I know I always start project posts with something along the lines of “I am SO excited to share…” and it’s always true, but I really do have butterflies over showing you these shots. Especially given that the whole thing has been under strictest embargo until today. This is also a project that, without sounding like too much of an arse, I’m particularly proud of. It’s been my baby for the past few weeks and very nearly went rather wrong but I’m so delighted with the results and really hope you’ll love them too.
As I’m sure you already know, this year The OUTNET is celebrating its 5th birthday. On one hand it seems as thought the time’s flown by. On the other I cannot imagine an age before it or what on earth we did without it. Where else could one purchase a slinky tweed Mulberry pencil skirt for under £200? As I did just last season. Brand new Peter Pilotto pieces at 60% off? Good luck finding that at any other e-tailer on the planet! 5 years is a big milestone for any company and with The OUTNET going from strength to strength, they’ve decided to celebrate by releasing a very special limited edition collection of 17 truly iconic designer pieces. In my opinion, the collection really epitomises what makes The OUTNET such a brilliant and widely popular destination, not to mention separates it from every other designer outlet out there. The OUTNET is a place to go to find high fashion pieces at (comparatively) low prices but, as the pieces are all at least a season “old”, it’s not about snapping up flash in the pan fads. While their carefully curated stock is always the kind of stuff you want, nay, need right this second, The OUTNET is fundamentally all about modern classics. Pieces that transcend their season and become perennial style staples, guaranteed never to render you an outdated sartorial pariah. And that, my friends, was the premise of the 5th Birthday collection. From the glossy black McQueen clutch to J.W. Anderson’s sell out paisley prints, Equipment’s signature silk shirt and that va va voom Roland Mouret dress, these items are all utterly classic and timeless but not in the way that, say, a camel cashmere sweater is. Each is exciting, contemporary and covetable. But, unlike many seasonal “it” pieces, none of them were cursed with a life span of just six months.
My collaboration with The OUTNET on their 5th Birthday collection began, as all the best collaborations too do; over fine wine, great food and even better company at Dean Street Townhouse last month. The lovely OUTNET team treated me (and Char) to a delectable dinner where we caught up, had a damn good time, and they told me all about this collection. In between getting very excited about that, and almost as excited about the fact DST had Battenburg Cake on the menu, I came up with an idea. As the 5th Birthday Collection is all about the modern iconic, I thought it would be fitting to capture them in locations that represent this concept too. After all, London is hardly short of bars, restaurants and galleries that feel as cool now as the day they opened but are fast becoming emblematic of the city. Luckily The OUTNET agreed and gave me free reign to take their then-unreleased designer wares to style and shoot them in locations of my choosing around town. A potentially rather risky move on their part but (thank God) it’s all worked out well. As I mentioned, it wasn’t entirely plain sailing. I’ve never organised a shoot of this scale before and it turns out that managing every tiny detail of it – from picking the pieces to use, to arranging permissions at each of the locations, managing hair, make up and transport – isn’t so simple. With my final thesis draft submission and Easter thrown into the mix, it was a something of a challenge to say the least. But possibly thanks to dumb luck and desperation, not to mention everyone else involved being brilliant, it all seems to have turned out wonderfully! So without further ado, here you have my and The OUTNET’s guide to rocking the modern iconic…
Balmain Brunching at The Modern Pantry
Balmain 5th Birthday Collection Printed Cotton Top, £130, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Alexander McQueen 5th Birthday Collection Squeeze It Patent Leather Clutch,£357, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Iris & Ink Leather London Stretch Leather Leggings,£398, available at TheOUTNET.com here
The Modern Pantry can be found at 47 – 48 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4JJ. Click here to visit the website.
Oh to be the girl that brunches in Balmain! Actually to be the girl that does anything in any of the pieces from the The OUTNET 5th Birthday Collection would be pretty awesome. This is definitely the kind of ensemble that would turn a few heads on the commuter tube but that, my friends, is never a bad thing. Since those fierce shouldered blazers, Balmain has churned out collectors items season after season. This tee perfectly encapsulates the brand’s haute badass vibe and iconic gold button details but in a way that remains just subtle enough to be something you’ll for all manner of occasions. I could just as easily imagine teaming it with distressed denim and flat sandals for the weekend as glamming it up with second skin leather and a glossy Alexander McQueen stunner from the birthday collection, as I did here. London is positively bursting with chic brunch perfect spots at the moment but The Modern Pantry is a personal favourite. Its very name explains why The Modern Pantry was the perfect choice for this piece. The sleek decor, Clerkenwell location (a time tested gastronomic and cultural area currently enjoying a major moment) and innovative menus are utterly contemporary. Both the downstairs cafe and upstairs restaurant dish out a delectable eclectic array of updated classics and imaginative fusion cuisine concocted from exotic ingredients sourced across the globe alongside the finest wines, or if you’re feeling virtuous, fresher-than-fresh organic juicies and smoothies on tap. At the same time The Modern Pantry isn’t so trendy or hipster packed that it puts you off or run the risk of being yet another there one day, gone the next hotspot. It’s a stylishly understated hotspot with integrity that will no doubt stand the test of time.
White Out at The Saatchi Gallery
Joseph 5th Birthday Collection Cabon Jacket, £272, available at TheOUTNET.com here
J.W. Anderson 5th Birthday Collection Paisley Print Top, £341, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Eddie Borgo 5th Birthday Collection silver diamanté cuff, £225, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Tory Burch Mid-Rise Straight Leg Jeans, £75, available at TheOUTNET.com here
The Saatchi Gallery can be found at Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY. Click here to visit the website
Rarely do I have the courage to wear this much white as I have a tendency to run around carrying vats of Starbucks and subsequently most of my clothes are covered in surreptitious coffee stains. This ensemble would make forgoing my caffeine fix totally worth it. These pieces by J.W. Anderson and Joseph are a gorgeous example of the fashion old guard meeting the new to create a look that simply exudes modern elegance and Eddie Borgo’s diamond bracelet provides just the right amount of subtle sparkle. Aesthetically and metaphorically, the whole thing seemed perfect for a trip to The Saatchi Gallery. As much fun as visiting quirky little galleries can be, there are few things lovelier than visiting a big, beautiful one guaranteed to be packed with inspiring art to gaze upon while wondering, at least in my case, how the hell anyone created it. London has many of these, the Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern but The Saatchi is one I particularly adore and that felt very appropriate for this shoot. Within it’s wonderfully grand yet refreshingly modern walls it provides an incredible forum for contemporary art, in many cases giving unknown artists the chance to kickstart their careers. While The Saatchi Gallery opened some 25 years ago, it only moved to Chelsea in 2008. And it’s here, amid greenery and eateries (Gallery Mess is excellent) that I feel, or at least hope, it will remain, showcasing work you probably wouldn’t see in other major London galleries within an elegant and airy space that provides a perfect escape from the fast paced frenzy going on outside. The fact that admission to all exhibitions is free doesn’t hurt either.
Skyline Florals at The Boundary Rooftop
Jason Wu 5th Birthday Collection Floral Print Dress, £570, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Haizhen Wang 5th Birthday Collection Leather Jacket, £650, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Oscar de la Renta 5th Birthday Collection Floral Necklace, £265, available at TheOUTNET.com here
The Boundary can be found at 2 – 4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7DD. Click here to visit the website.
When the great British weather decides to play ball, there are few better places to be in London than sipping cocktails on The Boundary Rooftop. This is, of course, not the commonest of occurrences so they decided to install a weatherproof bar and restaurant boasting the same panoramic views and chic alfresco styling. Smart folk right there. Luckily last week’s rain subsided for our shoot so we could make full use of the glorious outdoor space and I’ve decided that in future I’ll be spending a hell of a lot more time there! Offering top notch, skyline wining and dining is always going to make a place worth visiting but I think there’s really something about The Boundary Rooftop that’s rather special. The Boundary houses both an achingly cool cafe, The Albion and The Rooftop bar and restaurant as well as 12 rooms and 5 suites. It’s very designed and very contemporary but in a way that makes you want to explore its many floors and stay for a very long time. In fact one of the reasons I rate The Boundary – rooms, cafe, rooftop, the lot – is because it feels very intimate and low key, while simultaneously being absolutely stunning and rather majestic. It was the hot new addition to the East London scene when it opened in 2008, remains of the moment today, and is set to stay that way for decades to come. Housed within an old Victorian building with traditional with a twist British fare served downstairs and modern Mediterranean cuisine up top, totally wired up but designed in consultation with The Environment Agency to keep things green and with aged Olive trees on the roof; The Boundary brings together the old and the new, the high tech and the homegrown in a way that feels very relevant to now yet also very lasting. Rather like the outfit I chose to shoot there. The Jason Wu dress, Haizhen Wang jacket and Oscar de la Renta statement necklace would make you swoon if you spotted them in a magazine showcasing the best of next season but there is a timelessness and versatility to them that will last forever.
Late Night Pursuits at The EDITION Punch Room
Roland Mouret 5th Birthday Collection O’Hara Wool-Crepe Dress, £598, available at TheOUTNET.com here
Alexander McQueen 5th Birthday Collection Squeeze It Patent Leather Clutch, 358, available at TheOUTNET.com here
The London EDITION can be found at 10 Berner’s Street, London, W1T 3NP. Click here to visit the website.
It’s certainly no secret that I adore The EDITION. I’ve spent more late nights carousing there than I care to remember and one of the hotel’s most delectable, debauchery ready spots is the Punch Room. With it’s oak panelled walls, luscious velvet sofas, roaring fire and mahogany cocktail bar it has an old school opulence to it that’s utterly irresistible. The EDITION burst onto the London landscape just in time for SS14 fashion week and immediately became the place to see and be seen. Some eight month’s later that remains the case and I don’t see anything changing anytime soon. It is, of course, impeccably designed fusing absolute, unashamed grandeur with modernity and originality. This no doubt why, despite being inspired by manor house libraries and 19th century private clubs, there’s nothing remotely fusty about the Punch Room. It’s timeless in a seductively slick kind of way, exactly like Roland Mouret’s signature, slinky wool crepe dress. Both feel exciting, decadent and glamorous but equally, totally reliable. At The EDITION you’re guaranteed flawless service, sumptuous surroundings and that anything you eat or drink will be fantastic. With this Mouret number, you can count on it always being flattering, occasion appropriate and making an entrance. Proof perhaps that luxury never goes out of style.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this project, it was so much fun creating it. A huge, huge thank you to all the locations for being so accommodating, The OUTNET for going along with my idea and my fantastic photographer Holly for taking such incredible pictures and flogging around London accompanied by world’s largest wheelie bag!
Love Ella. X
Images by Holly McGlynn