Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With Sally Morgan

Embarking on her Autumn UK tour,  I managed to catch up with Sally Morgan, better known as TV’s Psychic Sally… you may have seen the lovely, bubbly Sally  in her TV series “Star Psychic, in Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, in Sky Living’s Psychic Sally On The Road, as well as appearances on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special and Big Brother’s Bit On the Side with Rylan Clark.  Sally has a big passion for fa shion too, so a big warm welcome to the blog….image

Hi, I am Sally Morgan aka Psychic Sally. I am often referred to as an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift…I believe that I can connect with people on the other side. I am currently touring theatres in the UK with my interactive show Psychic Sally On The Road, I am also the star of several TV shows and an author. When I am not working my most favourite hobby is shopping! Shoes and bags are my biggest obsession!

Congratulations on being recognised as one of the top 5 psychics in the world after being tested by Professor Gary Schwartz, a Harvard University Ph D graduate. What sort of tests did you go through as part of his experiment?

There were lots of different tests often referred to as ‘blind on blind’ wheimagere I give information about a person that I have not met. It was a fascinating project to be involved in and I think I left a lot of people speechless with the information I gave. The validation given would have been difficult for even the biggest skeptic to pull apart.

You had your first psychic experience with an appearance of a ghost at around the age of 4. Were you not frightened at such a tender age? When did you first realise you had this psychic ability?

My ability has always been something that is just within me, I have never known any different. When I was 4 I had no idea what it was. I just remember one day being told off at nursery when I asked if my grandad could stay. The teachers said no and I pointed at another older gentleman in the room and shouted that it wasn’t fair that another little girl could have her Grandad there. What I didn’t realise is that this man did not exist in real life. Only I could see him!

In your 20s you used your psychic abilities as a sort of party piece but soon your excellent reputation attracted an extensive client list including celebrities and royalty – reading for Princess Diana for 4 years. Did you realise that your psychic abilities would shape your career or as a child did you yearn to follow a different career path?

imageIf I am honest I had no idea that I would end up working as a medium full time. (I use the word medium as someone who is in touch with spirit but a more generic term is psychic.) When I was about 15 my mother took me to a spiritualist church where a very famous psychic of that time told me that I would go on to do great things with my ability. I honestly had no idea at that time that I would use it as any more then a party piece. I got a job as a dental nurse in my 20’s which I loved but outside of work I was starting to build up a client base. I had people from all different walks of life wanting to see me, and soon people started coming to my house for readings. It grew very organically, at one point I was known as ‘London’s best-kept secret’. In my early 30’s I realised that I had enough demand to work as a medium full time and so that is what I did. I set up my own practice at my home and took bookings all day long. I haven’t looked back since! If I hadn’t of developed naturally into working as a full time medium my dream job would have been to be a fashion or interior designer. I have a real eye and passion for fabrics, textures and colours.

imageLaunching in the TV spotlight in 2007 with your TV series Star Psychic, you went on to star in other TV programmes & documentaries such as Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, a fly on the wall documentary showing your life changing weight loss operation. What were the main differences you noticed, other than weight loss obviously, after the operation compared to Sally before the op? Did people’s attitudes change or have you more stamina to get through your gruelling tour schedule?

The biggest change for me was that at the end of a 2-hour show I could still stand! Seriously, before the operation my feet and ankles use to swell and I would be in agony at the end of an evening. This may sound silly but it was something really simple that really made me stop and recognise the change. I was walking down my stairs at home and when I got to the bottom step I sprung off it, like I was as light as a feather. I hadn’t done that for years! I know wear clothes that I never thought I would, jeans, dresses etc. People are often staggered at my weight loss, when you compare pictures of my before and after, it is like looking at someone different. Like anything in life you have to take the bad with the good. Most people are very supportive but there are always those they feel you have changed as a person because you are thinner and perhaps put more value on how you look. But the truth is I am still the same old Sally. Even when I was bigger I still loved fashion – I always dressed in bright colours and wanted the latest trends. It really was a health decisions. After suffering a mild heart attack I was told by the doctors that I had to lose weight – it was literally a life or death decision.

imageYour successful Sky Living series Psychic Sally on the Road provided an unique insight on your hectic tour schedule and home life. You have toured the UK for over 7 years performing over 120 shows a year – and are just about to tour the UK again ( I will be putting your tour dates in the article) You have also taken your interactive show to Australia, with a hope to tour there again in 2015. What do you most enjoy about touring? Any secrets on how you keep your stamina going that you can share?

There are two main things I love about touring 1. Is meeting so many amazing people all with an interest in the afterlife and 2. Learning more about spirit and how they interact. Since being on tour I have taken my understanding of  the spirit world to the next level, really developing my knowledge of what happens when we pass, the signs spirit give us and how they interact with one another. You will often hear me say that ‘spirit orchestrates the evening’, this is completely true. I never know what is going to happen on any night, I put all my trust in spirit and that the messages will get to the right people. I have always been a bubbly and energetic person and I am lucky to have a great support network around me, which makes life on the road much easier. I always stock up on bananas for energy and make sure I drink plenty of fluids…and of course the odd cup of tea!

