I’ve always thought of myself as a shoe girl and if you were to see the floor to ceiling stack of boxes in my wardrobe, you’d probably agree. Over the last year or so however I seem to have switched my allegiances (or run out of shoes to buy…) and my collection of bags has grown at quite an alarming rate. I think my initial hesitance towards bags stems from my dislike of the whole ‘It Bag’ craze which swept through the fashion world in the early noughties as I’ve always been the sort of girl who once I’ve found something I love, I tend to wear it to death and the thought of spending extortionate amounts on a piece of arm candy (or buying a high street copy) which would then be deemed ‘unfashionable’ a season later just seemed a bit daft. Thankfully the need for statement bags seems to have abated and for those of us who like our fashion to last longer than one A/W or S/S season, the decline in all things ‘It’ has coincided with a renaissance in mid-price, classic, well made bags from British companies. When one such company, Cut Make Trim recently got in touch to ask if I’d like to road test their bags and new website I jumped at the chance.
Based in London, all of Cut Make Trim’s products are made by a small team in their Dalston workshop and their new website is another milestone for the growing brand who also have a stall every Saturday and Sunday at Covent Garden’s Jubilee Craft Market (which is now firmly on my ‘to visit’ list the next time I’m down in London).
The company currently offer three styles of bags on their website – the Satchel (which comes in three different sizes), the Saddle and the Barrel – and each of these come in a myriad of colours including fluorescents and pastels along with more traditional shades which makes it a little hard for the indecisive (i.e. me) to choose which of the gorgeous bags is best! As you might be able to tell from previous ‘OOTD’ posts, I tend to favour an 11″ satchel when it comes to bags (as I think anything larger looks a bit too big on me) but this does mean that I generally have a cloth bag with me too for any overspill. Whilst CMT’s satchels are all very lovely indeed, the style which really caught my attention was their Barrel bag as despite its classic shape, it’s not a style I’d seen elsewhere and I also had a sneaking suspicion that with its 220 x 310 x 190mm dimensions, I might just be able to leave the cloth bag at home. I opted for a dark tan version as I realised recently that I don’t actually own any bags in ‘classic’ colours and as the Barrel bag has such a striking shape, I felt that it didn’t need a bright colour to show it off (plus in my head it reminds me of an old fashion doctors bag and the dark tan will look great teamed with my brogue boots). The website is very user friendly (once you’ve decided on your style and colour options – decisions, decisions!) and delivery was both free and super speedy! I think my only criticism would be that at the moment there is no embossing service offered which is a shame as the chance to have items initialled does make them feel that little bit extra special.
The bag itself is made of gorgeous leather and sturdy enough that the bag won’t lose its shape over time. The gold hardware of the buckles beautifully compliment the warm tones of the dark tan and it comes with a detachable shoulder strap which makes it comfortable enough for day to day wear but also gives the option of turning it into a more ladylike handbag for the evening. Size wise, I possible should have ordered the royal blue version to reflect its Tardis-like properties! At the last count it’d not only managed to fit my everyday essentials (keys, money, lipstick) but also the book I currently have my head buried in as well as a small umbrella which is an essential when living in Manchester. My cloth bag days are definitely a thing of the past!
The quality and choice of Cut Make Trim’s products along with their easy to use website are a winning combination and I’m completely in love with my new bag. With a shift back to quality rather than quantity in the fashion world and a growing desire to know more about the ethics and origins of the pieces we buy, there is a resurgence for British made products and Cut Make Trim are definitely a name to watch out for.
*The Barrel bag was gifted to me by Cut Make Trim for review purposes but as ever, all opinions, words, spelling mistakes and photos are my own!*
One of the advantages of having very stylish friends as that they’re fantastic at giving tip offs about amazing new designers. Now I must confess that I’ve always been a bit of a shoe girl but since hitting the big 3-0 (not sure I’ve mentioned that quite enough have I?!), I’ve started to think about adding a ‘keep forever’ bag to my wardrobe. The problem for me when making purchases quite a bit over my usual budget (as ‘keep forever’ ones tend to be) is that I end up faced with the tricky balancing act of buying something timeless yet still contemporary enough to not look like I’m dressing way beyond my years. As fashion oxymorons go, it’s a tough one and whilst Chanel continually manage to update their classic bags in a variety of colours and finishes (but eternally over my modest savings), a lot of other designers’ bags tend to be very season led and therefore as redundant as an X Factor winner’s career once S/S or A/W is over. Faced with this conundrum, you can image my delight when Fashion For Lunch arrived for one of our sadly too infrequent weekend meet ups wearing a Kzeniya ‘Dream Bag’.
Kzeniya Oudenot, the talented designer behind the lustworthy range, is a London St Martin’s College graduate and founded the label in 2010. With previous employers as diverse as the Royal Opera House and Alexander McQueen, Kzeniya’s designs have the perfect mix of classic shape with contemporary detail through the contrast of the perspex and brass elements. Curious to find out more about Kzeniya and her designs? Well thankfully she very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions…
Your biography says that before you started the label, you designed sets and costumes for operas and ballets. How did you make the leap from that to designing accessories?
I originally studied theatre design for set and costumes, so after graduation assisted with the designs for opera and ballet. It was really a fantastic experience, theatre is still my great passion, but I was always leaning towards something slightly more commercial, so decided to try myself in fashion.
I was approached by some technological companies who had amazing innovative materials and who wanted me to create unique costumes with them to illustrate the technology. I did several projects like that, we showcased costumes in museums and galleries and had lots of press, I was invited to conferences to speak about my experience, so it was really fun. My last project was to create 3D holographic prints, the best material for these prints was leather so I started working with leather and decided to create a small range of leather accessories. I enjoyed it so much that decided to focus on accessories since then.
Do you think your previous career has influenced your designs in any way and if so, how?
Perhaps there is something similar to designing theatre sets, when I design accessories, I think of them as 3D objects. Instead of drawings, I love working with patterns and 3D shapes in cardboard.
What do you think has been the biggest influence on your designs and what’s currently inspiring you?
Sculpture, art, architecture and jewellery elements.
When designing, do you have an image of the ‘Kzeniya’ customer in your head and how would you describe them?
Someone experimental, very cultural, educated, who likes to be different, original, to stand out from the crowd and be very attractive.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
I am discussing collaborations with various jewellery designers.
As a designer, what’s been your proudest moment so far?
Having seen my designs on so many celebrities and also to be chosen for Vogue Talents and having an opportunity to present my collection to Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani.
If you could only keep one bag from your collection, which one would it be and why?
Dream bag as you can wear it day and night.
Where would you like to see the brand in five years’ time?
To sell in more amazing stores, perhaps introduce jewellery and maybe open own store.
And finally, what are your handbag essentials?
Notebook, diary, pen and phone.
Having studied one of the ‘Dream Bags’ close up (and then reluctantly returned it to its owner – bah!), I can confirm that the quality is brilliant and the leather has a very subtle shimmer meaning that the bags will see you through from desk to disco (and back again if it’s been one of *those* nights…)! Available to buy through her website and at various online and international stockists, these bags are proving to be a hit with both celebrities and the fashion elite and hopefully it won’t be too long before I own my own dream ‘Dream Bag’!
One day I will show restraint when it comes to jewellery (especially with a significant birthday AND Christmas coming up) but when I set eyes on this fantastic Katie Mullally Peg Charm necklace I couldn’t wait to add it to my collection! I’ve actually been lusting over it for the best part of a year since seeing it on Fashion For Lunch’s ever stylish blog so I’m thrilled it’s finally mine.
Although the size of my collection may suggest otherwise, I’m actually very picky when it comes to jewellery and if I’m going to spend money on a piece, I want something that not only looks amazing but is also going to last. Whilst it was the quirkiness of the designs which first attracted me to Katie’s work (the Peg Charm has ‘cult status’ written all over it, move over Alex Monroe’s Bumblebee!) there’s also a clear commitment for British made quality and craftsmanship.
Katie started out working in her grandmother’s antiques business and it was there that she found her passion for silver and hallmarking. Thanks to being from Sheffield (which is one of the four remaining Assay Offices in the UK) and having watched countless episodes of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ on Sunday afternoons at my granny’s, I’ve always been aware of the importance of hallmarking precious metals as it not only helps to tell the history of a piece but it also gives an assurance as to the quality of the item. Even though legally silver only needs hallmarking if it weighs over 7.78g, all of Katie’s quirky sterling silver charms are fully hallmarked (complete with her own individual ‘KMM’ Sponsor’s Mark) which I think makes the pieces that little bit extra special.
All of Katie’s charms come in sterling silver or 22.5 carat gold-plate and can be worn individually or with several at once depending on your mood. Although my silver peg is flying solo at the moment, I’ve got my eye on these Ammonite and Whistle charms so hopefully it won’t be that way for long! I’m also tempted to get in the festive mood with this limited edition Christmas Wreath but I’d should probably save my pennies and start my Christmas shopping for other people…
It’s that time of year again when Elle, Vogue, et al weigh about the same as a average house brick – yes folks, the September Issues are upon us! Now as well as being full of page upon page of lust worthy objects I can never afford (basically the whole of Charlotte Olympia, Miu Miu and Orla Kiely A/W 13), they also offer a heads up of the trends which, if we’re good little fashion bunnies, we’ll be following for A/W 2013. Now it’s true that very little is ever completely ‘new’ in fashion (as demonstrated by most of my ’90s teenage wardrobe being back in fashion…) but for the last few years all of the A/W trend reports seem to have banged on about the Hitchcock Heroine being the look of ‘de saison’ (ooh la la!).
As much as I’m a fan of Hitchcock’s stylish leading ladies, the ‘Hitchcock Heroine’ when it comes to A/W trends seems to be lazy fashion journalism for ‘there’s pencil skirts, knitwear and TWEED!’. I have absolutely no issues at all with pencil skirts, knitwear, tweed or any combination thereof (as my wardrobe will attest) but rather than channelling their essence, by reducing Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak et al to the status of a capsule wardrobe it only serves to dilute the complex performances that these actresses give.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take style cues from fictional heroines (I’m guilty of it myself – *cough* Suzy Bishop in Moonrise Kingdom) but if you do want to add a bit of Hitchcockian glamour to your look without straying into the realms of fancy dress then this silk scarf from Red Brick is just the ticket.
I’ve only recently stumbled across Red Brick’s amazing range of scarves and jewellery, all of which are designed and hand-drawn by Royal College of Art graduate Karen Mabon, and at prices starting at only £10, I’m trying my hardest to resist buying everything on the site!