You Did Not Eat That

You Did Not Eat That

Once again I’m late to the opinion party but I’ve been giving whether or not to write this piece some real thought. To be honest, it’s taken me a while to become a hundred percent sure of what I feel about instagram sensation, You Did Not Eat That. I was crystal clear about my views on the vile Women Who Eat On Tubes but this was slightly trickier. Let’s be honest, we’ve all rolled our eyes at a perfectly styled shot of a brunch laden table groaning with bagels posted alongside an #OOTD snap of someone wearing size 0 J Brands. Or, as the profile’s founder puts it “a pink frosted doughnut in front of an eight-inch thigh gap”. Similarly, the ridiculousness of it all is pretty funny. When I first saw YDNET I lolled, hard because the endless pics of perfectly arrayed sweet treats (1 patisserie + sunglasses + flowers + Vogue = lotsa likes) are both contrived and faintly ridiculous. But having looked long and hard at the profile, and The Cut’s interview with its founder, I feel certain that You Did Not Eat That has definitely crossed the line between amusing and unpleasant regardless of whether Eva Chen and Emily Weiss are “in on it”.

You Did Not Eat That claims to be “speaking the truth in this mixed up world of too many macarons and ice cream cones used as props”, calling for instagrammers to “get real”. But that, my friends, is instagram all over. It’s so far from real. Instagram is basically a platform to embellish, edit and downright lie about all aspects of your existence from home to wardrobe to diet, if you choose to. An awful lot of it’s pretty phoney. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes it’s frustrating, almost always it’s an exercise in personal branding that now extends beyond companies and celebrities to allow anyone with an iPhone to create a “world of brand” for themselves and offer insights into an airbrushed and strategically edited version of their daily lives. But the practice of girls instagramming pics of themselves with ice creams or doughnuts they may or may not have eaten is less about deluding people into thinking they scoff junk 24/7  and miraculously stay sample size – as has been argued in favour of YDNET – and more about raking in the likes. And we all know that pretty pictures, be they of cupcakes and croissants or culottes and Chloé, are instagram catnip. We all know that is how and why a lot of people use instagram, be they the bloggers YDNET’s creator so loathes or a mega brand like Valentino. Trying to “expose” the falsity of certain instagrammers is kind of pointless. Who actually cares if the prettily arranged array of colorful candy got eaten by the person posting the picture? More importantly, why should this be any more offensive and shame-worthy than an equally posed shot of someone reclining on Shoreditch House rooftop wearing borrowed Prada shades, there for the first time on someone else’s membership? This I feel is the crux of the whole argument. The fact that this You Did Not Eat That is primarily based on scrutinising women’s bodies is both what makes it unpalatable to me, and I suspect accounts for its success.

Unlike the ladies featured on Women Who Eat On Tubes some of whom may not even have an instagram profile (I find it as hard to believe such folk exist as you do), You Did Not Eat That swipes snaps from people who have willingly invited the world into their lives, or at the the section of their lives deemed chic enough for sharing. But while these people have willingly opened themselves up for scrutiny, what gives this particular individual the right to “call them out” in such a public and body-centric way? “Calling out” someone you have absolutely no connection to on what they may or may not have eaten based on their body size in front of a global audience is frankly a bit shitty. You Did Not Eat That and the response it elicits taps into the much wider obsession with what women are or aren’t eating which I can’t help but feel is unhealthy for all involved. Just a glance at the captions and comments will show that it’s become rather insidious. One post asked followers to “look at @tatjanamariposa‘s page and tell us whether you think she had Cheetos for breakfast”. I’m sorry but asking hundreds of thousands of strangers to look at another stranger’s instagram and survey her body in order to make a judgement about what she did or did not eat (regardless of whether the shot in question is pretty silly) is just not ok! Then of course it comes to the legions of YDNET followers, leaving endless bitchy comments and tagging high profile instagrammers they happen to follow in the hope their pic will be featured on You Did Not Eat That for everyone to dissect. I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and many of us, myself included, are guilty of that sometimes. But regardless of whether it started as a bit of a laugh, YDNET has rapidly become a judgement free for all that reeks of bitterness and insecurity and I don’t think telling people to get a sense of humour really justifies that.

I’m really not trying to sound preachy here and, as someone who usually unsuccessfully attempts on occasion, I’m the first to admit the whole perfectly posed food thing has got both ludicrous and formulaic. YSDNET is witty and timely, no doubt about it, but it’s also an example of how quickly social media can turn nasty, especially when it comes to women’s bodies. Maybe the subjects of You Did Not Eat That didn’t eat whatever the offending object was, maybe they did. Maybe as @EliottWestVillage put it, “they run their arse of so they can”. Whatever the reality, I don’t think it’s ok for someone to craft their own social media identity out of judging and inviting other’s to judge that.

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

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 3 Comments

Look Du Jour: Laid Back

jenni kayne laid back look

What: Jenni Kayne trousers (available here), Jenni Kayne t-shirt, Jenni Kayne x Clare Vivier clutches (available here), Anne Bowes Jewellery necklaces (available here), Ferragamo sunglasses, Stand Seven bracelet & The Sandal and The Craftsman sandals (all c/o)

Where: Out and about in Sunny London

I know what you’re thinking, this ensemble is light years away to others I’ve rocked of late. Recently I’ve seemed to dress exclusively in brights so bright they’re almost radioactive, prints on prints on prints and extreme prep with the odd leather number thrown in for good measure. Well, now and again all those highlighter hues and dizzying pattern clashes can get a little exhausting and you can’t help but crave something a little more laid back. And who better to turn to for pieces that scream, or rather softly murmur, “chillax” than the Los Angeles designer who’s contemporary take on California cool has made her a must see on the NYFW schedule, Jenni Kayne? I became a Kayne convert the second I clapped eyes on her SS14 collection some almost four seasons back, the woman is a master at marrying chic city tailoring with surf ready style. When I interviewed Jenni last year, it only served to further my love for the label. This season she decided to offer up more temptation than ever by way of concocting her Pre Fall collection in Liberty print… I know, right. These trousers are from said collection and about the most comfortable thing on the planet. When the weather’s not actually despicable in London I’m the first to whip my pins out so generally stick to shorts and skirts in Summer but I felt like I was wafting around in a cloud of happy, Liberty printed air. A nice sensation I’m sure you’ll agree and one I suspect I’ll be repeating. Jenni also collaborated with handbag designer, Clare Vivier to produce some adorable matching clutches which I can’t get enough of either. As you’ve no doubt gathered over the years, I’m not good at doing casual so I tarted this ensemble up with the addition of gold jewellery and pretty diva-esque Ferragamo shades.

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

Ella Catliff Jenni Kayne Holly McGlynn_002

jenni kayne laid back look

jenni kayne laid back look

What do you think of my take on laid back chic?

Love Ella. X

Images by Holly McGlynn

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Look Du Jour 1 Comment

Comment Prononcez-Vous Comptoir des Cotonniers?

comptoir des cotonniers campaign

As I’ve said so many times before it’s no doubt now boring, a good trench coat is perhaps the ultimate staple piece and an essential component of any decent wardrobe. My trusty trench coat hails from Comptoir des Cotonniers, the French label stealthily supplying the sartorial needs of some of the world’s most stylish women. Founded in 1995, Comptoir was something of a pioneer in the field of affordable luxury and has been producing chic garments that fulfil that criteria since long before they became fashion buzzwords. Its also one of the few brands my mother and I not only both love – we have pretty similar taste and share an obsession with labels ranging from Mary Katranztou to kate spade new york – but actually both wear on a regular basis. This is possibly due not only the fact that Comptoir des Cottoniers’ collections are versatile, wearable and exquisitely chic but also because it is just so darned French. Everything they do comes with a slice of Parisian nonchalance more delectable than the tastiest tarte tatin and let’s face it, we all secretly wish we were French sometimes. God knows I do although my weakness for anything bright, sparkly and covered with bows has long since put paid to that. But when I slip into my Comptoir des Cottoniers trench coat or one of their slouchy V tees I instantly feel like a Clémence Poésy-a-like slouching around the Marais and forget that, just hours earlier, I was wearing something pink and shiny carrying a handbag shaped like a piece of fruit. This power to transform even a gauche anglaise, at least in her own mind, into an insouciance oozing Parisienne has no doubt contributed to Comptoir des Cotonniers’ global appeal. That does not mean, however, than any of us have a clue how to pronounce its name. With this in mind, Comptoir have just launched a viral video challenging people on the streets of Paris to do just that. It’s super cute, funny and confirms many a charming stereotype about different nationalities. I gave it a rather pitiful go on my Instagram which you can have a good LOL at here. Why don’t you try doing your own? Just uplod your video to instar mentioning @lapetiteanglaise and @comptoirdescotonniers with the hashtag #howtopronouncecomptoir and we can all have a good laugh. Unless of course you’re French and can pronounce it properly, in which case I’ll just feel a bit bitter.

Besides giving us all a chuckle with this vid, Comptoir des Cottoniers are also running a little competition that I’m going to share with YOU! It won’t take long and there’s a potential free shopping spree involved, both great things in my opinion. If you fancy winning a 150.00€ voucher for Comptoir des Cottoniers simply follow La Petite Anglaise on Instagram here and answer this very simple question in the comments below…

What does “Comptoir des Cottoniers” mean to you?

Bonne chance mes amis!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Projects 7 Comments

5 Minutes With: Baukjen

Baukjen head shot

Fashion is a funny beast, as are people’s relationship with it. On the one hand there’s nothing like an impractical, in some cases unwearable concoction that springs from the mind of its créateur and sashays down the catwalk sending spectators into Instagram overload and buyers into intense states of internal conflict as to whether they should stock a garment that, although exquisite, would pose a health rise to its wearer. Ok, that’s perhaps a slight exaggeration but you know what I’m talking about; the spectacle of the spectacular show piece. On the other hand is the fact that people – even those that work in fash-un – do need to actually wear clothes to go about their daily business, preferably clothes that are chic, sleek and look great without stopping you eating, breathing or taking public transport. It is the latter type that Baukjen de Swaan Arons delivers. The Dutch designer’s eponymous brand started out as a maternity e-tailer called Isabelle Oliver in 2003. After scooping up a bunch of awards and proving to be a big hit among expecting mother’s who didn’t fancy wearing moo moos, Isabella Oliver added womenswear to its repertoire five years later. Not long after, it became clear that de Swaan Arons had tapped into a niche in the market, a desire for staple pieces that were excellent quality and elegant without being expensive or extravagant enough to stop them being office/child/reality friendly. And so in 2012, she decided to really home in on that niche, rebranding Isabelle Oliver’s womenswear line as simply “Baukjen”. I caught up with the designer to talk business, branding and social media…

LPA: Tell me a little about your background; where did you grow up, study and work before launching your company?

BDSA: I was born in Amsterdam and I still have family living there – it’s a wonderful city. I moved to London when I was four where I lived in Hampstead Village. I returned to Holland for a few years to do my MBA and then came back to London. Before we started our own businesses I worked in various companies on the brand side, doing lots of travelling across the world. I didn’t work in the fashion industry immediately but always loved it as I grew up surrounded by a family full of creative talent – many working in the industry – and knew this was a direction I wanted to take. I can’t underestimate how important my business knowledge was though. I feel very lucky to have such an eclectic career.

LPA: Your company began as the maternity e-tailer Isabella Oliver. In 2009 you added ready-to-wear under the name Isabella Oliver 365 and then in 2012 you decided to re-brand the label under the name “Baukjen”. What prompted this bold move? And how has the brand evolved, in terms of aesthetics, image and marketing strategy since?

BDSA: For Geoff and I, it made perfect sense to establish the Baukjen brand in its own right. We could see the potential of Isabella Oliver 365 as there had been a real appetite for the collection, but the name automatically associated it with maternity clothing and we recognised this as a stumbling block in the future. Today, both brands are looked after by one team. I suppose in some ways we take quite a holistic approach to how we look at them always remembering that the Baukjen customer and the Isabella Oliver customer is essentially the same woman, she’s just at different stages of her life. We do however utilise different treatments – it would be crazy not to. Marketing strategies are tailored to each brand especially within areas like partnerships, and editorially, we use a different language and address different styling concerns.

LPA: Baukjen’s re-launch and the development of your ready-to-wear collection came in the midst of a global recession. Did you find this had a significant impact on how your customers were buying and the kinds of pieces or price points they gravitated towards?

BDSA: I think regardless of whether there’s a recession, women especially love to shop and will try to find a way to buy that special piece she wants so desperately. Of course price point is important and good quality essentials that are competitively priced do consistently well, but each season we test the water with more surprising and fashion forward pieces that are often more price sensitive and we’ve found that our customers don’t hesitate to take the plunge. We never stray far from our belief in ‘effortlessly chic for everyday dressing’ but we do push the boundary and if the product is right, we’ve learnt that it will sell.

LPA: You were very much ahead of the game when it came to e-commerce, launching an e-tail based clothing company when the genre was in its infancy. What made you so confident in the future of online shopping while many other brands remained very hesitant? And do you feel this early adoption has given you a distinct advantage in the e-tail market following its rapid growth over the past seven or so years?

BDSA: I never hesitated in my belief that e-tailing was a good idea, and if the idea is good enough I think there’s always a way to make it work. We didn’t have a crystal ball but I was an early adopter of online shopping myself and had faith in its potential to grow. Women are so busy these days that developments that make life more manageable feel like they have to succeed. I think with the internet there’s a real feeling that everyone can achieve their goals. It’s very democratic in that way. Then you just need to be prepared to work hard. We now have almost 12 years’ experience behind us we can draw from, and of course this helps but we’re still always learning. That’s part of what makes this so exciting.

LPA: Launching and establishing a fashion label is no mean feat and many have failed where you’ve succeeded. What were the greatest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

BDSA: The greatest challenge is brand awareness. We find that once women discover the brand and collections and try it out, they are very positive and they remain loyal. Brand awareness can be achieved via a multitude of routes, advertising, press, etc. All of this is expensive and that can be challenging. Fast forward to now, more and women are telling their friends about us which really helps spread the word.

LPA: You established Baukjen with the principal aim of creating wearable, everyday clothes that would make women feel great. What’s your opinion of catwalk designers who produce more conceptual and perhaps challenging, from a wearers’ perspective, collections?

BDSA: I think there’s a place for every type of fashion – wouldn’t the world be dull if we all did the same thing. For me and the woman I design for, the key focus is on creating chic but effortless essentials that make dressing stress-free, but I do recognise that that this isn’t everyone’s style. Fashion is also an art form and the more conceptual designers are simply more literal about this than I am. That’s ok though, it’s what makes the world so creatively rich.

LPA: On the subject of everyday elegance, what would your top tips be for nailing effortless chic? I think that’s something we all strive for but remains pretty tricky at times!

BDSA: It remains tricky because everyone has different demands and commitments in their everyday lives. The concept of effortless chic will be different for a stay-at-home mum than for a city banker, for example, but I think there are a few things that apply universally.

1) Try to create a capsule wardrobe of pieces that work well together. A great jacket can be worn with a dress for more formal occasions and with jeans at the weekend.

2) Never buy anything you feel uncomfortable wearing. You’ll feel compelled to wear it because you’ve paid for it, but will hate doing so. I always think your wardrobe should make you happy. It’s also like your armour so make sure it gives you the protection you need.

3) Don’t ever be afraid to try something new – that’s the joy of fashion – but as a rule, work out what suits you and you’ll save yourself a lot of stressful shopping trips and endless refunds.

LPA: You founded and continue to run Baukjen with your husband, Geoff van Sonsbeeck. What have you found to be the advantages and disadvantages (if any) of running a company with your partner?

BDSA: I couldn’t imagine running it without him now, we’d never see each other, and that daily interaction is definitely the biggest advantage. We have very different roles within the business and don’t often actually work together in the strictest sense of the word (I’m the creative and Geoff is the operations, technology and numbers man), but we still see each other every day. Sharing a business alongside being parents means we are totally in sync and I love that. Disadvantages? We don’t always agree, in fact we often disagree which in itself is fine, but let’s just say a little bickering can sometimes creep into meetings which the team will inevitably bear witness to. We’re only human though!

LPA: Has the rise of social media and fashion blogging affected the way you market your brand and interact with consumers? If so, how?

BDSA: Yes, absolutely. We live in a very interactive world and everything from customer reviews and Facebook posts that start a conversation, to inspiring Pinterest boards and cool Instagrams are all really important currency. Our customers like to be heard, and honestly, we like to hear from them.

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

BDSA: I’ll give you 5 points…

1. Go with your gut instinct – it’s your brand and you have to believe in it.
2. Never ignore the numbers or the customer
3. Be as creative as possible but never forget you have to sell things
4. Have a strong marketing plan in place and don’t underestimate the power of social media
5. Be open to new ideas
Oh, and there’s one more…
6. This is not a 9 to 5 job so be prepared to go above and beyond if you’re to succeed

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Interviews Leave a comment

Monthly Must Haves: June 2014

Monthly Must Haves June 2014

1) J.Crew Gemstone floral printed silk top, £120, click here to buy
2) J.Crew Gemstone floral printed silk shorts, £120, click here to buy
3) LK Bennett Bess colour block sandal, REDUCED from £195 to£145, click here to buy
4) River Island white embellished clutch bag, £35, click here to buy
5) ALDO Gleliwet stone set collar necklace, £30, click here to buy
6) Karen Walker Super Duper Strength sunglasses, exclusively at Liberty London
7) Whistles Solano blotted floral bikini top, £40, click here to buy
8) Whistles Solano blotted floral bikini bottoms, £35, click here to buy
9) Chloe Marcie medium tote, 1195, click here to buy
10) Chloe Celeste block heel mules, REDUCED from £795 to £556, click here to buy
11) REISS Kaneo laser cut skirt, £125, click here to buy
12) J.W. Anderson wave print silk blouse, £575, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping 1 Comment