An Interview With Chanii B

May 30th, 2014

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

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

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

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

imageWhat do you like best about being a shoe designer?

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

imageWhere do you get your inspiration for your shoe collections?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imageBoots or shoes?

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

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

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

Linda x

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

An Interview With n-1 Couture

May 23rd, 2014

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

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

imageWhat inspired the founding of n-1 couture?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

Our website is and drop by and visit us at:


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

Linda x

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

An Interview With Bizi Buenos Aires

May 16th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

I’d love to connect with your readers!

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




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

Linda x

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


10 Hosiery Musts For This Summer Season

May 9th, 2014

As Summer rapidly approaches, our thoughts turn to hot lazy days on the beach and boogie -ing the nights away at a festival, with silky smooth tanned legs to boot.  For many, hosiery was to be worn in the depths of winter and on May 1st, out comes those bare legs…. but what if your legs, despite being silky smooth, just don’t look good bare?   What if your office attire needs you to wear hosiery but you feel it is just too hot? What if…. 

Luckily enough, hosiery has come a long long way and in summer, tights and stockings are made to look like your real skin, oiled and cooled, and in all shades to cater for every skin colour on earth.  Not only that,  fishnets show that they are versatile enough to adapt to the summer wardrobe too!  And the saying, “Never Wear Socks With Sandals” … well, you might just change your mind…. here are 10 of my favourite hosiery pieces I’ve spotted this season:

1. GIPSY LUXURY GLOSS TIGHTS.  These tights are one of my absolute favourites and I have many pairs that I wear throughout Spring/Summer. They give the illusion of absolutely flawless legs and not only do they look good, they feel good too.  Although they are quite thick at 20 denier, they certainly do not give that impression once on and the plus side to that, I feel,  is that they tend not to ladder after one wear!  The tights come in 4 delicious shades – natural glow, nude, black and barely black –  ideal for wearing all year round.image

2. PAMELA MANN NUDE JIVE SEAM TIGHTS.  I do like black seamed tights and stockings as they are timeless classics and I am sure that these nude jive seam tights will also find a place in my heart.  The vintage/retro look is still very popular and the gorgeous brightly coloured 50s style summer dresses that are trending currently need the right hosiery to show them off  –  and these are retro chic tights to be seen in.image

3. TOP SHOP EMILIO CAVELLINI ROSE FISHNET TIGHTS.  These tights are absolutely gorgeous and I love the fact that they are in navy blue!  If you have a navy dress or navy skirt, wearing these tights just sets the outfit off and looks so much better than pairing with black or nude hosiery.  Navy blue is the new black this season and makes a refreshing change from black at your next formal do.image

4.  PRETTY POLLY CALIFORNIAN FLORAL TIGHTS.  These Californian tan tights echo the heady and carefree hippy days of the 1960s … create a stir at your next Festival by wearing these tights with a short 1960s style orange dress complete with Peter Pan collar…. are you brave enough to pull off the vibe??!image

5.  AKIRA SHEER LINE ANKLE SOCKS. I’m going to admit that I am not a fan of socks with sandals… however, after putting on a pair of sandals for the first time since last summer the other day after a winter wearing snuggly socks & boots, and getting huge blisters where the sandals rubbed… I can see potential in wearing these socks with a pair of gladiator sandals! They are really quite fun and funky!image

6.  HOUSE OF HOLLAND BLACK LAYERED FISHNET TIGHTS.  These are actually 2 pairs of differing fishnet tights that can be worn together to create a layered effect (as in the photo), or worn together with the top pair ripped in a sort of punky style or worn separately.  These tights will look superb under cut off denim shorts for that rock chick look  or under skinny ripped jeans.image

7.  ASOS SWAN OVER THE KNEE TIGHTS WITH NUDE TOP.  Over the knee tights look fab worn with a funky mini dress or mini skirt and these particular tights are super cute.image

8. WOLFORD PALOMINA TIGHTS.  If you are a fan of seamed hosiery and love the colour red, then take a look at these beautiful tights.  These sheer nude tights have a red seam running down the front of the leg and a red dotty thigh/stocking top area.  All you need is that slinky red dress with a side split and some red skyscraper heels.  Mega hot and certainly a look not for the shrinking violet. image

9. ARISTOC TUM & THIGH TONER TIGHTSShapewear lingerie and hosiery  are trending at the moment.  I love these gorgeous silky sheer tights with a handy built in control panel to help sculpt the tum and thigh area – fabulous for wearing underneath that tight bodycon dress and no VPL worries!image

10.  I can’t wait to try JONATHAN ASTON’s new “PULL ON TAN” tights available from Essexy Legs at the end of the month.  The spiel says that they have a cooling feel, and are toeless  and I should think they would give fake tan a run for their money.  There will be 2 colours available – High Street Honey or Ibiza Tan.   I am already a big fan of Jonathan Aston’s hosiery range and I have high hopes that these will be featuring in my summer wardrobe this year.

So, there you are!  This year, don’t make hosiery redundant for summer but embrace the fantastic styles and colours now available – things have moved fast forward since the days of the American Tan tights!  What styles will feature in your hosiery drawer this summer?

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Thanks to Essexy Legs and Lyst.

Spotlight On Celebrity Shoe Lines

May 2nd, 2014

Celebrities – they grace our screens, entertain us with their music and fill the pages of gossip mags on both sides of the Atlantic – and an awful lot have stepped into the fashion and shoe designer world, creating shoes that they hope would inspire their fans!  I have picked 13 celebrity-cum-shoe designers and had a look at their current collections, picking my favourite style in each that I would gladly love to own and wear and seeing if their shoe designs sum up the designer in my eyes:


First up is that gorgeous lady from the Black Eyed Peas.  Her Fergie Footwear/Fergielicious shoe range seems to be just as vibrant, solid and individual as the lady herself.  It was hard to pick my favourite but the Fergie Orange Alive Wedge gets my vote – the colour is just great for summer, the wedge heel is unusual enough to make it a talking point and it is simply fergielicious…image JESSICA SIMPSON

Singer and US reality TV star Jessica Simpson has been in and out of the gossip magazines for a few years now, being well known as a High School dropout and through her well documented fairytale wedding and subsequent divorce from Nick Lachey.  Lately though, she has been concentrating on her Jessica Simpson shoe collection.  I expected her range to be girly, yet vibrant and if I’m honest, a bit OTT. However, Jessica’s collection is actually quite a nice mix of girly style and errs more on the classic look than OTT look.  My favourite, by a long stretch though, is the Jessica Simpson Magenta Peep Toe and Mesh Shoe.image BEYONCE

The smash hit singer Beyonce owns part of Dereon Footwear, along with her sister and mum.  Her shoes are described as being classy, sassy, bold and daring.  I expected a bit of showbusiness razzmatazz or bling in her collection and I wasn’t disappointed. My vote goes to the Dereon Rosalia Navy boots with a distictive white wedge platform and some dangly bits.image CAMERON DIAZ

The beautiful actress has added another string to her bow by designing a range of shoes for New York’s Pour la Victoire.  Cameron has decided not to market her footwear with her own name, because she wanted women to feel that their shoe is part of them and not wearing them to imitate Cameron.  Being an ardent Cameron Diaz fan, I hoped that her collection would somehow echo my tastes and I was mighty glad to spot the Black Leather Corset Style Boot by Pour La Victoire!

image Sarah Jessica Parker

A friend and I were discussing the collection brought out by actress Sarah Jessica Parker a month or two back, and we were undecided if we were impressed by the range or not – the collection contains a variety of styles that it was hard to define the feel of the overall collection.  However, I did manage to spy the “Alison” SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker burgundy suede lace up bootie.image Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

The Olsen twins,  TV stars -cum-designers, founded the clothing & shoe line Elizabeth & James in 2007.  Being pretty hip and flirty girls, I expected a hip and flirty range and that is exactly what the girls have provided.  I found the collection was full of footwear ideal for festivals, gigs and generally being…er…hip and flirty.  My pick is the Black Tempt Boot, in patent black leather with a contrasting matte white rubber heel. image Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani’s shoe collection, L.A.M.B., is a fab mix of vintage & rock.  No surprises there! My pick is the Black Fiona Sandals…. not actually the sort of shoe I would wear to a rock venue but I think the sandal is epitome of feminine rock chick sexiness …image Ivanka Trump

A  posh, elegant and classy shoe collection is what I expected from American businesswoman, writer, heiress, former model and daughter of Donald & Ivana Trump. Her collection certainly didn’t disappoint – in fact, the collection has been compared to Christian Louboutin as well as Valentino heels but at an affordable price.  My pick?  The sexy Animal Print Sandals at just £83.

image Carlos Santana

This famous guitarist, Carlos Santana, is the last person I would’ve thought would design women’s shoes but I’m glad to be proved wrong.  I imagined a collection of shoes with a tropical casual feel, epitomising the colourful Brazilian trend that is currently filling our stores for the summer season.  I was right – plenty of vibrant greens/blues, flip flop and beach sandal styles – great holiday wear.  My eye though was drawn to the Carlos by Carlos Santana Sky Open Toe Slingbacks





Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton’s shoe collection I expected to be full of mega high heels and for some reason, the colour pink sprung to mind.  The reality is that there are definitely heels in the collection but there is a variety of colours and styles…. no pink in sight.  The heels themselves though, dare I say it,  are super comfortable although they don’t look it – the cushioned inner lining helps.  My pick is the Paris Hilton “Beth” open toe shoe:


Nicole Richie

TV personality & socialite Nicole Richie started her shoe line, House of Harlow in 2008. Her shoe styles reflect the hippie/bohemian era of the 1960s mixed with touches of American Indian and vintage styles.  My pick though is the House of Harlow black open toe booties “Rilie” …a fabulous leather boot with a funky striped black/white heel.



I envisaged Madonna’s collection, Truth Or Dare,  as alot of pointy toed and spiky heels.  Her shoes are certainly edgy but a lot more classic looking too and definitely wearable.  My pick is the Truth Or Dare By Madonna  Silver Glittery Mixed Metal court shoe.

image Lil Wayne

Lastly, Lil Wayne’s SUPRA shoe line debuted in August 2012 and was specifically created to add a new brand of skateboarding shoes to the shelves.  However, they are still wearable outside the skateboarding arena – I would quite happily don a pair of these hi-top trainers to wear with my jeans for casual wear or to a gig!  My pick is these rather funky red/purple Supra camouflage hi top trainers.




There you go – my 13 celebrity shoe picks of this season! I was most impressed by the Fergie collection – fantastic styles & reasonable prices; closely followed by Cameron Diaz’s Pour La Victoire collection.  I suppose I was most disappointed with the Sarah Jessica Parker collection – I found the shoes on offer were rather bland and the cost extortionate compared to similar made footwear.  I definitely will keep an eye on the collections of Ivanka Trump too – for those special occasions these affordable shoes are delectable.  Happy Shoe Shopping!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Lyst; Amazon UK;

An Interview With Wear Eponymous

April 25th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

Links you would like to share:

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

Linda x

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

An Interview With ROSAvelt

April 17th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes? 

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

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

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

Linda x

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

An Interview With The Little Cufflink Shop

April 10th, 2014

Although the first cufflinks appeared in the 1600s,  they did not become popular until the end of the 18th century. During the 1970s, cufflinks almost disappeared completely as male fashion was dominated by the Woodstock generation and shirts were manufactured complete with buttons and buttonholes, making cufflinks virtually redundant. Even after the hippie era passed, cufflinks were not worn but then in the late 1980s they made a reappearance, thought to have been triggered in part by films  such as “Brideshead Revisited” and now in the 21st century,  cufflinks are still flying high as popular male jewellery pieces.  Today cufflinks are mini works of art and the humble cufflink enables the wearer to show an outward expression of their personality.  Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to introduce onto the blog Findlay Downing, owner of The Little Cufflink Shop, who sells more than 800 cufflinks …. welcome Findlay:image

Hi! I’m Findlay Downing, I’m a 19 year old Web Developer from Northumberland.

What inspired you to start up your business?

I’ve known from a young age that I didn’t want to go to University. I’m not an academic type of person and as such, hated school. I hate textbooks and much prefer to learn by physically doing something. After leaving school a year into Sixth Form, I spent 18 months in a Web Design apprenticeship before starting The Little Cufflink Shop. It became so popular that I decided to finish my apprenticeship early to run the business full time. Another bit of inspiration for me was to prove that not all teenagers are awful! Young people only ever get bad publicity so I’m on a mission to prove there are some successful young people in the world.

When choosing designs/styles/colours for your range of cufflinks, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?

When I first started the business, it was a case of offering as many different styles and designs as I could. Within a few months I was beginning to see patterns in the type of designs customers were buying and so I spent a long time removing some cufflinks that I thought nobody would be interested in. We do get a lot of requests from people asking if we stock a certain design (the answer is normally yes!).
imageTo date, what has been your most popular style of cufflinks ordered from your website?
To date, there are a few designs that are selling really well. We don’t have a stand out favourite as yet, but we do get a lot of good comments about our USB stick cufflinks.

You have a fabulous range of designer cufflinks too – I like the Grey Fabric Button cufflinks by Claireabellemakes. What featured designer has really proved popular this season?

At the moment, most of our designers have had at least one order through the website. Claire fromClaireabellemakes has had 4/5 orders now for her Wooden Scrabble Tile Cufflinks so they’re proving a hit!

imageOut of all the novelty cufflinks, what sport/hobby has been most requested this season? Is there a marked shift in popularity of certain sport/hobbies when it comes to cufflinks from when you started in December 2012?

We haven’t really seen a difference in sales for our Sports cufflinks. During the Winter Olympics in Sochi we were posting a range of our Winter Sports Cufflinks and they were proving popular on Social Media with a lot of people interested in them.

imageYou offer also tie pins and cufflink boxes. Have you any plans to extend your range or to introduce any new designers?

There are currently no concrete plans to expand the range although we are always on the lookout for new designers who want to have their products on our website.

What’s the most unusual style of cufflinks that you stock or the craziest request for a type of novelty cufflink?

There are a lot of unusual cufflinks, that’s why people love us! I’d say the most unusual are either the USB Stick cufflinks or the Spirit Level cufflinks.

imageWhat are your future plans?

I’m currently working on a new project to try and get more young people into business. I’ve now set up three online shops (links below) and have just helped a friend to start a fourth “Little Shop”. They’re all under The Little … Shop name, and the idea is that young people aged 16 – 24 will be able to start their very own Little Shop. This idea is only just starting and The Little Memory Shop (the fourth shop) is the first to be started under this new project so stay tuned to see a whole host of new Little Shops!

imagePersonal now – how many cufflinks do you own? What’s your favourite pair that you own and your favourite from your website?

Believe it or not, I own just 3 pairs of cufflinks. One pair was a Christmas gift from relatives a few years ago and they’ve never been worn. I’ve also got two pairs of gold engraved cufflinks that I’ve worn on a couple of occasions. I never really thought much of cufflinks, but then I started a business selling them. Makes sense, right…?

What outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Most days I can normally be found wearing jeans, a t-shirt and walking shoes but if I’m meeting clients or doing any promotional work I’ll be in jeans and a nice shirt. I love shirts!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I get most of my clothes from Next these days. They’re a bit pricy but I still wear shirts that are 2 years old because they still look brand new. Their jeans are brilliant too!

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – I’ve never liked wearing boots for anything other than long distance walking. I don’t understand how men can wear big bulky boots around the house. Maybe I’m just a wimp, boots hurt my ankles..

Links you would like to share:

I wish you all the best in the future Findlay – your plans certainly sound exciting and I have no doubt that many of this blog’s readers will visit your websites and become  customers.  It is great to see such entrepreneurial spirit in one so young!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission from Findlay Downing.

An Interview With Valencia Christina

April 4th, 2014

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

Hi!  I am Valencia Christina aka Vcbarbie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To date, what has been your most favourite photoshoot?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you any favourite shops or online stores?

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

imageWhat’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

Any links you wish to share?

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

For All serious Business Matters Contact Gate City Management 678-249-3467

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

Linda x

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


An Interview With Booticamp Babes

March 28th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imageWhat exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it? ( I hate push ups personally!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Mulberry Handbag

Boots or Shoes?

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

Links you would like to share:

Check out to find out more about us and my new website, to find out about the latest aesthetic treatments and procedures to help you look and feel amazing.

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

Linda x

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


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