Shades Of White

“Shades Of White” is a clothing  line of the most gorgeous dresses, playsuits and two-pieces that I’ve seen in a long time –  timeless pieces focusing on elegance, feminity and beauty in classic designs with elements of white and gold. This is the latest collection of the equally gorgeous London based Polish designer, Agnieszka Klaput, who made her debut at London Fashion Week in 2014.  I caught up with Agnieszka recently to find out more about her stunning designs, her passion for art and creativity as well as what shoes tickle her fancy … Hi Agnieszka!


Hello, my name is Agnieszka Klaput. I am a high end fashion designer and passionate tailor. I would also describe myself as an artistic and creative personality. I  established AGA Couture London brand in 2014.

What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

My love for fashion has completely swept me off my feet; it became my passion and has overtaken my life as I know it.  Giving me a sense of achievement, my true love for creative fabrics caused me to diverge from my profession to fulfil my desire of becoming a fashion designer.


Have you always had a passion for fashion?

My passion for high end fashion started quite early – when I was justified  12 years old.  My first drawings of my designs and picking up new tailoring skills and techniques was my hobby. I started sewing simple outfits as birthday gifts for my nearest friends and family. With a helping hand of word of mouth, my designs became so popular that at the age of 19, I found myself creating some of my first high end attires for theatres, boutiques, dancing groups  and high ranking people in the business sector.  I have always been drawn to art in all its forms and as it happens my educational background closely followed my artistic inspirations. Having spent 5 years in my profession as an antique restoration specialist, I have never parted with my beloved sewing machine and constant demands for new fashion productions kept me incredibly busy throughout my regular employment. I came to London in 2007 with my family and as a mother of two beautiful boys I decided to put my fashion ambitions on hold… my love for fashion might have been temporarily out of sight, but definitely not out of heart. In 2014 I took my AGA Couture London brand straight to the catwalks of London Fashion Week and Oxford Fashion Week. At the same time I established a regular collaboration with Top Model UK. My designs are feminine, elegant, designed to empower confidence and enhance uniqueness in women. I favour natural colours and luxury fabrics for my designs, which constituted to my AGA Couture London signature.


You showed off your latest collection “Shades of White” at London Fashion Week (Oct 2015), this time using classic styles with elements of white and gold. What was the inspiration for this collection?

The “Shades of White” collection  was  inspired by the concept of contemporary femininity: strong, confident, emancipated yet subtle, gentle and thus stunning. I am also inspired by the fabric, its quality and characteristics. Once all is put together, having fun with accessories is simply icing on the cake. I believe that a well-tailored outfit can transform a person and I am always more than happy to help when help is needed. Why “Shades of White”? I brought this concept back with me from my recent visit in Swiss Alps, where I was absolutely breathtaken by the magnificent beauty of the nature. I adored moments in the sun watching shades of white freely move over the mountain tops, which left me totally mesmerised.


Out of all the outfits in your collections, have you got a personal favourite?

Yes, I do have my personal favourite. I know for a fact that I will wear A-MOCHA for few functions. I love the colour – gold toffee – ALWAYS elegant and contemporary, highlighting the feminine appeal. I love the fabric – I used the highest quality silk and guipure.  A-MOCHA is very functional and simply pretty. Best of all, it is not a dress as all seem to think, but a blouse and skirt, which gives you a versatile configuration of your outfit!


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

The stunning island of Bora Bora – it has the most beautiful lagoon.

Which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of the Aga Couture London?

Monica Bellucci


Having made your debut at London Fashion Week in 2014, then being present again in 2015, what do you enjoy most about showing your collection at London Fashion Week? What is, for you, the most stressful part?

The most stressful parts are the last 5 minutes before the show… and the whole duration of it in fact! All the models running back and forth, changing in the rush, adjusting the clothes, tidying up the hair, make-up so that all
looks perfect… as if it was all planned – it all really is a piece of art in itself. All this anxiety simply evaporates the moment you come out to see the audience to thank them for their time and attention… the warm reception, clapping hands, the astonishment on people’s faces… the recognition that it was truly amazing… that it was all worth it.


Each piece in your collection is a custom design, cut to the client’s specific measurements and lovingly hand stitched and embroidered. As you are based in London, are you able to offer this custom service to overseas clients?

In today’s realm you simply must go global. My clientele comes from all over the world – Europe, USA, Japan… Please feel free to visit my AGA style brand page: AGA Couture London, where you can easily and safely purchase our garments. You can have, as well as order, bespoke custom made designs.


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

I am a very imaginative person. I love creating, making different things. If I find a moment, I enjoy painting on glass or going back to my roots restoring antiques… but for my personal use only. I find it very relaxing and will always choose this over watching telly.

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

I like an elegant style with a hint of fun – smart look – it must be comfortable as my daily life is rather full on.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Believe it or not, I really  dislike shopping and whenever I can I do my utmost not to contribute to the negative impact of “fast” fashion. I will, however, invest in good timeless quality and revisit it and/or tweak it to suit my mood.

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

Definitely shoes – there are never enough pairs of shoes in a lady’s wardrobe! However, this requires quite an effort to get those most desired ones. And clothes… I create them myself – the possibilities are endless.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes of course… dancing shoes!


Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Aga Couture London
AMAZON brand page: AGA Couture London
Instagram: AGA Couture London

It has been lovely to chat to you Agnieszka …your collection is simply gorgeous.  I do like the idea of the white dress teamed with a bright red scarf and shoes.  Dear readers, what colour accessories/shoes would you wear with a plain white dress for an evening out?  Would you go monochrome, bright, pastel, metallic or all white? I’d love to hear your ideas, so do comment below!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Agnieszka Klaput.



