Monday, 18 May 2015

The Sweet Scent of... A Bargain Bag

Rare London Perfume Box Bag, Clutch, Chanel, No 5, Dupe, High Street, Missguided, Monochrome, Gingham, Midi Skirt, Primark, Sheer Lace Crop Top, Vintage Style, 60s, 50s, How to Wear, Styling Inspiration, Sam Muses, UK Fashion Blog, London Style Blogger

Hands up: who hasn't secretly (or not so secretly) been hankering after a Chanel perfume bottle box clutch since what now feels like the beginning of time? This Rare London gem may not be able to boast the No. 5 label, but nor does it come with a £6,000 price tag (in fact, it's... £12. Yep, seriously), and, in all other respects, down to that iconic chain strap, it's pretty darn close. Not to mention plenty big enough for your phone, keys, emergency chocolate... even sunnies! For me, the choice was always going to be clear, but if you're not quite so much of an exhibitionist, it's also available in a devastatingly classy black opaque variant.

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Completely Gratuitous Hair Shot
17 May 2
Bag: Rare London, Top: Primark, Skirt: Missguided, Shoes: Boohoo (Past Season)

Have you sniffed out any bargains recently?

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Day in the Life of a Hair Model

Just as I settle down to life behind the scenes of the fashion industry, I end up making my catwalk debut! Yup, as you may by now have noticed, I've gone for the chop, and hit the (ketchup?) bottle, to showcase SS15's boho/'70s/festival look, as conceived by a well-known hair brand. A few days ago, it was off to Edinburgh and Manchester for my first two shows, so I thought I'd give you a little insight into my first turn on the runway. It's not all limos and champagne, you know (unfortunately)...


Time to get up. I've had a total of 7 hours sleep over the last 2 nights combined, but, compared to yesterday, when I was up at 3.15am to get to Heathrow for 5am, this qualifies as a lie-in. Brush teeth, throw clothes on bodies/in bags as appropriate, drag Tangle Teezers through birdnest-like ruins of last night's show 'dos, slap on some tinted moisturiser and cream blush, and make our way downstairs to check out and pick up our takeaway breakfast bags. Ham and cheese sandwiches, plus yoghurts containing gelatine - since almost half our party of models and creatives are veggie, including me: epic fail. Thankfully, I manage to salvage a banana and mini pain au chocolat, to supplement my trusty Belvitas.


Coach to Edinburgh train station. Sadly, we didn't get to see much (well, any) of the city, as we were in rehearsals and/or rollers all day yesterday, and by the time the show was over, all anyone wanted to do was sleep. My roommate and I did valiantly venture into the wind and drizzle in an attempt to take in some culture, but all we managed were a couple of Galaxy Cookie Crumble McFlurrys.

IMG_1960 - Copy
Proof that I was in Edinburgh - see, castle!


Train to Manchester Piccadilly. Having demolished my banana/pastry/Belvita breakfast combo, I finish watching some talks by Nick Knight and the Dazed team downloaded in preparation for my epic journeying (ever the dedicated fashion student), and manage half a Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn classic before I have to allow my eyelids to submit to gravity.


Arrive in Manchester. Coach to The Monastery, our home for today. Our second breakfast of the day is waiting for us (yes, this may be a highlight of the job). I restrict myself to one of the ridiculously tempting array of pastries on offer, since we're currently eating four times a day and getting no exercise save for half an hour or so of intense strutting, but most of the other (5'11" and matchstick-thin) models scoff at least three... Honestly, nobody would have any concerns about eating disorders in the fashion industry if they spent a few hours with us!


Waiting around. With 19 models to be coloured, dried, styled and made-up, this is how we spend the vast majority of our time. Luckily, I managed to pick up the latest issues of Wonderland and Dazed at Heathrow (after security, so they wouldn't monopolise my entire hand baggage allowance!), which are keeping me occupied over the long days...


Have my hair washed, dried and set in pincurls. Washed, bent over a kitchen sink with remnants of food still stuck in the plughole... which was a blessed relief, after yesterday's DIY "hands and knees in the shower" job - cold blood-tinted water from my newly-touched-up colour running down neck and arms and seeping into clothes (for some reason, no one thought to put salon basins in any of these 19th century churches or friaries). Back in the 21st century, and no one thought to bring towels on tour either, so we're mopped up with (admittedly rather luxe) napkins.


More waiting around. Some of the other girls are feeling a bit stir crazy, so, since the cold drizzle which seemingly tails us everywhere we go has at least temporarily eased off, go for a walk, or to sit outside in the picturesque courtyard. I attempt to join them, but, miraculously sunny though it may be, the wind is whipping up a frenzy and tugging my curls out of my pins, so I'm banished back inside. Oh well, only a few minutes to kill 'til lunch at 1.30...


