Fashion

Introducing: Malone Souliers

Malone Souliers 2

Serrrrrrrriously hot shoe brand alert! Actually make that haute, Malone Souliers is less “it”, more eternal. After all, when would a purveyor of fine footwear crafted using age old artisanal techniques and offering a made to measure service (#dreams) NOT be something every sartorially obsessed individual wants? And if you think all that bespokeness and tradition sounds stuffy you can think again my friends. They may be concocted in collaboration with italian experts who’ve been creating beautiful shoes since they had to do so by candlelight but Malone Soulier’s creations fuse tradition with modernity in a way that feels entirely new.

Malone Souliers 1

Take their current mules. One of the must have styles for SS14 yet there is a sleek, timelessness to these babies which simultaneously harks back to days gone by and nods to the future. I was slightly dubious about whether I’d be rocking mules – how on earth do you keep them on? And after cocktails? – but regardless of potential to fall off, Malone Souliers elegant incarnation of the shape is too damn good not to. The brains behind the brand is also an intriguing one. Creative Director, Mary Alice Malone grew up in the depths of rural Pennsylvania riding horses and even earned herself a spot on the US Junior Olympic Showjumping team. Yep, had she not decided to switch paths we would have seen her competing in Blighty just two summer’s ago. Crazy, huh? But of course she did, swapping ponies for paint and enrolling at Art school in Colorado followed by a Cordwainers degree at London College of Fashion. Then Mary Alice joined forces with globetrotting brand consultant Roy Luwolt and Malone Souliers was born. From the tobacco suede and python skin lace ups to black nappa and tulle pointed toes, these heels are seriously luxe and unashamedly feminine. I’ve fallen hard and my wallet will no doubt be hurtin’ as a result once they’re available to buy this June.

Malone Souliers 3

It can be difficult to walk the fine line between ladylike and matronly, or seductive and Kardashian for that matter, when it comes to shoes. But Malone Souliers manage it. Regardless of whether you give a toss about quality or craftsmanship, this alone should be enough reason to love the brand as much as I do.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Leave a comment

Kimye, American Vogue and Starbucks Schnappucinos

kimye american vogue starbucks

I promise this won’t turn into one of my essay length rambles posing as opinion posts but how could I not respond to La Wintour’s divisive choice of cover star, or rather stars, for the April issue of American Vogue? Responses have ranged from delight to outrage to sheer, unbridled, bloodcurdling fury. For me, yesterday was something of an emotional roller coaster. First up we had the unveiling of the aforementioned cover. Then came Starbucks’ announcement that they’re going to start serving booze. On both counts, I made a snap judgement which was then revised several times. The whole experience was pretty confusing. In the case of the latter I initially thought YES! I love Starbucks, I love vino, why didn’t this happen sooner? Then I realised how deeply disgusting the very idea was. Given the myriad of disgusting frappucino flavours already on offer, God only knows what more horrors can be concocted involving alcohol. Peppermint Schnappucino with whipped cream on top anyone? Just urgh.

But enough about Starbucks, let’s talk Vogue. When I saw the Kimye cover my first thought was WTF!? Is nothing sacred anymore? Then I actually engaged my brain which swiftly reminded me that, much as I adore them, fashion glossies are a far cry from purified spaces of boundary pushing fashion commentary. That’s not in any way to criticise. Between advertisers, consumer demographics and the added pressures of reader stealing digital media, it’s the nature of the beast. Many publications respond to these challenges intelligently and entertainingly but no matter how brilliant the writing or beautiful the imagery, fash mags do have their limitations and, of course, the necessity to turn a profit. From a profit turning perspective, Vogue’s Kimye cover is indeed brilliant. Love them or loathe them, you’re gonna buy the issue and thoroughly enjoy the experience of gushing over Kim’s golden skinned gorgeousness or picking every inch of the thing apart. Either way, a sale got made an a couple of hours of one person’s life that bit more enjoyable.

As I said, most of my Friday afternoon was spent feeling very torn about the whole thing. A seriously productive use of time, I’m sure you’ll agree. On the one hand it’s easy and tempting to see the Kimye cover as the epitome of everything wrong with American celebrity culture or, as Bryan Boy put it, #AWondrugs… Awkward moment on the FROW next season impending? But anyway, I digress. Headlines have ranged from lampooning Anna for giving in to Kanye’s demands to sarcastically mourning the death of Amerian Vogue, to basically hailing the forthcoming apocalypse as a result of a “lazy amateur porn star turned fame whore of all fame whores” gracing a cover that should have been reserved for, I dunno, Olivia Palermo. I take issue with this view on several levels. Not least, lazy? This is a girl who has hustled, networked, self branded and shamelessly self promoted her way from, yes, sex tape scandal to fashion’s inner circle via reality TV and one hell of a wardrobe makeover. I’m not saying there isn’t something slightly depressing about that but you can’t deny that Kim Kardashian has worked her infamous derriere off to achieve the impossible. I’m not a particular Kim fan myself, no matter how many sleek Celine ensembles she trots out, but you’ve got to give credit where credit’s due and it definitely is here.