Share This!
Pin It

The Life Negroni

Few cocktails have achieved cult status – but Negroni is one of them – probably due to its stylish Italian association, seductive taste and its fascinating history.  This week on the blog, I’m honoured to welcome Leigh and Nargess Banks, authors of the fabulous book “The Life Negroni”.  This book uniquely delves not only into the history of the Negroni, but also gives tips on composing the classic Negroni and the culture that surrounds the Negroni cocktail.  So grab yourself a Negroni and read on….


Hi! We are Leigh and Nargess Banks and The Life Negroni is our first husband and wife team work! Leigh is a design and branding expert, working alongside companies around the world through Spinach ( forming unique brand identities. He specialises in food & drink culture, luxury lifestyle and has worked with a wide range of companies from financiers, to boutique bars and restaurants, and fashion labels. I’m a writer of design, a cultural critic and founder of Design Talks ( making a living as a journalist, author and luxury brand specialist for publications including Wallpaper* and Esquire. I’m passionate about all things creative – be it art & design, cars & car culture, food and increasingly, cocktails!


Your excellent book, The Life Negroni, published by Spinach Publishing offers an unique perspective on the cult cocktail Negroni. What inspired you to write your book on this iconic cocktail?

It all happened one hot summer’s night in Formentera. Intrigued by the sight of a deep red cocktail in a cool bar on this paradise Spanish island, we asked the bartender for the name. ‘The Negroni,’ he smiled as we watched him expertly combined sweet vermouth, bitters and gin over ice cubes, adding a juicy wedge of orange. The colour was intoxicating, as was that first taste. We immediately fell in love with the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, the challenging first note, the botanical aromas that followed… On our return to London, we began researching this drink, its history, its composition, the world that it inhabits. Each bar we visited and every aficionado we encountered – and there were many – unravelled further intrigue. We saw that the Negroni represents far more than a drink. The cocktail expresses a time in history… call it liquid history. It tells the story of architecture and design, of art and aesthetics, of fashion, of passion and free spirits.… And so The Life Negroni journey begun…


Your book is very thorough and leaves no stone unturned – delving into the cocktail’s history, its ingredients, tips on how to compose the classic Negroni, interviews from aficionados and hotels/bars from around the world that champion the cocktail – accompanied by stunning photography. Was it hard to compile a book of this nature? Have you got a favourite part or chapter that you really enjoyed writing/researching?

Our mission from the start was for it to be completely unique to us, to be authentic, meaning we had to meet, visit and photograph, where possible, all the people and places mentioned in the book. We wanted to sample all the drinks, taste all the food we document. This was at the very heart of our project and something we are passionate about. So yes it did take just over a year to research, write and edit the book as we had to fit it into our other work commitments. It was, however, a hugely rewarding and enjoyable journey that took us to distilleries and bars around Italy, France, the US and in London where we met with some incredibly passionate and talented people. We hope the sense of adventure and discovery comes through the pages.

Do I have a favourite chapter? I love art and design and to be taken behind the scenes at the Campari headquarters in Milan to see the most incredible collection of Italian Futurist art work was behind thrilling… That said we are both crazy about road trips and our research for the ‘Negroni Grand Tour’ was pretty special especially behind the wheels of the stunning Bentley Continental GT convertible.


How many cocktails did you have to sample as part of the research for the book?!

Ha! Too many to disclose 🙂

Spoilsport! 😛 OK then, so out of all the bars/hotels which was your favourite spot to enjoy a Negroni and why?

It is difficult to say as each and every bar we mention in the book offers a unique experience. For instance the bar at the St Regis Hotel in Florence, formally the Grand Hotel, is where, allegedly, the Negroni was first made popular in the 1920s so the experience is unique to the location. But then Bulgari Hotel Milano cocktails are perfection, Agostino Perrone makes a delicious Negroni at the Connaught in London, as does Aaron von Rock at the Lincoln Centre in New York (where our reporter got so excited she did a head stand!), and Frank Boxer creates fantastically simple ones at Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar, the hip summer pop up in Peckham Rye car park. We suggest trying them all!


Are you planning to write any more coffee table style books in the future?

Oh yes! We have a whole series planned…

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love human interaction! And as we live centrally in London, in Notting Hill, there are so many unique boutiques to browse through it leaves little time to shop online. I do, however, check out fashion blogs for inspiration, and in terms of following design trends worldwide, I am always online.


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

Our book is on sale from Spinach at, and we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Thelifenegroni where we post daily updates. Please #Thelifenegroni.


Thank you Leigh & Nargess for the interesting chat.  I think this has to be the ultimate Valentines Day gift for your stylish sweetheart and a must have coffee table book for Negroni fans.  Who knew that a cocktail could be so interesting?! So dear readers, now that I’ve got your tastebuds going, tell me … What’s your all-time favourite cocktail? Have you got any cocktail based stories to tell? Where is your favourite cocktail bar? I’d love to know, so comment below!

Until next time, ciao! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Leigh & Nargress Banks.

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Inkerman

I’m talking luxury this week with a capital L  as I chat to Louise and Kiki, founding directors of Inkerman, the luxury British brand producing and specialising in bespoke gifts, trophies and awards.  With Valentines Day and Mothers Day looming on the horizon, what better way to say “I love you” than a bespoke design or one of Inkerman’s exclusive gifts?


Hi Louise and Kiki, welcome! Please introduce your business:

INKERMAN – founded by us, Louise Eadie and Kiki Grigson in 1996, was the first of its kind – we identified a gap in the corporate gift market and turned our entrepreneurial skills into filling it.

What inspired you to launch your business Inkerman?

We both worked in the corporate department at Tiffany’s and realised there was a real gap in the market for a British Brand, as we were continually being asked for British products


Who came up with the brand name “Inkerman” and the little red box packaging idea?

Our first office was in Louise’s basement in Inkerman Terrace, Kensington. The name Inkerman was chosen for its British heritage, being one of the battles of the Crimean war. The red box was chosen during a visit to the box makers; the colour red was chosen for its strong colour and relevance to the Union Jack.