You are an author too of 4 books – My Psychic Life, Healing Spirits, Life After Death, My Heavenly Truth, and you are currently writing your 5th book, Call Me Psychic, due out early 2015. Do you find writing therapeutic? What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading  motivational books and one of my favourite authors has to be Deepak Chopra. I have always enjoyed writing and it was always a dream of mine to write a book. I can’t believe I am now writing my 5th! It is very therapeutic and for me, taking the time to reflect on my life and work is very rewarding to me.

imageYou won Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special, beating various celebs including Robert Englund (aka Freddie Kreuger). Did you enjoy the experience?

We had so much fun making the show. I am a bit of an entertainer so I put a lot of effort into the evening – hiring a local dance school to perform their version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I also had a couple of friends dressed as Zombies, which certainly gave the neighbours a fright! I really tried to push the boundaries and created completely new recipes for the night…this could have been a disaster but luckily the food turned out brilliantly. I was gobsmacked when they announced me as the winner but it was great being able to give the winnings to my chose charity.

You also appeared on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side With Rylan Clark, sharing your views on the Big Brother 2014 housemates. Did you enjoy that experience? Did you get any psychic experiences relating to the housemates?

I love Rylan, he is such a down-to-earth person with lots of endearing qualities. We have become quite good friends since, as he has always been a big fan of mine. The 2014 Big Brother housemates were certainly unique…I picked up on their true characteristics straight away…I think I will leave that there!! Ha ha

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

On stage I always wear heels, normally from Russell & Bromley as they are so comfy! I wear black trousers and then either a bright or sparkly jacket, which I get specially made. I love a bit of glitz and glamour!  In the day I will often be seen in M&S jeans, flats and a t-shirt or jumper…very casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love high street brands Zara, Whistles and Weekend Max Mara.
I also love asos.com for online shopping. So much selection and quick delivery – very convenient!

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

I have my eye on a pair of brogues from Russell and Bromley. I would also really love a Burberry Mac!! Ha ha

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – I find it hard to get boots that fit me as I have big calves so I definitely have more shoes then boots.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sallymorgantv
Twitter: @SallyMorganTV
Website: www.sallymorgan.tv

Thank you very much Sally for taking time out of your busy schedule for a chat – I hope your tour continues to be a success.  So, dear readers, for the list of tour dates for the rest of October and November, press HERE. So if Sally’s in your town , why not pop along and say hello… she may have a message for you! How fab would that be?

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Sally Morgan

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An Interview With Carol E Wyer

Bucket lists – have you ever made one?  A list of things you hope to see or do before you reach a certain age or before you die, perhaps?  I haven’t personally but my younger sons had preprinted bucket lists from the National Trust, I think it was, detailing a list of activities to achieve by the age of 11….including rolling down a hill, climb a tree, play pooh sticks, skim stones, etc My sons were chuffed that they had crossed off most of the things on the list.  Perhaps you’ve seen the articles on subjects such as 100 places to see before you die … a wishlist that would be nice to fill out… ; some bucket lists are a lot more challenging, thought provoking, and life changing.  I’ve been chatting to the lovely author Carol E Wyer  this week, whose 7th humorous book, Three Little Birds, was published by Safkhet Publishing on 15th August about this very subject…. a big warm welcome Carol:image

Hello! I’m Carol E. Wyer (no I won’t tell you what the E stands for) AKA Facing 50 although I am facing it from the wrong direction now. I write humorous books aimed at helping people to grow old disgracefully and hopefully make them laugh. Recently I took a crash course in stand up and now tour the UK and France with my comedy talk Smile While You Still Have Teeth – phew! Are you still reading or have I bored you yet?

Your 7th humorous novel, Three Little Birds, published by Safkhet Publishing was launched on the 15th August. Your book is based on two female best friends, one who has struggled after her daughter’s death and her divorce; the other coping with life after a riding accident left her paralysed. On New Year’s Eve, after consuming much wine, they write bucket lists that test their friendship and strengths. For the launch of this book you decided to undertake four of the featured in the book life-affirming challenges plus a bonus challenge – zipwire, belly dancing, bushtucker trial, indoor skydive and zorbing. Where did you get inspiration from to write this novel?

imageInspiration always comes from many sources and indeed takes considerable time to be structured into a novel. There were a few reasons I wrote the book. Firstly, I am one of those irritatingly cheerful people who thinks that no matter how old you are or what life has thrown at you, you can change certain elements by being brave and having a go at different things – whether that be changing your job, taking up a hobby or, as in the case of this book, writing a ‘carpe diem’ list. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I suffered from spinal problems that meant I spent far too much time in hospital and later after an invasive procedure, had a period of time when I was paralysed myself. Fortunately it was a temporary paralysis but it made me appreciate my life more thereafter. I wrote a list out in my forties and tried to complete all the physically challenging things on it as I have osteoarthritis, and at some point I’ll be struggling again, so best to get these things in while you can. Inspiration for some of the characters came from real people, including a lady called Priscilla who writes a blog called The Wheelchair Mommy who impressed me hugely with her vivacity and positive attitude in spite of her disability. Like Mercedes in the book she is a paraplegic. Charlie Blunkett, a hospital radio presenter for Coastway Radio became the inspiration for Charlie the radio presenter although she is only the inspiration and nothing like Charlie in the book and even Bert the mischievous parrot is an online friend! It is also intended to motivate others into having a go at challenges, after all, you have no idea where they make take you. There’s a list of 100 possibilities at the end of the book.

I hear you are a bit of a daredevil, having already learnt to fly a helicopter; driven a quad bike up a mountainside; swum with dolphins; took kickboxing classes; experienced working abroad; took a crash course in comedy…. so, with the extra “launch” challenges… which challenges have you enjoyed the most?

Haha! Not really a daredevil. These are quite tame compared to some of the possibilities available. I enjoyed them all although I kept getting the quad bike stuck on raised mounds. The biggest thrill was flying. There is not really much to compare to the adrenaline rush you get when you take off for the first time flying solo in a Robinson 22.

Your career started in teaching English in an American language school in Casablanca, Morocco before moving back to the UK to teach English as a foreign language in a private school. I guess both experiences have given you a lot of inspiration when writing. What are your fondest memories of teaching?image

I loved teaching. I taught all ages from small children to grown adults. The best memory though was at the American Language School where I taught three classes of children aged 8-14. At the end of the year all the teachers and classes had to sing a popular song. I am the world’s worst at singing but hey ho! It was my job so I chose something fun. My classes sang the Frog Chorus – We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney. They spent the afternoon making frog masks and sang it perfectly. At the end they all cheered like mad and applauded me until I felt like some sort of superstar. The ambience was terrific. All the proud parents kept thanking me and the students kept hugging me. It was very special.

You have written a series of educational yet amusing books for children, and since 2010 you turned your attention to the adult market. What made you realise that you wanted to write books? What impact did teaching make to your new career path?

I have been writing short stories since those days when I was stuck on hospital wards. I started writing then about the funny side of being on a ward. I sent all the stories to my friends and family who thought they were hilarious. Eventually, I got better, finished my degree and moved abroad. Morocco was the perfect place for inspiration. I would drive home on my velosolex motorbike, avoiding donkeys and come up with stories for children, then write them when I got home. They had titles like Humphrey the Camel and the Dustbin Cats. Teaching languages clearly influenced my writing because I then moved into stories, still with amusing animal themes, that taught French to young children aged 3 upwards and even had a series of songs produced to accompany them. They got used in schools with much success. It was when I was facing 50 myself that I decided there wasn’t enough humorous material for women my age. Chick Lit was for younger women, historical romances weren’t my cup of tea and I wanted to read books that had heroines and real characters in them that had lived life. My books aren’t so much ‘they all live happy ever after’ as ‘they started off happy ever after…now what?’ I decided that I would take my brand of observational humour and weave it into books and novels aimed at women (and men) over 40.

imageLast year you did a crash course in stand-up comedy and performed your comedy talk Smile While You Still Have Teeth to audiences in Lichfield and in October you will be on main stage at the Isle of Wight Literary festival along with celebrities Alan Titchmarsh, Katie Price, Sheila Hancock and novelist Katie Fford. Did you take to performing on stage like a duck to water or do you experience nerves before stepping into the spotlight?

I am such a media whore it is untrue! I can’t get enough of standing up in front of people and making them laugh. It’s a drug. I think teaching helped though. After all, once you’ve faced a class of six foot recalcitrant teenagers and attempted to teach them grammar, anything is easy. It helps too that I can’t see very well and my hearing is failing. I have no idea who is in the front row or if they have nodded off, or indeed, if they are heckling me.

You are currently writing a series of novels and articles aimed at the ‘older’ man and woman. Can you tell us a bit more about the topics you’ll be covering?

I often write about relationships, friendships, ageing process, dealing with retirement, coping with teenagers, grandchildren, enjoying life while you can and generally laughing at the banality of it all. Does it matter if we are getting on? No! What matters is that we make the most of what we have.

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

I read anything and everything but I mostly enjoy thrillers, especially dark psychological thrillers with twists or something amusing like Terry Pratchett or Ben Elton. I am not keen on lengthy novels about Victorian women or war stories. I did English and French Literature at university so now and then I get an urge to go and read Camus or Proust or Chaucer. I really must get that under control.

As much as you like to attempt different challenges, is there any “challenge” or “experience” that would really freak you out or would be a definite no no?

I’d have to draw the line under those challenges that would be too demanding in a physical sense. I would not, for instance, leap out of a plane and parachute down in case I landed incorrectly. I wouldn’t want to spend another five years in hospital getting my spine stuck together again. Wingwalking would be on my list of ‘no ways’ along with anything to do with spiders.

Hospital Radio features in Three Little Birds as well as featuring in a chunk of your life when you were younger and spent 11 weeks flat on your back after undergoing spinal surgery. What songs did you request or enjoy listening to or was it the friendly banter that gave you some respite from being in pain as well as being bored? How important was it to you that in your novel you included the work of the hospital radio?

I remembering requesting Magic Fly by Space, Ma Baker by Boney M and 2-4-6-8 Motorway by Tom Robinson’s Band among others. My msic taste is as eclectic as my reading tastes. The music was important as it is with all teenagers but in truth, it was the presenters who made it all the more interesting and I listened to them all day every day. wanted people to be aware of the importance of hospital radio stations to those stuck in bed and I hope the book succeeds in doing that. I have been lucky to have been on many radio shows and lots of the BBC presenters started life in hospital radio and remember it with a deep fondness. It has given many an apprenticeship in radio and more importantly the radio stations connect those who are unwell and in hospital with life outside and keep them entertained.

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

Always something bright. I don’t do subtle. You’ll invariably find me in red, orange or bright blue trousers or with a bright scarf and very bright earrings. My shoes must match my outfit so today I have orange trousers and orange and red strap sandals. I wear a lot of trousers and jackets or jumpers. My favourite makes are Marc Cain and Paul Smith and I have a few pieces by both.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I don’t do online shopping for clothes but I go to my favourite shop in Solihull called Katherine Draisey that specialises in individual outfits. A couple of Times a year I head off to Germany to Hamburg or Munich and buy Brax trousers and fashionable blouses or jumpers. They always have styles, colours and sizes that fit me.

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

I desperately want a pair of Christian Louboutin boots. Ever since I saw Celia Sawyer on the show Four Rooms, I have wanted a pair. They are so me!

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots. Every time. I have twice as many boots as shoes. I can’t explain why but I feel much more comfortable in boots during autumn and winter than in sandals in summer. It’s probably because I have such big feet and I feel they look smaller in boots.

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

BLOG http://facing50withhumour.com/
WEBSITE http://www.carolewyer.co.uk/
SAFKEHT PUBLISHING http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/authors/Carol_E_Wyer.htm
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-E-Wyer/221149241263847
TWITTER https://twitter.com/carolewyer
GOOGLE PLUS https://plus.google.com/u/0/117914391843880994511/about
PINTEREST http://www.pinterest.com/carolewyer/
LINKEDIN https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=116225863&trk
GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5061207.Carol_E_Wyer

Thank you Carol, I’ve really enjoyed chatting to you and I wish your novel every success!  Umm, I wonder, what would be on your Bucket List? …

Linda x

Photo credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Carol E Wyer. 

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An Interview With Richard Barnard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

www.facebook.com/dannysboys

www.richard-barnard.com

@RichardBarnard4

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

Happy Reading!

Linda x

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

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An Interview With Essex’ee Legs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favourite pair?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.essexeelegs.co.uk

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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

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An Interview With Tom Cairns

My guest this week is the talented Scottish photographer, Tom Cairns. I have been a fan of Tom’s photography for a couple of years and he can certainly do “people” photography – from models to brides to streetlife – Tom manages to capture the essence of a person in a single photograph. Recently sporting a beard himself, Tom has embarked on a project that has seen him travel around UK and Europe, photographing men with beards… the pictures are stunning… so, welcome Tom..

image Hi, I’m Tommy Cairns. Been running a successful photography business for over 3 years. Prior to that I worked in Enterprise Software Sales and Management Consultancy for 25 years. Live in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

What made you want to pursue a career as a photographer?

Have always had a creative interest in photography for as long as I can remember. I felt that I was coming to the end of my previous career, losing the spark and the interest….slowly but surely the penny dropped and I put my “corporate business experience together with my interest in photography and went from there. imageimage

Your current “beard” project has aroused a lot of interest – I admired your original photos of young bearded model Chris Millington and have noticed that you yourself have now become a bearded one – so what was the motive behind this project?

There was no particular motive behind the project. My US client for the project saw the images I had taken of Chris, got in touch and bought some for his corporate literature. Couple of months later he happened to be in the UK with his business partner, we met and discussed his business plans and stemming from that was a deal for me to cover 6 European countries photographing guys with beards for his companies library. image

What has been the most unusual photoshoot request you’ve had?

I have done a fair amount of lingerie/boudoir work so get many requests….Read this persons email about what they would like, lingerie, lace, stockings etc…..was a bit surprised when I read that it was signed by Alan!

imageWhat has been your favourite photoshoot to date?

Way too many to choose from, however, I am working on a personal project at the moment that is given me huge satisfaction….

If you were given the chance, who would you love to photograph?

Honestly don’t think I have one person in mind. I love to work with anyone and everyone, always looking for that moment they give me that look which gives me the image I want.

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

I enjoy travel/landscape photography but not really from a business point of view. I want to get better at that I think.

I’ve seen & admired your boudoir shots, model shots, bearded shots and wedding shots, so, what style of photography is your absolute favourite?image

Portrait work shot with natural light is my favourite way to work.

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

Casual, All Saints is my fav’ brand…at the moment I’m wearing converse boots.

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

I’m hopeful that a client is making me a bespoke suit and a tweed jacket….need some brogues to go with those.

imageBoots or Shoes?

Mainly boots, just like them more.

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

http://www.tomcairnsphotography.com/

facebook –

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Cairns- Photography/170971836287396

instagram – @tomcairns

twitter – @tomcairnsphoto

Thanks for wowing us with your photography Tom! If any readers are in Scotland or visiting Scotland and fancy a super duper photoshoot (beards optional) give the lovely Tom a call – you won’t be disappointed!

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Tom Cairns.

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An Interview With Sian Welby

My guest this week is the gorgeous ray of sunshine that is Sian Welby, the lovely lady that reads the weather on Channel 5 as well as getting our hopes up on the live National Lottery updates; she is also a presenter on BT Sport, Eurosport and ITV4… plus she is the female face of Electronic Arts… welcome Sian…image

Hi! My name is Sian, I’m 27, from Nottinghamshire and I’m an alcoholic! Sorry, couldn’t resist! Basically I’m a tea loving northerner masquerading as a Londoner, now living in Clapham and working on the telly. After 5 years of travelling the country, working all hours and putting in ground work I finally got my big break in 2010. The way and route I got there is certainly unconventional and here’s my story.

imageYou’ve been presenting since 2007. Have you always hoped to be on TV as a presenter or a weather girl or something completely different?

After I finished 6th form I knew that uni was going to be a waste of time for me. Time has always been an important factor in my life. I knew if I wanted to be an actress or entertainer I had to start the second I had finished my A levels if I was to stand any chance. I initially did a few drama school auditions, but to be honest I couldn’t afford to do more than 3. Some cost £50 an audition, then there’s the travel on top as well as accommodation if it’s a two day event. I was skint. Working Saturdays at Waitrose, doing A levels and learning to drive, it was all too much. I ended up on the ‘waiting list’ as they call it, for Mountview School of Acting, but when that fell through that’s when I decided to have a year out, save some money and try again properly the year after. That one year out would become five. After landing a job at New Look in a town called Newark I decided that I would just try and work as many hours as I could. Meanwhile, I had had this new idea of becoming a presenter as a few mates had likened me to Cat Deely who at the time was a bit of an idol. Mainly because she wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself and be silly. So I literally googled ‘how to be a presenter’ and a website called startintv.com came up. Once I had joined that I uploaded a pic, wrote a quick bio and to my surprise instantly got an audition. That audition would be successful and take me to LA and Las Vegas. It was an incredible start to the world of television and it taught me so much. When that ended I would get another presenting job and so on and so on until suddenly five years had passed and I was STILL at New Look. It was crazy. I had an advert in Times Square one day and was picking up sale clothes off the floor the next. That was it. 2010 was the year I HAD to make it. I remember having an unopened bottle of champagne in my house and I vowed I couldn’t open it until I deserved it. The year flew by, it was suddenly September and to cut a long story short after applying for an agent through a Facebook competition, I was asked to do an advert for New! Magazine. I literally had to say loads of words, DIETS, CELEBRITY, GOSSIP etc etc when the advert went out the line they used of mine was PETER ANDRE. Who knew that line and that moment would lead to one of the biggest names in media and publications spotting me and ultimately giving me a job on his new channel, Channel 5, as his weather girl. I started that November. Amazing. I still haven’t thanked Peter Andre!

imageBeing a former New Look sales assistant, you have hosted some fashion week shows and being on TV presenting the weather you are in the spotlight fashion wise (more so than when presenting sport, I feel). Do you pick the outfits you wear to present the weather, or does the wardrobe department have a say or bit of both?

Once you’re in the lime light you always feel under pressure to look good. It took a bit of fine tuning on the weather because you are only shot from the waist upwards. So I quickly learnt that dresses have to be fitted and shirts tailored. Block colours look really good on tv. Black actually isn’t great on tv, where as reds and blues look amazing. On the weather I have a green screen so I can’t wear certain colours. I choose all my own outfits, because I know now what works. On the health lottery it’s quite fun because I actually have a stylist and she finds me some awesome outfits that I might not have ever chosen myself. Always high street brands. You really can’t go wrong nowadays with the high street because there is so much to choose from! Oasis and Miss Selfridge are my go to brands.

imageDespite your blonde hair and ultra feminine exterior, you are a tomboy at heart and a gaming geek! You are the female face of Electronic Arts and Xbox 360 features the show on their live dashboard. What do you love most about the world of gaming?

I landed the job for EA sports the same time as getting the weather job. I have always been a tomboy and grown up, me and my sister were like brothers! Building dens, climbing trees and playing on a the mega drive! It’s funny because from working in the games industry I learnt that it really can be such a fun and sociable hobby. It’s not all sweaty geeks in damp fusty bedrooms, it’s so much more interactive. I got hooked on this snowboarding game SSX when it came out a couple of years ago. Basically it was who could ski down the mountain the quickest and most stylish. Simple. But when you’d get home, you’d get a notification to say your mate had beaten your time and suddenly the battle was on! I can get quite competitive, especially against boys, and especially against the proper geeks, because I knew it would kill them knowing this blonde girl had beaten them!! Last year I hosted the launch of the new xbox one in Leicester Square and that was a real career highlight, it was the first time live music had EVER been played in the square, and I was there, hosting it all.

Your TV presenting career has also veered towards the sporting world – especially the cycling events on both Eurosport UK and on BT Sport too. Do you participate in any sport? What’s your favourite sporting activity that you love presenting and/or watching?

imageSince presenting for ITV, BT sport and Eurosport covering the cycling I have really got into riding my bike, there are some beautiful parks in London and it’s a great way to see them all. I also went skiing this year for the first time and loved it. I think it might be something I try and do once a year.

Is there any style of presenting or TV role or job that you would like to try that you haven’t yet experienced?

I’ve always been sad that I never got to do kids tv. I want them to bring back the types of live Saturday shows I grew up with like SMTV and Live and Kicking. You can’t beat shows like that. You get to have fun and make mistakes and laugh along the way. It’s an ideal job.

imageMy youngest son and myself share a mutual interest in the subject of weather, climate, natural world, earthquakes and volcanoes etc. In fact, he checks the weather app every morning for the weather not only where we live but to check other places around the world too! Not only that, he has been known to role play as a weatherman in games with his brothers! When you was a child did the weather fascinate you?

I have also always been fascinated by extreme weather. I love a good thunderstorm! I would really like the chance to go storm chasing tornados in America. I just need to try and find a tv crew who dare to come with me!

imageYou’ve also presented the National Health Lottery Draw live on Channel 5. Just supposing you won a substantial amount on the lottery, what would be one of the first things you’ll buy?

You know what. I really think if you won that kind of money you should really think about doing something that would literally otherwise be impossible without it. If you earned good money you would get a mortgage, new car and set up a savings account. If you won good money, you should really try and make a difference. I would definitely start up a charity or get involved with an awesome project that would fall through without your input. I would also buy something ridiculous, like a pet giraffe.

Have you got any future plans lined up for 2014 that you can tell us about?

Well I’ve had lots of exiting meetings, but as I’ve come to learn, in this industry you just have to be patient and hope the right job finds you at the right time. I can’t wait for the next new challenge and something I’ve realised is, I really enjoy radio. So we’ll see!

imageBeing a presenter you have come across many colourful and influential characters I’m sure – have you met or interviewed anybody who was either your idol or has left you lost for words? Who would make you go giggly & all unnecessary?! Who has made a lasting impression on you so far?

I have met some great people. Actor Nick Frost is one of the best celebrities I have ever met. A very funny,very humble bloke who got me in a headlock on the red carpet in Leicester Square and gave me a ‘nuggi’ it was hilarious. Jonny Depp once looked at me and said ‘alright?’ That. Was. Amazing. Ha! It’s funny all the little moments you remember. I’m meeting Simon Cowell in June and I’m actually so excited. He really is an icon.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when not on TV?

Fashion wise I always get pulled back to my tomboy roots. I love a pair of jeans with a loose fitting t shirt and a pair of converse. Although I am into fashion and when I’m working or going out I like to be in the latest trends. Recently I’ve been loving the big shirt and jumper look, with skinny jeans and a pair of boots. Although I tried out that look on the weather one week and someone tweeted that I looked like a little school boy! Ha!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Love ASOS, TopShop, Oasis, Miss Selfridge, Bershka and even Missguided the new online store. It has some right gems on there.

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

One day I must own a pair of red soled Louboutin’s. Even when they break my ankles when I fall over in them, I’ll still love them unconditionally like a child.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are great because I love wearing socks! Weird fact about me is that I always wear odd socks!!

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

@sianwelby on twitter

Sian Welby presenter on FB

Thanks Sian… it has been great chatting to you! The storm chasing idea sounds absolutely awesome… I’d love to do that too but I may be a teeny weeny bit scared but it sure would be an ultimate adrenaline rush!

Linda x

Photo credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Sian Welby.

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An Interview With Chanii B

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

www.chaniibshoes.com
www.facebook.com/shoesbychaniib
www.twitter.com/chaniibshoes @chaniibshoes
www.pinterest.com/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.

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An Interview With n-1 Couture

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 www.nmeno1.com and drop by and visit us at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nmenouno.couture.3
Twitter: www.twitter.com/nmeno1_couture
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nmeno1
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nmeno1
Google+: www.plus.google.com/b/109586194278781359290/+Nmeno1

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

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An Interview With Alex Proud

Tonight I’m really proud to be interviewing the man about town, Camden Town that is, Alex Proud.   I can’t remember exactly when I first became aware of Alex – it was either through watching one of my favourite TV programmes, Channel 4’s Four Rooms, where Alex is one of the regular dealers; reading one of his highly entertaining articles for the Telegraph Men section ( I know I’m not male but I love Alex’s writing style and wit and quite often I agree with his sentiments);  or, hearing about his fab entertainment venues – BUT most recently I discovered that he had a love for Jeffery West shoes, a love shared by most of the men that I’ve interviewed as well as by my darling husband too.  So, without further ado, let’s meet the man himself….hi Alex, welcome to the blog:image

Hi! Alex Proud, pleased to meet you.

Although you are a nightclub & gallery owner & dealer & TV dealer & journalist, you studied politics at the University of York.  Do you still have a love for politics?  Is being a politician next on your impressive career list or is writing a regular column for Telegraph Men a sort of “political” outlet for you?

Yes I still love Politics, I used to be Charles Kennedy’s advisor, and I still actively engage with the Liberal party. Also, I am the Vice Chairman of the local business improvement district and I’m heavily involved in Camden politics. But yes, sometimes I do see this column as an outlet for my political passions.

You started your dealer career by selling Japanese art and eventually moved on to Rolls Royces.  Were you driven to selling items that personally appealed to you or because these items were in demand?  What made you opt for Rolls Royces?

I hate to destroy any romantic imagery, but I did what I did to make a living. Ha! But I do love British cars – I currently drive an Aston Martin and I love Jags – the new advert is fantastic; it is good to be bad!

imageYour fabulous famous photography gallery, Proud Central, was opened in 1998 and has become one of the world’s foremost private photographic galleries.  What inspired you to open such a gallery?

A series of coincidences led me to put on Dennis Morris’ Sex Pistols exhibition and when I saw the reaction it garnered, I quickly developed a passion/love affair that has endured since.

imageThe photography shown in your galleries focus on popular culture, encompassing rock & roll, fashion, sporting moments etc.  What sort of photography do you like to look at? Have you a favourite print?

Somewhat like the referee of a football game, it would be undiplomatic of me to express my personal favourites. I enjoy all good photography.

In 1999 you set the publishing company, Vision On, with well known photographer, Ian Rankin. I am a great admirer of the work of Ian Rankin, so I am well impressed! Do you do any photography yourself, as a hobby?

Yes. I’m a keen Instagram-er if that counts? But I have to admit I’m pretty dreadful.

imageIn 2006 you opened the stunning 700 capacity bar & music venue Proud Camden, which was soon followed by Proud Cabaret, the burlesque restaurant within Proud Camden; and Proud Brighton. What’s the most memorable gig held at Proud Camden? 

Most memorable gig would be the launch of the first Proud Bar, when The Libertines played…

imageBeing a bit of a party animal, having co hosted parties with people as diverse as Paul McCartney and Hugh Heffner,  you probably are not easily starstruck … so any great party anecdotes?

I’ve got hundreds of great party anecdotes. You will have to take me out for dinner and get me drunk to get them. Sounds good to me… 😉 

imageYour close ties with Mencap has led you to put together club nights in an effort to change people’s attitudes towards people with learning disabilities.  What inspired you to help in this way?

I dislike the way the British are obsessed with puppies and kittens and donkeys and we seem to ignore human beings with far more desperate needs. Mencap and people with learning difficulties are a wonderful way for all of us to put a little bit back into society. I only wish I, and many of us did do more.

You appear on Channel 4’s Four Rooms – I love that programme – so do you enjoy the TV experience?  What item would you say was your best deal as a result of the TV programme?

It’s great fun, albeit long-winded and tiring and I don’t deal well with the early starts that are necessary in the television industry. The best deal I’ve done as a result of the show is still purchasing the world’s first passport which I’m holding onto, but which I believe to be worth much more than I paid for it.

imageYour wife, Danielle, is an interior designer, Creative Director of your Proud establishments  and in her previous job, Head Designer at Biba,  so she obviously has taste too for certain items – do you share a similar taste for objects?  Have you ever done a deal and brought home or to the gallery an object which didn’t quite meet her approval?

Danielle and I don’t have very similar tastes but we respect each other enough to manage to live with each other’s differences. Yes, I regularly bring home things that don’t meet her approval and ditto the other way around. It tends to mean that things disappear. Like some sort of dictatorship when things randomly disappear in the middle of the night.

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

I normally wear Jeffery West shoes and Gresham Blake suits.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love ASOS, because I hate walking into shops. Again, Jeffrey West shoes, I have them handmade bespoke for my feet and I have blue croc skin, brown with flames up the side…

I like Mr Porter for the odd treat.

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

A new tailor that Holly introduced me to – he’s going to make me a suit. He’s called David Brooke.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Always. I just think that Chelsea Boots are cooler. And preferably with Cuban Heels to make me a bit taller.

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

Twitter: @AlexanderProud

Instagram: alexproud55

Proud: www.proud.co.uk

 

Wow, thanks for a great interview Alex!  If any readers are in London, pop into the Proud Chelsea gallery and view the fab photographic exhibition currently on show until May 4th 2014 charting the career of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna – as 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Senna’s debut as well as being the 20th anniversary of his death.  Entry is free.

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission from Proud Publishing Limited 

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An Interview With Mel Boteri

I’m talking bags again this week, although this time I’m chatting to Melanie, the gorgeous person behind the luxury handbag company, Mel Boteri.  Not only has she designed fantastic bags to die for, but she has written a bag guide providing an unique and exciting inside look into the fab world of handbags.  So, a big warm welcome to the blog Melanie:image

Hi! My name is Melanie Mueller, and I am the Founder and Creative Director of Mel Boteri.  My mission is to inspire women to discover their unique style and to express it confidently through luxury, one-of-a-kind custom and bespoke accessories.  

What inspired you start up your business? 

Shopping frustrations are what ultimately inspired me to start Mel Boteri.  There have been countless times where I envision something precisely as I want it – a dress, a piece of jewelry, a handbag – whatever it might be, and it would either be impossible to find the right size or the style simply did not exist. I felt stuck in the world of mass-produced fashion and wanted to make a change. Luckily these frustrations hit their peak while I was studying to get my Masters in Business Administration, so I was able to lay down the groundwork for my business during my last semester of school.

imageWhen 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 believe keeping up with current fashion trends is part of my job so that I can intelligently consult with my clients.  However, I do not believe each trend is appropriate for every individual.  It is all about incorporating the elements that work for you, your body, and your unique personality and style.  That being said, when designing my bags it is a bit of everything you listed – trends, client requests, my own taste – that directs the look and style of the finished bag.

You launched your brand in 2009, how did you come up with your brand name, Mel Boteri? 

The name came to me over a few glasses of wine with my parents.  As a first generation American (my mother is Colombian and my father German), it was important for me to incorporate my family heritage into the name.  Mel therefore stems from the German name my father gave me, Melanie, and Boteri stems from my mother’s maiden name, Botero. Oddly enough, soon after starting my business I discovered that my maternal grandmother also designed bags, which she hand-knitted for family, friends and neighbors in her small town of Calarca, Colombia. I guess I was destined to have this fabulous job.

To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

That is difficult to say since the majority of my orders are customized to the particular needs of each client, but most recently I have noticed the ‘Blake’ style to be quite popular.  I believe it is the perfectly-sized everyday bag, holding all of your essentials without looking or feeling too bulky.

imageI love your handbags, especially from your latest collection the cobalt blue “Sayde”shoulder bag with its gorgeous turquoise suede lining. What gave you the idea to line in suede?

Mel Boteri has evolved quite a bit from its inception until now, but one thing that has never faltered is the dedication to quality.  To me, suede was the most luxurious lining option against the fine Italian exterior leathers.  Lambskin lining is used in our new line of exotics, but the turquoise (my favorite color) is signature across the board.

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

My favorite would have to be the ‘Boteri’ tote.  This was the second handbag I ever designed (the first being the ‘Mel’ hobo), and so it is the most representative of my personal style.  

Mel Boteri has partnered with luxury brands including Mercedes-Benz and Hideoki Bespoke to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele.  If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag? 

Hands down Jennifer Lopez (I hope she sees this)!!  Even before Jennifer became as popular as she is today with all of her music, movies, and especially American Idol, I have always looked to her as a style icon.  She is the epitome of a confident woman, who knows how to take a trend and make it her own to flaunt her best assets.  I would LOVE to see what kind of handbag she would customize!!

imageAll your handbags on your website can be customised with a choice of leathers and hardware. What has been the strangest or most memorable bespoke handbag request you’ve received?

The most unique handbag I have created to date was a patchwork version of the ‘Cynthia’ tote.  I love a good challenge, so it was also one of the most exciting ones to bring to life.  

You’ve written the first of many bag guides planned, “7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping”, created to provide an inside look into the fab world of handbags.  With secrets including how to learn to select a handbag that will best flaunt your body, what are the most popular handbag mistakes you feel that ladies make?

To me, the most prevalent mistake women make is carrying a handbag simply because it is the current “It Bag” or because all of her girlfriends are coveting the same style.  A handbag, just like any other piece of fashion, should be personal and a representation of your unique style.  Bag Servant, one of my favorite sites for scoping out what’s new in the world of handbags, has a fabulous tool where you can shop by personality.  A “Vintage Queen”, for example, should not be carrying the same handbag style as the “Boardroom Perfectionist.” Once woman make this switch and begin to discover their personal style, they will look and feel much more confident.

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

I have a saying, “when all else fails, wear black and accessorize,” and with my hectic schedule, I often find myself doing just that!! Depending on the day, my shoes will either be part of the “all black” of my look or more of an “accessory” in leopard-print or a pop of color.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I cannot get enough of Net-A-Porter.com.  They literally have something for every fashion mood that comes my way – classic, trendy, sporty, girly, you name it and you can find a beautiful version of it on Net-A-Porter.com!!

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

I am a huge fan of Tamara Mellon, not only for what she created with Jimmy Choo, but more so for her innovative approach to business and the fashion industry specifically.  I am dying to get my hands on few of her #BuyNowWearNow shoes and clothing.  

Boots or Shoes?

It really depends on the season. During fall and winter, you won’t see me in anything other than boots, and in warmer months my go-to are strappy, platform wedges.

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

Sure!! Readers can follow me and Mel Boteri on the following sites:

Website – www.MelBoteri.com

Download “The Bag Guide” –http://shop.melboteri.com/pages/7secrets

Facebook – www.facebook.com/melboteri

Twitter – www.twitter.com/melboteri

Instagram – www.instagram.com/melboteri

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/melboteri

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+MelBoteri

It has been great chatting to you Melanie – your bags are fantastic and I’m a big fan already.  I’m sure you’ve inspired a lot of my blog readers to check out your wares too!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Mel Boteri

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