Many of the responses have centred around the idea that American Vogue are desperately trying to get issues off the shelves. Of course, this pop-culture-and-social-media-tastic cover will do that but paradoxically, perhaps putting Kimye centre stage in fact one of the boldest, most boundary pushing moves we’ve seen from American Vogue in decades? Most covers elicit a mildly disinterested “doesn’t so and so look pretty wearing such and such” but this one’s basically made the Internet explode. And once upon a time wasn’t the point of magazines like Vogue to start a conversation, take risks, occasionally maybe even provoke? And there’s no denying, the pictures are utterly gorgeous. Ultimately it’s a clever move from all parties involved and maybe, rather than marking the demise of American Vogue, this cover marks the start of a new and more interesting era.

My main complaint with American Vogue’s April issue is not the cover stars who, however you feel about them, have started more of a conversation than (much as I absolutely heart her) yet another celebration of J-Law. Nope, it’s the hashtag that gets me, #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple may be a worryingly accurate description but 27 characters… Seriously? However, social media misunderstanding aside, there was only decision unveiled yesterday that I found categorically offensive and the culprit was Starbucks.

That’s about enough from me, what do YOU think?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 7 Comments

Alexander Lewis: ARTIST INTERVENTION

alexander lewis

I’ve written a fair few posts about the relationship between art and fashion. Now, my friends, it’s time for another. You may also remember a piece I wrote on Alexander Lewis a while ago. Or a more recent interview with the man himself. No doubt you’ve heard his name elsewhere too as, it seems, Alexander is the designer to watch right now. I’m not going to start being smug about “getting there first” because I was introduced to his work by people far more knowledgeable than myself but the second I clapped eyes on Lewis’ Pre Fall 2013 collection last year my jaw hit the floor. All glimmering jacquards and immaculate tailoring, those clothes were both excellent and reflected the intelligence and business acumen of their creator; a designer who cleverly decided to launch his brand with pre collections (for reasons you can read here) and has reaped the rewards. Lewis’ latest project looks set to cement his status as one of the smartest fellows in fashion today and send his already rising profile stratospheric. It’s also one that instantly appealed to me given my love of fashion x art collaborations. The aptly named ARTIST INTERVENTION series will see Alexander Lewis collaborating with female artists on three capsule collections, kicking things off with Marie Angeletti. Firstly, as I’m sure you’ve clocked, the clothes are really, really lovely. But beyond their aesthetic appeal, the collaborative creative process behind these garms is rather fascinating.

alexander lewis

alexander lewis

Marie has made a name for herself in the art world through her captivating use of photography. Subjecting her images to a number of processes, ranging from re-photography and scanning to abstraction, Angeletti creates works that are at once familiar yet impossible to decipher. These ambiguous concoctions are certainly compelling to look at, but who’d of thought they’d look fly on a cocktail frock? Alexander Lewis, that’s who. This was certainly not a case of simply plonking one of her previous works on a dress, however. While Marie delved back into her own archives for the collaboration, the images she chose were reimagined and then expertly integrated into garments woven as jacquard in three cases and printed in another. The duo enlisted the expert help of ninth generation English silk weavers, Stephen Walters and Sons who had never attempted or executed anything like this before but, as I’m sure you’ll agree, pulled it off beautifully.

alexander lewis

What I adore most about the collection, and the collaboration itself, is its authenticity. The clothes are utterly exquisite in their own right but, after a little research, you can really see how each party’s own area of expertise and personal passions have combined to create something extraordinary. There is also a seriously fab film to accompany the collection, directed and shot by the multi talented Marie Angeletti.

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I can’t wait to see what the next ARTIST INTERVENTION will bring and would very much like that silk bomber in my wardrobe, please!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

Are you an Anna or a Phoebe?