I love your sterling silver rolling bangle and, in your exclusive pewter collection, the Westminster Jug. What gift products seem to be most popular at the moment?

Our new British Pewter collection continues to be one of our best selling products. We work with British craftsmen to produce our stylish range of tumblers and jugs which look fabulous and wear beautifully well. Pewter is wonderfully sensorial on the lips, enhancing the enjoyment of the drink whether a cordial or chilled champagne. It is also super durable making it the perfect companion for summer fun. And because pewter is the fourth most precious metal in the world, our range of tumblers and jugs will always bring glamour and a touch of style to any outdoor event – even if it’s raining and you’re wearing wellies!


Out of all your products, do you have a favourite item?

That is a difficult question to answer because we are so personally involved in the design of all of our products, we really love them all. However if we had to choose:

  • Kiki’s favourite is the initialled tankard which she has just given to all her godsons.
  • Louise’s favourites are the Tusk Elephant bowl and Chianti carafe with the silver trim. 

Your company specialises in producing one-off pieces, bespoke designs and special commissions. What was the most unusual item you’ve had to create or produce?

A hand-made carbon fibre sail trophy sitting on a glass and steel plinth commissioned by a private yacht company for a regatta. It looked amazing.


What are your party must-have gifts/ideas?

Our focus is always on the best of British and working with the very best British craftsman. Favourites for Christmas 2015 were named glass dressing table bowls and initialled tankards. A party must have is our fabulous leather tasselled clutch that comes in a great choice of classic colours, Navy, Orange, Pink and Tan – I don’t go anywhere without mine!


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

Yes we supply all over the world.

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

Our job is fully and completely hands on. It can involve visits to workshops, meetings with customers, designing new ranges and occasionally packing boxes so comfort is absolutely essential. We usually like to wear classic pieces like cashmere v neck or shirts, trousers or jeans and trainers or loafers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Louise’s favourite for something special is Mojo and McCoy in Hungerford, set up by A P McCoy’s wife Chantelle and the Duchess of Cornwall’s daughter Laura Lopes. Kiki’s favourite is Anthropologie.

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

Where do we start?

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers for comfort; boots and shoes for smarter occasions, when we need to dress to impress!


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

Thanks for visiting the blog Louise and Kiki – your gifts are exquisite and your leather tasselled clutch is a favourite of mine too!  For Christmas and New Year 2015, my candles (fake and real) and fairy lights were an important feature of my entertaining decor – I didn’t have a proper Christmas Tree as my two kittens would have had a field day! I did however have a small stick tree with lights at the end which was just as lovely. What dear readers are your party decor must haves? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Inkerman (Louise Eadie & Kiki Grigson)

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Shaman John Norseman

According to the Washington Post, in a recent survey, more than 60% of people in over 40 countries are unhappy and unengaged with their current occupations.  The start of a New Year is a good time to reevaluate your life, learning valuable lessons such as walking away from all negativity.  So it is with great pleasure that I welcome onto the blog today my guest, John Norseman, who after 20 years in the business world, including being CEO of 4 major companies, decided in 2009 to leave the corporate high rises for the spiritual life of a shaman. Hi John, and welcome….


Hi! ​My name is John Norseman, author of “Journey of a Shaman.” I was CEO of four major companies and lived in many countries. During that time I developed strong leadership and communication skills among people of many different cultures including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Spain, France, Italy, the Azores, as well, of course, my native UK.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Journey of a Shaman” – a motivational autobiography detailing your life journey as a former businessman to becoming spiritually attuned to the Earth and life as a Shaman. What was the turning point or inspiration that made you put pen to paper and write your biographical journey?

I was guided by Spirit five years ago to write the book, which is the totally true story of my journey through life with all its ups and downs as a practical, inspirational, motivational and self-help guide to help people change their lives to be what they want them to be. During the extended writing period Spirit put in my path various people of all ages and backgrounds who convinced me that this book should be written as the content I shared with them immediately helped them in a practical way. It inspired me to finish the book knowing that it would help a very large number of people.


Your book shares life experiences with civil rights, friendship, love, death and finding your place within the world. Having been CEO in 4 major companies, what made you decide to leave the corporate world for the spiritual life of a Shaman?

The process of making a life changing decision generally occurs over a period of time and my decision was no exception. A key driving force in my corporate career had been to re-establish my self-confidence by earning the esteem of others. Throughout my career I had been aware that I was a practical intuitive but had never acknowledged those abilities. It coincided with two things which were achieving professionally and financially all I had wanted to achieve in my corporate life and deciding to find fulfilment in my personal life by ending an unhappy marriage and starting a new happy marriage. We started a small business and it was from that point at the age of 51 in 1992 that I started to expand my spiritual awareness that eventually led to my becoming a full time practicing Shaman in 2007 when we retired after selling our business. After that I was free to operate as a full-time Shaman providing Spiritual Healing, Spiritual Guidance and Spiritual Teaching.

Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from, for example, “walk away from all negativity” and that “dreams and determination can help you achieve the impossible”. What in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you learnt from your life experiences so far?

Unconditional true love at all levels is the most powerful force for good in the Universe. Few would dispute that it would indeed be a happier, more content, better world if people put more love into the world than exists today.

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

Yes, it has been available to purchase in the USA, Canada and the UK since July 1, 2015. It is available from Amazon, Google, Balboa Press, and other suppliers. In due course it will be available in all English speaking countries. Since June 18, I have been in the USA and Canada on a 6-month book tour and returned to the UK in December.

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

Spirit guided me to write “Journey of a Shaman” in order to inspire, motivate and offer self-help to as many people as possible to help them find themselves, achieve fulfilment and peace of mind. I am now guided to focus upon spreading the messages contained in that book while still being a practicing Shaman. Therefore, at the present time I have no plans to write another book. It may well be that at some point in the future Spirit will guide me to write other books and if so, the topics would be revealed to me at that time.

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

I enjoy reading books that expand my spiritual awareness. One of my favourite books is “Power vs Force” by Dr Hawkins and is a book I refer to continuously in my work as a Shaman. I also read a book by Shakuntala Modi called “Remarkable Healings” which greatly impressed me with its content.


During your lifetime you have lived and travelled throughout the world. Where in the world have you visited that most surpassed your expectations? Where have you visited that left you feeling slightly disappointed or not up to what you imagined?

New Zealand most surpassed my expectations, partly because of the stunning scenery and partly because meeting Maoris whom expanded my spiritual awareness. The place that left me feeling slightly disappointed were the Cape Verde Islands which I visited as a refuelling stopover while crossing the Atlantic in my own boat. In the past the Cape Verde Islands were owned by Portugal but are now fending for themselves. There is great poverty and the Islands show adverse effects of climate change. Verde means green and the islands are now brown and very dusty.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you some book or spiritual inspiration, which place would you love to venture to and why?

I do not have any preconception. One of the important lessons I had to learn on my journey through life, was to follow my heart instead of my head. I learned to hear the guidance of Spirit, to go with the flow and to recognise that if a door was closed I was not meant to go through it. Therefore I know that when it is perfect time to visit a place in the world that will give me inspiration that I need, my heart will tell me. Because I have travelled the world on business, I am most content at home in Cornwall, England.

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

Boating has always been my favourite hobby, particularly on the open sea. I also enjoy walking on long sandy beaches and cliff tops overlooking the ocean. I find tranquillity and beauty in untamed environments and a real need to be close to water.

Personal Now – What outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Having experienced a long and active life, I need to begin by describing what I wore during my teenage and early twenties years. The “swinging sixties,” rock-and-roll and fun clothing. I was very much a “dedicated follower of fashion” and my favourite pastime was rock and roll dancing. My favourite shoes were silver crocodile skin winkle-pickers with Cuban heels. The latter being somewhat unnecessary as I stand 6’ 2” tall in my bare feet! However the shoes went well with my flared trousers, wide belt with large buckle, ruffled shirt and stylish jacket with high collar, square shoulders and wide lapels. In those days I weighed only 133 lbs and so carried off my peacock attire quite well! In my business years I wore Saville Row suits, a Burberry raincoat and Church’s shoes which were all exceptional quality and in keeping with being a CEO! In my leisure time in those years, I wore chinos and casual shirts. Once retired from 2007, I generally wear Lacoste polo shirts in a wide range of colours, Paul & Shark shirts and sweaters with German cotton trousers and deck shoes. I also now have long hair which I wear in a plait. It was a great relief at retiring at age 66 to declare that I would not have my hair cut again especially when crossing the Atlantic Ocean in my own boat!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

No but my wife does! I am very driven by the products I like and buy them from retail shops where I can try them on. The shop I like best in Cornwall is Trevails in Truro, the capital of Cornwall. Trevails has a men’s department which has good clothing.

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

My love of walking in rugged conditions means that I need sturdy shoes that fit my wide feet and last more than a couple of months! I have found that Hotter shoes, which are handmade, serve that purpose and I shall soon stock up for the winter!

Boots or shoes?

When I was younger I enjoyed wearing ankle boots and Chelsea boots. My current lifestyle has led me towards sturdy shoes for comfort, walking and several smart pairs of shoes for formal occasions.

For more information and to purchase a copy of “Journey of a Shaman,” please visit 

The other website/social media sites are:

Thank you John for a fascinating interview – a brilliant start to kick off the New Year.  I never tire of hearing travel stories – it’s sad what is happening on Cape Verde Islands but hopefully tourism would help to ease the poverty and bring awareness of climatic change in real terms.  A friend of mine who visited the islands was similarly disappointed.  Dear readers, tell me your travel stories – what places pleasantly surprised you and what places didn’t quite meet up to what you had expected/anticipated! Do share!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of John Norseman.

Share This!
Pin It

A Christmas Message



This year, the 25th December falls on a Friday and so this week’s blogpost is more of a Christmas message wishing all my readers around the world a Happy and Peaceful day!

Looking back over 2015,  here are my fun awards:

My Favourite Colour of The Year:  Navy has predominated my wardrobe  all year round!

My Favourite Clothing of The Year:  My silver grey cotton waterfall cardigan from La Redoute –  looks fab worn with my navy dresses.

My Favourite Shop of the Year – Online:  I’ve been impressed with BooHoo lately for both male & female clothing.

My Favourite Shop Of The Year:  Sainsburys Superstore at Weymouth, Dorset –  loved the shop layout in the clothing section and their summer sale was excellent.

My Favourite Boutique Of The Year:  Jeffrey West Store in London.



My Favourite Shoe of The Year:  Red canvas pumps from Next and my black lace ballerinas – a snip at £5 from Everything £5 website.

My Favourite Skincare Products:  This year I couldn’t live without the English Rose Cosmetics Eye Cream,  Garnier Moisture Protect Moisturiser, W7 Clear primer and Leichner Hint of Beige Foundation.

My Favourite Make Up Products:  Arbonne Black Mascara; my eyeshadow brushes.

My Favourite Discovery:  Jeffrey West now do ladies cowboy boots – not ordinary ones – these are truly exquisite!

Thank you all for reading my blog posts this year – your support has been fabulous!  I have a great jam packed year of interesting interviews waiting for you in 2016.   Looking forward to meeting with you all on Friday 1st January 2016 – I’m chatting to Shaman John Norseman – so please join us!

Linda x

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Tiannia Barnes Shoes

It has been a while since we’ve talked shoes on the blog, so I have great pleasure in welcoming American footwear designer Tiannia Barnes to chat footwear.  Mentored by esteemed London-trained shoe designer/maker, Sissy Puccio,  Tiannia has now got together her own snazzy shoe designs that she hopes inspires sexiness, timelessness and boldness.  Without further ado, let’s meet the lady herself ….


Hi, my name is Tiannia Barnes. I am a shoe designer and CEO of Tiannia LLC, the TB – Tiannia Barnes Brand. I am a mother of an awesome 11 year son. I enjoy fashion, designing, traveling and spending time with close friends/family. I’m always up for an adventure!!! Live.Love.Laugh…I try my best to wake up every day with these 3 words in mind to kickstart my day.

As a small girl, did you always want to design footwear or did you have other career aspirations?

My educational and career background is not in fashion. I studied mathematics and industrial engineering in undergraduate school. I also have an MBA. My career started off in engineering for a global company. After a few years of engineering, I moved into technology. I’ve worked in the Insurance sector for many years of my career as an IT Program/Project Manager. I knew that I always loved fashion and business but subsequently didn’t study either until later in life. As a kid, I never wanted to go into a particular field. I just happened to do well in a few subjects that required thinking and creating solutions. I’ve always had a vision of me as a powerhouse…not any particular ‘job’ association.

What do you like best about being a shoe designer?

It’s liberating and creative. You take an idea, then a sketch and manifest it into a piece of art that you create and people love. Great feeling!



Your first collection, for Autumn/Winter 2015/16, is stunning and the shoes certainly inspire sexiness, timelessness and boldness. What was the inspiration behind your shoe collection?

My inspiration for my “Inspire” collection are all things that have inspired me on this journey of finding my passion and pursuing my dreams. I’m inspired by color, travel and culture, fashion and anyone living their “truth”. Hence, my collection of F/W 15’ women’s luxury shoes are all named after women who have encouraged, supported, loved and inspired me…my Mother – Jackie (RIP), both of my grandmother’s names are Pearl, my Sister – Regin, myself and my friends style and personalities can all be characterized as Jazzy; and my sandal/bootie is named Misty, after Misty Copeland. She’s AMAZING!!! I’m inspired by her story…you must look her up!

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a shoe collection, which place would occupy your top spot?

Any place vivid and full of culture. Barcelona, Spain is definitely on my short list.


I LOVE the look of the Jackie heels – the spicy shade of mustard, the fringing and the very sexy metallic heel. Have you got a favorite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?

As a designer, all are my faves, however the first shoe that I had ever sketched was the Jackie, plus it’s my mother’s namesake so if I had to choose that would be it. However, my clients seem to love the Regin!!!

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2016, what colours, inspiration and styles will you be featuring in your next collection?

I’ve designed a wedge for the summer and an espadrille that I love. My color palette includes colors of the sunset and hues of oceans in the Caribbean.


Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady do you feel would be the ideal “face”of your brand?

I love what Oprah stands for and her business savvy. All around the TB woman that would be able to wear every shoe in my collection effortlessly is Queen Bey – Beyonce. I have created a line strongly targeted towards fashionably conscious women on the go. I envision the TB – Tiannia Barnes women as a go-getter, confident, chic, timeless and empowered. Whether she works in corporate, owns her own business, philanthropy, stays at home and occasionally likes to hit the town, etc….she has a TB shoe that matches her attitude – bold, fearless with a little edge!


Your luxury leather and suede shoes are constructed in Italy although designed by yourself in the USA. Being based in the USA, are you able to ship overseas?

Yes, my global logistics carrier is actually headquartered in Italy, but has US based network of warehouses/operations in New York, Miami, and LA.

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

My everyday go to shoe is the Pearl. Mainly because it’s a flat and it goes with everything. I do a lot of running around during the week so I need comfort for on-the-go. You will find me in business casual attire for most of the week, but I feel most at peace and comfort in some combination of a nice pair of jeans, blazer, and sweater, cute shirt using accessories and my shoes as my pop. I also love elegant events where I can really “dress up” and be adorned with a gorgeous gown, shoes, and jewels.


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

Yes, aside from my own I like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Anthropology, Free People…I like personality, uniqueness, variety and quality, all things I find at these stores and others. I also love visiting cities that have independent boutiques. You find the best pieces at boutiques.

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

I’m excited about the shoe new line that I’m designing. With fashion week ongoing globally I’ve seen a few really chic jackets out this season that are hot.

Boots or Shoes?

Sandals are my favorite…maybe because I love the seasons in which you would wear them. I think designers get more creative when it comes to sandals so there are lots of variety in styles to choose from in the SS seasons.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc. so that my readers can learn more about Tiannia Barnes.

Facebook: facebook/tianniabarnes
Twitter: @tianniabarnes
Instagram: @tianniabarnes

Thank you for coming onto the blog Tiannia and I wish you all the best in 2016! To end the year, I like to ask you dear readers the same question as I ask my interviewees – boots or shoes? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Tiannia Barnes 

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Will Bees Bespoke

Devon bound this week on the blog  to chat to Will Bees Bespoke, a maker of luxury personalised accessories  from tote bags and pouches to keyrings and notebooks.  Using over 500 luxury fabrics and the finest selection of quality vegetable tanned leather, there is plenty of choice to suit everybody and amazingly enough the large totes are still hand embossed using the old fashioned method of hammer and block by Will himself.  I caught up with Will recently to find out more about his lovely bags and his fashion passion too…..


Hi! I’m Will.  I’m from Bristol originally but came to Salcombe with my parents on holiday as a child and then we moved down here permanently. I’m married with two young children, both adopted. I founded a nautical clothing company called Quba Sails in 1996, which we expanded to 14 shops and a successful online presence. I’m proud of what I achieved there and it gave me the confidence to embark on a new brand – and to take the risk of putting my own name to it!

I used to own a couple of Quba Sails sweatshirts in the late 1990s – I bought them whilst at the London & Southampton Boat Shows.  My favourite was a pale blue half zip sweatshirt!  So, what inspired the launch of your “new” company, Will Bee’s Bespoke?

I’m always exploring new concepts and this is an idea I’ve had for a while; there just hadn’t been time to look into it properly. I soon realised it was going to be complicated; I found so many wonderful fabrics, it was impossible to choose between them, and I started thinking about how we could accommodate them all. It’s never been tried before on this kind of scale and that excited me. Once I’d decided to offer so much choice, and to give customers such an individual experience, it was a natural progression to add the personalisation element.


Your English made range of accessories encompasses over 500 luxury fabrics and quality vegetable tanned leather. So, when designing products to include in your range, do you go for uniqueness, current trends, previous popular colours/styles, your own personal tastes or bits of all of those?

It’s largely my own personal choices. Over the years I’ve grown to trust my own eye. I do watch trends too, and I’m keen to get feedback from our customers and evolve what we do to meet their demands. Some of the bags we’ve launched this year, for instance, are a direct result of listening to our customers’ comments and doing our best to fulfil their requirements.

You are able to offer an unique bespoke embossing service – for the tote bags they can be hand embossed using the old fashioned method of hammer & block; others can be embossed using your bespoke embossing machine. What do both processes entail?

Most of our embossing is done on a bespoke machine. We’ve selected our preferred font and it’s then machine tooled into brass letters. These are securely mounted on the machine and heated to 120 degrees. The chosen letters are then ‘branded’ onto the leather. The result is very accurate, perfectly spaced. Alternatively, I can hand emboss our totes using the old-fashioned method of a hammer and block. The result is a bit more rustic than the machine embossing – the letters might not be perfectly aligned – but it has its own charm and it’s in keeping with the traditional hands-on craftsmanship. Interestingly, most customers opt for this service for the larger totes.


I love the Emmeline Totes using the Liberty Art Fabric and all the colours of the gorgeous Florence pouches! Which products are the most popular amongst your customers? Any differences between what your visitors to your shop like and those that order online?

I haven’t really observed a different profile between shop and web orders. The smaller items – the Octavia clutches, Florence pouches, notebooks, key rings etc – clearly appeal to the gifting market. It’s premium product at a sensible price, and the personalisation makes them unique. Some customers have come in and snapped up a dozen personalised pouches or notebooks, and there’s an audible sigh of relief as their Christmas shopping list is halved! Others customers will have had their eye on one of our totes or maybe a Beatrix Cross body for a while, or will spend a long time browsing the range, carefully deliberating over which silhouette, print and shade best fits their personal style.It’ll come as no surprise that the Liberty fabrics have enduring appeal with a significant cross-section of our clientele, in store and online. It’s such an iconic British brand, managing to combine contemporary design with timeless quality.


You are based in Salcombe, Devon – do you cater for overseas customers at all?

Obviously for now the vast majority of our clients are UK-based, but we have had a few customers overseas, either because they’ve visited our shop on holiday, or come across our website or social media pages. There’s clearly room to expand here and it’s something I’d like to focus on. I believe there’s a huge market for products that showcase the best of British manufacturing.

If you had the chance, who would you pick (dead or alive) to be the “Face” of Will Bees Bespoke and why?

I struggle to align our brand with any one face. When we opened our doors for the first time in the summer of 2014, it quickly became clear that a much wider range of customers were attracted to our products than I had initially envisaged, from teenagers upwards. That said, Yasmin Le Bon pretty much ticks all the boxes. Her beauty is timeless – it’s hard to believe she’s turned 50. She’s been at the top of her game for so long and yet has remained happily married to a high-profile popstar for almost 30 years, neither of them going off the rails like so many in the limelight do. They’re a successful yet down-to earth couple. It would be a dream to have her as the face of my brand – although I would naturally hope to appeal to her teenage daughters too! I also like our brand to showcase our core values, such as being a truly British brand. When it came to naming our bags, we decided to pay tribute to some of the most pioneering ladies in British history. Our Emmeline Tote is named after suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, our Octavia Clutch after social reformer Octavia Hill, our Florence Pouch is in honour of Florence Nightingale, and so on. Interestingly, it was one of our younger customers who remarked that it was “Great to see things dedicated to people who fully deserve recognition rather than a ‘girl of the moment’ bag!”


Looking ahead to 2016, are there any future plans to expand your range of products at all?

I fully intend to continue developing new product ranges to fill the gaps in the market that our customers have expressed an interest in. We launched a key ring bar earlier this year, and in the summer introduced notebooks and men’s accessories. We’re exploring more full leather ranges too. I want us to continue to get better and better at what we do, while staying true to our roots and core values.

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

When I was about 19 I travelled to Biarritz, France in an old Land Rover to sketch surfers. I came up with a “Vive La Mer” logo, found a local printer and got him to mock up a T-shirt with the logo. I was going to order 200 to sell and fund my trip. I called my Mum to tell her and she told me I was mad so I never did it. I still regret that now! It’s the creative aspect I enjoy the most; coming up with an idea, developing it and watching it turn into something three dimensional. It’s so exciting when a sample ends up just the way I envisioned it.

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

For work I wear a white T-shirt, skinny jeans and lace-up brogue boots. Off duty I usually wear a graphic T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. We live by the sea in South Devon, so I normally wear a little sand between my toes too.


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

Double RL has to be right up there. The flagship shop in Mayfair is one-of-a-kind; a thing of beauty. The look and feel combines vintage Americana with the heritage of turn-of-the-century London. It has to be seen to be understood. I’ve heard it’s Ralph Lauren’s little baby, not necessarily the most commercial, but truest to his heart.
Mister Freedom, a vintage clothing shop in L.A. is another favourite. It’s true vintage, not vintage-inspired; the real deal. The exquisite taste extends right down to the details like the swing tags. A visit there feels like a trip back in time.  And I have to mention Liberty and their truly unique flagship store in Marlborough Street. They are so innovative and they do some great collaborations. Every time I go to London, and I check out what’s going on at the big stores, I’m always drawn back to Liberty. There’s a timeless beauty to that building, and it succeeds in being intimate even on a vast scale. There’s nothing quite like it.

Ooh yes, I love the Liberty Store too!  An “Aladdin’s Cave of Loveliness”. What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new slub yarn white long-sleeve top with breast pockets to wear at work. So simple and yet so hard to find the right one!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I find boots more versatile, harder wearing, particularly where we live – they don’t let the sand in! – and they just look cooler in my view. I bought a pair of vintage Sorel boots from The Vintage Showroom in Ladbroke Grove. It’s owned by a guy called Doug and you have to ring for an appointment. It’s a treasure trove. I love this particular pair; I’ve worn them to death and they’re still going strong. My wife got me replacement wool liners last Christmas – best present she’s ever given me!

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

Fantastic talking to you Will and I think your bags and fabric pouches are totally gorgeous – and mirror the quality that I experienced when I wrapped myself in my favourite Quba Sails sweatshirt!  As I said earlier, I echo your love of that iconic London store, Liberty, too.  The Northampton Shoe Museum is another place I love to browse around & lose myself in!  Dear readers, have you got a favourite iconic store or place to go to browse for ages?   Do tell!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Will Bees Bespoke.

Share This!
Pin It

Spotlight On Samuel Windsor Menswear

I do like the impeccably tailored country look on a gent – tweed jacket, with a lambswool scarf, wool jumper, moleskin or dark denim jeans, and a shirt…. plain or tartan!  Featuring this week on my blog is a company that has specialised in quality formal menswear since 2003, Samuel Windsor.  Come and meet them …


Your company has specialised in quality formal menswear since 2003. What was the inspiration that launched the company?

The inspiration behind Samuel Windsor is to create clothing which epitomises quintessential British style at an affordable price. The Samuel Windsor collection gives men the opportunity to dress with style and panache for any occasion, ranging from casual wear to formal or black tie, without compromising on quality or breaking the bank! Popular for its footwear, Samuel Windsor is renowned for its hand-stitched Italian leather shoes and boots, of which the majority are made using the Goodyear Welted technique. Again the focus is to create a smart, trendy collection without compromising on quality and available at an affordable price.

This Autumn/Winter, your campaign is very dapper country style clothing – tattershall shirts, wool tweed jackets, lambswool scarves… what inspired your collection?

Put simply – British tradition. The classic country style is often seen on the catwalk, mixing traditional green shades, brown hues and hints of burnt orange with tweed and modern fabrics, which help to give a modern twist to what is essentially a classic style. Our ranges are also guided by the seasons – for example, at present our collection includes warmer, autumnal colours and thicker fabrics.


What outfits are proving popular in the UK amongst your customers so far this season?

Our brand new Fairisle jumpers matched with a pair of jumbo cords have proved to be a BIG hit this season. Tweed jackets, tattersall shirts and moleskin trousers, finished off with a pair of robust, rubber soled, Goodyear welted shoes. Classic wool mix winter jumpers styled with casual shirts are also very popular for men of every age group.

When designing and putting together a collection, do you take into account the latest trends, customer requests, tried & tested favourites, your own tastes or a bit of all of those?

We take inspiration from many different arenas. In terms of new colour pallets and patterns, we closely monitor trends and the catwalk. In terms of product updates for our best sellers, we develop materials, technology and incorporate new colours and hues. Whilst we have many influences, our primary focus and inspiration always comes down to building the range most suited for classic British gentlemen’s apparel, whether this be in the form of covert coats, tweed jackets, peacoats, jumbo cords or moleskin jeans.

Which famous man would you love to see as the “face” of Samuel Windsor?

Colin Firth


Looking ahead to Spring/Summer – what styles/ colours / era do you hope to see being worn?

The “dapper” style is very strong and we expect this to continue into 2016, with slightly toned down colours compared to the bright / bold reds / greens we have seen over the last couple of years.

Will you be adding any new items to your range in the future?

For SS16 we have linen shorts in development, as well as some new lightweight summer chino shorts. We also have some new patterned shirts, a summer tweed jacket and finally, a check lightweight wool jacket.

You also sell a range of handmade leather shoes and slippers. What style shoes are proving popular this year?

BV251 – Prestige deck boot
BV242 / 241 – Prestige country boot
BV248 – Prestige Belgravia boot
The rubber soled prestige range
BV240 – Prestige dress shoe
BV3 –Classic penny loafer
BV1 – classic semi brogue
BV135 – classic sandhurst

Although based in the UK, are your clothes available to buy overseas?

We are now fully available in Ireland, and ship to a series of European countries. For the first time, we are entering the US market with our first catalogue out to market this Fall/Autumn.

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

What do you like about the “dapper” style? I’d be interested to know from both my male and female readers – so don’t be shy, leave a comment!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Samuel Windsor.

Share This!
Pin It

Let’s Chat Whiskey!

I’m pleased to welcome back onto the blog, wine connoisseur Richard Betts, who wowed me back in April with his fabulous “scratch ‘n’ sniff” guide to wine ( read that interview HERE). Richard has had a busy summer and has got together another fab guide but this time we’re chatting whiskey! Hi Richard … I know you, but for any new blog readers, could you please reintroduce yourself?


Hi! I’m Richard Betts, I’m a winemaker, author, master sommelier and mezcalero. I make wine in Australia under the banner of “An Approach to Relaxation” and in France where it’s called “My Essential”.  The mezcal we make in Oaxaca, Mexico is called “Sombra” and it will make you smile. I spend about 300 days a year on the road making and selling and am the luckiest kid around.


Following on from your excellent Scratch & Sniff Wine Book, you have just released your whiskey version, The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-it-All. So, what inspired you to turn your attention to whiskey?

Well first of all, I really like drinking the stuff! I also really like making people happy and while there is a ton of enthusiasm around whiskey there is also a lot of room to make it easier to understand and enjoy. Plus, our methodology of dissecting a topic, making it clear and then allowing the reader to reassemble the pieces they like to arrive at the drink that will make them happy works really well here. That’s the magic, everyone’s taste is unique and giving people the road map to their individual tastes is such a fun thing to share.


Helping would-be whiskey connoisseurs to learn their personal preferences by using a mixture of facts, humorous illustrations and scratch & sniff scents – this book has already received rave reviews … I spotted Sir Richard Branson amongst them. Was it harder to compile this book than the wine version or about the same?

It was definitely different because I wanted, in fact needed, to relearn everything. There was a point in time many years ago when I passed the Master Sommelier exam and all of that knowledge was really fresh. Of course you begin forgetting all of those facts the very next day :). So, I started from scratch and relearned it all which was very fun but it also puts you in the frame of mind of the novice which is very useful when your ambition is to explain something in an accessible way.


How many whiskeys did you have to sample as part of the research for the book?

We tasted nearly 500 of them – all blind (as in, we didn’t know what they were when we tasted them so we would be candid!) This was actually physically really hard but also really interesting and it took up all of last summer.

Do you have a favourite whiskey? Any whiskey that didn’t tickle your fancy?

I love Japanese Whisky as a category and Scotch from the Islands takes a close second place. Favorites in there include Hakushu 12yr and Laphroaig 18yr.


Your books cover whiskeys from around the world – what place surprised you most by having actually a decent whiskey?

I was really impressed with Irish Whiskey actually. It is dominated by a few big brands but if we dig just a little there are actually a whole bunch of small, interesting drinks such as Red Breast and Connemara.

Are you planning any more scratch & sniff style guides in the future?

Indeed! We’ve got a couple ideas – including a potentially somewhat scandalous one – that we’re considering.

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

The best place to start is and you can go everywhere from there. I’m also yobetts at everything – twitter, instagram, fb

It’s been brill to have you back on the blog, Richard – wine is more my drink but I am not adverse to whiskey!  So, dear readers, what drinks do you think would make a good “scratch & sniff” guide? Gins,? Vodkas? Tea? Coffee? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Richard Betts.

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Melody Carr

Nu-Soul/ blues-pop sound is well and truly alive and kicking in the English Midlands, inspired by  great singers such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and Dusty Springfield, with the gutsy vibes of gospel, rock and jazz added into the mix.  With the name and sound to go far, my singer/songwriter guest, Melody Carr, epitomises that new sound Midlands scene.  I caught up with bubbly Melody to talk about her passion for singing and shoes…. image

Hi! I’m Melody Carr, a 25 year old singer/songwriter.

Congratulations on getting your debut single out there & what a smashing single it is too! When did you realise you had a passion for singing? What made you take the plunge to choose singing as a career?

Thank you! Since I can remember I have always loved singing. I was lucky enough to be brought up in a musical family. So whether it watching my uncle perform in his rock band, singing along with my nan on the piano at home or sat in the studio while my Mum was recording, singing was something I just felt like I was meant to do.  Even before I realised I wanted to give singing my all,  my family would constantly encourage me to sing  – then it just got to a point that I decided I was ready!

“Turn Back The Hurt”, written & produced by Youngheart, is a Nu-Soul sound with, I feel a touch of the soulful blues in it too. You are also a songwriter in your own right. Who are your musical influences?

As cheesy as it may seem, my mother is my main influence. I had a lot of musical interests growing up but seeing the process of what it takes to write a song, record a track, add harmonies etc… I learnt that all from her. I am also inspired by artists who try create something new within the music industry, breaking the mould.

What do you love most about being a singer?

Simply the fact that I’m able to do something I absolutely love.


Is there any song that you really enjoy belting out, either on stage or in the privacy of your car?

One of my favourite ‘go to’ songs to sing is Amy Winehouse – “You Sent Me Flying” – the passion and emotion she sang with is inspiring!

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

I have an ecelctic mix of music interest so I couldn’t actually specify one specific genre. I obviously love a bit of old school Motown but I find inspiration from all genres of music – so everything really!


If you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

Very hard question! A random selection but as I like to mix things up I would actually like to sing one of my favourite songs ‘Master Blaster’ by Stevie Wonder with another one if my favourite artists, Ed Sheeran.

Hypothetically speaking, if you had to perform a song that was not Nu-Soul or Gospel … what song or genre would you pick?

I would choose Jazz. I love the real emotions portrayed when listening to live/ open mic Jazz music especially.

How do you try to keep your voice limbered up and ready for performing? How do you avoid the dreaded sore throat/croaky voice etc?

Hot water, all day everyday. From previous experiences when having to perform a lot, hot water got me through it! I also hum  first then have a couple of warm up songs.


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

I’ve never really been one to stick to fashion rules. I pretty much wear whatever I think looks good or what I like the look of.  My wardrobe is full of bright colours and patterns (mainly floral);  on stage,  I tend to stick to bold/ block colours with lots of jewellery!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’ve recently come across – so many shoes in one place.. I love! is also a go to. High Street shops:  I like River Island, TopShop and also Forever21… can always bag a bargain there.

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

A pair of floral Doc Martens!

Boots or Shoes?

Well I love both but if I had to choose I would say Shoes… (heeled of course). They go with more outfits and well,  they take up less room in my wardrobe so I can fit more in!

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

I love your shoe wardrobe logic Melody!  Thank you for telling us about your passions and I look forward to following what will be, I’m sure, your glittering music career! So, dear readers, with Melody belting out Amy Winehouse in her car; me belting out cheesy tunes of the 80s – what songs do you belt out whilst driving?  Don’t be shy, do tell!

Linda x

All photos and video have been published with kind permission from Melody Carr.

Share This!
Pin It

If you love boots, shoes and fashion, come on in..

Proudly powered by WordPress

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: