Ella Catliff, Author at La Petite Anglaise - Page 3 of 240

5 Minutes With: Angela Bell

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As my extensive sweater collection will attest, I bloody love a good knit. Especially a knit that deviates from your classic monotone cashmere. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but personally I’ll take a psychedelic camo intarsia pattern or graphic lightning motif over an understated shade any day of the week. At the same time, quirky stylistic nuances are all well and good but when it comes to cashmere, you want to know that there’s a level of quality and integrity behind its creation that will stand the test of time and honour to this fine fabrics heritage, not to mention justify splurging on something plush. Queene and Belle fulfils all of the above. Produced by artisan craftsmen in the world famous town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders and masterminded by women with knitwear in their blood, Queene and Belle concocts contemporary cashmere that combines peerless quality and playful, must-have-it-right-now design. I caught up with Founder, Angela Bell to talk inspirations, aspirations and the art of knitwear…

LPA: love the idea that with three generations of in the knitwear industry before you, cashmere was in your blood. Were there any moments of teenage rebellion when you wanted to do something dramatically different or did you always feel passionate about what you do now?

AB: There was never a time when I wanted to do something dramatically different. Since I was very young I always knew that I wanted to go to Art College, and my passion for what I do now certainly developed during High School when I started to make my own clothes and avidly poured over the latest fashion and music magazines. I loved The Face magazine which really inspired me, and if anything I would have loved to have gone into graphic design but the pull towards fashion in the end was too great!

LPA: Queene and Belle only uses cashmere from Todd & Duncan, the oldest cashmere spinners in the world. Why is this so important to you and to the brand? What are the advantages and disadvantages sourcing your staple fabric solely from the company?

AB: Todd and Duncan produce a consistently good product and offer an excellent stock service, they are based around 70 miles away in Kinross so the cashmere doesn’t have to travel far to be knitted! I think this is great in a world where products are travelling thousands of miles before reaching their final destination. I don’t see a downside to buying my main yarn from one supplier as long as the quality and service is excellent.

LPA: You launched Queene and Belle with the aim to create a label that moved cashmere away from its associations with traditionalism and conservatism. What were the biggest challenges you came up against trying to reinvent the fabric’s reputation and how did you overcome them?

AB: When I started Queene and Belle in 2000 lots of new labels and designers were appearing in the market. There was an air of excitement and a willingness from buyers to set aside budget for somebody or something new. It was really the perfect time to do something different, and Queene and Belle was accepted quickly as being quirky with an optimistic artistic approach. Scottish cashmere was traditionally seen as classic sweaters or twinset and pearls and I didn’t shun that heritage, I decided to embrace it’s fundamental classic roots and give them an injection of newness by updating silhouettes and incorporating modern quirky graphics and colour in the form of intarsia.

LPA: I absolutely adore the quirky and imaginative motifs that feature on your knitwear. How do you come up with the ideas for them each season? Are there certain sources of inspiration you return to or is do you always look to something new?

AB: The intarsia motifs I incorporate into the collection generally change each season although I have certain favourites I always explore further, such as North American Indians, their craft and culture. I have done buddhas, skulls, stars in every format, peace signs are a big favourite, imagery which has a certain spirituality really appeals to me. Recently the collection has developed a more ‘luxury street edge’ with the use of classic Americana graphics such as bold varsity numbers and wording. Their graphics work well on the cashmere sweatshirts they give them a fresh sports luxe feel, great with denim.

LPA: Today Queene and Bell is an internationally renowned brand worn by the likes of Madonna and Michelle Pfeiffer and stocked all over the world. I can imagine it wasn’t all plain selling though, what difficulties did you come up against launching an independent business? And what advice would you give to someone trying to do so today?

AB: I think when starting a business you need to have good suppliers, people who believe in you and are willing to have patience and understanding – this is key. You also need to be very careful with money, make sure you keep enough in the business to pay suppliers on time as this solidifies the relationship, this in turn will help you get good on-time deliveries which in fashion is imperative. I have always kept good healthy relationships with my manufacturers, paying them on time and working through the problems. I never really had any major difficulties when launching Queene and Belle, only the stress that comes with money and getting paid for goods invoiced out. Some countries are worse than others and some customers are worse than others! and I quickly learned some hard costly lessons!

LPA: Talk me through a typical day in the Queene and Bell studio…

AB: A typical day at Queene and Belle starts with a short team meeting to go over what hand work needs to be done for production on that particular day. I will then drive to the mill in Hawick where my cashmere is produced, I normally go over any problems they may have, check samples and draw up new neck cuts for the sampling department. I am very hands on, this way I get exactly what I want and my pedantic approach can save a lot of time and money. The rest of my day will be spent replying to e-mails, updating social media, web and general business. When I am designing the new collection I am immersed for days surrounded with sample body shapes, fabric developments, graphics, books, magazines and non stop drawing. I never have any difficulty coming up with new ideas, the real difficulty is deciding what to go with and what to leave out!

LPA: Besides the gorgeous cashmere, Queene and Bell also incorporates cotton sundresses and other non knitwear pieces into its collections. When did you add these in and what prompted that decision? How greatly does the design and manufacturing process for these piece differ from that of the knitwear?

AB: I have been selling my cotton and silk dresses, shirts and blouses along side the cashmere for over ten years now. Initially when I started Queene and Belle I styled the collection with vintage cotton Victorian and Edwardian pieces I had collected over the years, and I used to hang them with the knitwear when selling the collection at exhibitions. All of my customers loved them, and Lucille Lewin from Whistles at that time suggested I make my own versions and gave me the name of an excellent manufacturer. I love vintage cotton and lace, the fine detailling and the light airy quality they have. I think the look works well with my cashmere, fine femininity combined with sport luxe is a look I love.

LPA: Which designers and brands do you love to wear? Aside from Queene and Belle of course…

AB: I love Golden Goose for sneakers, Japanese brands Zucca for trousers, Undercover for the t-shirts and accessories (love the dark humour) R-13 for denim, Toga Archive for dresses and I love my black on black Susannah Hunter oversize roses bag it goes everywhere with me.

LPA: What is your ultimate aim for the Queene and Belle brand?

AB: My ultimate aim for Queene and Belle is the same as my original aim….. to continue to make beautiful things for people who love special unique items and to always enjoy doing so!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Interviews Leave a comment

LPA x Matthew Williamson: Part II

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And now for part 2 of my “weekend in the country” with Matthew Williamson! I seriously with this weekend had actually happened as the storyboard in my head told it – i.e arriving in florals that by some magical chance perfectly matched my surroundings and spending the evening prowling the grounds in a floor length gown before poolside shenanigans wearing hand embellished tulle. The second instalment of my mental tale of fabulousness involves an afternoon picnicking in a billowing floral gown before donning a feather trimmed minidress of shimmering, chainmail sequins that saw me through a long night of dancing on the lawn to champagne and wellies at dawn, finally finishing up the fantasy weekend looking miraculously fresh faced and ready to return to city life in hot pink tweed, small pooch in tow. Maybe one day I’ll be able to engineer this actually happening and invite you all to join me. But for now, enjoy…

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Wearing Snowdrop Printed Silk Chiffon Gown, available at MatthewWilliamson.com

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Wearing Liquid Sequin Feather Trimmed Minidress. Available at MatthewWilliamson.com

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Wearing Wool & Tweed Dress and Wool Coat with Fur Collar. Available at MatthewWilliamson.com

Now for the moment of truth… What do YOU think of the shoot? When a designer as talented as Matthew Williamson entrusts you with several suitcases full of his beautiful creations to do with pretty much whatever you please, there really is nothing you want more than to do them justice and I really hope we managed that. Big thanks to Matthew and his team for inviting me to collaborate with them (and running the risk of my ruining dresses that could double as works of art), my wonderful photographer Holly for schlepping down to Sussex, the ‘rents and of course, Towser the Norfolk terrier for his starring role… And the Great British weather for not being totally crap and messing everything up.

