Seven Spots – Polka Dots

August 22nd, 2014

imageI adore polka dots!  Polka dots are fun and flirty – from the 1950s style vintage dresses through to the sexy tights like the Pamela Mann tights featured in my header photo (part of a dotty collection available from hosiery store Essex’ee Legs). Here are 6 more spots featuring polka dots that I spotted recently:

 

 

1. Herschel Supply Co Khaki Polka Dot Settlement Backpack.  An ideal back-to-college bag or for that late Summer festival. Either way, this cute backpack has a nylon laptop sleeve and media pocket with a pass through port for headphones.image 2. A.L.C. Green Deirdre Polka Dot Sweater.  This jumper would certainly brighten up even the dullest winter day, with its apt colour description being black/highlighter!  It is also pretty warm, being made from 100% wool with the lining made up of 43% alpaca, 43% polyester and 14% water soluable.  Just add jeans!image 3. Michael Kors Ankle Strap Platform Sandals.  A cute combo of canvas, leather and cork with a black/white polka dot and that late 70s/early 80s fab feature, the thin ankle strap. Divine.image 4. Scout & Catalogue Tonala Media clutch. A gorgeous bag in natural nude leather with an unusual varied polka dot pattern and a velvety nubuck interior.  Goes with practically everything!image 5. Free People Black “LInda” Love Lace Up.  Oh how I wish I could say this shoe was named after me!!! I do love it and honoured that a pretty shoe is my namesake.  Really pretty statement flats in a printed pony with exposed sides and with a super duper cushioned leather footbed.image 6. Emanuel Ungaro Black Asymmetric Polka Dot Jacket.  Ideal for the cooler Autumn evenings, this black/white lightweight jacket is truly scrumptious from its buckle fastening belt waist to its padded shoulders.image Go on, go dotty for polka dots….

Linda x

Photo Credits: Essex’ee Legs; Lyst

Seven Spots – Mellow Yellow

August 15th, 2014

imageThis year the colour yellow has enjoyed a bit of a revival and I’m so pleased it has – the colour just oozes sunshine, looks cool teamed with white, and it is a colour that suits every hair colour making it extremely versatile. I remember wearing yellow in the early 1980s – I owned wide yellow belts, yellow handbags, and one of my favourite ensembles was a yellow lace bodysuit/leotard worn with black wet look leggings topped with a yellow/black baggy kimono style shirt!  The fashion colour briefly returned in the early 2000s – short sleeved polo neck knit tops teamed with white loose leg linen trousers; and now, in the last year or so, yellow has been mixed with other colours such as fuchsia pink (as in my dress in the photo above) or with traditional white, such as this simple stripy vest top from La Redoute’s Spring/Summer collection 2014.image

Without further ado, here are my seven top spots of this week – all in mellow yellow…

1. Diesel Yellow Denim Trousers.  I just love Diesel jeans.. they fit well and  last well. These yellow skinny jeans make a pleasant change from denim, having a lovely coated fabric effect finish and a side slit hemline.  Ideal for summer worn with sandals or ballet pumps; for Autumn with Dr Martens and a baggy hooded sweatshirt; for winter, with black biker ankle boots and a chunky roll neck tunic sweater; and then Spring, with a delicate floral blouse and heeled courts.image

2. ASOS Yellow Midi Strapless Dress. Maybe a bit too revealing for a wedding, but for a posher social do this stretch cotton rich blend strapless dress could look stunning – especially if you’ve got that holiday tan or naturally dark toned skin. image

3. Ted Baker Yellow Small Bow Tote Bag. This miniature tote with its large central bow just oozes summer sophistication.image

4. Napapijri Yellow T Shirt. Ideal for late summer/autumn days, this sunny  casual tee looks great with jeans, denim shorts or skirt.image

5. Red Valentino Yellow T Shirt. This tee with its cute frilly cap sleeves is versatile enough to wear with jeans during the day or can be smartened up with a pair of capri pants and some kitten heel slingbacks.image

6. Adia Kibur Yellow Chain and Stone Necklace.  A very elegant piece of jewellery to add a little “je ne sais pas” to your Little Black Dress.image

7. Rag & Bone Yellow Sloane Floral Print Suede Sandals.  I could not end this post without featuring footwear and these sandals are simply divine. Although fairly high, at approx 5 inches, the stacked heel gives ample walking support and the pretty floral print suede is complimented with the brown leather trim.image

Have a mellow yellow late summer moment….