Anna Dello Russo

Image via Stockholm Streetstyle

In the cycle from brain to blog, this post has undergone several working titles. The first was “Why I’ll Always Dress Up For Fashion Week.” That got scrapped partially because my dear friend Naomi just published a really excellent piece stating the exact opposite so doing so would have felt a little pointed. Plus, who knows whether I’ll cave in a couple of seasons a take to show going in UGG boots and a cashmere onesie. Another was “Sneakers V Stilettos” but that seemed redundant. Everyone knows trainers are the show footwear du jour for cool kids and those with an aversion to blisters these days… I mean duh, we all have Instagram. I felt that the best way to broach this was to compare two opposite types of fashion week females that seem to have arisen in recent seasons, or as I like to call them, the Anna Dello Russos and the Phoebe Philos. It’s worth stating here that I know Phoebe ain’t no fashion week-er. But her style is one aspired to by so many show goers it just seems simplest to use her as my example here. My brain has also been reduced to the mushiest of mush by a week of 13 hour working days in the library and doesn’t have the capacity to be more imaginative right now.

I probably don’t need to explain the differences between these two sartorial specimens but just in case, here goes. Anna Dello Russos adore, nay, worship at the alter of flamboyant, ebullient fashion in all it’s embellished, multicoloured, look-at-me glory. They show their support to designers by wearing a full catwalk look on the FROW at their shows, or at least the absolute bloody closest they can get to doing so. Bare legs in January and multiple changes per day are de rigueur and if you suggested swapping their six inchers for Stan Smith’s the ADR woman would laugh in your face, or possibly faint, she does love a spot of drama.

By contrast, the Phoebe wouldn’t dream of forcing herself to wear footwear that could double as weaponry for umpteen days straight, regardless of the fact she has multiple minions and a driver. Admittedly most Phoebes-who-aren’t-actually-Phoebe probably have to run around like headless chickens and maybe even, shock horror, mingle with non fashion folk on public transport making comfy kicks all the more justifiable. Ms PP is stylish don’t get me wrong, effortlessly, achingly so. But hers is an understated, “I woke up like this” chicness involving vaguely weather appropriate clothing and denim. Does she pose for street style photographers? Good God no. Save for the occasional “ok I’ll indulge you this once” distracted stationary snap (most likely while on her phone), the Phoebe is always captured in motion while the Anna stops, poses, twirls and revels in showing of her finery to her adoring public.

anna dello russo

Image via Style.com

Ok, I got a little carried away with that “brief” description, but you get my point. Or if you didn’t and suspected I was enjoying a bit of a self indulgent ramble (which tbf I kind of was) then here goes. When fashion months arrive, different people choose to adopt different styles for the shows. For some, dressing up for the shows is as much a part of the experience as what they see on the catwalk. For others, their own attire serves as something to keep them chic yet crucially, comfortable while they survey the new collections. But at the end of the day, the vast majority of people at fashion week are there to do a job. Whether that is to feature what they see in a publication, decide whether to stock a designer’s work or support them by sharing their show with a vast social media audience, it’s work, albeit an amped up and (in my opinion) exhilarating and hugely enjoyable part of it. Some choose to do this work in sensible shoes and low key ensembles – which I admit, often look seriously cool – others embrace the opportunity to spend however many weeks getting their FASH on.

In recent seasons there has been a lot of talk about street style induced “peacocking” and whether the spectacle outside the tents distracts from the magic within. Much of this has been aimed at bloggers with IMG planning to enforce a clamp down over forthcoming New York Fashion Weeks. I discussed this last year in response to Suzy Menkes’ piece on the circus of fashion so I won’t regurgitate that argument (you can jog your memories here). But I stand by what I said then and while the Anna V Phoebe dichotomy is, on one level about personal style and pain thresholds, it is also indicative of a wider debate. Should fashion week be strictly business; conscientious journos, buyers and editors shuttling from show to show? Or does the decision of some people, be they a blogger making their debut or a seasoned pro running a global business, to get their inevitably impractical gladrags on add to the atmosphere of excitement, inspiration and self expression that fashion is fundamentally all about?

Personally, I think both are equally valid and indulging in the sheer joy of dressing up, regardless of the potential health risks involved, or admitting that you don’t actively dislike having your photo taken for Vogue.com doesn’t reduce one’s validity as a fashion week attendee. Provided, of course, that you still do what you’re there to do. If forcing yourself into mini dress and Manolos will stop you making Burberry on time then it would be downright ridiculous to do so. But if you want to rock a chiffon cocktail dress at 9am on a chilly Sunday morning and feel confident that coldness will only spur you on then why the hell not! A while back I was lucky enough to interview Paula Reed, a woman whose career, kindness and style I admire hugely. When discussing fashion week she told me that everyone had to ‘earn their seat’ at the shows by essentially providing something in return; an honest review, social media buzz, the potential to get their gear into a fabulous shop. Surely if you’ve earned your seat through hard graft, you’ve earned the right to dress up (or not) and maybe even stop for a street style shot in between shows. Plus, if no one peacocked it would put a lot of photographers out of business and a lot of writers out of article fodder.