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Styling, Makeup & Art Direction by Ella Catliff

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Projects 4 Comments

Weekend in the Country with Matthew Williamson

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a far better weekend than I did. Having thrown my neck into spasm on Friday (and then tried to ignore it all day) I found myself in A&E at the crack of dawn come Saturday morning and spending the next 24 hours in a state of spaced out agony on a high dosage of muscle relaxants and painkillers. Least fun thing ever. On an infinitely less grim note, I am extremely excited – and a little nervous – to share the results of my recent collaboration with Matthew Williamson! As you all know so very well, I utterly adore everything Matthew designs. The colours, the prints, the light-as-air fabrics, painstaking details and general joie de vivre exuded from his every garment… I cannot get enough and have never failed to have a magical night every time I get lucky enough to wear one. What now seems like aeons ago, I sat down for a catch up with the MW team and we got to brainstorming about how we might work together beyond my ransacking their showroom at any given opportunity. This was back in March, by which point the fashion world is basically O-V-E-R all things summery so our conversation landed on Pre Fall ’14. Inspired by the idea of the Bright Young Things having a tea (slash cocktail) party in the woods, the collection is a beautiful, dreamlike mirage of painterly blooms, transeasonal tweeds, opulent prints and luscious hues. Think old world, debauchery ready glamour with tailored touches to bring things bang up to date. No one in their right minds would actually wear clothes that exquisite anywhere near woodland but in the hope of creating a story together (and with extreme caution) that’s what we did. Last month Holly and I headed to my parents’ house in Sussex, armed with the best part of Matthew Williamson’s Pre Fall collection and our fingers crossed that we weren’t going to wreck any of it.

The idea behind our shoot was, as you may have guessed, a weekend in the country. Namely, the kind of country house weekend that demands multiple outfit changes, each more elegant than the last, and the revelry continuing until everyone passes out in their party dresses only to wake up and continue the festivities the next day. Without further ado, I can’t wait to hear what you think of the results!

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Wearing Rainbow Morris Embroidered T-Shirt with matching Skirt & Jacket. Available at MatthewWilliamson.com

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Wearing Blue Trellis Crepe Gown. Available at MatthewWilliamson.com

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Wearing Snowdrop Embroidery Evening Gown. Available at MatthewWilliamson.com

I won’t lie to you, getting this dress in the pool was a slightly stressful experience and we had to get my mum pretty heavily involved in order to achieve the whole “wet look hair” thing without just getting an actually sodden dress effect. I think it worked though, right? There’s also more of this to come as originally we intended to shoot three to four looks absolute maximum but we got a little carried away as the clothes were so divine and we were just having too much fun with the whole thing! The second instalment will be up tomorrow so make sure to check back again then.

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Styling, Makeup & Art Direction by Ella Catliff

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Projects 5 Comments

LCM SS15 Party Diaries


And so we’ve  talked about the shows, the clothes, the tricksier trends and the pieces we’ll be borrowing from the boys come Spring. Now, my friends, the time has come to catch up on the LCM SS15 parties! As I gloated about mentioned earlier this week, this season I skipped out on the opening night parties in favour of an early night so by the time evening rolled around on day 1, I was more than ready to sink a few glasses of champagne and get my groove on. Sure enough, there was no shortage of potential party spots that evening but the one everyone wanted to be at was the DKNY x Esquire Magazine official opening bash held deep in the vaults under Somerset House. The event kicked off with DKNY’s SS15 menswear presentation, a suitably stylish array of urban summer staples that gave me extreme cravings for the Big Apple (less than 2 months until I’m there!).

Esquire & DKNY MEN Official Opening Night Party, London Collections: Men

No sooner had the final handsome chap exited the stage than it was flooded by beautifully dressed guests clutching the first of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve cocktails they’d knock back that night and it was officially time to let our collective hair down. As you might recall from last season’s late night diaries, when Esquire Magazine throw a party they mean business. Add DKNY into the hosting mix and it’s not surprising that everyone who’s anyone and a million others besides where there, drunk and dancing their asses off.

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Jourdan Dunn

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Jessie J & Wretch 32

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Nicholas Grimshaw

Esquire & DKNY MEN Official Opening Night Party, London Collections: Men

Mollie KIni

The place was packed fit to burst and you could move without bumping into Jordan Dunn, Jessie J, Lindsay Lohan or one of the other many, many famous folk in attendance. Having snuck out for a cheeky vino or three between the presentation and the party, Laura and I were definitely ready to hit the floor. Several hours of non stop, sweaty and possibly shameful shaking it later I severely regretted my decision to go for a run that morning (never again during fashion week) and tottered off in the direction of a taxi to give my aching limbs a breather before doing it all over again the next day.

If you read my LCM SS15 Day 2 diary – if not, I don’t blame you, it was ridiculously long – then you’ll know that the following evening brought something of an outfit calamity. I was suited and booted (read: wearing a short lace dress, badass gladiator sandals and red lipstick) and on my way to the Moschino show with the plan to head straight on to the Diesel Store Launch Cocktails with Nik and Alexis afterwards when disaster struck. With one 6 inch heel in my handbag, I hopped and wobbled my way through the show and then made a highly stressful, ridiculously expensive taxi dash home to grab different footwear before another equally manic journey to the centre of town. Why the rush I hear you ask? Well, because the Diesel ‘do was not the only thing on our evening agenda.

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Left: Renzo Rosso & Sienna Miller. Right: Luke Evans & Me

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Me & Renzo

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Alistair Guy & Emmanuele D’Angelo

After a happy half hour in Diesel’s Conduit Suit boutique involving several glasses of stress-forgetting champagne and the honour of meeting the brand’s unbelievably charming founder, Renzo Rosso, it was time to hit party number two. Ordinarily, if a soirée at a nightclub starts at 9pm you probably wouldn’t think about getting there until a good hour or two later. But this was no ordinary fash bash, this was Moschino and i-D Magazine’s much anticipated “Out of this World” rager. Little else had been talked about all day and we had more than an inkling it was going to be mindblowingly busy. We weren’t wrong. By the time Nik, Alexis and I arrived at Café de Paris – I hadn’t been since sneaking in as a teenager, good times – the queue was already jostling half way around Leicester Square.

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Nik & Alexis en route to the Moschino party


Channelling our inner tourists on Leicester Square

After skipping said queue we headed inside where the music was blaring, the free bar was being pillaged and the scent of imminent bad behaviour was tangible. Within what felt like about thirty second the venue went from nicely full to sardine levels of packed and to say it was “fun” would be a ridiculous understatement. This wasn’t your usual canapés and polite conversation kinda thing. This was more like the rowdiest club night you’ve ever been to but with, at risk of sounding like a total dick, infinitely better looking, better dressed people. We’re talking Li-Lo (allegedly) slamming tequila shots, Paloma Faith shimmying in sequins, lethally strong slush puppy style ice blended cocktails and ordinarily-respectable industry folk hitting the dancefloor like college students on Spring break in Cabo. Basically, it was pretty awesome.

Moschino Party - London Collections: Men SS15

Man of the hour, Jeremy Scott…

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Me x 2 wearing a Three Floor dress, Hobbs clutch, Karen Millen boots & MAC Candy Yum Yum lipstick

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Left: Bip Ling. Right: Susie Lau

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Left: Daisy Lowe & Nick Grimshaw. Right: Amber Atherton

Moschino 2

Left: Pixir Lott & Paloma Faith. Right: Jack Guinness

I could have stayed and danced all night but I had one more port of call, Diesel’s Private Sinner & After Party at Chiltern Street Firehouse AKA the only place anyone seems to be hosting anything in London right now. I’d be lying if I said that the likelihood of their insanely incredible soft shell crab burgers being served didn’t factor into my decision but after the madness of Moschino, I rather fancied a more intimate affair to finish things off with. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The aforementioned crab burgers were on tap, as was some very fine wine, and I soon discovered that Luke Evans, Pixie Lott, Oliver Cheshire and a few others had bowed out of Café de Paris early for what turned out to be a civilised (well, ish), indulgent and end to a fabulous evening.


Wining down at Chiltern Street Firehouse…

Thankfully the last day of LCM SS15 was a late starter for me as, if I’m honest, I was starting to flag just a smidge by this point. But the weather was glorious, the shows stellar and by the time 6pm rolled around I found I was actually quite keen to head out on the town. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Obviously there was no shortage of options, there never are, but first and foremost it was time for something mildly more educational over in Hoxton Square. This season Stateside Menswear magazine, Details had teamed up with Mr Porter to host their inaugural “tech and tastemakers summit”. For anyone with an interest in online… Scrap that, anyone with any professional involvement in the fashion industry today, this was a major must attend. With speakers ranging from Lou Dalton and Christopher Raeburn to Google’s Matt Bush, Lyst CEO Chris Morton and Details’ Style Director, the lovely Eugene Tong, it was utterly fascinating. I wish I could attend all over again if I’m honest having had about seven hours more sleep and armed with a dictophone or at least, an iPhone with more than 3% battery.

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Left: Me. Right: Eugene Tong & Lou Dalton

DETAILS & MR PORTER.COM PresentTXT: Tech & Tastemakers Summit, London

Tech & Tastemakers summit in session…

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Chloe Green & Harold Tillman at the Dunhill x GQ Style party

Mind whirring with all my newly acquired tech knowledge, I joined Andrew and Clym to head back to central London for the official LCM SS15 closing party hosted by GQ Magazine and Alfred Dunhill.Held inside the walled garden and exquisite townhouse that is Dunhill’s Mayfair boutique, this turned out to be one of the loveliest events I’ve attended in a while. Basically everyone I’d have hoped to be there was, as well the most stylish slebs doing the London rounds that week. The champagne was flowing, the outdoor area accommodated smoking-while-drinking-while-mingling (holy grail of party facilities) and all in all it was the perfect finale to three fantastic, fun and totally knackering days (and nights) of London Collections Men.

So that’s LCM SS15 over and out! Roll on the women’s shows in September…

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Parties Leave a comment

LCM SS15: day 3


I wore… Tory Burch jacket (available on SALE here) and shorts (available on SALE here) and top, Kate Spade NY sunglasses (available here), Sophia Webster shoes (similar here) & Roger Vivier bag (available here)

Image c/o The Urban Spotter

LCM SS15 night two was officially “the big one” with Diesel and Moschino both hosting pretty major festivities. Subsequently day three was not the most sprightly of starts but I had projects to wrangle and a distressing amount of wilfully ignored emails to tackle so when my alarm went off like a bomb at 7am hitting snooze was sadly not an option. Several hours of frantic typing later I was suited and booted in one of my current favourite outfits. As you can see, it involved a co-ord and copious amounts of pink and shiny things, enough to put a spring in even the weariest of steps!

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Joseph SS15

My first port of call was itsu, obviously, then it was on to Brook Street for the Joseph presentation. Having missed their return to the womenswear schedule I was excited to see what treats the iconic brand had in store for the fellas and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was, quite simply, some of the chicest menswear I’ve ever laid eyes on. “Simply” being the key word here as simplicity, along with quality and functionality, lies at the core of Joseph’s brand DNA. Drawing inspiration from the book “Brooklyn Gangs” by photographer Bruce Davidson, Joseph delivered an array of staples that felt both youthful and grown up all at once. Glove leather tees, light summer knits, crisp cotton tailoring in boxy silhouettes, picnic tablecloth checks and striped waffle knit polos in a palette of earthy neutrals, navy, khaki, olive and monochrome with touches of pink, salmon and peach. Stand out looks had to be those involving the signature print of the collection, an urban floral motif developed from elements of Davidson’s images. I’ve got my eye on the bomber jacket in particular.

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Joseph SS15

Feeling reinvigorated by the Joseph presentation and peaceful ambiance of the showroom I headed out into the glorious sunshine for a leisurely totter through soho to The Hospital Club. On the day like that, London really does feel like the best place on the planet, but anyway I digress. After an hour or so’s satisfactory loitering in the press lounge under the guise of doing work it was time to head to Victoria House for the Katie Eary show. Katie has had a brilliant few seasons garnering stockists, press and a cult following not to mention her much coveted collection for River Island; when a high street giant wants to capitalize on your cool that’s a sure a sign as any for a designer that you’ve “arrived”. The collection was entitled “Dallas Rodeo”, which I certainly liked the sound of and as the Wild Wild West sound track stuck up I could almost imagine saloon doors swinging open in a desert breeze.

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Katie Eary SS15

Choosing such a distinct theme runs the risk of veering into tired, overly retro territory but Katie Eary’s psychedelic cowboys were distinctly 2015. Dizzying graphic prints adorned neon hued silk shirts, paired with fringed suede biker jackets, scarves and moccasin ankle boots. Obviously you can’t have cowboys without denim but Eary elevated the trusty basic by way of treatments and heavy leather patching, resulting in trompe l’oeil confections ready to strut their stuff from Texas to Rodeo Drive. Complete with bullhead belt buckles, bird skull rings and lashings of glitter it was a bold, brash and unashamedly fun collection, this season Katie Eary certainly came to play.

I left the show daydreaming of glitter and desert shoot outs (more the former) and made the very short totter through Bloomsbury to the most gorgeous church where Baartmans and Siegal were hosting their presentation. Run by Dutch/English duo, Wouter Baartmans and Amber Siegel (who, FYI, own’s world’s most adorable Daschund… called Noodle!), this label is a serious one to watch. Actually, more of a one you should already have been watching. In the short few seasons since the label launched for SS11, through Harrods no less, Baartmans and Siegal’s covetable brand of accessible, wearable luxury has garnered Baartmans and Siegal rave reviews, prestigious stockists and it’s founder’s named on Esquire’s “7 Brilliant Brits List”. Combining luxe fabrics and imaginative detailing to create unique yet wearable collections has become the company’s calling card and this season they delivered just that. Think utility tailoring, uncontrived layering, subtly incorporated sportswear influences and detailing that fell somewhere between playful and useful in a palette of oil slick blacks, khakis, olive, navy and slate grey. Waterproof outerwear sat alongside crispest cotton and mesh pieces came luxed up with suede patches. All in all, I couldn’t fault it. Slick delivery, magnificent venue and stellar collection. There are big things coming for Baartmans and Siegal in the not-so-distant future I feel.

Baartmans and Siegal LCM SS15

Baartmans and Siegal SS15

There was only was place I was going next and that place was Starbucks. The heat of the day was rather exacerbating my *ahem* headache in a way that nothing but a venti skinny iced latte could hope to cure. And cure it did. Within the blink of an eye I had answered emails, written a review or two (!) and was ready to hit up the final show on my LCM SS15 calendar, A.Sauvage. This was, hands down, one of the best shows I saw throughout. I did a little social media stuff for A.Sauvage a while back and, after just about getting over my lust for their buffersoft suede bombers, this first thing I thought was this guy and this brand are seriously, seriously smart. On an already overcrowded schedule – testament to the power and popularity of LCM - A.Sauvage’s collection stood out as the very epitome of sleek, contemporary cool for the urban gent who wants to look on trend without veering into try hard territory. Although I say “on trend” these pieces have a timelessness, albeit a very modern one, to them that elevates them straight to “investment” status. The show opened with one of the aforementioned bomber jackets articulated into luscious deep khaki leather. What followed was a tightly edited collection that combined highlighter bright colour pop tailoring with more classic takes modernised with leather trimmed lapels and paired with t-shirts printed with African masks and African dictators and the most mesmerising jungle print. Oh that print. Adorning jersey trimmed tops, cotton shirts, bombers and one particularly incredible suit, it came in forest green, grey and vivid neon blue. I want to be wearing it myself come SS15.

A.Sauvage LCM SS15

A.Sauvage SS15 (Images via Style.com)

The show drew to a close with Adrien taking a bow – I saw taking a bow, I mean doing a spinning, twirling run onto the catwalk that could have gone SO wrong but of course didn’t – wearing his masterful leather articulation of the classic crombie coat. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my LCM. Or at least to the shows, there were parties a’ plenty to follow.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week Leave a comment