gallery, Proud Central, was opened in 1998 and has become one of the world’s foremost private photographic galleries.  What inspired you to open such a gallery?

A series of coincidences led me to put on Dennis Morris’ Sex Pistols exhibition and when I saw the reaction it garnered, I quickly developed a passion/love affair that has endured since.

imageThe photography shown in your galleries focus on popular culture, encompassing rock & roll, fashion, sporting moments etc.  What sort of photography do you like to look at? Have you a favourite print?

Somewhat like the referee of a football game, it would be undiplomatic of me to express my personal favourites. I enjoy all good photography.

In 1999 you set the publishing company, Vision On, with well known photographer, Ian Rankin. I am a great admirer of the work of Ian Rankin, so I am well impressed! Do you do any photography yourself, as a hobby?

Yes. I’m a keen Instagram-er if that counts? But I have to admit I’m pretty dreadful.

imageIn 2006 you opened the stunning 700 capacity bar & music venue Proud Camden, which was soon followed by Proud Cabaret, the burlesque restaurant within Proud Camden; and Proud Brighton. What’s the most memorable gig held at Proud Camden? 

Most memorable gig would be the launch of the first Proud Bar, when The Libertines played…

imageBeing a bit of a party animal, having co hosted parties with people as diverse as Paul McCartney and Hugh Heffner,  you probably are not easily starstruck … so any great party anecdotes?

I’ve got hundreds of great party anecdotes. You will have to take me out for dinner and get me drunk to get them. Sounds good to me… 😉 

imageYour close ties with Mencap has led you to put together club nights in an effort to change people’s attitudes towards people with learning disabilities.  What inspired you to help in this way?

I dislike the way the British are obsessed with puppies and kittens and donkeys and we seem to ignore human beings with far more desperate needs. Mencap and people with learning difficulties are a wonderful way for all of us to put a little bit back into society. I only wish I, and many of us did do more.

You appear on Channel 4’s Four Rooms – I love that programme – so do you enjoy the TV experience?  What item would you say was your best deal as a result of the TV programme?

It’s great fun, albeit long-winded and tiring and I don’t deal well with the early starts that are necessary in the television industry. The best deal I’ve done as a result of the show is still purchasing the world’s first passport which I’m holding onto, but which I believe to be worth much more than I paid for it.

imageYour wife, Danielle, is an interior designer, Creative Director of your Proud establishments  and in her previous job, Head Designer at Biba,  so she obviously has taste too for certain items – do you share a similar taste for objects?  Have you ever done a deal and brought home or to the gallery an object which didn’t quite meet her approval?

Danielle and I don’t have very similar tastes but we respect each other enough to manage to live with each other’s differences. Yes, I regularly bring home things that don’t meet her approval and ditto the other way around. It tends to mean that things disappear. Like some sort of dictatorship when things randomly disappear in the middle of the night.

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

I normally wear Jeffery West shoes and Gresham Blake suits.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love ASOS, because I hate walking into shops. Again, Jeffrey West shoes, I have them handmade bespoke for my feet and I have blue croc skin, brown with flames up the side…

I like Mr Porter for the odd treat.

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

A new tailor that Holly introduced me to – he’s going to make me a suit. He’s called David Brooke.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Always. I just think that Chelsea Boots are cooler. And preferably with Cuban Heels to make me a bit taller.

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

Twitter: @AlexanderProud

Instagram: alexproud55

Proud: www.proud.co.uk

 

Wow, thanks for a great interview Alex!  If any readers are in London, pop into the Proud Chelsea gallery and view the fab photographic exhibition currently on show until May 4th 2014 charting the career of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna – as 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Senna’s debut as well as being the 20th anniversary of his death.  Entry is free.

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission from Proud Publishing Limited 

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