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.
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.
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.
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…
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…