Look Du Jour: Hi Summer

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What: Gap summer shorts, River Island cotton top (c/0), Paul & Joe Sister denim jacket (c/o), Kate Spade bag, sunglasses & iPhone case (c/o) Liberty London x Gola trainers and Anne Bowes Jewellery necklace.

Where: Saturday shopping in London.

It feels like absolutely ages since my last Look Du Jour, sorry guys! I haven’t actually spent the past fortnight in my pyjamas but between my rather belated (as per usual) London Collections Men diaries, big party round up and then of course the Matthew Williamson collaboration, these snaps have been languishing within my laptop for a while. Fear not, I have so many #OOTD posts coming your way you’ll soon wish I would just go hole up in something unfit for publishing for a while. It will probably come as no surprise to hear that I am one of those people who takes extreme pleasure in organising their wardrobe, doing new season, mid season and trans-season switch overs and rotating pieces into different parts of my apartment. To be fair, this is partially out of necessity as my entire home is basically one great big wardrobe – not in a glam way, more in a lack of closet space way - but discovering old favourites, incorporating new purchases and generally being able to wear totally different things at different times of the year is just plain fun. A couple of weeks ago I spent a very happy Saturday moving my wardrobe into “high summer” mode and happened across these floral shorts. Said shorts cost me about a fiver from Gap Kids a couple of years ago and I should probably stop wearing them and start dressing my age pretty soon but the fact that they can only possibly be donned when the weather is glorious has earned them a special place in my heart so I just can’t bring myself to bin them just yet. Every year out they come, signalling that summer is well and truly in full swing. Combined with a white cotton broderie top, lemon accessories Liberty print trainers I basically felt like the human embodiment of July which is a pretty nice way to feel, I’m sure you’ll agree. Also I suspect I could have got away with a child ticket on the tube but having been rumbled doing that about five years ago I decided it wasn’t actually worth a try.

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hi summer

hi summer

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hi summer

Love Ella. X

Ps) Coincidentally it was damn near impossible to buy cigarettes that day.

Images by Holly McGlynn

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Look Du Jour 2 Comments

3 Ways To Wear It: Tory Burch Co-ord

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Left: Tory Burch Nicole Jacket, REDUCED from £595 to £297.50, click here to buy. Right: Tory Burch Nicole Shorts, REDUCED from £255 to £127.50, click here to buy.

Ah co-ords, shaping up to be a perma trend and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are few things I enjoy more than matching stuff so the fact co-ords of all descriptions now seem to be available all the time, everywhere, every season makes me want to positively sing with joy; bad news for anyone in my immediate vicinity as my singing voice has been likened to the sound of a cat being castrated. Co-ords seem like a genius recipe for easy chicness, especially during the summer months when you can literally whack on a pineapple print crop top with its matching shorts/skort/skirt accompaniment, throw in sandals and sunglasses and be good to go. However, beyond this most obvious incarnation, co-ords can be tricksy little buggers. You’ve got the full look nailed, perfectly accessorised, you feel awesome. But then, how often can you wear that full lewk without people thinking it’s the only ensemble you own? Not many, and the evidence is all over Instagram so if you really could wear said co-ord that one alone you’d be getting very little bang for your buck. That, my friends, is why I’ve decided to devote the next few editions of 3 Ways To Wear It to styling them up. This is as much for my own benefit, if not more so, than anyone else’s. Judging from the massive wardrobe organisation session I spent most of last weekend thoroughly enjoying (once I’d regained neck mobility following the muscle spasm incident) acquiring as many varieties of co-ords as humanly possible seems to have been my main mission in life for the past year. So without further ado, let’s do this…

All Together Now…

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Worn with: French Connection shirt (similar here), Alberta Ferretti bag (similar here & here) Tod’s Gommino loafers (real deal here, wallet friendlier alternative here)

You know when you have something so goddamn gorgeous you can barely bring yourself to wear it? This Tory Burch two piece was that for me. It was also rather too cold to whip it our for a while but when the sun finally made an appearance I thought to myself… THIS.IS.HAPPENING! First and foremost, the full shebang together. An embellished tweed shorts suit is programmed for prep so I went the whole hog with a buttoned up broderie shirt, classic Tod’s loafers and a pastel mini satchel. You could do something similar but a little less Gossip Girl-y with plimsolls and a plain white tee, but I wouldn’t advise it.

On The Top…

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Worn with J.Crew t-shirt (similar herehere), Hudson jeans (available here, similar here), kate spade new york bag (similar here, here,& here), shoes (similar here, here & here) and sunglasses (similar here & here)

There really are few more failsafe-ly chic formulas than a trophy jacket and casual jeans. I have never met (or read an interview with) a French woman who doesn’t advocate such a look. Admittedly a Parisienne would never dream of pairing it with multiple stripes, bows on her toes and floral embellished sunglasses but we’ve long since established I don’t possess that particular kind of je ne sais quoi. “Casual jeans” sounds like a bit of an oxymoron but of course, it isn’t. What I mean is jeans that are actually, genuinely comfortable, not too tight, don’t involve vast quantities of embellishment or treatment (a little light distressing is no bad thing though) and come in a natural, lived in shade of blue. These beauties are by Hudson who make some of the finest and most comfortable skinnies around. If, understandably, you don’t want to splash quite so much cash on your denim them my high street recommendations can be found here, here, here and here.

For Your Derrière…

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Worn with: Tory Burch top (similar here & here), Wilbur & Gussie clutch (similar here & here) and Sophia Webster shoes (similar here

As much as I adore a good frock, there’s something about city shorts for cocktail hour that always feels so right. The equivalent of an elegant evening trouser for warmer months, or for anyone who likes to get their legs out the second doing so won’t run a very real risk of frostbite. While these shorts are immaculately tailored and have a smart, pulled together tweed thing going on, I feel their lack of embellishment, brocade or other assorted sparkly stuff calls for something glam going on up top, party shoes and the kind of clutch that is really only suitable for use after dark (i.e when you don’t need to lug half your life around). I stuck to a pink-n-silvery palette here but gold or another form of bold tonal colour block would work just as well, especially if that colour is a rich blue hues. Cobalt is awesome and a nifty nod to AW14. This would work well with a simple blazer, or you don’t feel like mixing things up too much then just throw the matching co-ord jacket over the top as I did during London Collections Mens.

Having spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon playing dress up with my Tory Burch short suit, I can now think of SO many other ways to wear it! Follow my instagram for more variations and stay tuned for the next co-ord I’ll be styling up. I’ve also done a little search and here are my recommendations for similar co-ords… ASOS, Topshop, Carven and ASOS again.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Leave a comment

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