Monthly Must Haves: March 2014

Once again, I must start this post with an apology. Despite having swapped those time consuming and financially perilous weekly wish lists (lengthy browsing, inevitable spending) for monthly must haves I’ve still failed to churn one out every four weeks. I’m a bad blogger. In my defense February was fashion month and, rather inconveniently, uni deadline madness so things have been a bit of a scramble. BUT at long last, here are my March loves and I suspect you’re going to love them too…

Monthly Must Haves March

1) Carven Floral Print Sweatshirt, £160, click here to buy
2) Paige Tyler Distressed Boyfriend Jeans, £225, click here to buy
3) Proenza Schouler PS11 Classic Mirrored Leather Bag, £1545, click here to buy
4) Monica Vinader Atlantis Rose Gold Plated Lapis Lazuli Earrings, £250, click here to buy
5) Miu Miu Noir Sunglasses, 205, click here to buy
6) Kate Spade New York Kaslow Coat, $1296, click here to buy or locate a UK store
7) Kate Spade New York Sedgewick Place Tweed Bag, $428, click here to buy or locate a UK store
8) Valentino Rockstud Neon Patent Leather Pumps, 600, click here to buy
9) Topshop Crepe Cigarette Trousers, £40, click here to buy
10) J.Crew Embellished Cotton Shirt, £110, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

Ps) Between concocting and posting these must haves I’ve managed to buy two of them myself! Can you guess which?

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping 1 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

Matthew Williamson Handpicked

matthew williamson

First let me say, happy spring everyone! That sounds a bit lame I know and, in fashion terms, the season started rather a while ago but the first official day was yesterday and I for one am oh so ready to wave goodbye to my knitwear collection for a while. That I’m posting this today also feels appropriate given the subject; Matthew Williamson’s 3D floral skirt, a garment that fills me with more joy than a wood full of bluebells or a field full of lambs or other such spring like things.

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As you know, I utterly adore all things Matthew Williamson. The colour, the prints, the embellishment… Every piece is like a feast for the eyes and a minimalist’s worst nightmare, in a great way. Given my infatuation, I was thrilled when Matthew and his team invited me to take part in their “Handpicked” series for SS14. Handpicked is basically an ongoing project that involves high profile Williamson fans selecting their favourite item from the current collection. Given that it generally does involve only high profile individuals – think Sienna Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Twiggy – I was a smidge surprised and extremely  flattered to be asked to take part. My fellow pickers this season were Paloma Faith, Elle Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy and Sunday Times Style’s Laura Weir which got me even more excited. The only issue was, what gorgeous garm to pick??? After spending more time than I care to admit perusing Matthew’s SS14 collection rather than writing the thesis that seems to be going on forever, I settled on the Daisy Lace Midi Skirt. Obviously, it’s divine. But beyond the skirt’s aesthetic loveliness, the craftsmanship behind it is fascinating. In the style of the petits mains of Paris couture, Matthew and his design team painstakingly hand embroidered the skirt with delicate daisies that also where hand painted and hand cut. It takes 6 hours to produce 10cm of the fabric. Matthew Williamson is the antithesis of fast fashion, every garment is a labour of love and that’s no doubt one of the reasons that women, like myself, feel so strongly about the brand.

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Read my handpicked here, more handpickings here and shop the Daisy Lace Midi skirt here

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Projects 1 Comment

Paris With Dior

Dior

Last week I had the somewhat surreal experience of being whisked off to the City of Lights by none other than Dior. When I say “whisked off” what I actually mean was that they invited me several months before so I spent the subsequent weeks getting more and more excited to the point that I was basically incapable of doing anything at all. But that’s a rather long winded way of putting it and has definitely ruined any hope I had of seeming like the kind of nonchalant individual who gets jetted around the world by luxury brands every week. Oh well, aloofness is overrated anyway.

Having barely slept the night before out of anticipation (there goes the final nail in the coolness coffin), last Tuesday I was up at the crack of dawn and zooming across town to join my fellow London Dior-lings in the Eurostar Business lounge. After guzzling as much coffee as possible without my head actually exploding and nabbing copies of Porter, Vanity Fair, Harpers and every other free fash mag I could carry it was time to board the train so that our Parisian adventure could begin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Eurostar journey feels infinitely shorter with good company and I couldn’t have wished for better fellow travellers than Shini Park of Park and Cube, Jane Cunningham of British Beauty Blog, Gala Gonazales and the lovely Montasar from Dior Beauty. Even the horror of my entire photo library deleting itself for no apparent reason somewhere under the Channel couldn’t dampen my spirits and when we arrived to the bluest of blue skies all Macbook induced stresses evaporated. On a side note, I’ve still not managed to sort the bloody thing out so any advice anyone might have on how to do so would be much appreciated.

Paris Dior

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Once again, I’d opted against taking any flat shoes with me (why do I NEVER learn!?) but my beloved Carven deer print mini looks so much better with a heel. Plus, by the time we’d enjoyed a leisurely lunch there wasn’t a whole lot of time left to wander the streets. That said, I did managed to fit in a petit hotel exploring session. Given how utterly incredible the Prince de Galles is, I couldn’t not. Founded in 1928 and recently refurbished just last year, the place is an Art Deco masterpiece that feels both contemporary and steeped in history. Think exquisite mosaics, suites than simple exuded modern luxury and a michelin starred restaurant and a vast terrace filled with perfectly mismatched furniture and palm trees where we’d later find ourselves drinking Sancerre and munching croque-monsieurs until the wee hours.

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Paris Dior

Paris Dior

Paris Dior

Paris Dior

Paris Dior

Me, Jane & Montasar enjoying a post lunch coffee

Hands down one of the most glamorous places I’ve stayed and I’d go back (slash move in) in a heartbeat. But enough about the hotel, let’s talk Dior, darling.

After slipping into one of my trustiest Whistles cocktail dresses and stuffing an assortment of random possessions into the divine Dior Couture handbag I’d be using for the evening we, the Brit contingent, filed into our chauffeur driven ride and headed in the direction of Le Marais. Held in a gallery, discreetly tucked away down one of those quintessentially Parisian pedestrian only streets, had it not been for the Dior pink painted door and incredibly elegant people filing through it, you’d have never guessed that this was the venue a coterie of bloggers would be travelling from all over the world to enter that evening. This perhaps exemplifies one of the many things I adore the most about Dior today. It is a brand that could easily afford to coast on its legacy and luxury status but instead they strive to remain relevant, surprising and innovative. The mind boggling beauty products were were about to see would only serve to confirm that.

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Inside, the space was an absolute dream. Clean, elegant and minimalistic with champagne and delicacies on one side, the stunning new Dior Addict campaign posted on the other and a vast array of fluid sticks (note: not lipsticks, so much more) and nail polishes in a kaleidoscope of pink tinged hues in the middle. In other words, heaven. And that’s before you even consider what treats were in store on the other two floors. In between ogling the beauty delights and instagramming the hell out of everything I caught up with my favourite fashion couple, Betty Autier and Mathieu Lebreton who’d just jetted in from Barcelona, I swear those two never stop with their fabulous travels! Not that I’m sickeningly jealous or anything…

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Paris Dior

Me & Shini

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Paris Dior

Me & Betty

Before long it was time for the first of the evening’s main events, the collection presentation. I’m no expert on makeup by any means but it was clear, even to me, that this stuff is something seriously special. Not only did it look stunning both in the bottle and on the model, the technology, science and attention to detail involved in concocted the products is fascinating and yet more proof that Dior is a legacy brand that will never rest on its laurels. Also, FYI, I’ve worn the lot since and even when applied by my unskilled hand it looks banging.

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Dior

Soon, the presentation drew to a close but the fun was just beginning. We were each presented with a beautifully illustrated face chart and ushered to the wall of delights we’d be drooling over just before to pick our favourite colours which would be applied, by Dior’s own in house experts upstairs. I chose “Wonderland” for both my nails and my lips, it’s simply the perfect shade of pink. Thus began a pampering session that can only be described as the stuff of every girly girl’s dreams. Our makeup, nails and hair were polished and coiffured to perfection, then we got in front of the cameras by which point I suspected I’d slipped into some sort of magical parallel universe where my biggest concern in life was not smudging my manicure. And then, don’t hate me, it was time to teeter back down the stairs for the cocktail party.

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Paris Dior

Paris Dior

During our absence the space had transformed from chic art gallery to after dark hotspot. I immediately spied Sandra Bauknecht of Sandra’s Closet who, ever since the Gucci trip all those year’s ago, I’ve utterly adored. Sandra was also recently and very deservedly appointed Editor in Chief of L’Officiel Switzerland so obviously I grilled her about that! We spent the next hour or so happily ensconced on a canapé adjacent table (all that beautifying is hungry work!) with Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad, Shea Marie of Peace Love Shea and insanely stylish New York DJ/model/entrepreneur, Hannah Bronfman.

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Sandra, me & Shea

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Chiara, Shea, me & Sandra

As if the presentation, make up session and soirée weren’t enough, Dior had also teamed up with Glow Gallery to stage an interactive exhibition downstairs. We were each taken down to enjoy the experience, and when I say “experience”, I mean it. We’re talking a maze of holograms, projections and optical illusions in which we were filmed to create our own personal video. There was one hologram shaped like a door and I rather regret pretending to be trapped inside trying to get out, in the style of Austin Powers’ man-inside-a-bloody-nutshell impression. One of those things that seemed funny at the time and less so afterwards I guess.

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Paris Dior

By the time I resurfaced my Paris based besties, Laura and Reilly, who Dior had generously let me invite along had arrived and we all enjoyed a good mingling and dancing session we all decamped back to the Prince de Galles for a nightcap or three.

Dior, I cannot thank you enough for a truly magical experience. It was an absolute honour to be included among the lucky bloggers invited into your world and I still can’t believe the whole thing happened!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Travel Leave a comment

Dining At: Berners Tavern

berners tavern

First I must apologise for the sporadic nature of my restaurant reviews of late (yes, again). But I’m sure you’ll agree, Berners Tavern is worth waiting for. I’ve been waiting to go for months myself having been repeatedly impeded by tedious university related things. I would say that the experience was all the sweeter for this but frankly, I’d be lying. Housed in The EDITION Hotel on Berners Street, the place is a marvel, the food incredible and it was an absolute treat to spend the evening there that I’d repeat twice a week if I could.

This won’t be the first time you’ve read about The EDITION on LPA and I suspect not the last by a long shot. Mere seconds after opening its doors last September, the hotel was decreed the place to see and be seen for fashion folk and celebs alike. Unapologetically decadent in an over-the-top was that somehow manages to flirt with flash but not quite go there, for me it was lust at first sight and love at first sip of Passionfruit Martini. Over the past couple of weeks I practically moved in, not that that’s anything to be particularly proud of. And despite the fact that Harry Styles is also meant to frequent it’s Rococco halls, I’ve never spied him there (not I was looking, honest) but we’re not here to talk about that huge haired, teenage lothario – come on, this isn’t the Daily Mail – we’re here to talk Berners Tavern. Firstly, the room itself, nothing short of spectacular. After sashaying through The EDITION’s marble pillared hall you’re ushered into a vast, impossibly luxurious space with stucco-work ceilings, antique chandeliers and gold framed paintings covering every inch of the walls. Having been greeted by the charming maître d’ and ushered to our seat (in prime people watching position, score) Laura and I were immediately presented with glasses of champagne, got thoroughly over excited and lowered the tone by taking about fifty selfies.

Berners Tavern

I could have happily lounged around for hours, revelling in the luxuriousness of it all but I’d heard great things about the grub and couldn’t wait to try it. To start, I went for the Orkney Scallop Ceviche with Avocado, Radish, Baby Gem, Jalepeno and Lime ice. Naturally the presentation was par excellence, Berners Tavern is a place where no detail, however small is overlooked. More importantly (well, ish), the taste. I love scallops but they do run the risk of not being the most flavoursome of mollusks especially when served practically raw but these bad boys were practically bursting with tantalising, ever-so-spicy deliciousness. Laura decided against the scallop in favour of Beetroot cured Loch Duart Salmon, Beetroot, Horseradish and Watercress. She assured me it was fantastic but wouldn’t let me try much, the big meanie.

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Orkney Scallop Ceviche with Avocado, Radish, Baby Gem, Jalepeno and Lime ice

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Beetroot cured Loch Duart Salmon, Beetroot, Horseradish and Watercress

Before we go on to the mains I have to raise one of my favourite aspects of dining at Berners Tavern, the service. I’m not one for rough and ready East London establishments where you share a splinter-tastic wooden bench with fifty bearded strangers and help yourself to booze from a communal jug which always seems to be at the opposite end of the table. No, I’ll take a “no trainers” dress code and the opportunity to be treated like a Princess while wearing something fancy over that any day. Given the high fash n’ sleb quotient, I suspect Berners Tavern might make allowances when it comes to footwear but the service was on par with that at the of the most impossibly posh restaurant you can think of. Only better because you don’t feel mildly terrified whenever a uniform clad waiter comes near you. In between every course the oh-so-attentive sommelier was on hand to offer guidance, something I enjoy almost more than I can even describe. Suffice to say, we drank some seriously fine wines that night with my personal favourite being the Sancerre ” les Boucauds”, Domaine Claude Riffault.

The meal had something of a maritime theme, with both me and Laura also choosing fish for our main courses. After a short squabble over who was getting what we decided that she’d order the South Coast Cod with Braised Puy Lentils, Smoked Bacon and Charred Calcots Onions while the Roasted Cornish Sea Bass with Brown Shrimp, Samphire and Kale with Whole Grain Mustard had my name on it. The idea was that we’d share but the second each of us took our first bite we decided that wasn’t happening. I’ve eaten a lot of Sea Bass in my time (it’s kind of my default) but this, this was above and beyond virtually any I’d tasted. Lighter than light with a medley rich, luscious flavours exuding from the other elements, it was quite simply perfection. Judging by the fact we both basically inhaled our meals in about thirty seconds (chic, non?) I’d say Laura’s was pretty good too.

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Roasted Cornish Sea Bass with Brown Shrimp, Samphire and Kale with Whole Grain Mustard

Despite having ordered relatively light dishes (not gonna lie, the mega steaks were tempting) we’d committed the cardinal sin of fine dining by eating rather a lot of the mouthwateringly good bread and found ourselves pretty stuffed by this point. We did however, find room for cocktails and macaroons which came exquisitely delivered in a miniature antique wooden chest at the gloriously grand bar. Passionfruit Martini for me, Espresso Martini for Laura, perfection.

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Berners Tavern

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If you haven’t guessed already, I utterly adored every second I spent in Berners Tavern. The food was flawless, the service impeccable and the whole place so unashamedly fabulous yet gratifyingly non intimidating it would be hard not to have a very good time there. Admittedly, it ain’t cheap, but not mind boggling expensive either. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up then book yourself a table toute suite.

Berners Tavern at The EDITION Hotel can be found at 10 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NP. Click here for more information.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Reviews 1 Comment