Called in for rehearsals. We troop in, bedecked with foils, rollers and/or pins (an attempt to lighten one girl's blue fringe has turned it green - oops), to find that the show finale is being changed. And we're going to miss lunch. Despite my background as a dancer, I'm terrified of messing up the (remarkably involved) choreography - one step out of turn could ruin the show's sharp, polished feel. Several slip-ups from various people during this rehearsal, including a micro "brain freeze" on my part, which results in me attempting to march offstage at the wrong time (wishful thinking?) but it'll be alright on the night... won't it?

Schwarzkopf Essential Looks Tour Manchester 2
The runway is waiting...


Lunch (finally). The kitchen has whipped up some extra food for us - veggie pasta and pizza, plus the ubiquitous chips which seem to pop up at every meal and which I (unlike most of the others - seriously, where does it go?) studiously avoid, in the hopes that the only pounds I gain from this job will be monetary. 


Waiting around.


Make-up. Try desperately to avoid blinking/crying whilst having my eyeliner done.


Waiting around. The air is now ringing with the cries of harrassed stylists declaring "There's no point in her going on if there's no green in her hair!" and suchlike, and perfumed with the scent of burning locks.


Time for my hair to be "dressed" (yes, that term is actually still used in the upper echelons of the salon world!). This involves being "zhuzhed" so furiously that I fear I am in danger of ending up with concussion, misted with about a litre of hairspray, and backcombed until I resemble a cross between a candyfloss and Ronald McDonald, which, admittedly, does appeal to my inner drama queen - it feels as though I've wandered off the pages of some fantastical fairytale-style editorial... or a McQueen runway!

Show Looks 3
Show Looks...


Time to get dressed. I pull on my "cold-shoulder" tassel-trim mini dress and to-die nude tasselled Steve Madden heels, whilst the (fashion) stylist sneakily slips an orange/pink-tasselled necklace (yes, to match my hair!) over my now-significantly-expanded head, away from the watchful eye of my (hair) stylist.


Waiting around.


I am simultaneously touched up by make-up, sprayed and tweaked by my hair stylist, and adjusted and steamed by the fashion stylist (this happens several times in the run-up to, and even during, showtime - honestly? I thought they were all a little bit nuts, but, having now spent 20 minutes attuned like a hawk to the slightest sign of cravat/necklace displacement whilst styling my first editorial shoot, I think I get it...). I am now banned from sitting down until after the show.


We go "backstage". 


Nerves kick in. Repeat various crucial elements of choreography to myself, in manner of mantra.


Showtime! Now, I've danced live on Channel 4, been nearly naked on film with Chris Hemsworth and played Brecht onstage, but, with no dance moves to focus on or characters to hide behind, I think this is more nerve wracking than any of the above... I even have to smile, since I'm one of the show's "happy hippies", so I can't style it out, diva-like. Maybe it'll get easier as I (hopefully) gain experience, but, right now, I'm just praying no-one sees my legs trembling whilst we're frozen for "inspection" and re-styling onstage. 



It's all over! No noticeable hitches, and our lovely agent/choreographer reassures me that I was "brilliant". Time for dinner...


The options are... meat... meat... or chips. Doh. The chef has gone home, but the apologetic serving staff whip us up a salad. For dessert, I delve into my magic lunchbox for a Trek bar.


Coach to the train station. In contrast to last night, most of the girls are high on triumph and/or relief, and some club together for Prosecco/G&T for the journey back to London, but my head is throbbing and I'm craving sleep. I finish Bringing Up Baby before putting Lorde on repeat to insulate my achy head from the sounds of excited girlish chatter. I manage a few winks, although my neck and shoulders are killing me after two days of being yanked about by stylists and lugging all my essentials (not least those tome-like magazines!) around over my shoulder a la Dick Whittington. Apparently, with nicer scheduling, which allows a bit of additional time for sleep and/or alcohol, these jobs can be a lot more fun, so fingers crossed for next time!


Finally home. Debrief mum, drink two mugs of tea and catch up on Made in Chelsea before crawling into bed (well, you know, priorities).

So... categorically not glamorous and not for the faint-hearted (at least where your alarm clock and hair are concerned - you're at your stylists' mercy and never really know what you're going to end up with... if they end up damaging your hair beyond repair, or don't like the results, they could well cancel any future bookings - and I'm reliably informed by my fellow models that this applies to all runway work, since catwalk is crazy hair a-go-go). And not a way to see the world. But if you get the opportunity, you're feeling daring and you have strands of steel (and some reading to catch up on), hey, why not? I love my new hair now it's had its final tweaks (although I won't be emulating the "Ronald" look for day-to-day purposes), I've met some lovely people, I've worn some fabulous shoes... and I got two free hairsprays.

