Introducing: Karen Mabon

This “Introducing” post is unbelievably overdue. I actually learned of the talented Karen Mabon when I judged Mulberry’s Brilliant Britain competition way back in 2012! Mabon’s brand was a fledgling dream at that point but, as you’re about to find out or perhaps already know, a lot has changed since then.

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Bull in a China Shop Silk Scarf

Originally hailing from Black Isle in Scotland, Karen Mabon, studied at Edinburgh College of Art before heading down south to complete her education in the hallowed halls of London’s Royal College of Art. After graduating she cut her industry teeth working for the likes of Margaret Howell and Fred Butler until 2012 when Mabon decided to go it alone and launching her eponymous line of silk scarves and handmade jewellery. I doubt I need to tell you that independent accessories labels are ten a penny these days. Some demand prices that would make an Olsen twin blanche, others come in more at the pocket change end of the scale. Some supply wares so gorgeous you’d flog your grandmother to own them, others are essentially market stall tat. Basically, there are a LOT of accessory start ups around with more starting up by the minute. You have to be offering something pretty special to stand out from the crowd. Karen Mabon is doing just that.

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Beverly Hills Hotel Silk Scarf

Calling on a smörgåsbord of references, from pop culture and the artists that inspire her, to quintessential English pastimes and subjects so unbelievably ordinary their existence probably never even crosses your mind; Mabon’s work is a delicious fusion of eclecticism, detail and wit. One scarf might see Tippi Hendren fleeing from a flock of seagulls, another a vegetable patch being ransacked by rabbits, another a traditional British seaside holiday scene. When depicted on accessories (or any garments for that matter) poetic and traditional scenes run the risk of looking overdone or dowdy, while tongue-in-cheek designs can easily slip into novelty territory. If this was the case with Karen Mabon’s work, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Between the all encompassing array of influences she employs, and their playful yet intricately constructed depiction, Mabon toes the line between nostalgia and modernity just perfectly. These accessories are fun – who’s not going to crack a smile with Panthers at a party parading around their neck? – but not naff, not by a long shot. This is no doubt helped by the design process involved in the creation of each piece, a feat as impressive as the fact Karen Mabon’s managed to carve a niche for herself within the overcrowded accessories market. Each motif is constructed from layers of hand drawn images. Rather than using a repeated print, each design is a complete and individual composition, holding a distinct narrative and realised on the finest Italian silks and cashmeres. The jewellery pieces feature individual motifs from Mabon’s painstakingly created scarves, offering the kind of mix and/or match potential I’m an absolute sucker for.

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Midnight Feast Silk Scarf

Karen Mabon set out create pieces that captured the “romance of the everyday” and her quirky play on the mundanities of life does so beautifully. And judging from the fact her wares are now stocked everywhere from Liberty of London to the National Maritime Museum to Strumpet in New York and The Beauty Candy Apothecary in Singapore, I’m not the only person who thinks that! I’m currently coveting the Beverley Hills Hotel scarf like mad but frankly, they’re all must haves. Oh and not stupidly expensive either (think £85 to £110) yay!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Leave a comment

Look Du Jour: Saying No To Normcore

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Ella Catliff by Holly McGlynn March 14_009

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What: Club Monaco jacket (c/o), French Connection t-shirt, Paige Denim boyfriend jeans (c/o), Anne Bowes Jewellery necklace, Quay Australia sunglasses (c/o), Hobbs shoes & clutch (both c/o)

Where: Dinner at The Electric, Notting Hill.

God, I felt so embarrassingly cool when I put this outfit on. The boyfriend jeans, the pattern clashing overload, the red leather… my thought process was along the lines of “NAILED IT”! That confidence somewhat waned when I entered Hammersmith tube station and my ensemble caused a group of youths to basically keel over in hysterics. But I thought, screw you all. You know nothing about fashion, fools. In retrospect, I think I maybe did look a little nuts (it was perhaps the glasses that did it) and when my Dad saw these pics his response was, “at least you’ve still got a sense of humour”.

