An Interview With DBR Bags

Ethically made bags is the topic on the blog today as I meet  Diana Rennie, founder & creative designer of DBR Bags – a brand that combines on-trend designs with ethical beliefs – ideal for the stylish, cosmopolitan and socially conscious woman.  Hi and welcome Diana….

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Hi! My name is Diana Rennie, I am the founder and creative director of DBR Bags, a recently launched independent luxury leather handbag brand. The handbags combine unique designs, expert craftsmanship and are ethically produced and they appeal to a diversity of women who love fashion and appreciate being on trend.

What inspired you to launch DBR Bags?

A few years ago my mum passed away at a relatively young age, following a short illness. My mum, whilst still alive, would have loved for me to pursue what she called my life’s purpose – fashion design… After she passed away, I needed something to let a little light into my life, a different focus. I thought I’d make a handbag – just a couple of hours, a little indulgence to take my mind off things for a little while. So, maybe you can say it started with that one handbag. A handbag, my mum would have loved, no doubt, as she loved fashion as much as I do and handbags held a special place in her heart. That one handbag turned into 20 as everyone I knew loved it and wanted one. That’s when I came up with the idea of the DBR brand – a collection of handbags of the highest quality, unique, head-turning, limited edition designs, ethically produced.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?

My love for fashion and handbag making began in my teens if not even earlier. Obsessed with the latest trends, I’d spend hours teaching myself pattern cutting and sewing in order to duplicate the latest designer fashions as seen in Vogue or Elle. However, when the time came to apply for a University place, I lacked the confidence to follow my passion in fashion design and instead I chose a degree in French studies. I embarked on my University studies determined to focus on my studies and put behind me any thoughts of fashion and design. But, choosing French as a degree meant spending a year in Paris which in turn meant – you guessed it! – not being able to escape fashion! Hard to escape fashion in Paris! I remember getting to the last 3 months of my stay in Paris, leafing through my study folder and wondering how I’d managed to find my way to every fashion show in town not to mention put together over 100 sketches of clothes and accessories yet not find the time to get to a library and finish my dissertation… So, here I was again saying to myself to focus on my studies and put that fashion thing to one side. And yes, I did finish that dissertation, got my degree and pursued a very enjoyable career in teaching French until very recently.

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When designing bags to add to your collection, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

I only design when guided by inspiration. And I find inspiration in many places, some unexpected, some predictable. Sometimes, it could an element in nature like the shape of a leaf, or the colour of some striking flower like the bougainvillea. Sometimes it could be a casual remark made by friend or customer. I also love leafing through the Vogue editions of the 50s and 60s as they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

I am personally rather smitten with the DBR Elodie Shoulder Bag. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Oh, thank you. One of my personal favourites too! The Fleur and Valentina bags were very much in demand in the summer months perhaps for obvious reasons. They’re both light hearted, flirty handbags that go hand in hand with a summer holiday vibe. Over the past couple of months we’ve had a great demand for the Sienna Tote and the Madison Satchel. They are both very versatile in that they can be worn in the daytime with smart clothing but come the weekend they can be worn just as elegantly with a pair of jeans.

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

It’s such a hard call! I fall in love with each and every handbag as I design it and then I fall in love with them all over again when I see the finished product. I might forget about a certain one which I might have designed a while ago, only to see it again and re-discover its beauty. Sometimes, when I revisit a handbag after a while, it takes me by surprise: ”Can’t believe I designed this one myself! It’s gorgeous!”

As a brand, your company strives to do its best by its customers, workforce and environment. You aim to do that by combining on-trend designs with ethical practices. So, how are your handbags produced ethically?

Firstly, I wanted the women wearing the DBR handbags to do so with pride, knowing that the handbags were created with respect to the workforce and the environment. To that extent I spent months finding the ideal factory which would enhance the lives of the talented and skilled people working there. The factories I work with, not only pay their workforce a fair living wage, but they also invest in the training and skill upgrade of their workforce, too. Besides, they engage in zero-waste sample making, creating minimum material waste and consuming as little energy as possible in production – all of which are key principles of reducing the environmental impact of production.

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would be your ideal “face” of DBR Bags?

The face of DBR Bags is every woman who finds joy in wearing the handbags! The designs are varied in order to appeal to women of all different ages, from all different cultures and backgrounds, which luckily, indeed they do.

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

Without giving too much away, let’s say that the accent will be on pastel colours and miniature shapes.

As you are based in the UK, are your bags available for overseas customers to order too?

The bags are available for sale worldwide and we also offer free shipping and returns worldwide.

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

I am quite a girly girl, so I feel most comfortable wearing a well-fitted dress and sky high heels, always accessorized with a DBR handbag, of course! In winter, I also love a nice Ted Baker coat as they are so beautiful and made to last. I know, high heels and comfortable it’s a bit of a contradiction but I can’t even walk in flat shoes, I constantly trip up in them!

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

I do! I love to shop for pieces that I can wear time and again as I don’t appreciate the fast-fashion concept – too damaging to the environment. I love Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Coast as their designs are quite unique and the finished product is guaranteed to last. I also love Gucci shoes, their designs are jaw-dropping! I started saving for a pair a few years’ ago and I’ll let you know when I’ve managed to save enough!

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

At the moment I’m focused on the next handbag collection which is not far off from being completed. Then, ideally I would love the opportunity to launch a footwear collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Possibly shoes to start with, because as a designer a shoe collection would stretch your creative abilities more and I always like a challenge!

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

Yes, you can find our online shop at www.DBRbags.co.uk and we would also like to offer your readers an exclusive 30% off website wide by using the code DBRTAKE30 at checkout.
Also, we would love for your readers to say hello to us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DBRbags/
or twitter: @DBRbags

Thank you so much the discount offer Diana – that’s Christmas sorted or perhaps a New Year’s treat for yourself.  Dear readers, I’ve been wondering – do you buy handbags to match your footwear or do you buy bags that just catch your eye?  I buy a bag because it catches my eye, irrespective if it actually matches my outfit or footwear.  I remember in the 1970/1980s the trend was matching shoes and bag ensemble… So I acquired many bags in all colours to match my shoes…. Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Diana Rennie and DBR Bags.

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An Interview With Bull & Dagger

Launched in September 2016, the London based genderqueer fashion  label Bull & Dagger offers an enticing cocktail of classic British styles with a twist of English eccentricity using the finest wools, silks and cottons. “Bulldagger” was once a derogatory term for women who chose to eschew the confines of socially accepted gender boundaries – now, the founder Meera Amin, hopes that the phrase will now mean the fashion label of choice for those women.  I caught up with Meera to find out more…. Hi Meera….

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Hi! I am Meera Amin, creator of Bull & Dagger – the UK’s first genderqueer fashion label. Bull & Dagger clothing is tailored for gender expression rather than restriction, we have a customer base which includes individuals who identify as queer, androgynous, non-binary, gender fluid, gender neutral, gender non-conforming and trans.

What inspired you to set up your label, Bull & Dagger?

As someone who identifies as a queer woman, not being able to find the masculine clothing that I like in sizes that fit has always been a cause of frustration. I have found that I am certainly not alone in having this frustration, and so I decided to do something about it. I started working on Bull & Dagger approximately a year and a half ago and launched the brand earlier this year.

Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

I currently work as a Research Analyst for the legal services oversight regulator for England and Wales. I studied Biochemistry at university and have since worked as an analyst in several different sectors. Prior to creating Bull & Dagger, the closest I’ve come to the fashion industry was when I briefly worked as a fashion photographer after university. Despite my lack of fashion training, I have always had a passion for fashion – particularly formal menswear – and believe that fashion can be an incredibly powerful tool, used to display a personality and image of yourself to the outside world.

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I like the London Underground Shirt. Early days yet but what pieces are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you – I wanted to create a piece that was fun and reflected the fact the we are a brand that produces all of our clothing in London. The two most popular pieces in the current collection have been the ‘Pleated Floral Silk Panel Shirt’ and ‘Faux Leather Panel Kilt’. Both pieces are truly made for everyone regardless of gender presentation. We’ve take the idea of a classic tuxedo shirt and added in luxury fabrics, colour and bold patterns. The kilt is a fabulous piece which combines plain and tartan wools with an eco-friendly faux leather panel with pockets, and is available in two lengths.

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

My favourite outfit in the collection is the Blue and Yellow Double Breasted Blazed with Yellow Shorts – this outfit has classic masculine tailoring, a touch of flamboyance and is made from a beautiful Italian wool blended with 3% Lycra to allow the perfect fit for all body types.

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Your outfits are a cocktail of impeccable tailoring, bold colours, clever stitching, and flamboyant patterns. Where did you draw inspiration from for your collection?

For my first collection, I have very much created a range of clothing that I personally would love to wear. I am inspired by classic menswear but didn’t want to simply take current menswear trends and then produce them for a range of body types. I wanted the collection to offer something new and different – which is why we have chosen bold colours, flamboyant patterns and a carefully selected range of fabrics.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of the Bull & Dagger collection?

I would love to see Ruby Rose in Bull & Dagger clothing (and not just because of I have a huge girl crush). I think she has a great look and would look incredible in our clothing – and is someone that many of our customers recognise and love.

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

As a brand that exists outside of mainstream fashion, and as one of very few brands in the gender queer/ non-conforming space, we have decided not to follow traditional fashion cycles. We will  be adding items to our collection throughout the year and they will be based on a combination of personal inspiration and trends and ideas from the queer community.

As you are based in England, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Our clothing range is available to purchase online and can be delivered globally at no extra charge.

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

I tend to wear a smart shirt, waistcoat, bowtie, slim-fit trousers and brogues at all times (except when sleeping, of course). It seems to be the perfect combination for both my day job and my social life.

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

I’m a big fan of Topman (as are many of my queer friends). I would love for Bull & Dagger to do a collaborative genderqueer/gender neutral collection with them someday – making the type of clothes that we produce more accessible.

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

A new tailor made suit. We offer a bespoke design and tailor service to customers based in London – a perfectly fitted suit designed just for you feels amazing.

Boots or Shoes?

Brogues, brogues, brogues – all of the time (except when I pop to the coffee shop in my Superman high tops). Comfort and style – although not always suitable in the London rain.

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

http://bullanddagger.com/
https://twitter.com/BullAndDagger
https://www.facebook.com/bullanddagger/
https://www.instagram.com/bullanddaggerofficial/

Great talking to you Meera and I hope you do get your dream collaboration with Top Man.  I love the fact that you love brogues, as they are one of my favourite style of shoes – although I am a major boots fan. This season I’ve seen some absolutely fab brogues about in all colours of the rainbow – and also loafers …..and they are so comfortable! So dear readers, do you like the recent trend of brogues and loafers? I think Meera’s fashion label is a breath of fresh air and definitely meets a demand – what’s your view? Do tell!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Bull & Dagger.

The Photographers:  Images Photography by Thomas-James Fisher; Oli Ashrafi-Tari (last photograph)

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Spotlight On Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel

Snow has already descended on parts of Canada, USA, Scotland and Northern England, heralding the start of the winter ski season in the Northern Hemisphere.  It seems most fitting, therefore, to introduce onto my blog one of the finest, if not the finest (in my opinion), alpine designer fashion  & ready-to-wear ski wear shop in the world – Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel.  Founded in 1975 in Courchevel, Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel  was named after the famous alpine skier.  Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel is more than just a shop, as I found out…..

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Why did you pick Courchevel as the location for your shop?

Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort located in the French Alps, with one of the largest ski areas in the world: 3 Valleys.  The ski resort hosts the most prestigious international clientele.  This ski paradise is also one of the most luxurious places in the world with a high concentration of 5 star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique boutiques.

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What are your most popular products?

Just like every year since forever, Moon Boots are very popular.  The most popular shoe brand is Jimmy Choo, so it stands to reason that their moon boots are a great hit.

What’s new for the 2016 winter season?

Chiara Ferragni  Moonboots, some exclusive Fendi Sportswear, and the launch of Balmain Man at Bernard Orcel.

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What makes Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel special?

Maison Bernard Orcel offers customers the chance to unwind and relax by being surrounded by beauty and quality.  Florence, the Head of House for 25 years, knows and recognises the very dear Bernard Orcel clientele. Like a real concierge, the whole Bernard Orcel team supports our customers during their stay in Courchevel for any of their requests. We offer our customers a shopping service at home. The collections (ready-to-wear or skiwear) are presented by a personal shopper from our team. Our seamstress is also at the disposal of our customers throughout the season to adjust and retouch their purchases.

Although you are in France, do you deliver worldwide?

According to the client’s wishes, we offer the possibility of a delivery service any time in Courchevel, and all over the world.

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What brands do you stock (ready-to-wear)?

Balmain, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Chiara Ferragni, Dsquared, Fabiana Filippi, Faubourg 32, Jacob Cohen, Maison Ullens, Sartorial Tramarossa, Simonetta Ravizza, Stefano Ricci…..

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….And Skiwear?

AZ Atelier, Bogner, Dsquared Ski Capsule, Fendi Ski Collection, Jet Set, Kru, Toni Sailer, Zai, Zero Ski.   We also provide sales services and ski rental delivery directly into the hotel or chalet in Courchevel.    This service also includes the possibility to try and buy our skiwear collections. A full service from the ski outfit to the technical equipment!

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….And Shoes?

Buscemi, Emma Salimova & Ugg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Ludwig Reiter, Santoni, Tod’s.

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Fashion & Art

Bernard Orcel has invited the famous artist Leo Caillard to exhibit his work as a tribute to the classic sculpture. The exhibition, entitled “Hipster In Store”, offers an unique alliance of fashion and art through sculptures of antiquity. Dressed in a contemporary way, the gods Zeus, Hercules and the goddess Diana enter our era wearing shirt, jeans and a little dress.

Shop Details

Bernard Orcel, Rue du Rocher Courchevel 1850, 73120 Saint Bon Tarentaise.

www.bernard-orcel.com 

Instagram:  Bernard Orcel

FB: Bernard Orcel Courchevel

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So, when you next go skiing in the French Alps check out Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel  and have a browse amongst the rails and enjoy the unique art exhibitions too! What a shopping experience!  Dear readers, do you enjoy partaking in winter sports? Do you have a favourite skiing location?  

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel.

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An Interview With The Sweety Guy

Is there anybody in the world who doesn’t like sweets (candies)?  From mints to fruit drops, chews to Haribos … a car journey is just mundane without a sweet to suck; on an aeroplane, sucking a sweet helps ease ear ache; sucking a mint helps to ease indigestion; sucking a sweet helps to distract when experiencing a panic attack….. as well as being a naughty but nice treat that puts a smile on everyone’s face.  My guest on the blog today is definitely smiley … he works surrounded by sweets of every description …welcome Damion, aka Sweety Guy….

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Hi my name is Damion Elson and I am known as the Sweety Guy, bringing a SMILE to everyone’s face. I deliver sweets locally and across the UK.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of The Sweety Guy?

My inspiration for setting up Sweety Guy was from my dad. My dad is a confectionery wholesaler and as always been motivated to keep on going no matter what it takes. Also I love to bring a smile on peoples’ faces when they come home from a hard day’s work.

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From assorted mints, old fashioned boiled sweets to haribos and jellies, you have quite a wide range of sweets to offer. Early days yet I know, but what sweets are proving most popular amongst your customers so far?

The most popular sweets this week have to be Midget Gems and Fruit Salads. These are made by Lion, a sweets manufacturer based in the North of England. There are other sweets the same shape but they don’t have the juicy flavours that these have! These are the real deal!

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I’m partial to chocolate limes, mints & haribos (especially when travelling!) What are your favourite sweets?

My favourite sweets have to be Vidal, which are spanish gummy sweets.

What do you look for when sourcing sweets for your company? What is the most unusual “sweet” you’ve come across?

When sourcing sweets for Sweety Guy, I particularly look for good quality and they have to be very yummy! I have to be chief tester too!! The most unusual sweet has to be cough candy for me at the moment, here is a link to it http://www.sweetyguy.co.uk/product/cough-candy/

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Apart from the sweety shop where you can order what you like online, you have also launched the monthly subscription box for sweety fans – those who would like their sweets regularly delivered to their door!Have you got any plans to expand your range in 2017?

My range of sweets will expand every week from now and right into 2017 and beyond. I love sweets and I know a lot of people do too. Each month the Sweety Guy Subcription box will have different, surprise selection, so not only you won’t know what you get but you know they will be yummy!

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As you are based in the UK, are your sweets available for ordering/shipping overseas?

Yes, I am based in the UK. My sweets are available for overseas ordering/shipping if required.

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

My outfit is usually yellow Levi cords with a checked shirt and black shoes for meetings. My casual outfit consists of jeans and usually a super hero t-shirt or my Sweety Guy one! 😉

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shop has to be TK MAXX because of the unique products they sell and the fact they only get a select few of the same product. One of my favourite online shops as to be Lomography. I love the nostalgia of the cameras and I am really keen on video production.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I really could do with a new winter coat but thinking of going for something totally different than my standard parka.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes seem to be more comfortable for me.

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Your Links:

Sweety Guy website http://www.sweetyguy.co.uk/
Sweety Guy Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SweetyGuyDamion/
Sweety Guy Twitter https://twitter.com/sweetyguybfd
Sweety Guy YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/sweetyguycouk

Thanks Damion! We wish your business the sweetest success for 2017 and beyond! So, dear readers, do you have a favourite sweet (candy)?  Drop me a comment, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Damion Elson.

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Be Iconic

The creative arts is the theme of today’s blog and I’m pleased to welcome singer – songwriter and  record label owner Susanna Westwood, who launched on 31 October her training programme, Be Iconic. The training programme aims to offer both practical and psychological advice,  covering every aspect required to build a sustainable creative business for actors, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and fashion designers. I caught up with Susanna recently to find out more…. Hi Susanna!

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Hi, my name is Susanna Westwood. I am the CEO of Emergeination and founder of Be Iconic.

What was the inspiration behind Be-Iconic?

Be iconic was formed out of frustration for my own creative career: I had been working in the industry for over 15 years and I was tired of struggling month to month living like a “starving artist”. I was done being told what to do and feeling like I was selling out. I wanted to create my career on my own terms, make my own rules but I knew I had to find a new way in. So, I made it my mission to learn about the business, about the industry, how to promote myself without it being sleazy, how to get funding & investment, how to build the right team around me and most importantly how to develop the mindset skills that would help me succeed. I became obsessed with learning this stuff and it totally paid off. So much so that I now get to run an award winning creative company, I have my own music and dance career and I get to work with amazing creatives in the fashion, art and entertainment industry all over the world. I have had so many conversations with emerging fashion designers, artist, musicians, dancers, film makers about how to develop their careers. No matter what area of the creative world, every creative has these amazing big dreams but often they don’t know how to make it happen and they are left struggling, frustrated and often broke. That is why I created Be Iconic.

What are the training programme’s goals?

Be Iconic, is everything I have learnt on how to build a successful creative career, it takes artists by the hand through every practical and psychological step they need to build a creative business that generates income from their talent so they can do what they love to do…. create.

Be iconic is designed to help creatives:

  • Unlock their inner icon, so self-doubt never drags you down again.
  • Use social media effectively to build a raving fan base and automatically sell their products – No more starving artists.
  • Get momentum and results in just 90 days.
  • Get investors, managers, agents, labels, galleries, and other “career makers” so excited, they’re scrambling to back you.
  • Pinpoint your unique angle that sets you apart from the sea of sameys.

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Who would benefit from the Be Iconic training programme?

Be iconic is for Fashion designers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, fine artists, dancers — you name it … who have tried to go it on their own — using youtube, itunes, instagram, everywhere they have heard they need to be — and it hasn’t worked. It’s for creatives who are feeling stuck and frustrated with their career and long to make it but have no clue what to do first. Maybe they have been told they are too old or they have the “I can’t” voice replaying in their heads any time they think about the business end of getting out there. Be Iconic is designed to meet creatives where they are at and give them a clear roadmap of where to go and what to do in order to succeed in their industry.

Can you tell us a little bit about what a trainee would experience once they signed up for the programme?

As soon as a creative signs up to Be Iconic they get instant access to Module 1: “The Master Key: Kick Start Your Creative career”, this show them how to unlock their biggest dreams, giving artists a clear roadmap of what they need to do to make it in their industry.
Every week a new module if released which looks at the areas an artist need to be iconic in their industry. Such as:
– How to access to major investment and funding that could transform everything you do.
– How to sell creative products online, mapping your hands-free, automated promotion system that makes you income 24/7.
– How to “Gaga-fy” your brand: Create a core message that hits home with your ideal audience
– How to make crucial industry connections.
– Your secret edge: Find out exactly how you’ll blow your competition out of the water.
– How to understand your talents and creative flow, so you can identify the partners who fill in the gaps.
– How to see and smash through the limitations that are blocking your success and how to build a bullet-proof, professional mind set.
Not only to creatives get huge amounts of industry training, they also get access to my signature platform emergeination, A one-click system where creatives can put their art (music, film, fine art, clothes, online dance classes — whatever they create) online, and start selling literally that same day.

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You have also developed “Emergeination” – a platform for creatives to sell their work – like Etsy, EBay, ITunes & Facebook rolled into one. What was the inspiration and motivation behind starting that project?

The idea for Emergeination began back in 2012, I remember watching the Social Media movie before I went to bed and that night I couldn’t sleep so I got up at about 4 am and began to scribble down ideas. I like to call it my “rain man” moment because I just had a flood of inspiration. In that moment I came up with the idea of ceating a platform for all creatives, for; fashion designers, film makers, dancers, musicians, artists, a place where they could sell and promote their work worldwide, a place where they could gain more exposure to new audiences who loved their work and a place where they could connect with other creatives and collaborate on new work. Emergeination was created to help creatives earn even more from their creative products, in comparison to other platforms that take huge percentages from artists. In a nutshell, Emergeination – it’s like walking into a beautiful storefront with your sign on it, and all you have to do is stock the shelves.

Being a singer-songwriter, you’ve teamed up with artists who have worked with artists such as Beverly Knight and Prince on an album in the past. If you had a chance to duet with anybody you like, dead or alive, who would you choose & what song?

Ohhh wow that is a good question –  it’s so hard to pick just one. I would have to say Lionel Richie, for a male vocalist, because he was one of the main artists I grew up listening to. So many memories listening to him in the car. And if I could pick a female one, it’s got to be Ella Fitzgerald – I melt every time I hear her voice.

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

Gotta love a good pair of skinny jeans but I do have a thing for jackets, If I had enough wardrobe space I would buy loads of coats and jackets. Love them. When it comes to shoes, as I am only 5ft 2” (hobbit size) I am all about the heels –  I love stilettos.

When you get a chance, what genre of music do you like to listen to? Any favourite artistes?

I love soul and jazz music, which you can tell when you listen to my new album “Unlocked”. My favourite artists right now ( this changes depending on my mood) are Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. They are amazing vocalists.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

As I work a lot, I find it hard to get out and go shopping so I have to say my biggest weakness is Asos. I have their FREE next day delivery membership package and I buy from there all the time. I love the variety and the convenience of it being delivered to my door.

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

Ohh this I do know, there is this a fashion designer on Emergeination called Tamara Joseph. She is amazing, she has been featured in New York and London Fashion week. I love a dress she has designed.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, I love the variety you get and if I am honest I am less likely to fall flat on my face.  Though, if I am on a night out, heels are a must.

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

www.susannawestwood.com/beiconic

www.facebook.com/susannawestwood

Thank you for chatting with us Susanna and I can envisage both Be-Iconic and Emergination being big successes!  I love how you describe our heights as “hobbit size” – for the record, I’m 5ft3 – and although I do like heels I enjoy wearing my flat shoes too.  My mum is only 5ft and she has always worn heels because of her height, as did her mum before her. So dear readers, do you pick your shoe heel height because of your own height? If you are tall, do you wear flats because you feel self conscious when wearing heels? As always, I love to hear your thoughts, so do comment….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Susanna Westwood.

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Meet The Wedgies

Taking inspiration from the modern, retro, cool, not so cool, famous, not so famous, stereotypes, etc … my guest this week is Hayley from  Wedgie, the independent wooden doorstep company and their merry group of funky doorstops. Come on in and meet the wedgies…….

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Hi, I’m Hayley, the co-founder of Wedgie.

What inspired you to launch your business, Wedgie?

My husband and I were fortunate to live in Sri Lanka for a prolonged period, moving away only 2 years ago. Working in the textile and creative industries, we were fortunate enough to meet and work with many creative individuals and small start-up companies on the island. When we moved back West, we we wanted to keep our relationship with Sri Lanka going and started to explore ways in which we could keep working and supporting some of the people we knew and the industries they worked in. And that’s how Wedgie was born. It has an East meets West philosophy; the ideas, designs, inspirations and character references come from the West, with the handmade crafted and painted side coming from the East.

I do so love “Sid” and “Spyros” makes me laugh out loud. What wedgies have proved popular with customers so far this season?

We don’t really have a best-selling Wedgie. We find that each Wedgie character resonates with different people in different ways. If you love Disco, you’ve got Brutus, if you love cycling then you’ve got Brad, our motorist hating cyclist! That said, I’d say Spyros has probably received the most attention; I think it’s the thick chest rug and slinky speedos that just draw people inI

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Out of all the wedgies, do you have a particular favourite?

Probably “Major Dave” our nod to the legendary David Bowie. I am a big, big Bowie fan, so there was a lot of pressure on getting the character description and design right. We went through a lot of trials and rejections along the way but I am pleased to say Major Dave has answered the call from ground control and has now joined the Wedgie family!

What has been the most unusual Wedgie you’ve created? Have any been really difficult to reproduce?

Not yet finalised, but our most difficult Wedgie design so far has been the Yoga inspired Wedgie. I have a vision of a hippy / yoga Wedgie in some crazy position with limbs all out of sorts but have found this really hard to recreate using a fixed template of a basic doorstop. Its an ongoing process so watch this space. Our most difficult, but hopefully rewarding Wedgie to date! Namaste.

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Your collection of Wedgies takes inspiration from the cool, not so cool, modern, retro, famous, not so famous, stereotypes… Were your ideas influenced by customer requests?

A lot of the character ideas come from my husband and I’s personal interests or experiences. That said we are always open to ideas and listening to customers’ requests on social media. So yes, get involved! Who would you like to see join the family? The most important thing to bear in mind is that the character has distinguished features otherwise it is really difficult to portray them on a door wedge!

Have you any new Wedgies or Wedgie collections in the pipeline yet for 2017?

We have a few more characters in the pipeline: Wonder Wendy – our super hero doorstop, Tasty T – our alarm clock wearing gansta rapper wedge, and many more. We cannot give away too much at this stage!

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

My next wish list purchase is …..a pair of Doc Martens. Not the most glamorous choice of clothing I admit, and call it a midlife crisis, but it’s taken me 32 years to build up the courage to buy my first pair and I’m determined to do so before the year’s out.

Boots or Shoes?

In Sri Lanka,  the weather was perpetually hot all year round, so wearing boots is still a novelty for us. In just two years I have managed to purchase a lifetime’s worth of boots!

All website and social media links :

E: hello@meetthewedgies.com
W: meetthewedgies.com
F: facebook.com/meetthewedgies
T: twitter.com/meetthewedgies

Oh Hayley, I’m a big Bowie & Boots fan too! Doc Martens can be pretty glam too – a friend of mine seems to collect Doc Martens like they are a hobby – she has them in all sorts of colours and designs!  It was lovely to meet the Wedgie family and I look forward to seeing all the new additions!  So dear readers,  what fun figure do you think would be a good addition to the Wedgie family?  And, what’s your view on Doc Martens too?As always, drop me a line and let me know!

STOP PRESS:   15% discount off your entire order for my dear blog readers until 30 November 2016.  Quote promo code: BOOTSSHOESANDWEDGIES

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Wedgie.

 

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An Interview With Photographer Nina Junger

My guest today on the blog  is Los Angeles based photographer, Nina Junger, who began her career in Hollywood as a highly regarded make-up artist.  Nina worked on major studio motion pictures, as well as on magazine covers and commercials, working with international icons such as Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz and countless others. Nina is now known for her collaborative working style in creating contemporary and unique looks in fashion, advertising and portraiture. Nina’s work in fashion, commercial, portraits and lifestyle photography is raw, earthy, elegant, real and unique to every client. I caught up with Nina recently to find out more…hi Nina!

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Hi! I’m Los Angeles based photographer, Nina Junger.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a photographer?

Working with iconic photographers and film directors and directors of photography inspired me to become a photographer. The images and storytelling of cinema were also the inspiration that sparked my career transformation into a sought-after photographer.

Who or what inspires your photographic style?

My dream is to spend 2 years in Africa shooting tribes and animals. I’m very inspired by the rawness and openness of tribes and animals. I am drawn to that type of passion in my own photographs.

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What has been the most unusual photoshoot you have undertaken?

I don’t know if it’s unusual, but I started out photographing my kids. They are competitive surfers and that is beautiful and challenging at the same time.

What style of photography would you like to try that you haven’t tried as yet?

I haven’t tried shooting people in 3rd world countries. I am very excited about undertaking that. I think it will help me explore a side of my photography that I have not done.

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I’ve seen and admired your model and advertising shots, so, what style of photography is your absolute favourite?

I love shooting Models/Actors for Editorial. The beauty that I can bring out in these photographs not only with my skill as a photographer working with lights and also natural lights but in my expertise in photoshop afterwards. I love being able to manipulate the images to tell the story that I want to tell. Also, I love shooting for advertising because I enjoy making companies hard work come to life.

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

My favorite brand of clothes and shoes are Rag & Bone and Theory. I love their clothes and they fit me very well. For lounge wear I love this brand I just shot, “Love + Grace. It’s so comfortable and soft. I love in that at home and sometimes when I’m out running around.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favorite shop is Rag & Bone in Beverly Hills, I also love getting deals from Rue La La, online.

Links you would like to share:

My Website is: www.ninajungerphotography.com
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ninajungerphotography/
My instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ninajungerphotography/?hl=en  

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I also have to tell you about my favorite dermatologist that keeps my face and my models/faces looking beautiful and fresh. Her name is Ava Shamban @avamd.com

Thank you Nina!  Your photographs are quite exquisite. My youngest son has a dream to visit Africa …he is into wildlife and he would also like to train as a “birds of prey” handler.  As a child, Africa always fascinated me too – I have visited Tunisia & Kenya but would love to experience southern, west and central Africa.  Dear readers, have you ever had a childhood dream to visit a place? Did you achieve your dream? Did it live up to your expectations?  I’d love to know, do tell!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nina Junger.

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Revisiting Buckso Dhillon Woolley

Way back, almost exactly 2 years ago, on 7 November 2014, I interviewed actress/singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley (read original interview HERE) who had just starred in a UK countrywide advert for frozen food company, Iceland, alongside heart throb Peter Andre.  Buckso was looking forward to auditioning for a part in the West End stage show, Bend It Like Beckham.  So now, two years on, did Buckso  get a role in Bend It Like Beckham?  Is she still singing? I caught up with Buckso recently to find the answers to those questions and more…. Welcome back onto the blog Buckso!

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Hi there! I’m Buckso DHILLON-WOOLLEY and I’m an actor/speaker just finalising my 1st eBook on RESILIENCE as I make a segway into the speaking arena!

I was fortunate enough to interview you in November 2014 …. so, what made you want to become an actress in the first place?

Yes you did! And my what a journey these last few months have been! I’d say the very first time I knew the entertainment industry was the only way for me, was after I’d discovered I had a voice singing the theme tune to Why Don’t You back when I was a young teen. After that, I as bitten by the bug!

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Congratulations on your appearance in the West End production of “Bend It Like Beckham” as Auntiji ( Aunty G) for the 2015 run! Being picked for a West End show is such an achievement in itself… and a role you was hoping to get when I last interviewed you too! What was it like being in such a fabulous West End production? Any memorable moments that stand out?

Yes, it was something I finally nailed after auditioning for it 3yrs on the trot, and it was such a relief to get a yes! The thrill of a live audience was fantastic as I’d never experienced theatre before so wasn’t sure what to expect, which was good in some ways as I was going in with no expectations and I have to say it was phenomenal to be in such a well received show..with 5 star ratings and brilliant reviews I was a tad spoilt you might say! Most memorable moment would be the press night party..seeing something like that in such a scale was lovely and the fact my sister and husband had the chance to share it with me made it even more special considering I’d been mugged at gunpoint the night before. Maybe that’s the most memorable part actually!

As you revealed in 2014, you have a love for films … So I was dead chuffed to hear that you’ve been filming a new feature film written & directed by Andrew Hulme called “The Devil Outside”. Can you reveal what the film is about and the part that you play?

Oh yes I’m a big fan of films and SO pleased my first one was based and filmed in and around an area I live near. In short, I play the mum to the young lad and it’s a sort of coming of age film, set in Nottingham about religion, madness and repressed sexuality, and that’s all I can say! You have a lot to look forward to as Andrew Hulme has a great eye for shots and capturing a story with ability for fine detail.

In 2014, you met THE man himself, Peter Andre, whilst filming the Iceland advert. So as you’ve forayed since then into the world of theatre and movies, who have you encountered that have made a lasting impression on you?

You know I’ve yet to meet someone who has had a lasting impression on me as I’m really not that in awe of anyone as such. It’s more about how a person makes me feel by what they say after they’ve gone. If I’m still pondering what they’ve said more than 24hrs later then I know they’ve left their mark.

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In 2014, you hoped to release an album or set of songs based on the Bond films… depending on whether you got the “Bend It Like Beckham” role or not! As we all know, you did get the role – but did you manage to do a Bond set or is it still on the back burner? Do you still get to do any singing?

Ah I’m still waiting to do that! It’s on the back burner right now but most definitely something I want to do in my life. I’ve sang at a couple of charity dos this October but there was a point after the show finished where I thought I’d never sing again as my voice totally decided to leave me for a few months! At that point I realised just how important it is for me to sing, whether it’s paid or not, as it feeds my soul.

Looking ahead to 2017 – any plans in the pipeline that you can reveal to us?

Well one thing I can definitely say is happening will be the release of my new ebook which should be out at the end of November. I’m booking now for talks and speaking gigs for networking groups and schools so should be rolling that out next year alongside my acting etc. The book itself is called “The Resilience Queen: 7.5 Steps to finding your own”. It gives motivation and guidance to finding and maintaining your resilience in times of adversity and uncertainty. This is with a view to following it up with another book that talks more in depth about each chapter with examples of times in my life I’ve had to be resilient and continue to overcome any and all obstacles! Also recently started to work with a fantastic new skincare and cosmetics company, MAELLE, which launched in October and you can visit my website below for more info or email me direct.

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

Weellll,  I’m a die-hard Primark fan but even I’ve noticed lately I’m choosing more of the Marks and Spencer gear – it’s actually quite appealing to me and I’m shocked! I guess my taste is becoming more refined as I age but I’ve always maintained I’d never do designer stuff and I stand by that still. I’m not knocking those who do, I just choose to spend my dollar elsewhere. Shoes wise,  I’m again going for the comfy foot glove range from Marks & Spencer. More so because, since April this year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which thankfully is under control now, but if my feet are squished in a shoe, they ain’t happy!

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not as such but when I buy from QVC (yep still a big fan!) I do love Dennis Basso for coats and Nina Leonard, Attitudes by Renee, Anything Design, Chelsea Muse and BIBA for clothes, as they’re so unique!

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

I’m now on a bit of a mission to get some gorge autumn/winter boots that are faux fur lined, like the EMU boots range that come in a host of fabulous colours.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots win hands down!

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

Instagram : @buckso_
Twitter : @bucksodw
Facebook : https://m.facebook.com/bucksodw
www.myelle.co.uk
www.resiliencequeen.com

It has been fantastic to catch up with you, Buckso, and am so glad you have so many things in the pipeline and plenty for us to look forward to! Glad your auditioning perseverance on stage with Bend It Like Beckham paid off, although being mugged at gunpoint is not an experience I would like to have! So, dear readers,  Buckso has admitted that her shopping preferences have changed as she’s got older – finding herself being attracted to M & S whereas previously Primark was her main go to shop –  have you found yourself drifting away from your favourite shop as you’ve got older? Drop me a comment… I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Buckso Dhillon-Woolley.

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A Hug In A Box

Every now and then we all appreciate a hug – a hug to lift our mood and alleviate stress.  Sometimes a person is around to give that said hug  but if nobody is around when life is stressing you out, occasionally a virtual hug will have to suffice.  That’s when a BuddyBox can step in – it’s a virtual hug in a box – created for ANYONE who could benefit from a boost.  Love to know more?  Well, I wanted to know more so I caught up with Jayne Hardy, founder of Blurt to discover all…. Hi Jayne…

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Hi, I’m Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder. I lost most of my twenties to
depression. At the height of my illness I was unable to work, leave the house or even undertake the most basic acts of self-care. When I founded Blurt in 2011, my chief goal was to prevent others from feeling as isolated as I had done. Having experienced first-hand the powerful connections that could be fostered via social media, I deliberately focused Blurt’s activities online – providing interim support for those struggling with depression and challenging the stigma around mental health. I’m also a Mum to two-year-old Peggy and live in Cornwall.

What inspired you to launch the BuddyBox?

We applied for some grant funding from UnLtd to develop our online shop, as we’ve always wanted to be sustainable long-term. In the initial meeting, our grant manager, Julie, was speaking to us about her daughter’s struggle with mental ill health whilst at university and how Julie would love for there to be some sort of ‘wellbeing’ box that she could send. The idea struck a cord and BuddyBox was born.

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BuddyBox is run by your organisation, Blurt. Can you explain a bit about Blurt and the work that you do?

We’re dedicated to helping those affected by depression. We’ll help you understand depression and what it means for you. We’ll support you, listen to you and introduce you to people who’ve been where you are. We’ll help you break down barriers and broach the subject with those closest to you. We’ll help you help yourself, with a little knowing nod. We think people who’ve experienced it know best, so we’re passionate about peer support – connecting those who have been through depression with those who are currently struggling, to provide reassurance and comfort during a very scary time.

I love your idea of these boxes – packed full of thoughtful, mood lifting treats – “A hug in a box” indeed. I know that the range of products for filling the boxes are a closely guarded secret, but what sort of items do you include?

We aim to provide a ‘self-care’ experience for the recipient and so we include products to nourish, comfort and inspire.

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What subscriptions are available? Are you able to purchase a box as a “one off”?

We have several options available – a monthly subscription, quarterly subscription, 6-monthly subscription and an annual subscription. And of course, the one-off boxes.

Where do you get your ideas from when sourcing and looking for products to fill the boxes? Do you get customers suggesting particular products?

We come up with a box theme in the first instance and then we look for products which fit within that theme but also work together to provide an experience for someone. We’re still relatively new and so we’ve been trying new things and seeking feedback to help us grow and improve.

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Any plans to expand your range of boxes in the future?

We’ve got ideas aplenty but it’s knowing whether they’re good ideas and also whether there’s a need for them. We’re taking our time and working with focus groups before we commit to anything.

As you are based in the UK, are your boxes available to purchase overseas?

Yes, they are indeed! We’ve recently opening up international shipping which was an exciting change and so we now ship worldwide.

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Apart from receiving a BuddyBox, of course, what do you personally do or use that helps you to de-stress/ feel pampered?

I’m an introvert so I’m most recharged when I’ve spent some time on my own – reading a book, having a bath or watching a series of something on Netflix. I also enjoy running and spending time with my family, my daughter is 2 years old and I’m loving seeing the world through her eyes – finding the joy and excitement in simplicity.

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

I’m pretty much always in a pinafore dress, dungarees and jeans. And on my feet? Flip flops.

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

I’m a bit of a lazy and unimaginative shopper when it comes to clothes and so I like ASOS because I can find everything all in one place. I also love Preta Portabello and LUSH.

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

I need some winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

I don’t really like having anything on my feet which is why I love flip flops but during the winter, I can’t bear feeling cold so I love boots to keep my feet warm – with thick snuggly socks.

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

Website: https://www.blurtitout.org

BuddyBox: https://www.blurtitout.org/BuddyBox

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blurtitout

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/blurtalerts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theblurtfoundation

A fantastic idea Jayne and thank you so much for introducing your boxes on the blog!  Opening a box of goodies would cheer me up no end … whatever it contained… Skincare, bubble bath, make up, hosiery, lingerie, chocolates, prosecco, books, perfume,  teabags … dear readers, would you appreciate a hug in a box? If you opened a surprise package, what would be inside to put a smile on your face?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of The Blurt Foundation.

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An Interview With Sabine Timmer

It is a truth universally acknowledged that French women are the epitome of elegance and flair when it comes to their wardrobes.  So it gives me great pleasure to welcome onto the blog, Sabine Timmer, a young designer based in Lyon, who is passionate about materials, colour and patterns.  Her first collection was launched Autumn/Winter 2015 and I caught up with Sabine to find out how she has enjoyed her first year as designer and what her future plans are…. Hi Sabine!

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Hi! My name is Sabine Timmer, I’m 25 and I’m a young fashion designer currently living in France. I studied fashion industry at school and it has definitely helped me to find my professional path. My brand was launched in September 2015, same time as my first collection.

What or who inspired you to become a fashion designer?

My whole environment has been an inspiration: my life, travels, and all the trials of life. I also admire Paco Rabanne, especially for his ability to shape rigid materials.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

Yes, at first, I also had another career path in mind – I wanted to study interior decoration. However, I believe I’ve always been much more passionate about fashion, but never quite admitted to myself for a long time. I guess I’ve suppressed this desire for so long because I thought it was a world that was too complicated and hostile.

Your first collection was launched in Autumn/Winter 2015; yourSpring/Summer 2016 collection was entitled Black & White. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

The black silk skirt, with “signé Rétro” cashmere patterns, is the one item that everyone loves. The white skirt with box pleats is also a real success.

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Out of all the outfits in your collection, do you have any favourites?

Of course I have a favourite one… It’s actually the white skirt with box pleats ! I love how it looks in terms of volume and the fabric’s relief.

What was the inspiration behind your “Black & White” collection? If you could travel to any place in the world for inspiration for a new collection, where would you go & why?

I wanted to create a chic and timeless collection, with a bit of the nonchalance typical to Londoners’ style. There isn’t really a top destination for me. I think every country has its culture, traditions and customs of which we can draw inspiration from. The world is so rich, I don’t want to be limited to one place. That being said, I find indigenous tribes absolutely fascinating. I also might be going to New York next winter. I’ll be there to meet new work partners, so it will be very rewarding. I’m sure the city will be very inspiring too. Talking about new collections, a new collection was launched in September, called “Renaissance”. The main theme is the 80’s style. I really love this fashion era, it brings vivid memories from my childhood. It was therefore an obvious source of inspiration for my second collection.

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You are a young designer based in Lyon so, what famous lady or ladies would you love to see rocking your designs?

I literally love the French actress Eva Green. Seeing her on red carpets, wearing my outfits would be such a recognition ! It would also be a springboard to really develop my career and make my brand known.

Looking ahead to Spring 2017, what colours will be dominating your collections?

The Spring/Summer 2017 collection called “Renaissance” is already well under way. Dominant colours will be silver, black, and golden chocolate brown.

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You are based in France but are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

So far, my clothing lines are only available in France. I would love to extend my business and make my outfits available worldwide. Nevertheless, private orders can still be shipped around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

I always create new designs on the spur of the moment, free from any outside influence. It is a bit different when I receive an order, I can stick to the set “guidelines” while keeping a great amount of freedom regarding the item’s “soul”. Every designer has their own style, personality and character when it comes to design. It’s what defines them and makes them stand out from the crowd. I could not accept an order which is too restrictive.

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

If our paths had crossed today, I’d probably be wearing my white pencil skirt, with a black crop top and a pair of stilettos.

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

I’m gonna keep my fabric suppliers confidential of course ! 😉 All I can say is that most of them have the “Haute Couture” stamp. I always use high quality raw products. Regarding my own wardrobe, I mainly wear clothes from second-hand clothes shop. I love everything that is vintage! My favourite shop in Paris is own by one of my friends, it’s called Free’P’Star, Rue Rivoli.

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

Here is a short list of what I would really like :

– a Hipanema bracelet

– if I get to go to New York this winte, I would love to buy a genuine sheepskin vest from the South-West of France

– Black leather over the knee boots

On a more pricey side

– I would love to own a Paco Rabanne outfit, made of metallic material

– A pair of Louboutin shoes

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Boots or Shoes?

I’m not sure about what I prefer… I really like both, I guess it depends on what you’re wearing. In the winter, I definitely like wearing high or low boots. But what I love above all, in the spring/summer is wearing high heels, like reeeally high heels ! It’s really feminine and I love how it makes the woman’s silhouette look.

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

www.sabinetimmer.com

instagram : @sabine_timmer

facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sabinetimm3r/

http://www.gopalwagner.com/fr/portfolio-46908-0-40-sabine-timmer.html

Merci Linda pour cette interview.

 

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You’re more than welcome Sabine – it has been a pleasure talking to you.  I do love the look of high heels as well but as I live in a rural area   I don’t get the chance to indulge anymore – when I lived in London it was easy to walk in high heels … and I was younger then too! So, dear readers, what is your opinion on the high heel? How high heelwise do you go?  Do tell, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from  Sabine Timmer.

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