Linda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden, Lyst

An Interview With Richard Barnard

August 8th, 2014

One of my passionate pastimes is reading – I enjoy most genres but I do like thrillers, murder mysteries and such like as well as the English literature classics, like The Great Gatsby.   I came across “Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale”, a gangland thriller based on an East London criminal gang of kids from Walthamstow in the 1980s, by author Richard Barnard – not only did it tick boxes for me genre-wise, but having been a teenager myself in that era and area I was looking forward to reading about the places I knew.  So, this week I’m pleased to welcome onto the blog the author, Richard Barnard, to chat about “Danny’s Boys”, his Walthamstow memories and past lifestyle, his life now as a published author … and about his fashion tastes too! Hi Richard….image

Hello my name is Richard Barnard, author of Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale and expert analysis in high level criminality.

Congratulations on publishing your debut gangland thriller, “Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale”, the first book in your proposed “The East End Series”. How does it feel to be a published author?

imageTo me it feels strange my clairvoyant aunt predicted my writing career when I was just a small boy and at that time I had no interest in literature or school for that matter.

Your book is based on an East London criminal gang of kids from Walthamstow and their rise to the top during the boom of the 1980s cocaine era – obviously coming from and being brought up in Waltham Forest in the same era myself there are lots of memories I can relate to in the book – but non East Enders would still enjoy the thriller too!How much of your book (and the series) relates to your own life experience?

The trilogy is a fictional story based on how I grew up. It’s no secret I was a career criminal, stealing at infant stages, then progressed on to being the principle organiser of a major cocaine importation at the turn of the Millennium. Oh,and anyone can relate to the story, I get a lot of people from outside London, places like Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and even abroad praising the originality and realism of the skullduggery. It’s also nice to get an email from the ladies who appreciate a good love or sex scene. I’ve been told they’d had a few late night pillow scrunching moments, that’s keeping it mild!

imageHave you always enjoyed the written word, books and story writing as a child?

Going back to your second question, when my aunt told me I’d one day become a successful writer it saddened me because I thought, how boring. She said if my brother followed his true path he would become a movie star. I’m now grown enough to know without writers there would be no actors, movies or singers of music for that matter.

What made you realise that you wanted to write a book? What impact did meeting Jeffrey Archer whilst you were both serving time in prison make to your new career path? Did he offer any helpful hints and tips?

imageJeffery Archer, now there’s a character. I have no doubt, our brief encounter during the year 2001 was fate. The funny thing was at the time he was more intrigued about my life and mind than I was his. I couldn’t help questioning him in detail about the world’s corrupt governments, the Bush administration, Maggie Thatcher, cover ups and David Icke style conspiracy theories. Lord Archer said to me, if I were a writer my work would make for interesting reading. I do feel his statement got my mind’s literary cogs turning and ready to move through the gears. After a four month long court battle my fate was sealed, I received a 20 year sentence and needed something to occupy my time. My defending QC Stephen Solly, one of the most respected, said I was a man of remarkable intelligence. Coming from him I took that as a huge compliment. He was the junior barrister defending the high profile eighties Marijuana and hashish smuggler, Howard Marks (Mr Nice). He actually said myself and Mr Marks had similar traits, that particular observation put a smile on my face during some bleak, testing and troublesome times I have to say. After a while you get bored of other prisoners’ stories – them telling you how many they’ve killed, how much precious stones they’d heisted abroad or how many tons of cocaine they’ve shipped in from Columbia. If truth be known you get sick of hearing it! My daughter inspired me to give up smoking and I became a fitness fanatic, running half marathons around the exercise field. I began reading familiar best-selling crime novels and without being too big headed, I felt I had something to offer. I’d criticise a book, how they’d got the ending wrong, inconsistencies and regularly work out the plot. I grew up in the East End and some of the fictional character leading gangsters in stories would have got laughed off the manor. I can remember one morning waking up in my cell seriously thinking my writing career has begun. As the months went on I began making notes, then giving out chapters of Danny’s Boys to other inmates. There was no better place to have your crime novel criticised, Whitemoor Prison is Europe’s highest security prison housing the world’s top level sophisticated and most dangerous individuals. I continuously used the education department’s printer giving out a few chapters to major cocaine traffickers, armed robbers, hit men and IRA terrorists. The thing was no one had any negative pointers, I would often say, forget us being friends, I need the truth but they had nothing but praise saying they love that genre and it’s the most real they’d read. I’d often try to trick them, saying the text was written by a top author. They didn’t doubt it and most could tell it was written by a man who experienced it first hand. That was it, their words set the wheels in motion, I knew my destiny.

imageIn one of your interviews you quoted that “there is no fairytale ending in a gangster lifestyle. It just brings misery, prison and people getting killed”. Never a truer word spoken, Richard – so is that really the moral of “Danny’s Boys”?  How hard was it to turn your life around?

Linda, I’ve said it a million times, there is no fairy tale ending in that life, it ends in jail misery or death. Even the ones that stop after accumulating mass wealth, they’re never out of the woods, they still worry about someone plotting their demise. They know when you’re on top of your game, the authorities are the least of your problems. I was more worried about the desperado’s flying in from abroad, they’d done their homework and knew who was flush or making large amounts of cash at the time. If they simply took your wealth and went on their way that wouldn’t be so bad but these guys play by different rules such as torturing family members including children until they’re satisfied you’ve given and signed over all you have.

imageNow that your debut book has been published and receiving rave reviews – I’ve downloaded the book and am enjoying it myself (not finished yet) – you are busy with the second installment. When is the second book due out?

The second installment realistically will be with us by the Spring of 2015. I’ve been touched by the public’s response to Danny’s Boys but in my opinion if they think that was good the sequel will be a phenomenon. The buzz I’m getting from the characters fills me with a tremendous energy, a feeling it has already been made into a hit movie. I actually believe the epic story is happening, the vibe of the novel is that strong.

Is it harder to write a follow up book or now that the juices are flowing, are your ideas/thoughts tumbling out?

Now the East End series has begun I can’t hold myself back Linda. Having lived the life makes it effortless, I have so much original knowledge. One old gangster I left at HMP Whitemoor, never to be released once pointed out “Son, who better to write an East End gangland thriller than a boy who lived and breathed it? Go on son, get out and make it happen for yourself, just send me a copy” he laughed. He was once a well loved fence but got put into a situation and being incarcerated indefinitely was the outcome.

Apart from the East End series, are you hoping to write more books in the future? If so, would you stick to the same format or would you try a different genre?

Whilst in prison I wrote an amazing first draft story, the basis being reincarnation. God forbid, but when your body dies your spirit will enter the fetus of a female just conceived and life goes on and on and on, a continuous cycle. In another life, Linda, you could have been my father or lover and our souls continuously meet in new lives we live, that type of thing. The thing is,  I have a secret amazing addition to add to this life cycle concept I truly believe in. It’s in first draft stages at the moment but when I get it right, the right film producers will have a block-buster on their hands. I get an amazing buzz and often smile and even laugh when scenes pop into my mind and I file them. What intrigues me most is where do all the inspirational, creative thoughts and ideas come from. It often makes me feel I never chose to become a writer, I feel more like I’ve been chosen, if you can make sense of that.

On your cover of “Danny’s Boys” you have the picture of the old Walthamstow Dog Stadium, which has now sadly been pulled down although the sign remains. I have had many enjoyable nights there, both as a child and an adult! What places in E17 hold sweet memories for you?

Most sweetest memories in Walthamstow – I’d have to say the Market as a kid hustling, stealing, robbing, making money. I grew up poor and treats were few and far between in our neighbourhood. I speak for many around the world when I say “There is no better feeling than earning readies”.  I love the memories of our local Stoneydown Park, off Blackhorse, kicking football and meeting up with friends to go out on the “thief”- sorry but for me those were the sweetest times for me in our E 17. I felt cursed as a child but now realise being deprived was a blessing, it gave me the backbone and made me the man I am today. I look in the mirror each morning and feel proud.

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

I like smart and casual clothing, Italian and French design Armani, Replay, Chevignon, that type of stuff. I often send a pair of boots I like the style of to Thailand to have them copied in a crocodile or snakeskin, other than that a nice trendy pair of Nike or Adidas trainers will do.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, I shop online for Oakley sunglasses, my favourite.

Links you would like to share so that readers of the blog can learn more about “Danny’s Boys”:

www.facebook.com/dannysboys

www.richard-barnard.com

@RichardBarnard4

Thank you Richard…so, dear readers, if you are looking for a thrilling read whilst reclining on your sunlounger this Summer, get your copy now…

Happy Reading!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission of Richard Barnard.

An Interview With La Redoute

August 1st, 2014

imageI had my first “catalogue” shopping experience in the mid 1980s when a friend of mine was an agent for  Freemans or Grattans – I enjoyed looking at the book and I remember buying a skirt.  However, my mum wasn’t (and still isn’t) a fan of catalogues and I carried on accompanying my mum to Walthamstow market to buy my attire for the weekend disco nights!  In the mid 1990s,  a catalogue advert appeared in a magazine and I sent off for it.  It seemed exciting, different … and I was a mum of 2 … and the little girls clothes were divine and so so chic .. that catalogue was the first winter edition of  La Redoute.  From that day onwards I have been a loyal customer, buying clothes for my children (the 2 eventually became 5) and for myself. Every season fills me with desire as I would love to buy most of the items in the book…. and don’t get me started on their shoes! So I’m really thrilled to interview La Redoute on my blog this week….so welcome…

imageMy favourites from your collection this season include the Soft Grey set of 5 beaded bracelets;the Shopping Prix Softly draping printed vest top with cowl neckline; and the La Redoute Creation high-heeled ankle strap sandals. What outfits are proving popular in the UK amongst your customers so far this season?

Our top 3 best selling products in the Spring Summer 2014 season were Flowing Asymmetric Vest Top with Polka Dots and Back Bow, Printed Softly Draping Short-Sleeved Belted Dress and Fitted Long-Sleeved Printed Cotton Voile Shirt.

imageGuest designers have appeared in La Redoute collections since 1969 and include names such as Terence Conran(1993); Karl Lagerfeld (1994); Azzedine Alaia (1995); Yves Saint Laurent (1996); Jean-Paul Gautier (2005); Christian La Croix (2008); Antik Batik (2012)… to name but a few. What designer(s) collection for La Redoute have been a runaway success with customers in the UK?

The most popular designer collection in Spring-Summer 2014 has been Paul & Joe Sister. From smart suits to cat print T-shirts this collection has proven a success with La Redoute customers. This was closely followed by our summer designer collaboration Brigitte Bardot which embraces the must have bohemian trend.

imageI only discovered fairly recently that the word “Denim” came from the French town of Nimes, where the famous fabric originates. So, it was no surprise that the French wardrobe style staples include jeans, often paired with a crisp white shirt. Personally, I’m favouring my skinnies at the moment which I wear with high leg lace up boots. What jean style is proving the trend this season?

La Redoute UK customers have really embraced the slim fit jean this season. Since these can be teamed with almost anything it’s no surprise this style is the most popular with our customers.

Simplicity is the key to effortless French chic style – from the Little Black Dress to the cobalt blue maxi dress … with pastels, florals, metallics, and a splash of brightness inbetween. What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

imageOur colour picks for the Autumn-Winter season are Aurora Reds, Royal Blue and Moss Green.

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

Our new Autumn-Winter collection includes some of the hottest trends seen on the catwalk. These include prints, collarless coats, 50’s glam, leopard print and of course embellishments which are a must have in the Autumn-Winter season.

Ballerina Shoes are a French wardrobe staple that are so practical and yet oozes the smartness that the French insist upon… I still have in my wardrobe a pair of Mellow Yellow ballerinas in grey/yellow that I bought from La Redoute in the late 1990s. They still look good! What shoe colours are proving popular this year?
image
The top 3 most popular shoe colours in Spring-Summer were Black, Beige and Silver.

I am a fan of bright colours and I love the way La Redoute’s own mini prix and Soft Grey collections offer such an array of basics in such a variety of colours for you to mix & match. I also like the sandals in the same tempting array of colours to co ordinate with the rest of the outfits. I discovered the lure of wearing dusky pink with olive/khaki; turquoise with navy; coral with gold… What has been the colour palettes that have created a storm with customers in the UK?

imageWith our relaxed French style the two most popular colour palettes in SS14 have been the classic Black and White. La Redoute customers have also fully embraced prints this season.

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

http://www.laredoute.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/LaRedouteUK

https://twitter.com/LaRedouteUK

https://twitter.com/LaRedouteUK

http://fashionfamily.laredoute.co.uk/

imageMy tip for Autumn/winter…. I’ve spotted some fabulous burgundy brogue ankle boots… and some fab black biker ankle boots too! Decisions, decisions!

LInda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden.

An Interview With Must Love Festivals

July 25th, 2014

We are currently in the middle of festival season – music, the arts, lazy hazy summer days – although I don’t go a-bundle on the camping aspect! Europe is buzzing with festivals and so I’m delighted to get an interview this week with  Abi who is one of the people involved in the fantastic digital storytelling project, Must Love Festivals, that is covering Europe’s 40 most unique festivals spanning 11 countries…. a big, warm welcome Abi…image

Hi, I’m Abi. I’m a travel writer and photographer with a love for all things digital and in my past life I used to work as a hospital doctor.

The “Must Love Festivals” project is the brainchild of Kash Bhattacharya, the award winning creator of the Budget Traveller Website. So what is the project exactly?

“Must Love Festivals” takes 16 bloggers (or digital storytellers as the phrase is now) and spreads them out across Europe this summer to cover some of the continent’s quirkiest festivals. We’ll be taking on 40 festivals in 11 countries, reporting back in real time and then spending some time huddled behind a screen to write up articles, photo essays and videos.

How did you first become involved in this project yourself? What Festival will you be covering?

Ah, well my secret confession is that I first said no since I did think that most festivals were all about mud, crowds and music. And while I like the third of those, I’ve never been such a fan of the first two. Kash convinced me to open my eyes and give it a go since Europe has such a range of festivals – from folk to fashion to food…and even to things that don’t begin with F 😉

I’m lucky to be covering a few. I’ll kick off with Bardentreffen in Nuremberg. It’s awash with music but as this year’s festival coincides with the 100 year declaration of war by Germany in WWI, they’ve chosen the theme of War and Peace to mark the occasion. Performers from around the world will use their music to explore the theme of reconciliation and dealing with conflict. Next up will be a colourful folk festival in Italy’s sunny Puglia. I head to Barcelona for the Festival de Gracia, a free street festival of decorations, food and art. Then it’s to Dublin to catch up with some books and fashion and finally I’ll travel to the islands of Malta to soak up their Birgu candle festival.

imageFestivals are not all about music, mud and fashion – as the project hopes to show – so what is the most unusual festival you’ve been to?

In my youth, I went to the Tomatina in Spain where the world descends on a picturesque hamlet one day to pelt rotten tomatoes at one another. It sounded harmless at first but those flying pips and pelted pulp really can sting after a while…Plus, they get everywhere.

What has been your favourite Festival to date?

Ah, that’s tricky. I think one of the best is one that’s actually close to home: the Bristol balloon festival. There’s something so hauntingly beautiful about seeing so many hot air balloons hovering in the air at once.

If you were given the chance, what Festival would you love to attend that you haven’t been to?

I’d love to visit the Midnight Sun Festival In Finland. It’s just gone and one of our team made a beautiful video about it.

imagePersonal now – what outfits would you be packing for your Festival expedition?

Ah, now. Well, Spain and Italy don’t have quite the casual dress code we have here so I’m looking for long cotton trousers and skirts with some smart but lightweight tops. The aim is to look polished but not overheat or burn! And there’s not much place for a big floppy hat in a crowd unfortunately!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love the bright colours and designs of Desigual. And for accessories, I always check out Etsy to see if there’s anything handmade and original that suits.

What footwear do you favour when attending festivals?

You need something casual but resilient as you could be on your feet all day long…I have a pair of black Fit Flops that I love as the sole is so thick that those atmospheric cobblestones don’t bother me. Yet,
they have a hint of sparkle too which is perfect for when the sun goes down.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

You can find all the Must Love Festival goings on at http://mustlovefestivals.com/ and across Twitter and Facebook through the hashtag #MustLoveFestivals. As for me, I blog over at Inside the Travel Lab (www.insidethetravellab.com) and will be covering my summer of festivals across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Hope to see you there!

Links for the social media networks mentioned above:

http://www.facebook.com/InsidetheTravelLab
http://twitter.com/Insidetravellab
http://www.pinterest.com/insidetravellab/
http://instagram.com/insidetravellab

Wow! Thanks Abi for taking the time to chat to us about what seems to me, at any rate, an exciting project.  I wish you safe journeys and I look forward to readings your blogs!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission of Abigail King.

An Interview With Essex’ee Legs

July 18th, 2014

Way back in November 2012 I interviewed Anne Tyler from Essex’ee Legs (to read the original interview, click HERE) – my favourite hosiery shop – and since then Anne’s business has continued to grow and this year the website has had a revamp, her daughter Victoria has joined the business, but I’m much more excited to announce that Essex’ee Legs have now launched their own brand range of hosiery.  I caught up with Anne and Victoria to find out more …. image

Welcome ladies…what made you want to introduce your own hosiery brand?

Our own brand is something we wanted to introduce from day 1. We wanted to see the Essexee Legs name on our own hosiery that we were proud to sell, and is of an excellent quality, and to see it finally happen is great. To see our Essexee Legs branded bags, in pink of course, is amazing.

Was it difficult to decide what hosiery styles to include in the brand family?

No not at all. This is something we will build on. Hosiery essentials was a good start, with a few fashion items, and fuller figure, as there is limited choice out there for larger ladies.

imageWere your choices dictated by your personal tastes, popular customer requests, hosiery trends, or bits of all three?

A bit of all 3. What the customer wants, was priority.

What is your favourite pair?

We love them all. If I had to pick from present styles I would say from regular range: Essexee Legs Footless Tights with Lace Cuff, and from Large-Plus range definitely the Essexee Legs Open Toe Tights

If it was possible, who would you like to see being the “legs” of Essex’ee Legs?

Abbey Clancy and Rebel Wilson if they want to give us a call 😉

imageYour own brand has only just been launched, but has there been one style that has begun to create a stir already?

The Essexee Legs Open Toe Tights for large-XXL are selling fast. Due to a gap in the market, and the high quality. Ladies are coming back for more.

Are there plans to add to your own brand any new styles in the future?

Yes, we want to grow the brand and will be adding lots of new styles in the future.

imageLooking ahead to the Autumn/Winter season – what hosiery styles do you think will be hitting the headlines?

Bold statement tights with very striking patterns are on the horizon, plus lot’s more choices for fuller figure ladies. Lots to look forward too.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

http://www.essexeelegs.co.uk

imagehttps://www.facebook.com/tightsandstockings
http://essexeelegs.blogspot.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexeeLegs

http://www.pinterest.com/essexeelegs/essex-ee-legs-tights-and-stockings/
http://essexeelegs.tumblr.com/

https://plus.google.com/111792881149222095036/posts

imageThank you ladies for telling us about your exciting new range – I am already a big fan but any readers who haven’t yet checked out this online hosiery site you should do so as they also stock major brands and swimwear too, fabulous customer service and speedy delivery…. the real service with a smile  :)

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Essex’ee Legs

The Story Store Trial

July 11th, 2014

imageDo you remember the first outfit you bought with your first wages?  I do – it was a lovely black leather full length trenchcoat that was quite expensive especially as my wages at the time was £192 per month ….. do you have items that you bought years ago, may be still even wear and can remember when and why you bought it?  I have a dress that I bought that has an Arabic style pattern on it that I bought for a holiday in Tunisia about 15 years ago that is still trendy today… I can remember buying some gorgeous brown leather clog style flip flops from Next to go with it – they were quite uncomfortable so they were quickly discarded!

imageOr perhaps you have an accessory, or piece of jewellery, a heirloom that has been handed down through generations – with some story attached, maybe – or a christening gown or wedding dress…. or even a baby item (I’ve still got a mini leather look newborn bomber jacket that my boys used to wear… and the youngest is now 7)….

Well, I’ve just been introduced to a company called Maggie Semple Limited, a business set up in 2010 by Maggie Semple OBE, inspired by women, fashion and their stories. Maggie believes that every female, no matter what her age, has at least one favourite item that she cherishes and cannot throw it away.  In October 2011, the company launched the luxury gift service “Behind The Seams”, created by Maggie.  Maggie had a dress purchased from St Michael in 1985 for £15.99  and was still a favourite in 2013 , and she felt that there must be other women interested to know about their favourite item – and might like to receive a book about treasured piece – hence the birth of the “Behind The Seams” gift, presented in a beautifully hand crafted book that features the story  of a treasured garment/accessory (from £150).  Definitely unique, definitely exquisite, definitely the sort of present a lady would be overjoyed to receive.

imageA fab alternative  is to join the Story Store and have the story of your favoured item documented in a beautifully designed online momento for £10.  I was curious and lucky enough to “have a go”and I joined the Story Store.  I had trouble deciding what item to document, so I opted for an item not fashion orientated – my G11 camera!  Having pressed the button to make my purchase, I was faced with some simple yet thought provoking questions that form the basis of my item’s story; I also downloaded some photos – pretty simple to do (full instructions on the screen) – be careful as the sizing of the photos is quite strict – and check your spelling /proofread the article before sending off  (I forgot to do that and there is a misspelt word in my document). The confirmation came through pretty quickly  and in a day or two I received my nicely presented online momento.  To have a look at my online momento, press HERE.

To make your own online momento, Behind The Seams gift card or to read inspirational stories surrounding a wide variety of fashion pieces, check out www.maggiesemple.com.  What stories does your wardrobe hold? I’d love to hear them!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden

What Summer Shoe Are You?

July 4th, 2014

July – the start of the summer season, as one friend of mine said the other day although I get ready to wear my summer clothes from May to October and on May 1st my jumpers are put away, bar one, not to be seen again until October 1st! When it comes to footwear, I’m a boots girl and when summer arrives I’m normally reluctant to part with my faithfuls although it has to be said that this year I’ve been more than impressed with the array of fabulous sandals around that I have bought myself a couple of pairs and am enjoying wearing them so much that I might be reluctant to search out my boots on October 1st…. I did say  “might”!

My fab friends at www.farfetch.com have a cool way of finding the summer shoe trend that matches your lifestyle by  devising a super fun quiz for us.  All the suggested summer shoes are gorgeous, so if you are unsure which summer shoe trend you should go for, give the quiz a whirl.  My end result was the fantastic Mulberry Floral Heels… which are really just so me!  I’d love to know what summer shoe you are too…

Linda x

Photo Credit: Farfetch.

image

An Interview With Taschka Shoes

June 24th, 2014

This week I’m talking shoes with the gorgeous Natascha of shoe company Taschka who has created stylish luxury leather flats that capture the spirit of wanderlust … a wonderful fusion of her background in both the fashion and luxury travel sector. A big warm welcome Natascha….image

Hello, I am Natascha, Creative Director of Taschka, based ‘Up North’, lover of all things tea related and obsessive wearer of oversized sunglasses.

As a small girl, did you always want to design footwear?

I had a strong passion for design from a very early age and I come from a family where the two generations before me were firmly established within the clothing industry, so I was surrounded by literature and imagery that inspired and encouraged my interests. Accessories have always had my heart. I just love, however much of a cliche it is, the joy of putting on a brand, spanking pair of new shoes!

What do you like best about being a shoe designer?

I love the versatility that having my own label brings, the freedom to create my vision and the perk of an ever expanding shoe-drobe! 

imageYou have a background in both fashion & luxury travel, hence your shoe collection has been inspired by some of the world’s most iconic destinations.  Which is your favourite destination? Which destination inspired your shoe collection the most?

Italy is one of my favourite places and the Taschka label was actually developed whilst I was living in beautiful Florence, fuelled by copious amounts of Italian coffee and gelato.  Each shoe is named using the airport code of a particular destination, for example, ORY is inspired by the romance of Paris and JAI, after the majestic city of Jaipur. I love the nostalgia of travel from a bygone era and wanted to incorporate this into the brand, the dreamy notion of journeys with vintage luggage and the thrill of arriving to your chosen retreat.

imageWhere in the world would you love to visit next and what inspiration for your shoes would you hope to find there?

I have recently returned from an epic Californian road trip, which started with Coachella festival, followed by a drive along the scenic Route from San Diego to San Francisco – so you can expect some coastal/beach influences for Spring/Summer 15.

imagePersonally, I LOVE all your shoes but I have a soft spot for the ORY in nude/coral/cheetah! Have you got a favourite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?

Thank you! At the moment, you will mostly find me wearing FLO in Navy as I currently have a love of all things blue . But I am also a huge ORY fan, as I love the fun and playful aspect that they add to any outfit.

What shoe style seems to be the most popular this season with your clients?

ORY in nude and JAI in cream and gold are currently proving very popular, due to the sunshine we have been enjoying recently. FLO is our biggest seller, loafers are just so effortless and versatile.

imageYour luxury leather flats are handcrafted by artisans in your Portuguese workshop, and I adore your attention to detail, eg the cushioned leather lining and hand-etched Taschka signature sole. They are extremely stylish, comfortable and practical – were you ever tempted or are you tempted, to introduce heels/wedges to your collection in future?

I am keen to focus on flats for the time being. I am adding velvet slippers, brogues and ankle boots to the collection over the course of the coming year. Fit is of great importance to me when designing, I think a flat shoe should be instantly comfortable. The hand-etched soles feature the Taschka signature, henna inspired pattern, a detail which acknowledges my Indian heritage.

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

I am a flats kind of a lady for the majority of the time, of course. You will very rarely find me without a statement scarf, big earrings and a bright lipstick – I have a huge collection of all and feel incomplete without! I love to keep my clothing simple and classic, a pair of cigarette trousers or jeans teamed with a splash of colourful accessories.

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

I am a big fan of SilkFred.com, as I love the new designers they feature and the unique treasures to be found.

What’s next on your shopping wish list?

I will be in New York for a few days very soon, so I have been saving up all of my shopping desires in anticipation. I am hoping to find some treasures in the downtown independent boutiques, which will no doubt include more sunglasses!

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes. Being petite, I tend to avoid boots and go for the shoe option. I like to wear heels too, but always have a pair of Taschka flats in my bag, just in case!

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

www.taschka.co.uk – online boutique
www.facebook.com/taschka
www.twitter.com/taschkashoes

Thank you for chatting to us Nataschka – they certainly are beautiful shoes and just proves that flat shoes are just as scrummy as heels too! So which shoe destination will you go for, dear reader?

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photographs are published with kind permission of Taschka Shoes

An Interview With Joanna Maxham

June 20th, 2014

This week I’m so excited to welcome onto the blog, Joanna Maxham, the bag designer whose brand has been listed in Vogue UK’s Top 100 Best Bags – fab accolade indeed! Since the brand has been launched, in 2011, the bags have been sold online internationally as well as in shops all over the USA and in Colombia, Japan, Poland and Switzerland. A big warm welcome to you Joanna….image

Hello – my name is Joanna, I am a hard working mom, who runs her own business and who has a huge handbag problem!

Launching Joanna Maxham, the brand, in 2011,what inspired you to change career direction from being a fast paced international corporate person to becoming a fabulous handbag designer?

Growing up I was creative, but chose a business career a bit out of curiosity and a bit out of economic reasons. When my girls were born, I took some time off and decided to explore other options. During that time we lived in Europe, and I met some wonderful artists, designers and fashion professionals and immediately felt comfortable in their world. After I met Marco – my original Italian manufacturer – I knew that handbags were my destiny.

imageThe brand infuses luxury into everyday functionality, so when choosing designs/styles/colors for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?

My goal is to design bags that look fresh, but at the same time can be considered investment pieces and are very usable. In my work I like to “quote” trends but always think of the woman who will carry the bag and her everyday life. I love to hear feedback from my customers, and am usually pretty good at implementing it.

imageYour bags are made from leather sourced from the Italian region of Santa Croce and you work with a small atelier with over 35 years experience in your native Poland. How important was it to you that you worked alongside European artisans to hone your design and construction skills as well as finding the right atelier to help develop your collection?

I learned everything about handbags “on the job” – from design, through construction all the way to selection of materials. It was very important for me to learn from the best artisans, with years of experience (and generations to back it up). I was lucky to meet such people.

Congratulations on appearing in Vogue UK’s Top 100 Best Bags list! Your bags are sold through your online site as well as several shops in the USA and in Colombia, Japan, Poland & Switzerland. To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your online site?

Thank you! We have just recently re-launched the website with e-commerce capability so we do not have a lot of history. But I have been working for over 2 years with a few online retail partners. The top selling bag is definitely the Nite Cap in Raffia, followed by the Castaway and the Bootcamp.

imageWhat bags seem to be more popular in the stores? Have you noticed any differences between tastes in handbags or colors in USA compared with your customers in the UK, Colombia, Japan, Poland and Switzerland?

I think than on average, the stores select similar merchandise to what sells online. I did not notice many geographic differences quite yet, although Americans may be a bit more willing to experiment with color than Europeans and my Japan retailer is the first to adopt original shapes and color combinations.

imageMy favourite bag from your latest collection is the “Nite Cap” khaki raffia clutch bag – I love textures and khaki is one of my favourite colours. Out of all the items on your website,what is or has been your favourite?

It is very hard for me to tell which product is my favorite – they are all my babies ;-). But this season I carry the Beachcomber Tote in Raffia a lot. I also own a Castaway in each color version it ever existed. Simply love that bag.

If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag?

If I had to chose just one – it would have to be Cate Blanchet. She is beautiful, elegant, strong and smart. But there are many other inspiring women who embody the Joanna Maxham style and whom I would love to count among customers.

imageHave you got any plans to expand your shop outlets to other countries in the future?

I am always looking for new stores to carry my line and I hope that we are just at the beginning of the adventure.

You’ve already cited Manhattan as a source of inspiration, are there any other locations that have also given you inspiration? Are there any cities/locations/countries you wouldn’t mind visiting for inspiration for future ranges?

I lived in Paris for over 5 years of my life, and would go back in a heartbeat. For me the French style is exactly what my brand is all about – the everyday chic. Parisians are always dressed appropriate to the situation, and sometimes it means simple blue jeans, t-shirt…and maybe a scarf.

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

I usually wear oversized t-shirts or tunics, skinny jeans or black leggings and a statement necklace or cuff. Of course – I never leave the house without a Joanna Maxham handbag.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I am a huge fan of modern European brands – such as Acne Studios and the super affordable COS (www.costores.com) and love the fact that they recently finally came to the US. I also like to follow the selection on Avenue32, Farfetch and Bird.

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

I think it is high time I get a good pair of leather leggings for Fall14. I have been dreaming about them for a couple of years now, and never could justify the cost. It is clear now, that this trend is not going away anytime soon. I am also dreaming about Altuzarra’s deep navy wrap around jacket from Fall14 collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots! I live in boots from September…until it is time to switch to sandals. They go much better with my lifestyle and everyday uniform than anything else.

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

www.joannamaxham.com 
www.facebook.com/JMHandbags 
www.pintrest.com/joannamaxham
Twitter and Instagram: @joannamaxham

Yay – you’re another boot girl – I love my boots too! Thank you for chatting to us about your gorgeous bags! So readers, which bag has captured your heart?

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Joanna Maxham.

Follow

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

Join other followers: