Hobbs Launches Collection No 1

This week sees the launch of Hobbs’ Collection No 1, created in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.
The debut line draws inspiration from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which dates back to the 17th century, translated into modern classics for the AW 13 season. For example, the spotted ermine trim from coronets in the collection has been re-imagined as the Alexa angora roll-neck sweater and scarf, whilst the grey overcoats worn by Tower of London guardsmen becomes the luxe layered Parade trench. There's footwear, jewellery and accessories on offer too, and one really nice touch is how the traditional Busby hat has been playfully turned into a soft grey textured bag come muff - a fun yet stylish alternative to gloves this winter. 
Typical Hobbs hallmarks are all there - tailoring, attention to detail and wear-ability - whilst the collection is crafted from fabrics sourced in traditional mills across the UK, paying further homage to Britain’s rich heritage. 
This little girl is most in love with the Windsor overcoat; available in that exquisite shade of royal blue which Kate Middleton is such a huge fan of, it features oversize drop shoulders and minimalist line inspired by menswear. Wear with a simple white shirt, slim cut trousers, and the Hampton fringed brogue in silver leather - which has just become my shoe of the season. 
I've selected a few of my favourite pieces below, but head to the Hobbs website to view the feature and shop the full Hobbs No 1 Collection. 

It Must Be Love: Kelly Love AW 13 Collection

Normally I'd think reciting a press release word for word is a rather boring - not to mention downright lazy - way of presenting a designer's new season collection, but the AW 13 notes from boutique label Kelly Love are so whimsical and romantic they feel more like a poem than a press release. The notes also do a fine job of capturing the mood of this Autumn's collection, aptly named 'Flowers & Grandeur'.

My favourite range so far from the designer, moody floral prints set the tone, especially when paired with hammered silk blouses and trousers, a-line skirts, and fitted, cropped jeans. Texture is also high on the agenda, with the 'Faded Nostalgia' velvet dress and the 'Parisian Sunrise' ombre effect mohair coat particular favourites. Long time lovers of the brand will not be disappointed either, as classic styles like the button up blouses, shirt dresses, and midi dresses remain in an autumnal palette of maroon, purple, magenta, blush, nude, teal and midnight black. 

Read the full press release poem below & shop the Kelly Love AW 13 Collection. 

"A wooden door in Paris..... Painted duck egg blue with a fine brass knocker. It
used to be grand. Used to be the house on the street that wanderers would marvel 
at and bohemian folk would flock to for tea and parties. Now it is faded with a nostalgic air of tragedy and loss. But the air of beauty has never left..... 

I heard he used to write her letters, long and drawn out pages of his unwavering
love for her and how he would rather die than live in this world without her. Used to 
buy her bunches and bunches of fresh exotic  flowers that he would leave by that
grand blue door - Calla lilies, Orchids, Sweet Peas & Poppies...... 

You used to see her. Gliding around the streets in her exquisite finery – dresses
made of the lightest silk illustrated with an artist’s palette & floral blooms. Thick 
woolen ombre & mohair coats to ward of the chill, paneled blouses of silk chiffon
and jacquard, velvet panels on Italian suede & antique lace folded into collars. 
The colour were vibrant against her luminous skin - sumptuous magenta, the
deepest teal to match her eyes, dusty blush against the blackest hues & nude pink 
so naked it was almost indecent. 

Whatever happened to them? Where did they go? Their presence was strong
enough to leave a mark, a remnant of history that will always remain on that 
Parisian doorstep of flowers and grandeur....."

Read the Kelly love S/S 13 collection report here.

Woolly Wonders: knits for the new season

As Wool Week 2013 (14th - 20th October) draws to a close I thought it only fitting to share my best woolly wonders with you on the blog. These are the knits I'm craving for AW 13, some thanks to their catwalk credentials - Kenzo's Lotus eye & Christoper Kane's brain scan are both signature, unmistakable prints this season - whilst others I love thanks to their timeless simplicity, which means I can dig them out again next winter. In particular, waffle knits in grey and brown are my go-to pieces right now, worn with denim at weekends or over skirts for work, and the high street has some high-fashion alternatives - just beware of the lower wool content. 

Whilst we are on the subject of knits has anyone noticed the alarming amount of Christmas jumpers already available? Every year they seem to drop earlier - I had to check my calendar to make sure I hadn't skipped over Halloween - and the designs become more outlandish. Gone are the days you were ridiculed a la Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones for wearing a Christmas jumper, now it seems you're missing out if you don't show your support for the festive period by wearing some kind of santa / reindeer / snowman sweater. I myself will be purchasing Primark's 'nice baubles' red design for £12, after all there's nothing like a bit of innuendo to get Christmas off to a good start is there? 

New Shopping App, Mallzee Launches

After a much anticipated launch at London Fashion Week in the Fashion Monitor Style Lounge, brand new shopping app Mallzee has launched. Aiming to change the way we shop online, the app lets you shop all your favourite stores in one place, get style tips and recommendations from over 1 million items of clothes, and shop with friends over live chats.  

When starting the app Mallzee, puts you through a short quiz to suss out your style (a bit like a free personal shopper service) to learn your style and keeps adapting based on your changing moods. It then let's you shop from over 200 retailers including the likes of Miss Selfridge, Motel, Mango and ASOS. 

Perks include the ability to build a virtual wardrobe of all your potential future purchases, and the opportunity to shop with friends in real-time, asking their opinion if you are unsure about what to buy, which is a lot easier than emailing back and forth links in your lunch hour! You can even share opinions, cast votes and recommend items to your nearest and dearest.

What do you think, will you be downloading Mallzee? click here to get the lastest version of the app 

First Look: MiH Jeans SS 14 Pre-Collection

Last week I was invited along to the MiH Jeans press day to view the forthcoming Spring Summer 2014 Mainline and Pre-Collections. An avid fan of the British label which was re-launched in 2006 (with ready-to-wear added in 2011 and outerwear just this year) I was looking forward to seeing the fresh denim shapes and adding to my never-ending new season wish-list. 

The Pre-Collection didn't disappoint, with two new denim styles to look froward to. First up the 'Phoebe Slim' is a new slimmed-down version of the classic boyfriend jean, best worn with the cuffs rolled up high and low slung on the hip. Meanwhile, the bright blue knee patches on skinny jeans form another new shape: 'The Nouvelle'. Classic styles like the Marrakesh haven't been forgotten either, and staying true MiH's 70's heritage the Marrakesh gets a makeover in a retro CC wash and comes in leather for the first time this season. 

As per usual, touches of denim have been incorporated into wardrobe essentials such as a chambray collar on a white shirt or a gathered waist denim dress, though MiH's star of the show has to be the denim jacket, which comes both in a classic fit and in the Boyfriend Jacket for SS 14. Crayola blue and oversized in a subtle nineties style, its shaping up to be the key piece of the season.

Also worth a note are the t-shirts in new loose, drop-shoulder fits, an alpaca sweater with thumb-holed cuffs 'giving an understated nod to luxury grunge' we're told from the press notes, alongside relaxed white paint splatter denim jeans and frayed hem shorts. My most likely to drool over piece? The butter-soft leather mac in a luxurious looking mushroom shade is simply done, yet beautifully finished. 

see more after the jump

Trend Alert: Check Me Out

Ever since Hedi Slimane brought grunge to the Saint Laurent catwalk in Paris, it was a forgone conclusion that plaids were going to play a big part in Autumn / Winter 13 trends. The rebel attitude brought to life that day with ripped denim, biker boots and jackets, black leather bustier dresses and the oversized tartan shirts has since found its way onto agenda of every buyer on the high street, albeit in a toned down version of the original punk spirit of the collection.
Already well on board with this trend (Zara's checked dress with zip's was my first buy of the new season) I've now got my eye on smart separates whether its in houndstooth, Prince of Wales check, or just plain old tartan. Not that I won't be wearing flannel lumberjack shirts and biker boots with the rest of you - I'll just be saving that for weekends. Checks for work is a whole different ball game and requires closer inspection at the AW 13 collections of Marc by Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Mulberry to name but a few. 

To style I'd advise thinking about texture - another of this season's key trends, it's a perfect partner to checks - case in point being Stella's fluffy jumper and Warehouse's brushed wool blurred check biker coat. Sequins are another fun way to work the look, team Topshop's pencil skirt with basic T-ees and sweats or use ASOS's clutch as a burst of colour to cheer up any dreary winter day. 

This Little Girl Loves: rose gold rings from Wanderlust + Co

Three years ago, Wanderlust + Co was just an idea in a bedroom in Melbourne, Australia. Now the jewellery brand has customers worldwide, who are all fans of the label's playful, whimsical, and eclectic signature look, which is mixed each season with more fashion-forward, statement pieces such as the bauble and crystal bib necklaces.

This fall the collection features delicate rings in gold, silver, and my favourite - rose gold - under the banner of 'The Simple Things'. These beautiful day-to-night styles we're made for stacking, with midi rings available to carry on summer's biggest street wear jewellery trend well into Autumn. What's more you can also steal catwalk looks at more affordable prices; copy Lanvin's emotive word-smith Alber Elbaz with the love midi ring, whilst the screw split ring has more than a touch of Cartier's Juste un Clou nail bracelet. 

1. Crystal bubbles rose gold ring 2. Love midi rose gold ring 3. Screw split ring in rose gold, coming soon. 4. Heart pretzel rose gold ring  5. Arrow split rose gold ring 6. Crystal & Scallop stack rose gold ring, coming soon.

Friday Treat Time: for the love of lingerie

With the cold weather setting in (yesterday was a harsh wake up call from winter) my immediate focus always turns to coats and knitwear, and stocking up on 50 denier tights like they are going out of fashion. But one area of my wardrobe is never neglected, whatever the season, and that's my smalls. My enduring love of lingerie probably spans back to working on a lingerie magazine straight out of university and has continued up to this day. So when I saw this set from b. tempt'd it was love at first sight. 

Called 'La Parisienne', the polka dot and lace design features an underwired push up bra and matching hipster briefs sold separately. Though it also comes in pretty mix of black and cream, I'm lusting after the cabaret / zinfandel colourway pictured below. After all any underwear named after my favourite wine can't be a bad thing. 

My Aromatherapy Massage With Spa & Massage

Since moving to London a year and a half ago I've discovered that finding time for yourself to relax and unwind is nearby impossible, and after coming back from holiday recently all it took a trip through passport control, followed by getting on the tube at rush hour the next day to push me back into my usual stressed-out self. Which is why when I was offered the chance to try out the services at Spa & Massage this week, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Over the past four years Spa and Massage have successfully built up a reputation as the go to place for Londoners when it comes to peace and relaxation. With five locations in the city, the Bayswater branch is my closest and also happens to be the sister company of Boutique Spa where I had my holiday-ready manicure done a few weeks ago

I was booked in for a 60 minute aromatherapy massage and upon arrival I was offered a lovely cup of herbal tea before the different oil blend options we're explained to me. To help the release stress and tension a lavender oil is offered, while for other needs such as circulation improvement, toxin removal, and stimulation of the mind and body, blends called 'muscle care', 'detox' and 'energy' are available. All the oils are organic and made in the UK. 

After explaining I was coming down with a dreaded 'change of the seasons' cold we decided on the energy blend which is described as an uplifting mix of bergamot, eucalyptus, thyme and lavender. 

After selecting the oil, my physiotherapist, a lovely lady called Noi, introduced herself and led me to one of the the small treatment rooms. Starting with my back and applying a light to medium pressure it soon became apparent that I was carrying a lot of stress in my shoulders and after discovering one particularly massive knot in my left shoulder Noi asked me if I wanted the massage to be a bit harder - similar to a deep tissue massage where more intense movements and pressure is used to target knots, release chronic muscle tension and relieve the pain. 

I'm definitely glad I said yes to this as after a few days of feeling sore in that area (a completely normal side effect) I'm now more aware of when I'm putting too much strain on my shoulders with my massive tote bag or when I'm hunching over my laptop and not sitting up straight which probably caused the problems to begin with. 

After working on my shoulders, Noi treated my neck, lower back, legs, feet, and arms with the usual light to medium pressure aromatherapy massages are best known for and I admit to nearly falling asleep on the table as I was so relaxed and worn-out from the onset of my cold. A head massage finished my treatment and left me feeling sleepy, not stressed, the whole tube ride home. In addition to making me feel a million times better, I'd also like to mention how great I smelt as well thanks to the energy oil, and the lovely bergamot scent soaked into my skin and stayed with me all day. 

I'd definitely recommend Spa & Massage to a friend, and though I hope Noi has cured my shoulder for now, I'll be back in the future, probably to try the detox oil when I've over-indulged after party season! 

Thank you once again to the amazing team at Spa & Massage for taking such good care of me. 

Notes: Spa and Massage is open seven days a week from 10am to 11pm and operates a no appointment needed service. Offering a range of different massages, every client is able to personalise their treatment whether it’s a Swedish massage, deep-tissue or the Spa and Massage signature four-handed massage.

Zatchels press day: your satchel style debrief

Last week I was invited along to the Zatchels press day held at the British accessory brand's London showroom. As well as revealing the new collections for AW 13, Zatchels also debuted their exclusive collection with contemporary Chinese artist Jacky Tsai. 

Best known for his iconic Floral Skull design made for Alexander McQueen, Tsai’s vision is to blend traditional Eastern craftsmanship with contemporary Western pop art. He began working with Zatchels earlier this year to create an exclusive, limited collection of print designs which have been applied to Zatchels satchels, barrel and saddle bags. The three prints 'Skulls', 'Virus' and 'Petrol' will be available from the end of October, priced £85 to £180.

In addition to the collaboration with Tsai, new collections available for AW 13 will include the Carnival, Metallic Lava, and Quilted Patent range, plus the launch of the Zatchels PU coated KIDZ collection of satchels - which I must admit I'd still wear now at the age of 25. The Carnival collection features playful 'crayola' colours and will be available exclusively from the new Westfield London Zatchels Boutique from October 30th. Meanwhile, the Lava range has a moody metallic skin - think crackled nail polish - and will be available in three tones for winter. At the press day the new duffel bag rucksack shapes also caught my eye, made from super soft leather the sorbet shades are sure to be a hit come next spring. The style going on my wish list / wait list though has to be the denim satchels with pastel leather panels as seen below. A continuing style for Zatchels, the denim feels deliciously retro when on a satchel bag, and I'm currently crushing on the mint version for next summer. 

Shop the current Zatchels Collection online. 

See more after the jump

How to wear autumn's tricky pink trend

Feel that cold snap in the air making it no longer sensible to leave the house without a jacket? Yes Autumn is officially here and with the new season comes a whole new spate of trends to sink your teeth into. Undoubtedly this season's favoured shade, pink - from palest pastels to cerise - is the colour to be seen in. The AW 13 catwalks were awash with pink, from blush and dusky shades at Topshop Unique, Jil Sander, Celine and Roksanda Ilincic to bubblegum hues at Simone Rocha and the great British high street has been quick to follow - though in my opinion not all stores have necessarily gotten it right.

Pink is a tricky colour to pull off at the best of times, so look for expensive looking fabrics with texture-fulled qualities and high-fashion, even catwalk-copy cuts. Though boiled wools, knits and vinyl are all fine, you should avoid silk, satin and clingy fabrics like Lycra like the plague - this is not baby spice circa 1996, this is a haute new you for winter 2013. 

Wondering what to wear it with? Team pale pinks with tomato red highlights - Sophie Hulme's bag is an excellent example - or with soft greys, nudes and pastel blue. Meanwhile, brighter shades like bubblegum pink look great with a monochrome palette, and if you just want to dip your toe into the trend J.Crew has some great separates in the same shades at half the price. The without-a-doubt key piece of the season though has to be the over-sized pink coat (M&S's sold out, Zara's longer length is to die for, Topshop has the fluffy pink boyfriend style below) and with even more retailer's doing their own versions you'll be spoilt for choice this winter. Take a peek at my ten most admired to get you started. 

5. Topshop check pleat midi skirt 

Friday Treat Time: The Feather Cocktail Necklace

This week's Friday treat time comes in the form of an accessories label you may not have heard of before - but should definitely be on your radar. Dark Horse Ornament is a directional, off-beat accessory brand with biannual collections produced by founder and designer Jenny Hattersley. With its haberdashery like finish, cuffs, necklaces and corsages are all handmade using leather and other touchy-feely textiles and trims. Pretty yet tough is the end result - perfect for this season's conflicting obsessions with both punk and ladylike looks.

My favourite piece from the new collection is the feathered cocktail necklace (pictured below) which features a central leather plaque bejewelled with hand-sewn crystals and trimmed with fluttery, pink feathers, held together with black silk ribbon ties. Wear over fluffy knits or contrast with rich brocades and jacquards to take you from the office to after-work drinks, or for cocktail hour use it to give all black ensembles a playful spin.

Shop the Dark Horse AW 13 Collection.

Sneak Peek: Danielle Foster Spring Summer 14

On the blog today I'm happy to bring you a sneak peek now at one of my favourite accessory designer's forthcoming collections. The talented Danielle Foster is back with her fifth collection for Spring Summer 14. Having long been a fan of Danielle (see posts here) I'm delighted to see her work progressing whilst maintaining the brand's signature silhouettes - though some elements have changed, the same structured, boxy shapes and raw edge style remains. 

For SS 14, gone is the hardware detailing and monotone palette of previous years, and in their place we find concealed popper fastenings creating a more streamlined, minimalist look which really lets the leather take centre stage. New colour ways have also been introduced including a pure white, tan and silver using luxury leather, all of which is sourced, dyed, and embossed in the UK

The season also sees the debut of a new boxier clutch silhouette with the addition of a horse shoe gusset creating two compartments inside - very handy and perhaps a sign Foster's thinking more and more about the working woman's handbag needs. Meanwhile, the brand's classic satchel is updated with a more minimal front with concealed popper fastenings and totes are refreshed with the insertion of contrasting panels and minimal hardware, accompanied by braided leather handles and an optional shoulder strap. 

My favourite change though has to be the inclusion of a new boxy rucksack. This trend isn't going anywhere soon and Foster's contribution looks modern and oh-so premium. Maintaining the concealed popper fastening, and with optional straps, the rucksack can easily be used as briefcase for more formal appointments. I'm sure it will be gracing more than one fashionable back come next season.

The SS 14 collection will be available from January. In the meantime check out the Danielle Foster website for more information and stockists. 

This Little Girl Lost In Marrakech: Atlas Mountains, Hammam's & Riad's

My Marrakech travel diary continues with our fourth day of the trip where we left the city and travelled into the nearby Atlas mountains for some much needed fresh air and exercise. 

Whilst there we visited a traditional Berber village, pulled over to make friends with some very grumpy looking camels, and had lunch in a river bed, before climbing up to the cascades. Hiking up to the cascades was well worth the effort for the amazing view at the top, but not entirely practical in my Primark loafers (take appropriate footwear if you ever do this trip) as I struggled the whole way up, and slid half the journey down. 

So it was with great relief that I decided to spend the fifth and last full day of the holiday relaxing in the Les Bains de L'alhambra, a traditional Moroccan bathhouse. Whilst I couldn't take any pictures inside, I do have one image of the end result - my pedicure below - but the real treats were the more traditional treatments I had, such as the Hammam and facial. 

The Hammam set me back 250 dirhams (about £18) and lasted 45 minutes, whilst the facial was 350 dhr (£26) and lasted a full hour. My hammam was a completely new experience which I'd gladly repeat as I left with the softest feeling skin ever. This was thanks to the black soap used, followed by an exfoliation treatment (ten layers of skin must have been buffed away by my vigorous technician) before I was covered head to toe in clay and my feet dipped in a rose petal bath. After a luxurious foot massage I was taken up to another room for a facial using Moroccan beauty treatments - one layer for peeling, another nourishing mask and a final layer of moisturiser - with head, hand, and another foot massage all thrown in. What turned out to be a last-minute end of holiday treat turned into the best 'authentic Moroccan' experience of my whole trip and well worth the money.

Here I am wearing my impractical Primark pumps, trousers from River Island, vest top and sunglasses from Topshop, Messenger bag from Zara and indigo to purple dip-dye 'Foreshores' scarf from EMU Australia which was beautiful and practical as it kept the back of my neck from burning. 

the cascades and an ingenious water cooling system
After visiting the Hamman

After the Hamman we went for dinner before soaking up a last few hours of sun on our roof terrace. I'm wearing dress from River Island, sunglasses from Topshop, sandals from Primark, and fringed bag made especially by Barbara Boner for a press day. My necklace is a traditional Moroccan design I picked up in the souk for 30 dirhams whilst by bracelets are luxury charm and luxury spun designs lent to me by Shimla Jewellery. Jewellery on the other hand from Topshop (ring) and Accessorize (bracelet). 

See more after the jump

This Little Girl Lost In Marrakech: Visiting Jardin Majorelle

On second day in Marrakech we decided to head to one of the main tourist attractions for lovers of art and design; the botanical Jardin Majorelle on Rue Yves Saint Laurent. 

The Majorelle Garden is a twelve-acre botanical landscaped garden, first developed by French painted Jacques Majorelle in 1924. Opened to the public in 1947 the garden thrives on today after being bought and restored by designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. Though they contain many rare plants, bamboo groves, and more cacti than you can shake a stick at, its the water features and flashes of Yves Klein blue which really take your breath away. Nestled in a quite corner you'll find a memorial to the late Saint Laurent, a fitting tribute as his ashes were scattered in the garden. 

Also in the grounds is 'Galerie Love' - a room exhibiting Yves Saint Laurent's famous LOVE posters. Starting in the 70s, he sent them every year as New Year's greetings to his friends and the clients of his fashion house. Finding 1987, the year I was born, among the posters was a highlight but selecting a favourite design would be impossible there were so many - and most featuring animal motifs made using collage techniques. 

An oasis of calm in the centre of Marrakesh the gardens were a welcome relief after our hectic first day and I would definitely recommend visiting. Easy and relatively cheap to get there by taxi, entrance costs 50 dirhams and for an extra price you can also visit the Berber Museum which is set up in the former painting studio of Majorelle. The museum is really interesting and features 600 objects (lots of it jewellery to my delight) from the Berber tribes of Northern Africa. There's also a cafe, book shop and gift shop - but be warned as all have eye-watering prices. 

Here I am in the gardens wearing a black patterned dress from Zara. Messenger bag from Zara. Rope & chain necklace and sunglasses from Topshop. Midi Rings from Topshop. Luxury spun and charm bracelets, Shimla jewellery. Manicure courtesy of Boutique Spa, Bayswater. 

See more after the jump