Monthly Must Haves: January 2014

january

1) Roksanda Ilincic Lisson Peplum Top, 455, click here to buy
2) MaxMara Nave Trousers, 225, click here to buy
3) Sophia Webster Nicole Sandals, 375, click here to buy
4) Johnny Loves Rosie Two Piece Drop Earring, 16, click here to buy
5) Prism Capri Sunglasses, 265, click here to buy
6) Chloe Convertible Leather Trench Coat, 5735, click here to buy
7) Proenza Schouler PS11 Mini Leather Shoulder Bag, 1160, click here to buy
8) REDValentino Monochrome Glittered Loafers, 315, click here to buy
9) Topshop Check Boucle Pelmet Skirt, 40, click here to buy
10) Topshop Betty Boucle Scallop Jacket, 68, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping Leave a comment

5 Minutes With: Raquel Allegra

raquel allegra

I’ve recently realised that I usually start my posts with the same phrases. One of which is “remember my post aaaages ago on x” and I’m afraid to say that tried, tested and done to death opening line applies today. But you’ll have to forgive me. One of the most wonderful things about blogging has been writing a feature on a particular person, brand or designer I find inspiring and later getting the chance to actually work with them. When the inimitable creations of LA based designer, Raquel Allegra launched on Matches and I thought both her work, and the backstory behind it were so fascinating I just had to share them with you. Almost exactly a year later, I’ve had the chance to interview Raquel so without further ado, here’s what she had to say about her fashion journey so far and the unconventional approach to design that have made her label an international hit…

LPA: I love the story of how you made your first pieces from recycled prison shirts which led you to develop the unique fabric construction techniques for which you become renowned. Do you feel those initial experiments still inform your design process today?

RA: I began all of this curious business when I first moved to Los Angeles from Berkeley about 11 years ago. At that time I was collecting soft vintage tees from the Goodwill thrift store and others like it, and just experimenting to have fun. So much has happened between then and now… it really blows my mind. Honestly, one of my most motivating factors was that I was flat broke! I used vintage tees because they were soft, cheap, and I could ‘destroy’ them without feeling too wasteful. I still gravitate towards soft, affordable, casual fabrics and through the hand deconstruction process, elevate the feeling and value of each piece.

LPA: It sounds like your brand had an incredibly organic start, no ten year plan just timing and talent. Is this really the case or am I being incredibly naïve? Do you think you would approach it differently if you were setting up your label now?

RA: You couldn’t be more right! I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming… BUT, had I known what I was getting myself into I’m sure I would have tucked my tail and ran for the hills! Thank goodness I was so green and naive. I have never worked so hard in my LIFE. I tried a semester of sewing, draping, and pattern drafting in college and absolutely hated it. I’m pretty sure I dropped out of drafting after the first week and I remember my mom sewing my final project for my sewing class. The traditional school approach was NOT for me. All this to say I really made my way into this business through the back door. The main ingredients for me were simply playing, having a good time, and going with the flow.

LPA: Your one of a surprisingly large group of designers who had no formal training yet went on to have hugely successful careers in the industry. Do you feel your background means you approach design in a different way?

RA: I can’t really compare how I approach design to others because I don’t know any other way. For me it’s constant exploration, testing ideas, and problem solving. I visualize what I want to see, and I work with my team to manifest it. There are pieces that never make it into the line because they don’t feel ready yet. Others branch off into stronger ideas. I’ve always been open to learning new ways to doing things though, maybe not formally, but through the support of others.

LPA: According to your bio, 2009 “marked a maturation for the Raquel Allegra brand.” Tell me a little about this…

RA: This fashion adventure of mine started while I was working retail and deconstructing old t-shirts on the side purely to express my own personal style, and my clients at Barneys New York started asking to buy what I was wearing. One thing led to another… my little hobby turned into a little business, and through friends I met my business partner in 2009. It was then that the brand matured from selling one-off pieces to clients and a handful of local shops, to developing our signature jersey fabric, and selling to some of the most beautiful stores across the country and around the world.

LPA: How do you begin your design process each season? Are there certain rituals you always undertake or places you look for inspiration?

RA: I almost always begin with fabrics… the soft hand-feel is paramount. Some of what I create each season spills over from the previous season and ideas that need more time to develop are then the foundation for a new season… what I like about this is that there is a natural flow from one season to the next, an organic evolution. I think that our customers feel that continuity too. There are few radical departures for me.

LPA: Talk me through a typical day in the Raquel Allegra studio…

My typical days are scheduled now – months in advance – with design meetings, production fittings, business meetings, and so forth. On an untypical day, where my schedule has opened up, I might order in from Urth Café with my team, talk about the things we’re into at the moment over lunch, catch up personally, indulge in browsing art prints and antique furniture on 1stdibs.com, maybe sit at the sewing machine which I keep in my studio to work out bubbling ideas… put some red lipstick on and play dress up…

LPA: The phrase “style icon” is one we hear a lot these days. Who, if anyone, do you feel truly deserves to be called “iconic”?

Besides the obvious list who are so influential that I can refer to them by one name; Marilyn, Audrey, Bowie, Madonna… there are some that are personal style icons… women I have in mind when I’m designing; Patti Smith, Kate Moss, Jane Birkin, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton. Style for style’s sake is boring to me. Style paired with personal integrity is interesting and can be incredibly inspiring.

LPA: Your brand has developed pretty much alongside the rise and digital media and the past few years have seen its adoption by virtually all luxury fashion companies. How has this affected your work and the way you run your business?

RA: I love sharing the way I see the world and what’s important to me so I’m a big fan of Instagram. Seeing all the different people tagging my brand is exciting to watch. As for everything else out there, it’s fun to use but I try not to let it get in the way of what I do with the brand or the company.

LPA: What is your ultimate aim for the Raquel Allegra brand?

RA: It’s all still very personal to me and mimics what I like to wear, what I find comfort in, and what feels sexy to me. The collections have always evolved and grown in parallel with my own discoveries about myself, and I don’t see that ever changing. It’s always felt important for me to give back, so as the business grows I plan to work more to see that transpire.

LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping or planning to launch their own fashion label?

Explore new technology more than we do now. Recycle more, waste less. And ‘be the change’ you want to see in the world.

Inspiring stuff right! Check out these incredible looks from the Raquel Allegra Resort 2014 collection…

Raquel Allegra

Raquel Allegra

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Interviews 1 Comment

Lacoste in Paris

As you may have gathered from my no doubt infuriating Instagram feed, last week I managed to fit two trips to Paris into the space of four days. Admittedly the first trip wasn’t exactly full on fabulousness, research days spent in archives rarely are, but the second which came courtesy of Lacoste most definitely was. Before we go any further, let me take you back a few years to the start of my relationship with the quintessential French sportswear brand. Picture the scene, your’s truly aged 11 or 12 finally, after months of whinging, moaning and sulking manages to persuade her long suffering parents to buy her the Lacoste crocodile logo polo shirt she so covets. Baby blue in colour, immaculate in cut, she wears it with everything (particularly denim mini skirts, footless tights and over straightened hair… oh the shame) until eventually it becomes a health risk to do so anymore. Back then I had no idea about the brand’s legacy, or how to dress for that matter. Fast forward a decade and I like to think I have slightly more of a clue about the two, at least I hope so.

lacoste

You know how much I love me a label with a legacy and, mes amies, Lacoste is just that. Founded by René Lacoste, French tennis star nicknamed “the crocodile”, back in 1933 the company’s ingenious mesh material polo shirts soon transcended the heat of the American courts they were originally designed to combat and became THE preppy staple of the late 20th century. No WASP’s wardrobe was complete without several. But of course, a polo shirt alone does not a global mega brand make and through diversification into everything from bed sheets to beachwear Lacoste expanded to become just that. Today though, the company is about far more than the bottom line. Under the Creative Direction of Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Lacoste has begun to be hailed as a fashion force to be reckoned with and having attended their breathtakingly chic shows during New York Fashion Week several seasons in a row, I can attest to that. The catwalk collections garner critical acclaim while their classic sportif staples continue to fly off shelves all over the globe, an impressive feat no doubt about that. So when Lacoste invited me to attend the unveiling of their new campaign, “Life Is A Beautiful Sport,” in the French fashion capital I didn’t need to think twice before saying yes. The idea of witnessing the next step in a sartorial journey spanning almost a century was too tempting to resist and come on, what sane individual turns down a whirlwind Paris trip!?

lacoste

lacoste paris

lacoste

On Thursday night I could barely sleep for sheer anticipation of the events to come. Well, a combination of excitement and mild stress because I would be going straight from a crack of dawn gym/wash/work start to and very exciting photo shoot (ooooh you just watch this space!) to the Eurostar, hoping to catch up on emails, blog posts and uni reading somewhere along the way. For once, all went without a hitch and I even found time to pick up an itsu box and gross my fellow passengers out by gorging on sushi half the way to Paris. Even arriving after darkness has fallen and temperatures have plummeted, the city is magnifique and I spent my taxi journey gazing out onto the exquisite streets feeling a mixture of unattractive smugness and sheer unbridled awe. As for the hotel itself, what can I say, it was awesome. Located in the super hip area of République and Oberkampf (think Shoreditch but infinitely better) Hôtel Fabric is a rare combination of achingly cool, perfectly decorated and deliciously welcoming. Think shabby chic, exposed piped loft meets pop cultural homage to fun meets interior designer’s wet dream; it’s both wonderful and strangely homely. Sadly I didn’t have much time to kick back in my gorgeous room or loll on my super chic, art deco fab pink and stripy bed. After a swift but delicious room service-while-getting-ready session followed by a drink in the bar with fellow guest Menswear Style’s Craig Landale it was time to party! And Lacoste’s campaign launch celebration was one HELL of a party.

Lacoste

Lacoste

Lacoste

lacoste paris

lacoste

Held at La Générale, a vast warehouse esque space on L’Avenue Parmentier, the second our car pulled up I knew we were in for a good night. The entire venue had been transformed into a brightly lit and beautiful, high ceilinged emporium of fashionable fun. Set over two floors there were live installations, ping pong tables, multiple bars and live music. Despite being a mere half hour or so fashionable late the place was packed, no meat feat considering its size. Given the whirlwind nature of the trip, I didn’t have much of an idea which other bloggers Lacoste was shipping out for the event. I was delighted to be reunited with Betty Autier and Mathieu Lebreton who I hadn’t really seen since the Gucci trip and both of whose blogs I stalk endlessly. Other Lacoste bloggers included Fashion Toast’s Rumi Neeley (another one firmly bookmarked) so all in all, I was in pretty major company.

Lacoste

Lacoste

Lacoste

lacoste

lacoste

I read an article in February Vogue musing on whether there’s much point to fashion month shipping (or rather flying/Eurostar-ing) basically the exact same group of people around the world for half the year. Personally this is one of the things I adore about it so much. Whatever stylish city you’re fashion weeking in there are guaranteed to be people you know, like and want to party with. This was most definitely the case at Lacoste’s campaign launch bash and my over excitement at being reunited with Michael Shane bordered on hazardous to those around me. By the time this excitement subsided (well, ish) there was something else to get pumped about, namely the grand unveiling of Lacoste’s “Life Is A Beautiful Sport” campaign a breathtaking film directed by Seb Edwards and starring rising French actor Paul Hamy.

lacoste

lacoste

The film, and accompanying campaign set in a cityscape skyline, beautifully merged Lacoste’s sporting heritage with the clean lines and pared back everyday elegance associated with the brand today. The overarching message; life is a beautiful sport, whether you live it on the sidewalk or the tennis court. The full campaign video will premiere on February 7th and trust me, you’ll want to put that date in your diary.

A huge thank you to Lacoste and Starworks for a truly wonderful not-even-24-hours in Paris!

Love Ella x

Event & Campaign images courtesy of Stephane Cardinal and SAY WHO Jean Picon

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Parties 4 Comments

Look Du Jour: Be Bright

be bright

ella la petite

bright

Ella Catliff bright

Ella Catliff La Petite Anglaise

be bright La Petite Anglaise

Anne Bowes Jewellery

Ella Catliff mulberry

bright

Ella Catliff La Petite Anglaise

What: Bright pink jumper from Boutique by Jaeger, Hudson jeans (c/o), Sandro coat, Mulberry bag, Rag & Bone boots (c/0) & Anne Bowes Jewellery Necklace.

Where: Paris

There’s something about Paris, the land of black on black and low key nonchalance, that always entices me to don my brightest brights. Perhaps it’s my inherently contradictory nature (damnnnnn was I a difficult child!) or maybe it’s the fact I know full well I’ll never be able to nail the effortless loucheness so many Parisiennes seem to exude and therefore shouldn’t even attempt. The fact I’m currently working with Mod Mods as a Colour Ambassador no doubt doesn’t help. Whatever the reason, whenever I’m in the French fashion capital I stick out like a sore-to-the-point-of-fluorescence thumb. Last week I made not one, but TWO trips over there in the space of four days. The first was for research purposes AKA umpteen hours in an archive looking at old things (interesting but not necessarily exciting) followed by dinner and drinks which was rather less informative but infinitely more fun. My second Parisian jaunt came courtesy of Lacoste who whisked me away from my laptop and off for 24 hours of fashion week fun. A whole lot more on that coming your way soon! But for now, tell me, how do you feel about this ensemble?

Love Ella. X

Images by Frances Davidson

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Look Du Jour Leave a comment

LCM AW14 Party Round Up

So you’ve heard about the shows I attended and large amounts of mingling that took place in between, now let’s talk about what went down when the lights went out. Well, not “out” exactly but it sounded snappy (right?) and you know what I mean. This may have only been London Collections Men’s fourth season but already it’s become synonymous with really awesome parties. AW14 kicked off with a very refined affair hosted by none other than GQ Magazine and Dolce & Gabbana with Kylie Minogue (!!!) playing guest of honour. As a child of the nineties and shameless pop music lover I completely and utterly adore Kylie. Add Italy’s most iconic design duo, a store that resembles a palazzo and some seriously fine wine into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for one spectacular evening. In honour of Miss Minogue and the general fabulousness I suspected would ensue, I donned the REDValentino number I’d been saving for a special occasion and my new Sophia Webster heart detailed shoes. Given that I rather resembled a human cupcake, I hoped others would embrace the glamour of La Dolce Vita and get their gladrags on. Luck was on my side and for once I hadn’t grossly misjudged the dress code; there were more slick Dolce suits than you could shake a stick at and Kylie looked exquisite in polka dots.

Dolce & Gabbana London Collections: Men Event

David Gandy, Kylie Minogue & Charlie Siem at the GQ Magazine x Dolce & Gabbanna party

Dolce & Gabbana London Collections: Men Event

Me & Thom Evans at the GQ Magazine x Dolce & Gabbana Party

Dolce & Gabbana London Collections: Men Event

It was a serene and splendid evening spent catching up with friends and even enjoying a violin performance by Charlie Siem (how civilized!). Later wiping out in my Sophia Websters on the slippery floor of Hammersmith tube station while, to my shame, clutching a bag of MacDonalds French fries was rather less dignified; bloody English weather.

As you might remember, London Collections Men day 1 was a cracker kicking off with Topman making it rain and ending with my dear friends Ada Zanditon and Nik Thakkar’s first catwalk show. Aside from the excellent clothes, one of the great things about the Ada + Nik show was that as soon as the models took their final bow, Sebastian Bartz hit the decks and the runway turned into the after party.

LCM Ada + Nik

Ada Zanditon & Nik Thakkar

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Alistair Guy, Me & Oz Thakkar on the FROW at Ada + Nik

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Sebastian Bartz on the decks at the Ada + Nik party

LCM Jimmy Q

Me & model Jimmy Q at the Ada + Nik party

After congratulating the designers on one hell of a performance I spotted my usual fashion week partners in crime, Serena and Millie. Having not seen either of them since early December hugging, squealing and general over excitement ensued. By the time we’d calmed down and guzzled a couple of Snow Queen vodka cocktails it was time to hit party number two.

Next up, was a cocktail ‘do held by my beloved Mulberry. Such is my love for this brand that they could frankly invite me to the opening of an envelope in Skegness and I’d be there. This, however, was a chic soiree on Bond Street packed with some of my favourite fashion faces alongside the likes of Arizona Muse, Suzy Menkes, Caroline Rush and Natalie Massenet. We got stuck into G&T’s and deliciously indulgent treats from Mark Hix “Fish n’ Hix” van parked outside (step up from the previous evening’s fries, no?).

LCM AW14

Gin O’Clock!

LCM AW14

Arizona Muse et Moi at the Mulberry party

LCM

Suzy Menkes

LCM

Fish Dog anyone?

LCM Mulberry

Naomi, Millie & Me at the Mulberry Party

LCM

Natalie Massenet at the Mulberry party

After a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so ogling the bags and catching up with Naomi (hadn’t seen her in all of, um, two hours), Tanya Burr and stateside pal, Eugene Tong, it was time to hit the road. Party number three was calling.

Each season, there are always a couple of parties that everyone is going to and even the most usually nonchalant are excited about. The Esquire Magazine bash at Rosewood’s new London hotel was definitely that, and then some. With DJ sets from Charlie XCX and Boy George (!!) plus limitless Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve cocktails I suspected things were about to get raucous and I was not wrong. Quite literally everyone was in attendance. From Tinie Tempah, David Dandy and Dermot O’Leary to all my regular fash pals.

LCM Esquire

Bar fully stocked with Johnnie Walker

LCM Esquire Magazine

Wearing Coach & Whistles at the Esquire Magazine party

LCM AW14

David Gandy & Zara Martin at the Esquire party

LCM AW14

Lilah Parsons & Wretch 32

We danced, we drank and I forced everyone back onto the dancefloor against their’ will before the night was done. Pain may have been writ large all over our faces at the J.W. Anderson show the next morning but boy, it was worth it.

For a day with just four shows, day number 2 seemed incredibly long but by the time darkness fell I magically felt sprightly again, weird how that happens isn’t it? And it was lucky I did because my first evening engagement was another homage to the creative talent of a dear friend, the private view of Alistair Guy’s latest photography exhibition, White Shirts. Alistair is one hell of a portrait photographer and the images of David Gandy, Jack Fox, Mr Phillip Start and a coterie of other notable gentleman were the perfect combination of soft and striking. Simplicity was key, both in the works and the exhibition space itself located in Soho Members spot, the Century Club. The ever dashing David Gandy was also in attendance along with most of the London fashion community. After congratulating Alistair on a truly excellent body of work it was time for me to say my goodbyes and pop across town to Libertys.

LCM Alistair Guy

Alistair Guy at his White Shirts Private View

LCM David Gandy

Alistair Guy & David Gandy

LCM Ella Catliff Alistair Guy

Me & Alistair (clearly I did not think through the effects of pale cream underwear + flash photography, soz)

Last season I was well and truly gutted to miss this bash, co-hosted by Men’s Health Magazine, YMC and Liberty London. Everyone had gone on and on about it afterwards, while I’d spent the evening curled up in the foetal position thanks to the agony of acute ulcerative pharyngitis. Not that I felt sorry for myself or anything. This time around nothing and no one was going to stop me attending, even the fact that ever single other LCM attendee seemed equally determined. The place was packed fit to burst but despite the crowds we managed to grab a plateful of Moscow Mules and even find space for a boogie.

Ella Catliff Tanya Burr

Me & Tanya Burr at the Men’s Health x YMC x Liberty London party

LCM Tinie Tempah

Tinie Tempah rocking MAJOR florals at Libertys 

Once I’d managed to lose the cloakroom twice, “accidentally” venture into the store itself and catch up with Courtney Blackman, we hot footed it up the road to the London EDITION. Another party!? I hear you say and I admit, three in one night seems excessive. But I hasten to add it was only about 9pm (ok, 10) by this point, and hey, it’s not London Collections Men every day. The London EDITION opened just in time for LFW SS14 and swiftly established itself as the prime location for stylish debauchery in the city. During the fashion week interlude, this reputation didn’t wane and I’ve spent many an evening sipping Sancerre there over the past months. The host for the particular soiree was Ben Sherman who were toasting their latest collection. Down in the basement things were in full swing and we got ourselves straight on the dancefloor. Among my fellow revelers were Stylenoir Editor, James Joseph, Company Magazine’s Alexxsia Elizabeth, designer-of-the-moment Charlie May and Camille of Camille Over The Rainbow.

LCM Ella Catliff

Me arriving at the Ben Sherman party

LCM Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman Party

LCM The London EDITION

Inside The London EDITION Basement

LCM Ben Sherman

Eliza Doolittle at the Ben Sherman party

LCM Ben Sherman

Suzy Street, James Joseph, Me & Charlotte Bell at the Ben Sherman party

LCM Ella Catliff

Me & Alexxsia Elizabeth at The London EDITION

Many dances later a group of use decided to hit Soho House for sustenance and there we sat laughing and snacking until they booted us out into the chilly almost-dawn. All in all, a damn good couple of days! And not long until fashion month…

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Parties 1 Comment