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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Colour Me... Confused? Colour Analysis on Trial

"Having your colours done" - something middle-aged women did in the '80s between Tupperware and Ann Summers parties, right? So not the sort of cutting edge technique you'd be taught as a budding stylist at somewhere as on-the-button and industry-centred as the London College of Style, surely? Well, actually...

Colour analysis is apparently going through something of a renaissance (if it ever really went away), and should forever remain, according to our special guest lecturer, stylist and colour expert Tanja Mrnjaus, a key weapon in the modern stylist's armoury, whether "in vogue" or not. So, does it live up to the hype?

Colour Analysis Swatches

In all respects, but perhaps particularly when it comes to matters of style, I will resist, kicking and screaming (metaphorically speaking), being locked into any kind of (metaphorical or literal) box. At the end of the day, personal style is personal, and individual considerations should always supersede blanket dictates based on categoristic pigeonholing, whether you're a pear-shape who happens to look great in printed palazzos, or a redhead who adores (bright) white. Having rejoiced in the freedom of scrapping the "low-neckline + cinched-waist + A-line/pencil hem" and "that shade would wash you out" rules I followed religiously throughout my late teens and early twenties, I'm certainly not going to stop buttoning my shirts up to the collar or floating around in empire lines because they "shouldn't" work for my hourglass shape (finding creative ways to make them work for me is a whole lot more satisfying), or ditch the "Summer"-coloured sundresses which really shouldn't be lurking in the wardrobe of a "Spring".

And there things become really confusing... Because, get me home, scrub my tan off and... ta-dah! Instant Summer. Or it would be, if Schwarzkopf hadn't just spent 7.5 hours dyeing my hair various shades of red and pink... So am I an Autumn now? I really hope not, because shades of leaf are not my bag... But, jokes aside, with some judicious self tan/hair dye/contact lens-based tinkering, I think I could probably inveigle my way into any of the four seasonal groups!

Timeline of an Identity Crisis
Diary of an Identity Crisis

Which means... you can break free of your box! Even if that means changing half your wardrobe to complement your new hair colour... (And, I must admit, there are colours which work better with my new look: warmer, deeper tones in my wardrobe are "popping" against my red/pink hair as they never did with blonde). As Tanja told us right away, an awareness of colour should actually increase, rather than restrict, the freedom with which you can approach your personal style - virtually everybody can wear virtually every colour, but certain shades of each colour are likely to suit you better than others (and if you really want to wear another shade, popping in some coloured lenses might just help!). And, whilst I would never dream of telling someone with "low contrast" colouring that they should dress exclusively in monochromatic colour palettes, if they were looking for a "wow" ensemble for an extra-special occasion, it would be a really interesting place to start.

As I see it, style "rules" (whether regarding colour, body shape or, indeed, anything else), function in two ways: (1) as super-useful baseline guidance... and (2) as challenges - if something "shouldn't" work, how can I make it work? Which, incidentally, is just how we're encouraged to approach things at LCS - if our flamboyant elderly client insists on wearing brightly coloured mini skirts (which complement her collection of shopping trolleys), then we darn well find a way to make her look great in a brightly coloured mini skirt (which complements her collection of shopping trolleys)... and if we want to wear a "Summer" coloured statement necklace, we wrap our "Winter" hair up in an appropriately-coloured (of course) turban - just like the ever-resourceful Tanja on the day she came in to impart her wisdom! So yes, rules were made to be broken, but knowledge = power.

Colour Analysis Class

What do you think? Have you ever considered colour analysis?

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

DIY: 1920s-Inspired Embellished Shoes

Customisation, Embellished Shoes, Beaded, Sequin, Pearl, Feather, Art Deco, Jazz Age, Flapper, Toe Cap, Heels, 1920s, Vintage Style, How To, DIY, UK Fashion Blog, London Style Blogger, Sam Muses
DIY 1920s Inspired Embellished Shoes 2

As part of my first History of Fashion/Customisation project at the London College of Style, I was charged with sourcing a pair of 1920s-inspired vintage shoes (plus trims galore) and transforming them into a sight to make a flapper weep (preferably with joy)... and here are the results. As you may be aware, I've dabbled in shoe doctoring in the past, so, this time, I decided to raise the bar a bit, and set myself my biggest DIY challenge to date - beads, pearls, sequins, feathers... and not an apron in sight (#livingontheedge). Read on for all the deep, dark secrets on how I did it...for under £25.

DIY Embellished Shoes Steps 1-3
DIY Embellished Shoes Steps 4-6

1. Gather your weapons

You will need:

  • 1 x pair of shoes (I won this black leather pair on eBay for £9.29, including delivery). The white-stitched sectioning inspired my pearl-encrusted toe-cap and "mirrored" sequin curlicue designs, but you could easily mark these sections onto your own shoes before you start.
  • Gold sequin string - this set me back £1.29 for 5m!
  • Flat back black rhinestones - I used 2 different sizes to add texture - these are 3mm and 6mm, 99p per pack.
  • Flat back pearl beads - again, I used 2 different sizes to add interest - these are 2mm (99p) and 4mm (£1.30), in "champagne".
  • Feather trim - this cost me £3.50 for 30cm, including delivery.
  • Glues - I used Evo-Stik Leather Adhesive (£2.63) for the main body of the shoe, and Scotch Quick-Dry Tacky Adhesive (£3.16) for the heel - feel free to use your own preferred adhesives, but one advantage of these two is that they both dry clear!
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

(Total Outlay: £24.14)

2. Add your sequins

Spread a generous layer of leather glue over the area in which you wish to locate your sequin design. Cut sequin string to desired length, and arrange in your chosen pattern (my curlicue design was inspired by a motif I spotted on an oriental-style 1920s costume). The glue is tacky, so you'll have some time to play around if your positioning isn't quite right straight off!

3. Add your black stones

Spreading a generous layer of leather glue over the area of the shoe on which you're currently working, gradually cover the main side sections, in-between and around the sequins, with your black rhinestones. I primarily used the larger stones, dotting a few of the smaller ones in to add texture (and fill in gaps!). Fingers are fine for the 6mm stones, but you'll need tweezers for the little ones. N.B. After completing one side of each shoe, I worked on the toecaps, to give the black stones a bit of time to "fix" before starting on the opposite sides.

4. Encrust your toecaps

Working in exactly the same way, cover the toecap section of each shoe in the flat back pearl beads.

5. Bling up your heels

Since I was no longer working on leather at this point, I used my all-purpose tacky PVA for this bit. Spread on a generous layer (don't worry, it does dry clear!), and pop your pearls into position, using the tweezers. This stage was a bit trickier, since this glue was, and stayed, much wetter, for much longer, than the leather glue - so the tiniest knock would send the pearls careering all over the place!

6. Finish with feathers

Once the heels are touch-dry, cut a length of feather trim to fit each shoe, long enough to fix around each ankle-back, from ankle strap to ankle strap, with an extra 1cm at each end to tuck inside the shoe (30cm of trim was just enough for this pair). Spread leather glue along the length of the ribbon trim, and along the edge of the shoe. Press into place - over the next 10 minutes or so, spend a few minutes, on and off, pressing the ribbon section firmly into place, particularly where it tucks inside the shoe, to ensure a firm hold. This isn't necessary in the case of the stones or pearls, but I think it really makes a difference here. You might want to trim your feathers, depending on heel length, but, personally, I fancied that the "trailing-along-the-floor" element added to the opulent "Jazz Age" feel...

Et voila!

Wait 24 hours before trying on to allow all bonds to fully adhere. Then go Charleston!

DIY 1920s Inspired Embellished Shoes 5

Customisation, Embellished Shoes, Beaded, Sequin, Pearl, Feather, Art Deco, Jazz Age, Flapper, Toe Cap, Heels, 1920s, Vintage Style, How To, DIY, UK Fashion Blog, London Style Blogger, Sam Muses

How do you feel about '20s style? Have you got crafty recently?

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

'70s Stylespiration: Thea Porter Exhibition

Thea Porter 1
L-R: British Vogue, 1970; British Vogue, 1969; British Vogue, 2005
Thea Porter 3
L-R: Thea in her workroom; Persian print maxi coat; Model in window of Thea Porter Decorations Ltd., Greek Street, c. 1970
Thea Porter 2
L-R: British Vogue, 1975; British Vogue: 1971

Ok, you know how I keep promising to stop banging on about '70s style? Yeah, well, about that...

Today, I was introduced to the designs of Thea Porter at the Fashion and Textile Museum's retrospective exhibition of her work, and it turns out that, despite her relatively low public profile, she played a pretty darn crucial role in giving us '70s boho chic as we know it, by bringing the fabrics and cuts of her formative years spent scouring the souks of the Middle East to the streets of Soho, and "Swinging London"...

So not to give her some well-deserved credit would just be plain rude, no? I mean, just look at those '70s Vogue editorials up there... what stylist/designer/photographer wouldn't kill to have these shots in their portfolio right now (and wouldn't life be so much more fun if men still wore coats like that)?

Anyway, scroll on down for my shots from the exhibition (which you can still catch if you're quick - it closes on Sunday) - aside from dresses galore (obvs), there are reams of gorgeous extracts from Thea's personal scrapbooks on display - it's a (nosy) vintage lover's paradise!


The Clothes...



This coat was made from an actual Iranian carpet!








TP12Thea's actual living room mirror... sporting Thea's actual face - genius.

TP10Still setting the style agenda into the '80s...




The Scrapbooks...


















Were you already aware of Thea? What do you think of her creations?

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