But do you know what? I’ve decided I don’t care. I felt fabulous and that’s at least half of what matters. Plus, the fact that this look is basically the antithesis of normcore makes me endlessly happy. These jeans may be nice and roomy and the block heels wonderfully comfortable but let’s be honest, anyone who puts together this many prints clearly has no desire to fit in. You see, I just don’t get normcore. It’s not so much the aesthetics that leave me cold. The idea of spending everyday in grey, eschewing heels in favour of understated plain white trainers and generally keeping it casual may bore me almost to tears but whatever floats your boat. And while no fan of minimalism or perennial casualness myself, on others it can look fantastic. But beyond how that understated turtleneck or logo free pair of sneaks look, if they make the wearer feel confident, stylish and generally good about themselves that’s brilliant. No, there are two things that baffle me about this whole normcore shabang. Firstly, its premise; the notion of settling for sameness, accepting your fate of immersion into a sea of faceless blandness. It is pitched, not as a specific sartorial choice but genuine, couldn’t-care-less, normality. This leads on nicely to the second thing that peeves me about this phenomenon, the fact that, largely speaking, its premise is complete bollocks. Whether its a music journo in a thermofleece at SXSW or a Brooklynite rocking nondescript jeans and an unbranded baseball cap, the look is every bit as stylised and deliberate as that of the FROW-ing blogger, madly instagramming their sculptural, pom pom trimmed hat. Applied to the middle aged, mid Western tourist the concept of normcore would make sense. But of course, said Dad jeans wearer wouldn’t dream of referring to their “look” with such a name. I can’t help but feel that once a phenomenon has this kind of hashtag worthy moniker, a gazillion articles written about it’s origins, then it is by definition no longer really normal. A “how to get the look” feature on normcore immediately renders it about as effortless as head-to-toe digital prints or winter leg. I’m not saying that magazines should refrain from publishing these kind of pieces about normcore, more just that it’s rather ridiculous to pretend that hipsters and editors donning pool sliders means that they no longer care about making a statement with their lewk. Ultimately doing a Dello Russo is much the same as channeling Steve Jobs. Only one is infinitely less fun to look at that the other.

How do YOU feel about normcore?

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Look Du Jour 3 Comments

Monday Funday with Gaultier

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I always adore a private view. It’s much like going to an exhibition (well duh) but with the additional bonus of getting to wear a fancy frock and drink limitless amounts of champagne while getting yo culture on. Generally speaking though, there isn’t much of a party vibe per se. Don’t get me wrong they’re always sociable affairs full of fabulous folk to chat with but, aside from the odd exception – Hugo Boss’s Saatchi Gallery soiree last summer, for instance – half the guests don’t end up being physically turfed out an hour after things were meant to wrap up. I’m happy to tell you that’s exactly what happened at the Barbican a couple of Mondays ago. Then again, the artiste whose work was being celebrated was none other than Jean Paul Gaultier so really, what else would you expect?

The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier - VIP Reception

It’s not often I pull five outfit changes on a Monday but that’s precisely what happened on this occasion. Six if you count wriggling out of my A-MAZING Ada Zandtion couture dress and back into waxed jeans after the private view to continue our party at Soho House. Having debuted my snazzy new fluoro gym gear and donned a little Carven number to shoot for Metro (watch this space!) in the morning, I decked myself in virtually head to toe pink for a project prepping session with Kate Spade that afternoon. Then, come 6pm, it was time for the aforementioned waxed jeans and leopard accessories for the unveiling of Gerald Scarfs installation at the Rosewood Hotel, where Ada then met me with the beautiful creation I’d be wearing to Gaultier afterwards. The whole experience was so ridiculously indulgent and generally over exciting I practically hyperventilated throughout.

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Once appropriately attired in a sculptural petal dress crafted from buttersoft swathes of glove leather (I know) I managed to regain my composure just enough not to make a total tit of myself among the A listers gathered at the Barbican. And when I say “A Listers” I don’t mean random selection of ‘slebs. We’re talking high fashion doyennes, industry icons and the kind of couture clad ladies and gents who live, breathe and dream Gaultier. You got the feeling that everyone there felt genuinely passionate about the man and his work. Not that I have any aversion to attending parties largely based on their open bar policy but given the immense impact Jean Paul has had on the worlds of fashion and pop culture I felt this was a fitting and wholly deserved tribute. Londoners ranging from Alexandra Shulman, Jade Parfitt and Erin O’Connor to David Downton and Miles Aldridge had all flocked to the museum while countless other fashion and art world figures had jetted in from Paris, New York and Japan for the occasion.

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Me, Ada, Nik, Alexis & Josh

The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier - VIP Reception

Erin O’Connor

The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier - VIP Reception

Alexandra Shulman

The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier - VIP Reception

Nik Thakkar

Suffice to say, it was a truly excellent evening. Besides getting to hang out with some of my favourite people while wearing a dress so exquisite it made my head hurt (or maybe that was the champagne which was indeed a’ flowing), I met Jean Paul Gaultier (the loveliest man!) and went round the exhibition at least three separate times.

If you didn’t spot my review, catch up here, and get your gorgeous selves to the Barbican toute suite!

Love Ella. X

Images courtesy of Dave Bennett for Getty

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Parties 1 Comment

Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter everyone! Few things make me happier than swapping the fabulous but frenetic pace of London life for a few days of eating, drinking and generally chillaxing en famille in the countryside. I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful long weekend and apologise in advance for the barrage of Instagram shots of Spring flowers, chocolate and sheep that will be coming your way.

Love Ella. X

Ps) Not the most traditional Happy Easter card I know but let’s face it, Miss Moss is far chicer than any four legged, floppy eared bunny!

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LPA & Kate Spade New York: The Event

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Thank you so much to everyone who came along to my event with Kate Spade New York this week. I was a dizzying combination of over excited and nervous to be hosting a soirée for a brand I adore quite so much and you guys made it great.

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After a day spent running around town like a madwoman (what else is new!) I slipped into a fabulous Kate Spade NY ensemble and headed to the Westfield Centre. Amongst the polkadots, bow details and glittery delights inside I was the proverbial kid in a candy store. Had no one turned up, I could have had a perfectly fabulous evening playing dress up solo but luckily, people did. The champagne was flowing and the macaroons almost ridiculously delicious (metallic ones, genius!), perfect ingredients for indulgent enjoyment. Kate Spade’s Westfield boutique is their lesser known London branch but boy, does it have some excellent stuff on offer. Accessories are the name of the game there so that was what our event was all about.

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We were, of course, running a competition challenging guests to style themselves up in Kate Spade NY accessories for the chance to win an unbelievably adorable handbag. I rather wished I could have awarded it to myself to be honest but that would have been cheating and thoroughly unfair, especially given how many of you rose to the occasion and accessorised so beautifully. There was certainly no shortage of outfit enhancers to choose from in every shade under the rainbow and it was really interesting to see how people put them together differently.

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Some went down the more-is-more route, layering up statement jewellery and colour popping clutches, others kept things simple with slim bangles and sleek leather tote bags. If I could, I would have rewarded everyone with a bag (and kept one for myself, obvs) but there can only be one winner. And I’m delighted to announce that said winner is the lovely Naaj Rona (below) who went for a colour combination of red, white and blue (one of my personal faves) and boldly clashed it with her own rather fabulous pink jacket. Doubled up arm candy is big news this season and I loved how she paired the cross body Abbie with a super cute coin purse, a look I may well be replicating myself sometime soon.

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In between all the styling there was mingling, drinking and a whole lot of instagramming. All in all, it was a really lovely and thoroughly enjoyable evening not to mention, an absolute delight to meet lots of you. Congratulations Naaj Rona, your Bow Terrace Justine handbag is on its way to you!

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Projects 9 Comments
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