An Interview With Les Amies Anglaises London

This week I welcome onto the blog a new high fashion label to hit the streets of London – a label for women specialising in edgy handmade silk tops, conceived, inspired and based in London mixed with the Italian sense of luxury and French “nonchalance” – representing the dual culture of the founder, Oriana Abbondanza.  I caught up with Oriana recently to find out more about her brand, Les Amies Anglaises London … Hi Oriana!          image

Hi! I’m Oriana! I am originally from Rome, where I studied at university – I took a degree in Modern Languages. After my degree I moved to Spain to complete a doctorship there and after working in Spain for few years, I eventually moved to London. I have been working within the fashion and luxury goods industry for the last 15 years. Last year I decide to give it a go and create my own company and label, Les Amies Anglaises London. It is really only in 2015 that I decided to commit myself 100%  LAAL.  Also, I love Japanese food and of course Italian Food !

What inspired you to launch Les Amies Anglaises London?

Although  I have been working within fashion and luxury goods industry in the last 15 years,  I never worked in the ” proper creative area” of the business, ie designing a collection;  but since I moved to London the idea of having my own label and my own company became stronger and stronger in my mind.  The idea of designing tops came suddenly.  At the beginning it was about designing simple T-shirts, then the idea became more elaborated and …it ended up being the LAAL collection: each top is a masterpiece itself. I wanted to use a simple item as a top and make it… a statement !


Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I discovered my passion for fashion a bit late, but I have always been a very  “creative” person.  Art has been my main interest. I would have loved to study a fashion related degree for example, but when I was at the university, the choices were limited  – not like the ones you have now!

Your tops are very edgy – a sort of cosmopolitan glam rock twist in the most luxurious of materials, 100% silk. Where do you draw your design inspiration from for your top collections?

As I often mention, London is my main inspiration. It is such an inspirational city for creative people and everything can inspire me really: from graffiti on a wall, arts exhibitions, people in the street, to the simple nature around me.  The ADASTRA top was inspired by the stars of the summer sky in Rome ( my hometown)! The silver studs of the tops remind me of the sky full of stars in Rome!


The Harnessless Criss Cross Top is gorgeous, so me! That is my particular favourite. What tops proving most popular amongst your customers so far this season?

I have to say that the whole collection has been very well received, but definitely there are some tops that made a special impact –  Harnessless is one of them actually! Then ADASTRA, CHIMERA, BLACK ORCHID, URBAN ENCHANTRESS, Rêverie and Spleen.

Out of all the tops in your collection, which one is your favourite?

This is a very difficult question to answer ! I have to say that I love each of the 12 tops of the SILK OBSESSION collection, because I know all the hard work there is behind each of them… I definitely love Adastra – I can’t thank enough my couturiers  for their patience because it was really complicated to sew on the studs! But honestly I love all of them, each of them are special to me!


The photographs on your website of LAAL’s first fashion shoot (with globally acclaimed photographer, Simon Songhurst) are just as edgy and fabulous as your tops. Shooting at the uber cool Penthouse Studio in Shoreditch, must have been a fab experience. If you could travel to any place in the world for your next photoshoot for your next collection, which place would you feel would sum up your next collection and why?

Working with Simon has been an unforgettable experience and I will only shoot with him for LAAL – that’s for sure. Actually, we are already thinking about our next shooting…it will probably be an  outside environment, completely different from our first shooting…I will reveal it in the next interview if you want !! hahahahah!

I look forward to that Orianna!
If you could pick any famous lady in the world to be the “Face” of Les Amies Anglaises London- who would you pick and why?

I won’t be too original here I am afraid! For being so ” London”, Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne would be the perfect match for the LAAL look. I do like the  intensity of Edie Campbell and the coolness of Binx Walton too!


Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2016 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

I am attracted by contrasts so you will always find in my collection dark and bright colours/prints. For SS 16 I definitely would use brown/chocolate tones and I am obsessed with turquoise and red- pink tones! And you will always find animal prints ! Love them!

Although you are London based, you ship from your warehouse in Spain. Are you able to offer a global delivery service?

Yes, definitely. We have a worldwide logistics system and we ship from Spain to the rest of the world!

What are your plans for the future?

This year is about promoting the brand and gaining visibility. Next step will be the participation at international fashion shows, such as Scoop, Tranoï in Paris and White in Milan – definitely a bubbling and intense time for LAAL !

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

Obviously LAAL tops! I love miniskirts and minidresses  during the week. At weekends you will find me in leggings, blazer, leather jacket. Regarding shoes : I love ankle boots and generally speaking I am always in high heels!

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

I love  and I am a big fan of mix & match so I love to mix some couture pieces with high street pieces. This is the thinking behind LAAL when I call my label a Prêt a Couture label!

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

The whole RESORT Collection from Balmain if LAAL will boom ! hahaha.. If not, I could always queue for the Balmain and H&M collection in November !

Boots or Shoes?

Although I love both of them, I would definitely go for shoes or ankle boots – probably because I am not super tall and I feel that high heel shoes suit my silhouette better! Even if – as a good London girl should – I carry my secret in my bag ! ( ballerina shoes before the commute!!) I found this English habit great! Now I can’t commute any other way!

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

My website :
Twitter : @LesAmiesAL
FB : Les Amies Anglaises LAAL

Wow Orianna – it sounds as though 2016 will be a busy and exciting year for you!  Being a born & bred London girl myself, I’m pleased that you’ve adopted the English habit of ballerinas in the bag! Dear readers,  what fashion habits do you have? Do tell! I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from LAAL

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An Interview With Azela

My guest this week has just teamed up with marketplace to be the only Western Australian fashion label with a range on the platform.  Launched in 2015 by Tanja Coyne, Azela is a Perth-based “after five” and evening wear label, whose dresses are very alluring and definitely desirable. I caught up with Tanja recently to find out more … hi Tanja and welcome …image

Hi! My name is Tanja Coyne and I am the creator of the ladies evening wear label ‘AZELA’.

What inspired you to launch Azela?

What inspired me to launch AZELA was the desire to make women feel confident, amazing and just simply glamorous. I absolutely love dressing up, so I thought it was a natural progression to start designing dresses that I too, would love to wear.

Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I sure have. I remember buying my first evening wear dress, which was for my year 12 graduation and entering this gorgeous boutique in Perth. Not only did I buy the dress, I actually asked the owners if I could have a job there. Sure enough – 6 years later and I was still there. I then moved out of retail and worked in the corporate world, but again always looking for ‘fashion related roles’. I was lucky enough to work my way into the National HR Manager role for one of Australia’s icon designers ‘MORRISON’. So fashion has always been a big part of my life.

Your dresses are absolutely beautiful. So, when deciding which style dresses to design and sell, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

Having worked in retail initially, I think I developed a good feel for what confident women loved. Therefore, every single AZELA dress has to be 1)Sultry, 2)Classy and 3) Must have a wow factor. I literally will not create a dress unless it fits the ‘AZELA’ criteria.


The Yelenda dress is gorgeous, especially in the pink. What dresses are popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our two most popular styles have been the Alyssa in champagne and also the Pennita in black. The Yelenda has also really done exceptionally well with a lot of clients wanting the mini Yelenda (Yelenda Mala) in the cocktail length.


Out of all the dresses in your collection, what is your favourite?

Oh that’s a hard one. For me personally, I think the Rita Votz in white. The front is so clean and elegant and then the back has such a wow factor with the completely sheer lace ensemble all the way down.

Apart from your own website, you have just teamed up with marketplace to be the only Western Australian fashion label with the range on the platform. Have you noticed any differences in buying preferences between your Australian clientele and your UK/European clientele?

We are the only evening wear label in Western Australia and I think one of only 20 designers in the whole of Australia currently stocking on the ASOS Marketplace. Not only is it a huge honour, we are so super excited to enter a whole new UK and European clientele. It’s still early days, but we can definitely see the differences in preference. One of the biggest differences I am seeing straight away is colour choices. UK ladies tend to prefer the darker shades with orders of Royal Blue dresses as an example.

AZELA Photo Shoot 2015
AZELA Photo Shoot 2015

Which famous lady do you feel epitomises the ideal Azela woman?

I would have to say someone that is confident, knows there self worth and is just simply glam. I’m leaning towards Jessica Alba – not only is she stunning and has an amazing body, but she is a also an exceptionally smart business woman.

Looking ahead to both the next Australian & European Spring/Summer 2015/2016 collections – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collections?

We are incorporating a lot of golds in our upcoming collections – its all about the Glamazon. We will also be doing a lot more of a cocktail range, as that is what the clients are really wanting as well.

Having expanded from Australia into the UK market via ASOS, where else are you hoping to make global inroads? Are you able to ship overseas via your current website/ASOS?

We would love to enter markets that are exotic and full of flare. I’m thinking Miami, St Tropez (and it’s not just a reason for me to go on holidays to those destinations). I think the AZELA woman is a globetrotter, so we really aim to spread our wings to some wonderful destinations.

AZELA Photo Shoot 2015 - Glamour
AZELA Photo Shoot 2015 – Glamour

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

I love colours and whites. I think what you wear is a reflection of how you feel inside. On a casual Saturday I would probably be wearing a pair of ripped jeans and a tee, with some heels. Im only 5’6 – so I love my heels. If it is a ‘dressy event’, I will opt for a dress in colour (red, white etc). I actually don’t think I have ever worn a black dress to a ball/formal event. I’m definitely a colour gal.

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

I like online shopping in stores like Zimmerman, Sass and Bide.

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

I want a nice Louis Vuitton suitcase that I can carry with me when I travel.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes. I live in Perth, 80% of the year it is very hot. I don’t think I would get too much use out of my boots.

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

our facebook and linkedin are #AZELAAUSTRALIA.

Thank you for chatting to us Tanja and showing us your dresses with that wow factor!  Blue is certainly a popular colour trend in the UK this season and it is interesting to hear about how the colour of choice differs in each nation. I tend to go for red/coral or shades of blue – teal and navy – when looking for evening dresses. What are your main colour choices when looking for evening wear, dear readers? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Azela.

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An Interview With Really Color

For children and adults alike, colouring can be a calming past time – even some family restaurants give children colouring pencils and colouring pages to amuse them whilst awaiting for their burger and fries.  My guest this week has taken this simple idea to the next level – his idea is to turn your existing personal photos into colouring pages.  I caught up with Dieter of Really Color to find out more …image

Hi there! My name is Dieter Marlovics and I’m the founder of I’m 39 years old and have a 7-year-old daughter who tells me what to do…and I do it.

The idea of ReallyColor is to turn photos into colouring pages. What inspired you to start the business?

The idea for ReallyColor was sparked during a Friday night pizza party. My daughter was 4 years old at the time and in a goofy mood. Fully aware that I’m a neat freak, she was finding art supplies (among other things) and throwing them on the floor in front of me laughing and running away before I could catch her. She started pretending to use her crayons and markers on tables, chairs, floors, clothes, walls, my hair, her friend’s dog (but he got away), her shoes, and then explaining how she simply wanted to change the color of…well…everything! She then pretended to start drawing on the wall, and I dove in head first to stop her. Not wanting to stifle her artistic development, and needing some peace to finish cooking dinner, I took a picture of the wall, printed it out, and told her that she could go ahead and draw on the wall, but only on the piece of paper with the printed image. I thought to myself how cool it would be for her to be able to color real things instead of the constant barrage of fictional cartoon characters. There were a few nervous sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling, which ended in the morning with my laughing little girl jumping on me cannon ball style. SHE may have been laughing, but that wasn’t the sound coming out of MY mouth! After some time researching and collaborating with my colleagues, I decided to fund the building of our first prototype to see if coloring real photos could even be done well enough for at least my daughter and her friends to have fun with. The rest, as they say, is history.


My children enjoy downloading colouring pages and I noticed on your website you do offer a range of free downloadable colouring pages. Turning your own photos into colouring pages makes it a lot of fun. What other uses can ReallyColor offer?

Our customers are doing things with ReallyColor that we never imagined when first starting the company. For example, teachers have created ReallyColoring pages from photos of various flags around the world, different well-known landmarks, or famous individuals now and in history, and used them as teaching aids in the classroom. Parents have used them as a unique way to share memories, as birthday party favors, or to create their own calendars. Brides and grooms have created ReallyColoring pages from their wedding photos and included them in their thank you cards. ReallyColoring pages are even being used as an early intervention tool to help treat autism, to aid in speech therapy, and even to help treat Alzheimer’s patients.

What is the cost of converting photos to colouring pages? Although you are based in Chicago, do you accept other currencies, eg the £ and Euro?

ReallyColor sells photo credits and each photo credit is used to download one completed coloring page, which is also then sent to a user’s email inbox. Physical ReallyColor gift cards will soon be for sale in retail outlets and other venues. On our web site, we sell three packages:

Single one-time-only coloring page downloads: $1.49
10 Photo Credits: $3.99
50 Photo Credits: $14.99

We are a U.S. company so our currency is in U.S. dollars, but we accept payment from any credit card or PayPal account. We have sold ReallyColor Photo Credits in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Netherlands, France, South Africa, Australia and many more. Basically, you can pay us with pretty much any currency and from any country on planet Earth.


Once photos are downloaded to be changed into colouring pages, do they remain stored on your system?

We do not store our users’ coloring pages. Once our customers have their pages, they own them and can do with them whatever they want. We also don’t store payment information once the transaction is completed. Our users’ privacy is a huge thing for us.

Have you got any tips on how to get the best colouring page results?

Like anything in life, you get what you give. The same applies with ReallyColoring pages. The larger, brighter, and more crisp your original photo is, the better your coloring page will turn out. We have built an editor, which allows you to easily erase things you don’t want to see in your coloring page and draw in things you do. Our customers can spend as little or as much time with the editor in order to make each page as perfect as he or she wants to.
What we are most excited about is our Photo Quality Scoring Tool, built by our Chief Scientist, which automatically analyzes uploaded photos across multiple dimensions and assigns each a quality score (1-100). This has turned out to be an amazing guide that is helping our users choose great photos.

Is ReallyColor available as a mobile app?

Not yet, but we are obsessing about this! A significant percentage of ReallyColor users create their coloring pages using the mobile browser on their tablet or smartphone with great results. So, even without a ReallyColor mobile app, there is nothing stopping anybody from watching their kids’ soccer games, recitals, or sitting at a café on the beach overlooking the water, and creating a ReallyColoring page from the amazing family photo just taken.


Your career revolves around technology, photography and art – but as a child, what were your career aspirations?

Oh boy…as a child I had many ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Let’s see…scientist, astronaut, professional tennis player, Superman, racecar driver (I’m still going for this one every single day), Indiana Jones, and a rock star wearing big aviator sunglasses.

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

When it comes to men’s fashion, I am pretty much a moron, so I like to keep it simple. If I could, I would walk around in khaki shorts and Birkenstock sandals every single day. Given that I live in the entrepreneurial world, I stick to jeans anytime it’s not too warm for pants. I have a tall, slender, athletic build with very long legs, so finding jeans that don’t look too baggy or too tight (not very manly in my opinion) is sometimes a challenge. The brands I like are Kastle, Seven, and Joe’s. I prefer boot-cut jeans, but am being informed that this is out of style now?! In Summer, I usually wear Polo golf shirts. Recently, I’ve also discovered Henley brand shirts, but they only look good if I go to the gym often enough. In winter, I prefer comfortable sweaters. When I do have to dress up a bit, I usually throw on a Hugo Boss button down shirt and dress pants. Sometimes I will add a sport coat, but only if I’m feeling dangerous. As far as shoes go, I prefer anything without laces (other than my gym shoes). In my closet, you will find one pair of brown loafers, one pair of black loafers, one pair of gym shoes, and of course, one pair of Birkenstock sandals. In winter, I add a pair of leather boots and a pair of serious snow boots that I wear in the mountains during ski season. I don’t have more room anyway, since the girls in my life (little and tall) take up the rest of the closet space.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I don’t spend much time shopping for fashion, but I usually buy gym shoes at When I shop for clothes offline, it’s always a purposeful visit where I know what I need, I walk in, ask for it, maybe try it on, pay for it, and leave. There isn’t one store I prefer over another and usually depends on what it is they sell and if there is a good deal to be had.

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

My Seven jeans are starting to wear out and yesterday my daughter snuck up behind me and tickled me through a hole in the upper back leg of my jeans. I decided that this is a problem I should probably solve. So…I’m going to go buy a new pair of Joe’s or maybe a pair of Kastles.

Boots or Shoes?

I prefer my leather boots in Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Why? I think it’s because they are bigger and make the shape of my lower legs look more substantial while still looking like leather shoes when covered with pants. Once the weather gets too warm, though, I stick to shoes. That reminds me…I do need some flip-flops that I can get wet when going to the pool. I’ll probably buy a pair of those if I’m feeling fashionably ambitious one day this summer.

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

The best way to get to know ReallyColor is our web site and our Facebook page. We are thankful to all our customers and grateful that we can have this much fun following our dreams and our passion for changing the world with goodness. Finally, we’d like to give a big thank you to Boots, Shoes & Fashion for the chance to tell the ReallyColor story.

ReallyColor Web Site:

ReallyColor Facebook:

It has been real fun talking to you Dieter and I wish your company continued success.  I love helping my children do colouring and they are very enthusiastic about art.  I find it therapeutic, do you?

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Really Color.

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An Interview With Author Anita Dennis

I do like a true life love story that beats all the odds and features a prince! Well, my guest this week, US author Anita Dennis, has a story worth telling for she fell in love and married the professor of her college anthropology class who just happened to be the chief of the Mende tribe in Liberia, West Africa. Apart from coping with racism, Anita had to adapt to experiencing a different culture too. When her husband died, Anita penned a memoir of their time together – “Beyond Myself: The Farm Girl & The African Chief” – travelling around Africa, meeting presidents, sleeping in mud huts…. and I’m so pleased to welcome Anita onto the blog to find out more about her transcontinental life and marriage…image

Hi! I’m Anita. I’m a Christian white woman who grew up on an Ohio farm. In my childhood, I wanted to be a writer, but felt I had nothing to write about. Little did I dream that I’d one day I’d have adventures most people can only imagine. Marrying my anthropology professor took me to remote villages upcountry in Liberia, West Africa, where I was the “chief’s wife.” The year I lived in my husband’s father’s village was the most challenging. I ate elephant meat, faced strange insects, participated in my son’s secret Poro society graduation, and served God as a lay missionary.


I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, thank you, of your latest book, “Beyond Myself: The Farm Girl and The African Chief” – a memoir penned by yourself after your husband died, about your extraordinary life together. It is a memoir full of love, life, hardship and adventure. So when you first met your husband, Dr Ben Dennis, professor of your college Anthropology class what were your first thoughts when you found out he also happened to be chief of the Mende tribe in Liberia?

I first noticed the tribal marks on his cheeks, which gave him a distinctive look. The minute he spoke, I knew he was a foreigner because of his strong accent. I was curious when he told me he was an African. It wasn’t a problem until I fell in love with him, since I couldn’t imagine living in Africa! He reassured me that his life and work were in America. And at that time, he wasn’t thinking of going back. I was crazy in love and believed him.


Was it easy being accepted into the Mende tribe? How difficult was it to adapt to the African ways as opposed to what you was used to in the USA?

I experienced culture shock during my first trip to Vahun, my husband’s father’s village. In fact, upon our return to Michigan, I wanted to divorce him. I had seen the other side of his life and I couldn’t imagine living in a mud hut. The Mende and Gbandi tribes, on the other hand, were very welcoming. The Mende people told me, “We don’t look at a person’s skin; we look at their heart.” On my first trip to Vahun, I was accepted into the Mende tribe and renamed “Baindu” during a 3-day ceremony. I slept on a traditional mud bed in a conical hut only briefly. We stayed at the commissioner’s mud-block house, which had concrete-plastered walls and a galvanized zinc roof. There we slept in a wooden bed with a Western-style mattress. The relationship among Mende brothers rattled me the most, because I was considered their wife as well! When my brother-in-law said he was going to sleep with me that night, I was shocked. Later, I was extremely relieved and thankful it was a Mende joke!


As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I loved adventure books as a child because I wanted more than anything to escape the farm and see the big world out there. I now enjoy Christian books that give me encouragement. I love reading the Bible because it keeps me connected to Jesus, my Saviour.


You also served as a lay missionary whilst in Liberia in the 80s. What changes to the country, if any, did you witness from when you was in the country in the 70s. Do you still visit Liberia?

Liberia experienced tremendous social change from the 70s to the 80s. With the new road over the Kamboi mountain range, the village of Vahun grew as more farm land was cleared and Mendes from Sierra Leone returned. The greatest change came in the military coup of 1980, when the indigenous tribes of Liberia rebelled against Americo-Liberian domination. Ironically, the Free Negroes and freed slaves who returned to Liberia before the Civil War, treated the sixteen tribes living there as they themselves had been treated in America. Because of my husband’s health and his death, I haven’t returned to Liberia since 1984. My sons intend to spread their father’s ashes in his Mende and Gbandi villages.


Out of all the things you’ve experienced as a wife of a Liberian chief – what experience did you enjoy the most and what was nightmare experience?

I enjoyed the love and hospitality of the people. From the beginning, they welcomed me with open arms. When I suffered with hives, they were extremely concerned about me and worried about what they would tell my parents if anything happened to me.

The most difficult aspect of living in Vahun in 1983-84, was not being in control in a familiar environment. The house in the village we moved into had no kitchen or bathroom at first. We had no electricity or running water. The mosquitoes swarming around our heads as we slept there the first night panicked me. Later on, I could never seem to keep the kerosene refrigerator working. Every time things seemed calm, another challenge arose.

Hypothetically speaking, if Beyond Myself was made into a film, what actors would you pick to be the main characters of yourself and your husband?

That’s a fun question! A number of people have said my story would make a great movie. I think Eddie Murphy would be great for my husband and Julia Roberts with red hair for me – although I’m not as beautiful!


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

I live in Florida, the casual place! I wear capris and cute blouses, sandals. I love bright colors and follow “Color Me Beautiful” (from the 1980s) for those colors that look best with my skin and hair. I love earrings that match my blouses. Purses that match my shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I have to admit I’m a shopaholic and mall temptations abound! I’m always looking for a blouse that’s one of my favorite colors, or a style or print that’s unique. I usually find something at Macy’s, Penny’s, or New York & Co. I’m 70, but I like a youthful look.

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

Anything that flatters me. I love to see the new fashions – what’s out there.

Boots or Shoes?

Living in Florida has made me a fashionable sandal woman. I only wear shoes when I go up North.

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




Ah, Anita, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of your memories and I wish you all the best with your book. Your book has kept me spellbound this summer and I highly recommend that readers should put it on their “must read” list! For me, having no electricity would be a nightmare – although no doubt I would’ve adapted, a case of having too!  What, dear readers, would you find hard to be without? I’d love to know! So, do tell!

Linda x

Photographs have been published with kind permission of Anita Dennis.

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An Interview With Karina IK

This week I’m in my element – I’m a “boots” girl interviewing Karina Oikonomidou-Ikonomova, designer and creative director of luxury brand Karina IK who specialise in drop dead gorgeous knee high boots, uber trendy ankle boots and sky high heeled shoes.  The boots make me go weak at the knees and it is a real pleasure to have Karina and her designs on the blog .. welcome Karina…image

Hi! I’m Karina Ikonomova-Oikonomidou – most people call me Kaya. I love to talk about shoes and the quality of things. I like beauty, I am in love with leather, the process of leather tanning and shoe-making.

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

Not always, it all started during my foundation degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design (UAL). There I pursued my passion for leather and developed interest in working in 3D and the most relevant choice seemed to be footwear at that time. I have thought about it and came to realise that footwear is the key to how we look and feel wherever we go and whatever we do. Shoes are so important and can really tell a lot about the lifestyle, and personal traits of the person wearing the shoes. So I embarked on learning how to make the best shoes, and learn about construction and comfort.

What do you like best about the process of being a shoe designer?

The process of sourcing, product development – when the 2D idea turns into a 3d object. I love that my work required me to travel a lot and meet with different people for all over the world. I get inspired by the process of developing a new shoe/ range itself and its like a viscous circle. I realise that I’m lucky to have found the job that make me happy as its a day to day activity and even in my dreams I am always connected to the work I’m doing, I get a lot of inspirational dreams!


Your first collection for Autumn/Winter 2015/16 is entitled ‘The Opus Magnum Collection’ and consisting of 10 styles in 13 colours. What was the inspiration behind your shoe collection and collection title?

Opus Magnum in translation from Latin means the Great Work. It is usually referred to an art work. I called my first range The Opus Magnum Collection as it hasn’t been just another range of a new fashion brand. I have given a lot of thought to creating this range and building the brand’s philosophy. It has been years of study and research throughout my university degree and postgraduate study and finally I have come to bring it to light and share it with people. I hope people not only like and wear the shoes I have created but also get inspired by the idea behind the range and brand. The inspiration comes from geometry and sacred geometry- the principles of life. A lot of architectural references have inspired me a lot and the attention to detail that is key for all the architects is the core for Karina IK creations as well. I want to give this kind of exclusivity to my clients. Personal involvement and personal touch on every creation at Karina IK.


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

I find inspiration in the most ordinary places, and to feel inspired I need to be relaxed. I like travelling in general, but to feel relaxed I need to be “in the zone”- that’s probably a warm country, better a small town by the sea. I like Italy so I would say a place like Portofino, or Marche area where the footwear district is with all the concentration of the leathers and newest technologies for shoe production – that would be my number one place for inspiration. I like discovering new places too, and I have never been to Asia yet, I have many friends there so I would love to see it for myself and I think that it could well be my next spot for finding inspiration! It’s a whole part of the world that I haven’t yet discovered and I have to go.


Personally I LOVE the look of the new collection. Have you got a favourite out of all the shoes you have designed?

Thank you! This is such a great feeling – to hear when people admire what I have created, to know it’s not just me, and my friends that like it haha! My favourite one is NIN the full alligator thigh high boots made from 3 alligators. How can you not like it? It is so classic and powerful. It is feminine but at the same time conveys such power that nobody will wanna mess with you!:)

Looking ahead to spring/summer2016, what colours and styles will you be featuring in your next collection?

The Spring/Summer 16 range will be more vibrant than the Fall/Winter16 and will consist of luxury skins as always, such as alligator and python but this time will be combined with contrasting nylon net and textile fabric. The range will be completed in earthy colours with some vibrant colour of a sea wave and apricot. The collection is inspired by geometry as a sequel to Opus Magnum, but this time the direction is more focused on simple geometry.


The Karina IK woman need exclusivity in her life, as she has seen the world and appreciates quality and rarity. Hypothetically speaking, which female lady do you feel would be the ideal ‘face’ of your brand?

Anna Wintour

Your luxury leather and reptile skin shoes are handcrafted by artisans in Italy and I adore your attention to detail. They are extremely stylish and covetable as your brand is exclusive and not commercially oriented. Although based in London, are you able to ship overseas?

Thank you, yes indeed we ship worldwide as we have customers all around the world. Women need exclusivity, as each woman is unique. Karina IK creates products but also offers service for its customers. We can ship overseas and the customers can also give us their shoes back if anything needs to be fixed – we offer a service to rejuvenate the shoes in other words to fix anything that needs to be fixed, we offer a guarantee for lifetime.


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

I am a moody person and it all depends on my state of mind. To work I like to be well dressed, I usually wear the custom made IK flats that I have designed few years ago but these days I like to wear YER pumps from the AW16 collection, as wearing heels is very stimulating – makes me more focused.

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

I love to go Dover St Market, as I find many great new designers and its very open atmosphere there, I like the people in the shop, both the sales assistants and the customers. I also love Matches, I think they always have great selections. For online, I guess it would be Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter.

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

The Opus Magnum Spring 16 (OMS16) sandals are on top of my list!! you will know what I mean when you see them:) But aside from my obsession- I need to get one of Olympia Le-Tan clutches with the Disney film posters. I love them!

Boots or Shoes? 

Can’t choose!! But if I have to – shoes. If the shoes are good you can have one pair that will go with everything!

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

Thanks for the chat Karina… I’m so looking forward to seeing the Spring collection too – the colours sound as though it’ll be an amazing collection. As far as those alligator thigh high boots go…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Karina IK

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Spotlight On Instantly Ageless

Jeunesse Global’s latest powerful anti-wrinkle microcream, Instantly Ageless, has taken both sides of the Atlantic by storm.  Using stem cell technology to reverse the signs of ageing, Instantly Ageless, revives the skin, minimises the appearance of fine lines and pores for a flawless finish. Sounds too good to be true?  I talk to ex model Faye Stevenson about her love of the product and why she became a representative for Instantly Ageless….. welcome Faye…image

Hi! My name is Faye Stevenson I am a 30 year old former professional model. I ran my own modelling, events and promotions agency for 4 years alongside working on government funded programmes to support individuals to start their own businesses.

What made you decide to become a representative for Jeunesse Instantly Ageless?

I came across a link someone posted online which lead to a 2 minute video. The video showed a woman using the product and within three minutes her wrinkles and dark circles had disappeared. As a former model I am image conscious and want to maintain my looks. I was curious so I got hold of a sample. When I posted my own video on my Facebook profile I had over 50 people contact me wanting to buy the product. At that point I decided to sign up as a distributor.

Have you always wanted to be in the make up /skincare/ beauty industry?

I have been in the modelling industry now for 12 years however I suffer from really sensitive skin and have had a nightmare in the past finding beauty products that don’t cause me to have an allergic reaction. I have to prepare myself every time I have a photo shoot that the make up is likely to cause me to have an outbreak. I generally use mineral makeup because it is more friendly for my sensitive skin. I have been approached to endorse other product ranges in the past but have had to refuse because of the reaction. That’s why I love Instantly Ageless – it’s one of the few products that I can use that doesn’t irritate my skin.

So, in a nutshell, what is Instantly Ageless?

Instantly Ageless is being referred to as Botox in a bottle or the 2 minute facelift. Instantly Ageless™ is a powerful anti-wrinkle microcream that works quickly and effectively to diminish the visible signs of aging. The revolutionary ingredient is argireline: a peptide that works like Botox—without the needles. Instantly Ageless™ revives the skin and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and pores for a flawless finish. Instantly Ageless is much more cost effect than Botox and one vial which costs £4.99 from my website will last for 2-3 uses depending on the area you are looking to cover.
Watch the video below to see my own personal video of the product:

What results after using have impressed you personally?

I found using it on myself it did make a difference to my under eye area but the most significant difference was on my forehead. I have had frown lines for as long as I can remember. I tried Botox around a year ago and I found it really unpleasant. I had a constant tension headache for the first two weeks and I felt like I had the famous caveman brow. My head felt heavy and I couldn’t wait for it to wear off. With Instantly Ageless there was none of this. I felt my skin tighten up but my muscles underneath weren’t affected so there was no headache. The product wore off after around 10 hours and there were no long-lasting side effects.

Is there a preferred way to purchase from you – online, through personal consultation,via home parties?

I am happy to visit people in their homes and do parties however I am based in Nottinghamshire so it is pretty restrictive. Products can be purchased from my website I am also looking for distributors to sell my products and salons to stock them.


What advice would you give to somebody looking at perhaps joining Instantly Ageless as a representative/consultant?

If anyone wants to join they should email me. I initially found the process difficult because I signed up two weeks before the UK launch and my sponsor was based in the USA. I have become an expert in the product range and ensuring I understand the commission structure, with this knowledge along with my past experience of running businesses and supporting start-up business I can help anyone to be successful. I run weekly Skype meetings on a Monday at 9pm for distributors to answer questions and offer support and the company do weekly webinar training sessions on a Wednesday. They will need minimum around 8-10 hours free per week. This business is like anything, the more you put into it the more you get out. You can realistically look to earn between £400 – £600 part time and around £2000+ per month full-time. You can become a distributor and just sell to your friends and family or if you’re really proactive you can attend beauty shows, wedding fayres etc and sell your products, book appointments with hair salons and beauticians and sign them up as a distributors. Doing this you will earn a commission from all of their sales along with commission from anyone they may sign up to distribute the products on their behalf. I have all the marketing material you will need to promote to a wide range of audiences in the shop section of my website.


In your opinion, how does Instantly Ageless differ from other skincare brands?

Like I said before the main thing for me is that it actually is hypoallergenic, many products claim to be but I still seem to have a reaction. Also I am not aware of any other anti ageing product which has instant results.

Although you are based in the UK, can you give further details for those non-UK readers who wish to try Instantly Ageless?

The brand is worldwide. It was established in 2009 in the USA. This year Jeunesse have promoted a global launch. The products can be delivered worldwide. Each distributor is given a website and a mobile marketing app to support them to do sales. The website will be customised to your country’s currency when you sign up.


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

Stilettos, skinny jeans, vest top or if it’s a night out Lipsy Dresses, Jane Norman. I love the high street!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Missguided, BooHoo, River Island

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

I want some stylish shades for the summer, I hate my nose though so always have difficulty picking glasses that suit my face.

Boots or Shoes?

Stiletto court shoes. Because they make my legs look even longer!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can order from you and/or read up on Instantly Ageless

Follow this link and click Join in the top right corner to sign up as a distributor

Thank you Faye for chatting to us about Instantly Ageless ! So ladies, would you resort to botox or plastic surgery or anti ageing creams like Instantly Ageless or just grow old gracefully and accept all your wrinkles? Do let me know your thoughts ! 

Linda x

All photos and video published with kind permission of Faye Stevenson.

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10 Navy Shoe Gems

It’s that time of year – I’m still loving the sandals, pumps and espadrilles …but I have now got my beady eye on boots for when it gets colder!  There’s some great colours out at the moment that are “all season” and navy is one of them.  Looking to trend this Autumn/Winter in a big way, navy looks set to vie black and burgundy as the colour to be seen in. So here’s a selection of my 10 favourite navy blue footwear that I have seen recently on the High Street and online:

H & M Blue Satin Loafers


ASOS Embellished Heeled Sandals



Toms Classic Lace Espadrilles


Schutz Ankle Boots


MM6 By Maison Martin Margiela Ankle Boots


Jil Sander Navy Blue Court Shoe


Paul Smith Dark Navy Polka Dot Silk “Lori” Shoe



Charlotte Olympia “Debbie” Navy Blue Suede Shoe


Chiara Ferragni Flirting Glitter Slippers



Jeffrey Campbell Delaisy Wedge Pump In Navy Suede


Go on, add a touch of navy to your shoe collection this Autumn… All shoes available via Lyst (USA & UK)  as well as via shoe stockists and the individual brand websites. 

Linda x

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

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A Necklace Guide

There are so many gorgeous necklaces available on the market of various lengths, thicknesses and styles that it can be a minefield to pick what would look right with certain outfits.  Like hairstyles and clothes, necklaces to a certain extent, need to suit your face and neck shape too. The different chain lengths can also be baffling – where should a 32″ chain finish on the chest as opposed to a 20″ for example.  So here’s a nice, simple and invaluable necklace guide to help make choosing that necklace easier:

Courtesy of: Alight
Linda x
Thanks to Alight for permission to publish the necklace infograph.


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An Interview With Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor

New Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong …. and now East Shopping Centre in London  – Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor is one of India’s leading couture brands and since opening their first UK boutique in London in June 2015 they have been looking forward to introducing fashion straight from the catwalks in India to the British Asian Market.  Not only is it their first UK boutique, but Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor are the first couturiers from India to have a stand alone store in the UK. Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor regularly dress A-list Bollywood celebrities like Bipasha Basu, Anushka Sharma, Kangana Ranaut, Katrina Kaif, Hema Malin, Mallika Sherawat, Lara Dutta – as well as some of India’s elite socialites. I caught up with the lovely Anjalee to find out more about her brand and her hopes for the brand’s influence in the UK.

Hi Anjalee and welcome!image

Hi! I’m Anjalee.  I am a perfectionist in everything I put my hands on. You probably won’t know this but…I love to paint (canvas) and Arjun has a great flare for interiors. Had he not been a designer for clothes, he would be designing homes. He is extremely houseproud and the little details in our house are his magical touch.

What inspired you to enter the world of fashion?

Because I was passionate about it, I have been creatively inclined since my childhood. I paint as well. I believe creativity cannot be restricted only to one medium. For me, designing clothes is like nurturing my child; step by step and putting in my best. Playing with colours comes naturally to me, and putting a mix and match in and styling the silhouettes gives me a lot of creative satisfaction.


What attracted you to designing wedding outfits?

My mindset was always fascinated on effective artwork. I love to choose different article themes every season and interpreting them my way on the garments. Rich ornamentation, vibrant colour mixes, mix and match of fabrics, styling the garments – all leads to creating one of a kind couture garment. I love playing with the details that are present in every outfit of ours. So I guess our style mantra is more inclined towards occasion dressing.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your collections?

Season to season I look for different inspirations which I could incorporate into the collection. The Spring/Summer collection influence has been from the Persian architecture and culture. I have incorporated rich motive grids combined with a lot of layering techniques. My previous themes have been jamavar aria, Mughal Opera, Phantom of the Opera, etc.


Who is the Anjalee and Arjun Kapoor customer?

The typical AAK girl is a glamorous girl with great body language, great carriage and the right attitude. She is flamboyant and wants to wear an impactful statement piece for the most important day of her life.

What is your definition of style?

Being glamorous and making our AAK girl stand out. Our garments have a strong signature look which we have followed. Since we started the label it has that zing factor which is a complete transformation when one wears it. We aspire to give that feel good factor to every AAK girl and guy.


What do you consider is the perfect outfit?

We style a variety of outfits giving options to our clients and tailoring each look. Each outfit looks different on different body types, but as long as the outfit brings out the best in you, I would consider that particular ensemble as the perfect outfit.

When grooms and brides visit your studio in London, what would they find?

Stylish ensembles that create a strong statement when worn. Glamorous outfits with a lot of oomph!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Our standalone stores in different parts of the world. We are planning for more flagship stores in the coming future in other countries as well.


What is your dream for the future?

I would like the AAK brand to become a sought after global brand with stores all around the world.

What will your next fashion challenge be?

To set up a western global couture line and have it available all around the world.

What do you predict would be the bridal look for the next season?

Lots of interesting drapes over their lehengas, (skirts) fusion concepts for pre-wedding functions, lots of floral ideas in ornamentations, layered styles in anarkalis, mughale styles for the grooms on the wedding day.


What difference do you find in brides overseas for example, UK and Indian brides?

The Indian Brides in India are more experimental in the silhouettes, colours and concepts. They are willing to try newer looks. The Brides in UK are more traditional in their dressing and love to stick to conventional colours for their wedding day.


You can find the Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor studio in London’s East Shopping Centre, Green Street, London E7.

You can also follow Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor on Twitter :


@ AAKapoorLondon

For details of East Shopping Centre, check out my blogpost HERE.


Thank you for chatting to me Anjalee and those dresses are absolutely exquisite. A friend of mine got married a few years ago in a gorgeous red taffeta and black lace wedding dress – she looked stunning. Did you get married or are you getting married in a dress/outfit that isn’t in the conventional colours?  Do tell & share your stories…

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Anjalee & Arjun Kapoor.


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