So, only one question remains, which fashion week woman are YOU?

Love Ella x

Ps) this question is hypothetical and goes way beyond the small proportion of the population that are active show goers, I’m pretty confident that Anna’s and Phoebe’s exist in all fields… And I suspect you know which camp I fall into.

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

3 Ways To Wear It: The Fashion Sweatshirt

As discussed in a recent Look Du Jour, despite my aversion to things sportif I did give in to the allure of the fashion sweatshirt. What some, myself included especially, dismissed at first as a fad is now officially an essential component of any sartorially conscious person’s wardrobe. After loudly proclaiming that I’d never succumb to the sweatshirt, I found myself eating those words some time last Summer when I spied this Kenzo stunner in Browns Focus. I went in for a meeting and came out, some £200 poorer with what is essentially a glorified version of PE kit. But, I had a spring in my step and visions of how freaking cool I’d look rocking it whirring away in my brain so didn’t particular care that I had no idea what I’d actually wear my new toy with. My vast collection of preppy, pretty, unashamedly girly garms don’t lend themselves so well to streetwear inspired pieces… Or at least that’s what I thought, anyway.

kenzo fashion sweatshirt

Sadly this beauty is sold out but there are oodles of Kenzo new season pieces available on MATCHESFASHION.COM and Net-a-Porter or you could hit up Vestiaire and hunt the original down

In an attempt to get some bang for my buck and challenge my styling capabilities I decided to make said fashion sweatshirt the subject of this instalment of 3 Ways To Wear It.

Casual

fashion sweatshirt

kenzo

kenzo fashion sweatshirt

fashion sweatshirt

Worn with J Brand skinny jeans (available here), Gap slip on sneakers (similar here), 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli (similar here) & Lily and Lionel scarf (new season version here)

Ok, so this ensemble isn’t the most imaginative. It’s basically my go-to when I want to look halfway fashionable but have overslept, have a hangover or just can’t be bothered to give anything much thought. But hey, you can’t go wrong with a pair of classic J Brand 811’s (funnily enough, the subject of another 3 Ways post). I added Gap slip-on sneakers – Celine’s sell out version require way too much commitment for a ballet pump devotee like myself – and eye-popping pink accessories. Minimal effort for what I feel is a pretty decent outfit, result!

Preppy

fashion ella catliff

kenzo ella catliff

fashion sweatshirt

fashion sweatshirt

Worn with American Apparel denim skirt (available here), Russell & Bromley loafers (very similar here), Tezenies pop socks (basically identical here) & Kurt Geiger satchel (real deal available ON SALE here)

I thought that prepping up a fashion sweatshirt would be nigh on impossible but in retrospect, I think it works pretty well! Obviously no preppy look is complete without a crisp collar so I layered a trusty white Gap shirt underneath. Next step to prep, an A-line mini, namely an American Apparel denim number I’ve literally had forever. I added the final touches with a Kurt Geiger mini satchel and Russell & Bromley loafers. Then added pop socks because, well, why wouldn’t you?

After Dark

kenzo juicy couture guess

fashion sweatshirt

GUESS

Sophia Webster Ella Catliff

Worn with Juicy Couture waxed jeans (availble ON SALE here), Sophia Webster heels (similar here), GUESS handbag & Swarovski Crystallized Treasure Chest Necklace & Bracelet (available here and here)

Last but not least, fashion sweatshirt, after dark edition. Out of the three, I think this is the look I’m least confident about. As you may remember from this Kenzo sweatshirt’s previous appearance on the blog, last time I took it out for cocktails it was paired with a camo-leopard-hybrid print mini and Rag & Bone ankle boots. That totally worked, I (no doubt mistakenly) felt like the hippest person on the planet. This time I wanted to incorporate a killer heel and initially paired the two with a leather mini. That was a mistake. My top and bottom halves were clearly attending two very different parties. So instead I toned down my pins with a pair of Juicy Couture waxed jeans and upped the upper body glam factor by way of Cadenzza statement jewellery. I then decided to really go to town on all things pink and added a GUESS shoulder bag in the kind of fluoro hue you need sunglasses to look at.

And now let’s play favourites. Casual, preppy or after dark, which fashion sweatshirt styling do you like best? Or hate most? Tell me what you really think…

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment