Goodbye Glossies?

british vogue glossies

Last Monday the British Fashion Trust invited me to hear Alexandra Shulman in conversation with Tom Chapman. The Editor of British Vogue talking designers, shopping and style with the Co Founder of Matches? I certainly didn’t need to be asked twice! Given the calibre of the speakers I imagined some sort of lecture theatre scenario with hundreds of eager bloggers and journos in attendance so didn’t stress about pitching up solo after my plus one dropped out last minute. However, when I arrived at Claridges I was ushered not into a vast banquet hall but escorted up to an intimate space on the 6th floor. “Intimate” would indeed be the best word to describe the situation I found myself in. Think British Fashion Cheief Executive Caroline Rush, Kim Hersov, and a handful of other editors and major industry names sipping champagne, looking unbelievably chic and chatting amongst themselves. I very nearly turned around and fled but by the time I’d gauged the situation and kicked myself for going alone it was too late to escape without looking like a total moron. So I steeled myself, grabbed a glass and stayed… Boy, am I glad I did.

As Alexandra Shulman reminded us, “house rules” applied so I probably shouldn’t repeat the whole thing word for word. However I reckon I can probably get away with saying that the conversation revolved largely around the increasingly editorial bent of e-tailers and the effect this has, or doesn’t have, on glossies. The past 12 months have certainly seen a huge surge in the amount of editorial content produced by stores, both online and on Bond Street. At the same time increasing numbers of editors have left fash mags to take on roles in retail. Harpers Bazaar lost Lucy Yeomans and Carmen Bornogovo to Net-a-Porter and My-Wardrobe respectively, while Vogue waved goodbye to Fashion Coordinator, Tilly Macalister Smith who recently joined Tom’s team at Matches. So does the fact that virtually every fashion emporium on the planet now produces their own online and/or print magazine spell doom for the glossies? Has the likes of Bornogovo and Macalister Smith moving over to retail created an atmosphere akin to “the Wild West”, as Shulman joked that rainy evening at Claridges? Are the lines between editorial and retail eventually going to end up so blurred that it’s impossible to decipher one from the other? The resounding message I got from Alexandra Shulman and Tom Chapman’s discussion was no, there is still a place for both and many people still want their monthly dose of fashion delivered to their doorstep, not their iPad.

The iPad issue raised another very interesting point, namely how far should fashion magazines be about selling products? Grazia, for instance, recently released their app which allows you to “click to buy” pretty much every garment featured, an idea that’s both ingenious and lethal for your bank balance. So if magazines can be used for shopping, and online stores are packed with articles, editorials and trend reports where does one end and the other begin and do we really need both? For all her innovations, Shulman is a traditionalist in this respect. She feels “very passionately that a magazine isn’t just something to sell product through” and argued that “you have to be careful as a journalist… that you don’t start catering your content to what people are interested in.” According to her, Vogue and it’s ilk should still predominantly be about inspiring, mesmerizing and telling people what’s chic, not just showing them stuff you think they’ll buy. This is a trap that, on a much MUCH smaller scale, I constantly try not to fall into. In between “weekly wish lists”, affiliate marketing and “ohmigod look at these shoes!” type posts, as a blogger it’s easy to inadvertantly find yourself flogging clothes which isn’t really what the whole thing’s about.

Another point that cropped up was cost, always a contentious subject. If the likes of Matches, Net-a-Porter and My-Wardrobe are offering magazine content free of charge won’t people just do their reading online instead of paying £4.10 for Vogue? According to Shulman, that’s not the case for the simple reason that the online user is “not the same” as the print one. Personally I’m not sure that’s entirely true but I certainly don’t think that having the option of finding out about the latest trends on Net-a-Porter will result in widespread magazine subscription cancelletions (tongue twister alert!). In order to survive retailers need people to buy their products so, unlike traditional magazines, their editorial content is about engaging the customer but ultimately the point is to encourage them to make a purchase. That’s not to say e-tailers aren’t offering up top quality stuff, God knows if the likes of Lucy Yeomans are in charge it will undoubtedly be fabulous. But from where I’m sitting it seems that one approaches the Matches website in a different way to, say, the latest issue of Harpers Bazaar. If you’re shopping, be it on My Wardrobe or ASOS the editorial content serves the purpose of helping you decide what to buy, which of the featured brands to support and seasonal trends to buy into. A monthly glossy isn’t so much about finding a new pair of jeans or getting the latest fashion news, it’s about enjoyment, inspiration and experience. Digital devotee though I am, personally I’d always rather curl up with a cup of tea and a magazine than my iPad.

I know I haven’t really come to much of a conclusion, to be honest I don’t have the knowledge to do so. But I think, and certainly hope, that the next few years will see fantastic editorial driven e-tailers and our favourite glossy magazines continue to co-exist. What do you reckon?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 2 Comments

Raquel Allegra X Matches

Raquel Allegra

You all know how much I love a brand with a backstory and making your first collection from recycled prison shirts is certainly a good one. Sounds a bit urban fashion legend I know but that’s precisely how A-List favourite, Raquel Allegra got started. Growing up with artisan parents inspired the Californian designer to approach fashion with an experimental attitude. In lieu of learning traditional tailoring techniques Raquel developed her own unique style of fabric manufacture involving mix n’ match textiles, shredding and webbing. But this innovative approach wasn’t all part of Raquel’s plan to be a designer. In fact, I was surprised to learn that she never actually had any intention to work in fashion. Raquel Allegra actually moved to Los Angeles in 2000 with dreams of becoming a singer and, like many aspiring songstresses, found herself taking a job at a boutique in order to pay the rent and making her own clothes out of necessity. But what started out as a personal project using unwanted shirts from the Los Angeles Country Prison System soon captured the LA fashion pack’s attention and mere months later Raquel Allegra designs were being spotted on everyone from Heidi Klum to the Olsen twins. Nowadays her collections stock (and sell out) everywhere from New York to Taiwan and Raquel’s trademark thrifted fabrics sit alongside the luxe likes of deerskin, linene, cashmere and French lace.

Raquel Allegra

I was very pleased to hear the news that this season one of my absolute FAVE shopping destinations, Matches, had enlisted Raquel to design an exclusive capsule collection for them. Admittedly “laid back luxe” and “deconstructed” aren’t usually words synonymous with my personal style but, as you might remember, one of this year’s fasholutions was to take fashion risks and go “less Alexa more Carine”… A little bit of Raquel Allegra for Matches would certainly be a chic way to do it. How hot would the spotted chiffon boxy tee look with a slick leather pencil skirt, bare leg, big sunglassed and skyscraping ankle boots? I feel Ms Roitfeld would approve.

raquel allegra

The collection will launch at the end of January but if you can’t wait, click here to shop Raquel Allegra at Matches now.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping 2 Comments

LPA Loves: Mark Cross 1845

Mark Cross 1845

As you know all too well, I have a bit of a thing for handbags. Ok, let’s rephrase that. I have an extreme, bordering on unhealthy obsession with handbags. From roomy totes to impractically teeny clutches, many a slice of arm candy caught my eye during the SS13 press days but some of the bags that really and truly made my heart skip a beat were from Mark Cross 1845. With shapes that exude timeless elegance and colour-popping hues adding a dose of fashion forward fun, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards these beauties at the Matches press day!

Mark Cross 1845

1) Scottie Satchel Bag, £1940, click here to buy
2) Grace Box Bag, £1650, click here to buy
3) Scottie Bag, £1610, click here to buy

Of course any bag that looks like these is guaranteed to be a hit with me but one of the things I discovered after the initial “ohmigod” moment was the incredible story behind the brand. Mark Cross 1845 started out as Mark. W. Cross & Co in, you’ve guessed it, 1845 as a purveyor of carridge saddles and harnesses. After the death of its founder, the company was acquired by the American Patrick Murphy who shortened its name to “Mark Cross”, branched out into other luxury leather goods and opened stores in New York and London. But where the tale really gets interesting is when Murphy’s son Gerald gets involved. After studying at Yale and establishing that his talents lay in aesthetics, not academia, the young Gerald Murphy married stunning heiress Sara Sherman Wiborg and relocated to the glamourous Cap d’Antibes. The newlyweds set up home in Villa America where they entertained many of the legendary “bright young things” of the 1920′s including Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and the Fitzgeralds. But the Murphy’s charm went beyond throwing fabulous parties. F. Scott Fitzgerald notably modeled the main characters Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night after Gerald and Sara. The couple also coined the phrase “Living Well is the Best Revenge,” which would later become the title of the renowned book about them, written by Calvin Tomkins. But to return to the point of this post, in 1934 Gerald officially took over the Mark Cross brand and expanded its offerings to include luggage, cigarette cases, and even jeweled evening bags, some of which he collaborated on with Seamen Schepps. In Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary film Rear Window, it’s none other than a Mark Cross overnight case in which Grace Kelly packs her clothing. While his family did sell the company, Gerald Murphy stayed on as president until 1955 and Mark Cross 1845 continued to sell beautiful bags to fabulous people until it closed its doors in the 1990s.

As you’ve no doubt guessed already, this story has a happy ending. Two years ago Mark Cross 1845 made one hell of a comeback, looking to its incredible archives to create a collection of exquisite accessories that well and truly deserve the title “modern classics”. In short, I want them all… Big time.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping 1 Comment

Novelty Knitwear

Having recently spent the best past of a month careering around town for the SS13 press days, I almost forgot that Winter’s barely even started yet! Plus here in London, Spring doesn’t really arrive until about July… If it makes an appearence at all, so we’ve still got plenty of time to covet, buy and get our money’s worth out of novelty knitwear. As someone who wears bedsocks and sleeps with a hot water bottle from September, I’m a pretty big fan of knitwear full stop. But wooly wonders that keep you warm and make you LOL? That’s nothing short of genius. Like most fashion obsessives, I’m more than mildly obsessed with Markus Lupfer’s tongue-in-check embellished sweaters. Over the past couple of seasons the high street has also churned out tons of playful and non-bank breaking versions so that anyone and everyone can have fun with their knits. A couple of years ago I picked up a red Christmas jumper at Zara that I’ve worn time and time again and you’ve no doubt seen crop up in my look du jour posts on numerous occasions. Much as I adore that jolly red number, I fear it might disintegrate if I don’t stop wearing non stop so I’m currently in the market for a new novelty knit. Here are a few of my current faves…

novelty knitwear

1) Banjo and Matilda Toucan Cashmere Sweater, £285, click here to buy
2) Burberry Prorsum Owl Intarsia Casmere Sweater, £895, click here to buy
3) French Connection Sequin Pug Sweater, £72, click here to buy
4) Chinti and Parker Reindeer Cashmere Sweater, £350, click here to buy
5) Markus Lupfer OMG! Bubbler Sweater, £265, click here to buy
6) Miss Selfridge Duck Jumper, £37, click here to buy

Which novelty knit would YOU pick?

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Shopping Leave a comment

LPA Loves: Opening Ceremony

Ok, so I know I’m a bit late off the mark with this one as the entire fashion world has been #OBSESSED with Opening Ceremony for some time now. While I’ve always appreciated the awesomeness of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s in-house label, I suspected their garments were the kind of so-cool-it-hurts attire that I would look foolish wearing myself. Oh, how wrong I was. Or at least, how wrong I hope I was because I have every intention of buying, wearing and adoring Opening Ceremony until I go bankrupt. Lim and Leon are ingenious fashion alchemists who somehow manage to create the perfect fusion of quirky-cute and modern cool, resulting in garments so covetable I’d sell my younger brother/kidney/iPhone to own them. Just get a load of these stunners from the AW12 collection…

Opening Ceremony

1) Babydoll Coat, £620, click here to buy
2) Emerald Dot Brocade Dress, £350, click here to buy
3) Lurex Boucle Collar Top, £258, click here to buy
4) Lurex Boucle Mini-Skirt, £258, click here to buy
5) Julietta Loafers, £190, click here to buy
6) Brenda Chelsea Boots, £246, click here to buy
7) Tango Ballerina Shoes, £186, click here to buy

I’m seriously considering investing in the Babydoll coat. Admittedly the price is a little steep but worked out on a cost-per-wear basis over several seasons it would basically pay for itself! But then, can you really have the coat without buying an entire Opening Ceremony outfit to wear it over? There goes my student loan…

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion 1 Comment