Cause Me Pain Hedi Slimane!

Saint Laurent SS15

I think it’s been established thanks to my previous lust post that I’m a big admirer of Saint Laurent since Hedi Slimane took the helm. Saint Laurent’s SS15 collection was amongst the numerous ones to channel the 70s trend which has dominated the catwalks over the last few Fashion Weeks and has been responsible, along with a desire to dress like Sydney in American Hustle, for the contents of my wardrobe seeing a 300% increase in lurex, polyester and other no doubt highly flammable fabrics.

The other thing I love about the current Saint Laurent collections is that they’re also very easy to pay homage to on a budget. Now, this might not be considered a positive attribute for a certain designer or fashion house and it has made me think whether what I actually admire is Slimane’s ability to style his pieces rather than the pieces themselves. Yes of course they’re beautifully cut, use some gorgeous fabrics and a large part of the price tag is the ‘concept’ behind them but, being lucky enough to own a couple of pieces bought when sale prices have been slashed to ridiculous amounts, if I swapped the label for one that said ‘Topshop’ I’d challenge you to tell the difference. On the other hand, every season I lust after Miuccia Prada’s designs viewing them as exquisite works of art that, unless I can afford to purchase the real thing, I will never manage to convincingly emulate on a budget and any pieces I may end up owning will be treasured forever as relics of fashion history. Fundamentally, being a Saint Laurent girl is an attainable goal should you wish it. Being a Prada or Miu Miu girl is something to aspire to. Style versus substance in the most basic terms?

vintage belt

Fashion philosophising aside, having been a teenage fan of Pulp and Manic Street Preachers my wardrobe consists of enough glittery tops, velvet blazers and assorted accessories gathered from charity shops to be able create my own version of Slimane’s ‘Studio 54’ look. The top came from Peacocks many moons ago and sat languishing at the bottom of a drawer until I recently rediscovered it, deciding it was the perfect accompaniment to the vintage 70s denim hot pants that used to belong to my very stylish mum.

Terry De Havilland Anya Hindmarch

I think my favourite bit of the outfit however are the accessories. The leather and metal buckle belt is a charity shop find that I’ve worn so much as it goes with everything that I now live in fear of either 1) losing it or 2) wearing it so much it falls to pieces. The shoes are a recent sale purchase from Yoox and were created by the ‘Rock n Roll Cobbler of the 1970s’ Terry De Havilland for Anya Hindmarch’s AW12 collection and come packaged so amazingly that they will no doubt get their own blog post soon (it’s completely acceptable to buy shoes on the strength of packaging alone isn’t it?!). The necklace, another sale purchase, is part of Alex Monroe’s exclusive ‘Verity’ collection for ASOS and adds a finishing touch of sparkle.

Alex Monroe necklace

Sadly Manchester is just a bit too cold of an evening for me to ditch the 50 denier opaques in favour of oh so fashionable sheers as I dance off into the night in search of the North West’s answer to Studio 54 but hey, there’s always room for improvement…

Oh is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel? Or just 20,000 people standing in a field.

Festival Fashion

Festival fashion. The two words guaranteed to create content for blogs and magazines during those slow months between Fashion Weeks. Festival fashion. The two words also guaranteed to set me off on a rant more epic than any delivered by Kanye at an awards ceremony.

I’m not quite sure when festival fashion became a ‘thing’. When I started going to festivals back in the rose-tinted days when a Leeds ticket cost less than £100 and King Adora were higher on the bill than The Strokes I honestly can’t remember deliberating over my wardrobe choices. My ‘festival fashion’ pretty much consisted of my normal ‘fashion’ (a term in itself a stretch considering my early-noughties wardrobe) but with added eyeliner and glitter, as befitting a MASSIVE MANICS FAN. Much higher up my priority list was how many bands I could possibly see across the weekend, why did everything HAVE to clash and what the cheapest, yet most potent, combination of alcohol to take was (Vermouth FYI. Cheap vodka may seem like a good idea but it generally equals death. Death and vomit.).

These days however, festivals are big business and VIP areas and the chance to swap your humble tent for a yurt seem to be the norm. Fashion magazines fall over themselves to offer tips on Glastonbury packing and hold up D-list celebs as pantheons of festival style. Now I’m not against wanting to dress like your idols (Courtney Love at Glastonbury in 1999 will *always* be my go to inspiration) and musical tribes are defined as much by their uniforms as by the artistes they revere but at no point should Daisy Lowe (who in a magazine article last year listed a YSL kaftan as being ‘essential’) be elevated to a fucking festival fashion oracle. The endless articles churned out seem to be written by people who’ve either never attended a festival (or never left the VIP area) and are inane at best. At worst they’re reductive and assume women only go to festivals so they can pretend to be Alexa Chung for the day (a rant better articulated by Gemma Samways’ recent Drowned In Sound piece). Whilst I’d like to think that the lack of similar articles geared towards men is simply down to the fact that Oliver Cheshire hanging out in the V Festival hospitality area will never be viewed as a figure of aspiration, I sadly doubt it.

So, as a seasoned festival goer with over a decade of hanging out in fields under my belt (and surviving two years of riots at Leeds festival) here is my own decidedly non-Vogue festival advice…

1) Never wear open toed sandals to a festival. Even if it’s *really* hot.
Yes, we all yearn for a festival that doesn’t descend into a mud bath within the first 10 minutes of pitching your tent but even if a festival is blessed with endless sunshine and ground seemingly drier than George Osborne’s tear-ducts as he slashes welfare, it will still be damp underfoot in places and that dampness won’t be from rain. Best case scenario, it’s beer. Worst case, wee. Either way, it’s still not something your open toes should be exposed to and even if they survive ‘suspicious mud’, they still run the risk of being jumped on by large, overenthusiastic men in the crowd.

2) Wellies will never let you down and don’t have to cost a fortune.
I’m not entirely sure why wellies which cost more than the price of the festival ticket are now considered de rigueur. I come from Yorkshire where to spend anything over a tenner on wellies would be considered ‘balmy’ and those from Primark, Asda, Matalan or anywhere else budget friendly do just as good a job of keeping your feet dry as the posher brands. Just avoid the ones with heels – you will look like an idiot AND fall over.

3) Bin bags are your new best friend.
Yes it’s fun watching a million bands over the weekend but it’s also bloody knackering and the joy of sitting down without fear of being covered in mud/ suspicious mud/ half eaten noodles/ vomit is pure bliss. Bin bags are also handy as makeshift raincoats or for hurriedly bundling up your possessions in the middle of the night as the campsite has been set of fire and the sight of exploding portaloos signals that it’s probably time to leave…

4) Playsuits are not your friend.
One word – portaloos.

5) But tights are.
They’re cheap. They come in a variety of thicknesses and can be layered if it gets really cold (the hill overlooking the Leeds main stage is the coldest place on earth once the sun goes does). Plus unlike jeans, they dry pretty quickly if you end up drenched in a downpour (or binned and replaced).

6) It’s fine to pay for a VIP upgrade but it’s not actually VIP
The last few years have seen a rise in the number of ‘VIP’ festival upgrades offered. Yes it’s fine if you want to hang out with the cast of Hollyoaks, have a slightly shorter bar queue and marginally better toilets (having attended and now work on festivals, I could devote an entire blog post to the festival toilet hierarchy – the ones in the artistes area are like being at The Ritz) but it’s not really VIP and doesn’t get you a better view of the acts. If you want to pay, fine but personally I’d prefer to spend the money on the entire contents of Lush to rid myself of the festival grime once I’m safely back home.

7) Camping is never enjoyable but you can make it better.
I *really* hate camping and have always camped under duress at festivals. As soon as I get there I’m counting down the days until I can return to my nice, soft bed because I love sleep and camping very rarely equals sleep. I envy people who can stay up all night, have a quick 30 minute powernap and continue on the next day without looking like death because I’m not one of those people. I need at least eight hours a night to feel human and unless you’ve knocked yourself out with an entire liqueur cabinet, you won’t get that at a festival. Over the years, my festival camping kit has expanded to include an inflatable mattress, a pillow and a massive knitted blanket bought onsite for a fiver from Oxfam so I don’t wake up shivering to death at 5am because a sleeping bag never keeps you warm enough during a British summer. Oh and a collapsible wash basin to try and stave off the feeling of griminess as long as possible.

8) A field is not the place for high fashion.
Cover yourself in glitter, stick on a flower headband if you *really* have to (although everyone will judge you and they’ll probably be correct) but don’t bring anything with you that you can’t afford to lose or ruin. ‘Suspicious mud’ will never come out of this season’s must have suede bag and white is never, ever a good choice.

The above is only advice and should not been taken as rules for life. If you want to wear white, do it. Sandals? I will do my ‘told you so dance’ when the ‘suspicious mud’ wins but whatever floats your boat. Wear what makes you happy but please don’t see festivals as an extension of fashion week – go to them to see some amazing bands, get pissed and have a laugh with your mates whilst hurling abuse at Kasabian. The bloggers and ‘celebs’ with perfect make-up, non-greasy hair, pristine outfits and £1000+ kaftans doling out advice are not figures to aspire to and neither are their wardrobes. Dave Grohl and Florence Welsh don’t give a shit what you wear to see them play and neither should you.

Empire State Of Mind

Peter Jensen Dress

Dress – Peter Jensen, Bag – Orla Kiely, Necklace – Virginie Millefiori, Lip Stain – Sephora in Always Red

I’m not sure if an outfit can technically count as a ‘#TBT’ post if the first time I’ve actually worn it is today but my NYC inspired combo reminds me of the New York trip I had back in October so there’s my tenuous link!

Now I’m a girl who loves a) a good print and b) a bargain so when I found this Peter Jensen ‘Central Park West’ print silk dress in the ASOS sale just before Christmas, it seemed daft not to make it mine. It goes brilliantly with the Orla Kiely handbag I treated myself to which I’d been lusting after since spotting it at Orla’s AW14 presentation. It’s the most I’ve ever spent on a bag (even at 20% off) but it’s utterly perfect and been my constant companion through autumn and winter, giving a dash of colour to dreary days. Orla Kiely bag

For finishing touches, I’ve added a colour pop of Sephora Cream Lip Stain in ‘Always Red’ and my amazing ‘NYC’ necklace by Virginie Millefiori. I’ve previously blogged about Virginie here (she’s the jewellery designer I Google-stalked and raced across NYC to find as I’d fallen in love with her pieces) and this ‘NYC’ necklace is my most recent purchase from her. You can choose from either the gold or silver plated brass version and the enamel detail also comes in a variety of colours (because choosing which of her pieces you want isn’t a hard enough choice already!). I love how the ‘NYC’ letters have been cleverly combined to create the Statue of Liberty’s crown, making this necklace the perfect souvenir reminder of my trip to New York whilst still being subtle and super stylish!

New York necklace

The question is though, can I get away with wearing a New York outfit in New York? As I’m currently in the process of booking a September return trip to NYC, I feel that’s another tenuous ‘#TBT’ post sorted come the autumn…

If you love Virginie’s designs as much as I do, she’s kindly given me a code to get 15% off her e-shop until the end of the year. Simply enter ‘HOLLY’ at the checkout to be the envy of all your friends…

These Boots Are Made For Walking…

Saint Laurent AW14

…or not as the blisters on my heels will attest to.

I think in terms amazing/ amazingly daft things I’ve bought in the sales these complete and utter beauties have to be up there with the best of them. Since Hedi Slimane took over at YSL, or Saint Laurent Paris as it’s now known, I’ve been a massive, massive fan of the collections he’s produced. Possibly the underlying reason for this is his ability to create luxe versions of the contents of my late teenage/ early twenties wardrobe (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty much the main bulk of my current wardrobe) and, if I had the money, my wardrobe would consist entirely of Saint Laurent ‘upgraded’ versions of my previous loves. Sadly for me, my budget (or common sense) simply won’t stretch to shelling out nearly £1000 for a pair of boots or the best part of the deposit for a house on a dress, however OMGFHAVEYOUSEENHOWAWSOMETHISIS! they happen to be.

As a result of my fantasy lifestyle being faaaaaaaaaaar outweighed by the financial reality of the one I do lead (Oh hello electricity bill! And water bill! AND rent!), I’ve had to become adept at sale stalking and making sacrifices to the Fashion Gods in the hope that the planets may align to send me some wonderous bargain. Which brings me to the boots. Oh the boots. Look at their shiny, glittery wonderfulness.

*takes a moment to simply stare at the boots*

Saint Laurent boots

So, the boots. They’re pretty much identical to a pair I saw in Office about 5 years ago which I’m still kicking myself I never bought. My reluctance at the time was whether I could pull off a pair of 60s patent knee high boots without looking like I’d just stepped out of Austin Powers. I’m still not *entirely* convinced I can but it’s an awful lot easier to find the confidence to dip your toe into the water when something you’ve toyed with suddenly becomes the height of fashion (see also dressing like my mum in the 70s). Most of the footwear in Saint Laurent’s AW14 collection made it onto my lust list but out of all the styles (still holding out for the glitter Mary Janes btw if anyone wants to hook a gal up), the patent knee high ‘Babies’ seemed the most wearable. Sadly with a £900ish price tag, to justify a cost per wear it would have meant wearing them until the day I retired and so the sales stalking began.

Sales stalking mainly consists of me perusing various fashion retail websites sighing longingly at the sale items that, although 50% reduced, still cost more than my entire share of the rent for that month and silently cursing when something sells out in my size. On very rare occasions when I’ve been quick off the mark after final reductions have been announced I’ve managed to bag one or two lust items but in general, and especially with Saint Laurent, my size has sold out quicker than the winner of The Voice’s career. In Manchester however, there’s the added advantage of having branches of both Selfridges and Harvey Nics in the city centre and it was during a Selfridges lunchtime browse that I stumbled across THE BOOTS. AT 75% OFF. IN MY SIZE. Reader, I bought them.

I’ve still not worn them as much as I’d like as they still need breaking in and, as I feared, it’s tricky trying to find an outfit to go with them which doesn’t scream 60s fancy dress but, styling issues and blisters aside, I’m completely in love with them. Whilst £199 is a lot to spend on a pair of leather boots, it’s still probably cheaper than buying a full price, well made pair from a decent high street retailer. And they probably wouldn’t have glitter heels.

Saint Laurent Babies

Orla Rules OK!

Most people when they visit New York probably have a ‘must see/ do’ list that includes icons such as Central Park, the Empire State building or the Statue of Liberty. My list however, whilst still including the utter *essentials* of New York site seeing (Grand Central – tick, Gossip Girl tour – tick, sitting on the steps of the Met giving my best Blair Waldorf face – MASSIVE TICK) also had, fairly high up too I might add, a trip to Orla Kiely’s NYC shop. Now I know what you’re thinking, why treck half way around the world just to visit the shop of a brand you could pop to in London?! Whilst in theory this is true, my visits to London over the last few years have been sporadic and so jam packed that by the time I’ve seen all my friends for a catch up, there’s barely time left to marvel at the wonder that is the Waitrose cheese room (trust me, it’s amazing) let alone cram some retail therapy in too which is why I was stupidly excited about *finally* getting the chance to visit Mercer Street and dive headlong into Orla’s world.

Orla Kiely Mercer Street

I have to admit that up until a few years ago, I was only aware of Orla Kiely as the designer who put 60s style stem prints on a vast selection of homewares and didn’t have a clue that she also designed clothes too. At some point during the cold days of February 2013 however, whilst hitting up Google to keep updated with all things London Fashion Week, I stumbled across a couple of blogs carrying photos from her AW13 presentation (beautifully styled by the amazing Leith Clark) and fell hopelessly in love.

It’s probably no surprise that my love for Orla Kiely started around the same time as discovering Wes Anderson’s films (again, *very* late to that party) as both artists share the ability to create entire worlds around their ideas that are so appealing and considered it’s impossible not to be drawn in. Orla’s Fashion Week presentations (and supporting campaign films) are never merely just catwalks of clothes but instead feel more like snapshots of some wonderful retro dream that the viewer has stumbled upon. This sepia-tinged aesthetic extends to the New York shop where offerings from the AW14 collection sit alongside homewares in a faux-domestic setting that includes a kitchen, lounge area (complete with TV showing ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ – always a good thing in my book) and erm, caravan resplendent in Orla Kiely print.

After trying on a few bits and pieces from the current collection, I discovered a rail of sale items including a skirt from the AW13 collection I’d been lusting after and having purchased it, was brave enough to ask the very lovely sales assistant if I could take a few snaps of the shop interior to share on here (is it just me who gets slight sales assistant fear when I’m in shops that my budget wouldn’t normally stretch to?!?).

Orla Kiely AW14

Orla Kiely AW14

Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely AW14

Orla Kiely New York

Orla Kiely Mercer Street

Orla Kiely New York

Orla Kiely AW14

Orla Kiely AW14

Orla Kiely New York

Thankfully my limited American budget meant that I couldn’t walk away with the whole shop (although I’m sure the little brushwood fox would look right at home in my flat…) but it was a lovely excuse to have a glimpse into Orla’s world and add one or two items to my every growing wishlist…

New York, New Treasures!

Following on from my *slightly* photo-heavy last post, no trip to New York would be complete without a spot of shopping. Despite the majority of my holiday budget being reserved for food, sightseeing and rather a lot of craft ale, I still indulged in a bit of retail therapy and whilst I managed to avoid any extravagant splurges (I’m not counting the skirt I bought from Orla Kiely as it was in the sample sale so, erm, technically a bargain it would be rude not to have bought…), I still came away with a few bits and pieces to serve as mementos of my trip.

Sephora Always Red

Cream Lip Stain in Always Red – Sephora

As a massive fan of a good red lip, I’d heard people banging on about the wonders of Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in Always Red for ages but, as they don’t have any UK stores, my New York trip was the first chance I had to get my hands on it. It dries to a bold, matte finish and whilst its classic red shade is darker than my beloved MAC ‘Lady Danger’ and therefore better for a more dramatic evening look, I can’t fault its staying power as it managed to survive an afternoon of burgers and beer in The Dead Rabbit without visibly shifting. The application can be a tad imprecise though so I’d definitely recommend using a lip liner to keep it neat and prevent feathering.

Virginie Millefiori necklace

Mini Cat Necklace – Virginie Millefiori

One of the joys of blogging is being able to bring designers I love to a wider audience and over the last year or so, I’ve written about a few of the jewellery brands I just can’t get enough of. Another name to add to the list is Virginie Millefiori who creates enameled pieces in brass, sterling silver and gold vermeil. I first stumbled across Virginie’s work at her stall in Chelsea Market on my second day in NYC but, as I was trying to be good and not blow all my spending money at the start of my holiday, resolved to return at the end of my trip and treat myself. Good plan had the stall not been part of a pop-up and therefore gone when I returned! Cue some frantic Googling (as I’d failed to actually write down her name!) and a dash across town on my last day to find a street market she had a stall at. Thankfully my quest wasn’t in vain and I managed to purchase this necklace (which reminds me more of a fox than a cat) which I’ve been wearing to death ever since. Next on my wishlist is this NYC necklace to go with the Peter Jensen Central Park print dress I picked up in the ASOS sale.

New York Shopping

Cuff links – Churoncalla, Lapel pins – Chelsea Market, Pocket Square – Fine & Dandy

Every stylish girl needs a stylish boy to accompany her and thankfully I’ve found one who fits the bill perfectly. As a girl, I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion but my other half bemoans the lack of decent, independent retailers selling affordable accessories for men and resents having to wait until Topman delcare dapper men ‘on trend’ in order to pick up the odd pocket square. New York however proved to be a treasure trove for the discerning gent with Chelsea Market offering cufflinks from Churoncalla as well as lapel pins and multicoloured shoe laces from Curated Basics. We also made pilgrimage to Fine And Dandy in Hell’s Kitchen, an Aladdin’s cave of stylish offerings where we picked up this cocktail inspired pocket square based on an original 1960s design.

New York shopping certainly caters for all budgets and is brimming full of big name department stores (I had a brief trip to Bloomingdales to pick up a NYC themed Christmas decoration as a gift), high street staples, pop-ups and quirky independents to suit all tastes. Sadly I didn’t get enough time to explore the vintage shops I’m told the East Village is brimming with but hey, a girl needs to leave something to do on her next visit doesn’t she?!

If you love Virginie’s designs as much as I do, she’s kindly given me a code to get 15% off her e-shop until the end of 2015. Simply enter ‘HOLLY’ at the checkout to be the envy of all your friends…

Yeah! New York

Since hitting the big 3-0 I have officially found myself at the stage of life where my entire yearly holiday allowance is spent attending friends weddings which is how a little over a month ago I found myself and the boy headed to New York for ten days of sightseeing, shopping and a Central Park wedding.

I will happily admit that previous to my trip, visiting New York was never particularly high on my ‘must do’ list. Yes I know it’s meant to be one of the best cities in the world and as a Gossip Girl addict and fan of all things Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blondie related you’d think I’d have a burning desire to visit but for some reason the urge to jet across the Atlantic had never struck me. An invite to my friends’ wedding in NYC however finally gave me the push I needed to ‘cross the pond’ and I’m now kicking myself I never visited sooner as it’s now possibly my new favourite place in the world and I’m trying to figure out how I can justify another trip…

Yotel New York

New York High Line

New York

Chelsea Market

Brooklyn Bridge

Times Square New York

New York Grand Central

Having debated going down the Air B&B route when it came to accommodation, me and the boy eventually settled on Yotel which was located only a few minutes from Time Square and proved the perfect base for exploring the city. I’d heard nightmare stories of the tiny amount of square footage to be found in central New York hotel rooms but the clever use of space in our ‘Premium View Cabin’ meant that, although compact, it never felt cramped and gave more than enough space to stash away the multiple outfits, shoes, toiletries and books we’d both bought. Yotel’s bar also served a great selection of food, cocktails and craft beer (oh how I miss the happy hour!) which meant we didn’t have to drag our jet lagged asses too far to find nourishment on the first night. The Yotel was also just round the corner from a supermarket which was great for stocking up on yet more craft beer and nibbles as well as fresh croissants every morning.

Little Italy

New York

New York

New York

New York

Chrysler Building

Top Of The Rock

Although we did a lot of the touristy stuff – Times Square, Top Of The Rock, Grand Central, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (which we definitely needed at least another day to explore it was so big!), Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, the ‘Ghostbusters’ Fire Station, a performance of Cabaret on Broadway and catching a free gig by the ever amazing We Are Scientists (seriously, those guys haven’t aged in 10 years!), the majority of our time was simply spent wandering around the city taking in the impressive range of buildings and sites it has to offer. We also decided to hit The High Line which is a public park built on top of a former freight rail line which snakes along the West Side of Manhattan and is a great way of getting a slightly more elevated view of the city. I’d thoroughly recommend hoping off at Chelsea Market for great food and even greater jewellery. It’s safe to say we definitely got our money’s worth out of our 7 day Metrocards which gave unlimited use of the subway and made getting around a doddle.

Ghostbusters Fire Station

New York

We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists

New York

No write up of my NY trip would be complete without a mention of all the amazing food and drink we encountered. Aside from working our way through the US McDonalds’ menu and a good chunk of the Grand Central food court, we also ate and drank in the following amazing places – The Dead Rabbit, Blind Tiger, Hudson Malone, Beer Culture and Flatiron Lounge (fantastic for cocktails!).

Our amazing 10 days has cemented NYC in my heart and this is definitely the start of a beautiful love affair. xoxo

Chrysler Building