Fashion

Introducing: Stills

The Stills a

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? I first went aged 18. This decision was prompted largely by the fact my Dad was dead set against it, something than instantly made my visiting the Dutch capital inevitable. As the lone female in a large group of boys the trip itself involved a whole lot of aimlessly wandering around the Red Light District, very disgusting hostels and fast food that came out of vending machines. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy the experience. Since that deeply unpleasant trip I’ve been back to Amsterdam, discovered the impossibly picturesque, gallery packed and generally gorgeous side of it and fallen hard. If you’re not a scrubby, clueless teenage tourist it’s a city of such immeasurable culture and coolness you’re left daydreaming of the canal boat lifestyle. In recent years Amsterdam has also shown itself to be a veritable hotbed of exciting fashion talent. Case in point, Stills.

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I feel bad that I’m only posting about Stills now. I was introduced to the brand months and months ago so you may well be very familiar with them by this point. But then again, you may not. Theirs is a subtle, unassuming elegance. Once that resides in their Amsterdam atelier, focusing on perfecting the cut of their cloth, the architectural brilliance of their stores and the captivating beauty of their imagery rather than dressing ‘slebs or splashing themselves all over social media. Now, I’m a big advocator of using all the technological tools available to promote one’s wares far and wide but there’s something about the cool, calm and collected way designers Korrie Vulkers and Martin Tramper go about their business that is utterly compelling. I also suspect that they know, once someone’s stumbled across the understated sensuality of Stills they won’t forget it anytime soon even if they have to hunt a little harder than usual to find it. It is in fact only now, some five months on from being introduced to the brand that I’ve finally ‘got’ what the name’s all about; stillness, which, in a world that couldn’t be moving any faster is a rare and delectable luxury. That’s not to say for one minute that their creations are boring. You know me, I’ve no time for head-to-toe neutrals. Admittedly Stills gives great neutral, in tactile worked fabrics, buttersoft leathers and sumptuous silks, but they also deliver a myriad of rich hues which leave me weak at the knees every time I look at them.

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Spring/Summer 2014 provides a crystal clear example of this fusion of minimalism and eye candy. Razor sharp cuts and stark monochrome shades meet painstakingly concocted, hand woven raffia jacquards, delicate prints and melt-in-your-mouth colours. Gossamer fine, draped and flowing shapes are juxtaposed with structured silhouettes echoing the striking modernism of their Dopel Strijkers designed boutiques. Though a myriad of contradictory qualities and a rigid adherence to their core brand values, Stills is a brand to watch for 2014 and beyond. I recommend snapping up a piece or three now and revelling in feeling thoroughly smug.

Stills is currently stocked in the UK at Harvey Nichols and Fenwicks, Bond Street. More stockist info here.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

Lena Dunham, Vogue & The Retouching Debate

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Let’s face it, Lena Dunham’s US Vogue cover was an uproar waiting to happen. If they didn’t retouch, the whole thing would have been out of sync with the rest of the magazine’s glossy, fantastical and 100% retouched images. Hell, some might even accuse Vogue of trying to portay Lena in an unflattering light. If they did retouch, which obviously they were always going to, outrage would ensue which of course it has. What I really don’t understand, is why anyone is remotely surprised and frankly, why it’s even newsworthy. Today it’s a pretty safe bet that every single image you see in Vogue, or any other fash mag for that matter, has undergone a spot of editing regardless of whether the subject is a “real woman” (God I hate that patronising phrase) or a supermodel. We all know this, it’s no secret. Being photoshopped is no reflection of the individual in question. Everyone’s seen enough of those shocking and mildly self righteous Upworthy features to know that not even the girl in the advert looks like the girl in the advert. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s healthy, but like the price on request gowns and more expensive than rent handbags, fashion magazine’s are about fantasy not reality. For me, far more distasteful was Jezebel’s $10,000 quest to get hold of the unretouched photos which seemed like a highly unoriginal piece of scandal mongering. As Kat Stoeffel wrote in her brilliant article for The Cut, what exactly did they intend to achieve? We’ve all seen Lena basically buck naked enough times to know what she looks like and she looks very much like that person, albeit with professional hair, make up and high fashion get up in the Vogue pictures. We all know that fashion magazines retouch images. While the retouching highlighted by the oh-so-predictable before and after shots on Jezebel may have confirmed it, the changes were actually pretty minimal. As for the digital placement Annie Leibowitz is so known for and pigeon on head palaver, I’m not really sure if or why anyone would care.

Ultimately I can’t help but feel it’s a positive thing that Vogue are championing talent, brains and unconventionality on their cover and perhaps our collective energies would be better spent pushing for more of that than lamenting the inevitable. Retouched or not, surely this is more interesting than yet another Alexa Chung/Cara Delevigne cover. But enough from me, what do YOU guys think?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 6 Comments

Mod Mods Month Of Colour

Mod Mods

I don’t need to tell you that January sucks. A lot. The Spring collections are in all the mags and nowadays, in many shops too but you’re either too cold/broke/miserable to even entertain the notion of wearing pastels or the very idea of shopping is intolerable due to the hideousness of the sales. Add “dry January” (who came up with giving up vino during the most depressing month of the year!?) into the mix and it’s hardly surprising so many of us can’t face wearing anything other than black and grey. But, my friends, the truth is nothing makes you feel less like curling up in a small ball until the sun comes out again (sometime around July in London, if we’re lucky) than BRIGHTS! Be those brights of a rich, Winter appropriate nature or colour popping pastels in Spring ready shades, forcing yourself into clothing that requires protective eye gear will blast away the January blues and make the old complexion look a bit less pallid too, you have my word on it. You’ve no doubt realised by now that I favour a more is more approach when it comes to Winter brights but it turns out that global style hub, Mod Mods share this view too!

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In an attempt to prove the power of hot house hues in cold climes they’ve launched their Month Of Colour campaign and enlisted me as a Colour Ambassador. This basically means that throughout the dreaded January I will be uploading images of myself wearing a whole lotta colour to my profile on the Mod Mods site in the hope that maybe, you lot will too. It’s super simple, just register and away you go. But of course, it’s always more fun to add an element of competition so at the end of the month the person with the chicest take on Winter brights will be selected by a panel of judges including your’s truly.

The winner of Mod Mod’s Month of Colour contest will win:

-An exclusive Google+ Hangout Tutorial on the upcoming ss14 beauty trends from a runway makeup artist

-A starring role in a special Month of Colour newsletter

-A special winner’s photo on our home page and street style galleries

Good luck…

Love Ella. X

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Oh To Be A Chanel Girl

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Oh to be a Chanel girl! To travel to far flung locations for the annual Métiers d’Art extravaganza. To be part of Karl’s couture clad coterie of international beauties. Hell, I’d settle for shared custody of a Chanel handbag and be pretty darned thrilled with my lot! Especially if it was one of the drop dead delectable designs Monsieur Lagerfeld delivered for SS14.

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A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited along to Chanel’s London HQ to ogle view a selection from the Spring collection. Getting the chance to pour over the new season pieces was, for want of a better word, awesome. It only further served to confirm what I already knew to be true; Chanel is an extraordinary brand and Karl Lagerfeld is an extraordinary man. As you all know and are probably thoroughly bored of hearing about, for the past two-and-a-bit years I’ve been studying Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins. Learning more than I ever thought possible about dress from the Renaissance through Tudors, Stuarts and Victorians was incredible. But what really had me in raptures was the 20th century stuff, especially in the case of Maisons like Chanel. Over a century may have passed since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel scandalised and then seduced with the androgynous elegance of her menswear inspired designs. Through a combination of creative vision, craftsmanship and fearless business practices (Coco certainly would not have needed to read “Lean In”) Chanel was born and today it continues to enthral new generations of women, while retaining the impeccable quality and effortless chicness that keeps dedicated customers coming back to brand decade after decade. Nailing this near impossible balancing act is a true testament to the sartorial genius that is Karl Lagerfeld who, in the politest possible way, also cropped up relatively early in 20th century fashion history making his flair for capturing the contemporary zeitgeist all the more impressive.

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chanel

chanel

As everyone knows, Chanel shows are always something of a spectacle. So what do you do when you’ve already done indoor ice bergs, wind farms, solar panels and the life aquatic? You turn your show space into an art gallery, well, duh. And then you fill it with your own creations. I’m not even going to begin wondering how in God’s one finds the time to design 75 art installations on top of running three major fashion brands so let’s just talk about the clothes instead. In the tradition of taking Chanel’s rich heritage and turning it on its head, this season saw the house’s iconic tweeds woven from ribbons of chiffon, organza, lace and plastic threads, frayed or even torn on some occasions.

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chanel

chanel

Stretch knit crêpe de Chine came lace printed with motifs in silicone, while elsewhere garments were adorned with intricate pearl embroideries and painstakingly detailed trims galore. And then there were the colours! Naturally Chanel’s signature monochrome palette was featured but elsewhere there was a riot of eye popping confections. Pastels, neon brights, denim, bleaching, you name it. The iconic jackets introduced by Mademoiselle Chanel herself came reimagined slim and sleeveless and sleek and belted as well as oversized and re-proportioned. Never have I seen a house so seamlessly combine its past and its future.

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chanel

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Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment

Introducing: Fleming London

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For a couple of seasons now, backpacks have been de rigeur among fashion folk. And I can totally understand why. Fash-back-packs can look pretty damn cool, especially when paired with Celine skate shoes, minimalist tailoring and other things I’d look ridiculous wearing. However, no doubt unsurprisingly they’ve never been my cup of tea. After all, why carry your life around in a practical way when you could practically dislocate your shoulder hanging it on the crook of your arm? I jest… Kind of. Anyway enough of that and on to the point of this post, the Brit brand making me reconsider my relationship with the stuff carrier style that remains determinedly in style, Fleming London.

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Softest, smoothest strokeable leather, bold block hues and pretty enough to make up for being so darned practical, I love ‘em. Aside from being exceedingly nice to look at, the story of this label’s development is thoroughly impressive. The concept for these luxe rucksacks was conceived in January 2013 and by December 6th, Fleming London was born. Launching an independent, UK manufactured accessory brand is a pretty risky move so I always wonder how one summons up the necessary cojones to give it a go. I quizzed Fleming London Founder, Sophie Fleming, who just so happens to hail from the same area of Sussex as your’s truly, on this very subject as she offered the following explanation…

“I designed this backpack out of a personal need that could not be met from the High Street or Designers at the time; firstly when I became an avid cyclist as a university student, and then when I began commuting to London for my job at Jaeger’s Head Office just off Regent Street. Whilst casual rucksacks were available, I yearned for something that was more formal and structured, with a sense of style and sophistication. Hopefully I have achieved this with Fleming London!”

As a newly converted backpack wearer, I can say with confidence that she has. Find out a whole lot more about Fleming London here.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment