Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Merry Christmas from Ship-Shape!

My MBTs have arrived! It’s not exactly the best weather for testing out new shoes but here they are in all their glory. More fitness related posts once I’ve tried them out and hit the January sales to update my rather shoddy gym wardrobe.

On a separate note, this is my last post before Christmas as I’ll be battling the elements and juggling presents in the snow between now and New Year, as I attempt to visit two families in five days with the help of public transport, eek! I hope you all have a lovely warm and merry Christmas and you have a safe trip if you have far to travel.

Merry Christmas!



Thursday, 9 December 2010

Unleashing the animal within

I’ve always been somewhat sceptical of the animal print trend. The line between chic (Kate Moss) and cheap (Paris Hilton) is dangerously thin, even if you only experiment with a flash of leopard print on your shoes or a whimsical scarf.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, I always thought blondes were the only ones who could pull of leopard print – perhaps I was guided by movie starlets and soap opera actors. Never the less I decided that this winter I would dip a toe in the murky waters of animal print and I was pleasantly surprised that not only did I like it, but it liked me back.

Originally I had intended to go subtle but, I blame the picture of a member of The Saturdays for stumbling out of a club and being papped and featured in Reveal magazine. Her leopard print dress (which turned out to be a playsuit but more on that later) with pearl button details and pronounced shoulders was actually from Primark, above.

At £13 it was the perfect way to try out the trend without breaking the bank and, by accident, I also ended up experimenting with another trend I’d shyed away from – playsuits. That’s what you get for grabbing the hanger off the rack and heading straight to the till instead of trying it on...

I'm saving the playsuit for the festive party season so for now you'll have to take my word for it that, despite the lack of hanger appeal, this is a really flattering garment and a great leap (in the right direction) into the world of animal print.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Weird Trend of The Month: two-tone hair

There I was, browsing the pages of Look magazine on my lunch break and what did I come across but a luxurious looking fashion shoot featuring a model with striking, two-tone hair, above. Compare that to the barnet I’m sporting, below, and I think we could we could be twins no?

It’s strange really, because although I respect the fact that model looks stunning, with a gorgeous lean figure and strong features, her hair just makes me want to shout a tirade of abuse at the page. Surely the poor thing can’t be that out of pocket that she can’t at least by a packet of Garnier Nutrisse from Boots?

Alexa Chung and Drew Barrymore have being among the many celebs to road test this two-tone look in recent months but I'm pretty sure they can both afford to touch up their roots. I’d wager that I’ll have hair like that but look far less cool in approximately five months if I don’t book myself in for a haircut soon...

Above: My root-tastic hair and I on a night out, with my friend, A, looking not quite sober

Monday, 15 November 2010

Dispatches: Fashion's Dirty Secret

I've just come back from a romantic trip to Venice and I was planning on putting up a few outfit posts and general holiday snaps but instead I thought I would write about what I'm currently watching, which is arguably more important than me prancing around in front of the Rialto bridge.

After getting back from the airport minus M, who has gone off on a business trip to Germany, I thought I would catch up on some telly when I came across Dispatches: Fashion's Dirty Secret. The documentary, which aired last week, investigates the working conditions in UK factories that supply the likes of New Look, Topshop and Peacocks (these links will take you to the ethical polices for each brand).

From what I'm seeing the main issues seem to be subcontracting within approved supply chains and while the point of the documentary is to be 'hard hitting', having seen documentaries like this before, I am not as shocked as I should be that this kind of labour is taking place in Britain.

Most savvy shoppers will have seen the likes of BBC Three's Blood, Sweat & T-Shirts and be aware that cut-price fashion can come at a cost. I wrote a post about cheap frills myself earlier this year and have become increasingly aware that in the fashion industry, words like 'ethical' and 'organic' are bounced around with little care.The shock factor with this film is that the long hours, poor working conditions and barely-there wages are happening to workers in Leicester.

Most of the brands approached for a comment either denied all knowledge of the work and/or agreed how it contravened their ethical trading policies. It's hard to love high street when a programme like this shoots down brands such as New Look, which I had always naively assumed was sounds its fashion responsibilities.

Take a look and see for yourself what the real cost of a £25 jumpsuit or Breton t-shirt is and have a read of Ethical Trading Initiative website where there are details on New Look's reaction and response to the film.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Don't Get Your Knickers in a Twist

I opened a recent copy of Reveal magazine yesterday to be confronted by a pert looking bum in a pair of frilly tangerine coloured knickers. The headline ‘Knickers Can Improve Your Mood’ and the subsequent article made me, in the style of Carrie Bradshaw, begin to wonder... just how important underwear is to British women?

I’ll hold my hands up and say that as I read this I happened to be sporting some old, slightly sporty grey kickers with a mismatching pink and green bra. I couldn’t help but tug at the bottom of my skirt when the article revealed that a survey by Always found that 56.3% of us wear sexy underwear in a bid to feel more confident.

I for one am a big fan of decent underwear – quality cuts, soft fabric, matching sets and even clashing colours. I also believe that a decent pair of kinckers really can improve your mood – yesterday I was all over the place, late for work and generally a little down, which I blame on the aforementioned grey pants. As soon as I picked that pair out of my chest of drawers, I just knew my day wouldn't be as good as if I had plumped for the green and pink ruffled pair that matched my bra.

Now I'm not one for matching all the time - I happen to like clashing prints and colours - and what I wear on a day to day basis has nothing to do with what the boyfriend likes, but I do think most of us could do with an underwear overhaul. I recently wrote a post on owning too many clothes for Running in Heels and I think that wardrobe chaos, along with greying undies, can play havoc on your mood.

You may not believe me but I bet if you started every day opening your knicker draw to sets of fresh clean matching underwear you would have a smile on your face before you even sat down for breakfast.
Above: M&S underwear - proof that you don't need ruffles and lace to have great looking underwear

Regardless of your taste or budget, make time for your underwear and your life will be better for it. Get rid of anything with sagging elastic, moth holes or washed out - if you save these for laundry days then at least shell out a few quid on some cheap cotton knickers that fit well - try LaSenza, M&S or Toshop.

For the top draw stuff, and perhaps some Christmas stocking fillers, head to Harvey Nicks in Cabot Circus or Oyster:Me in Clifton, or try St Nicks Market for some handmade cheap frills.

This post shouldn't feel like a lecture, and if you don't think your underwear has any effect on your mood, confidence, sexiness or sass then pay no attention, but tomorrow morning pick your favourite pair. Throw on a matching bra and take solace in this; even if your mood doesn't improve, if you get hit by a bus you'll look fabulous... ; )

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Welcome to the Garment Quarter

Cabot Circus/Quakers Friars welcomed a new boutique to Penn Street last Thursday, in the form of Garment Quarter. My partner in crime and I were lucky enough to attend the launch party and have a natter with the masterminds of this high concept, service-with-a-smile designer boutique. Oh, and I'm now in lust with a pair of Vivienne Westwood 'Melissa' shoes...

I've been a bit naughty as I should have typed my ramblings on GQ up on Friday but instead I headed up to Doncaster to see some very dear friends - who don't have the internet. Coming from a city where I am hooked up to the net as if intravenously, I struggled with not having Google at my beck and call and developed some major withdrawal symptoms, especially on the train home yesterday when a businessman with a laptop sat next to me and started playing online Solitaire.

Anywho, I digress. The purpose of this post is to say what a genuinely lovely time we had on Thursday, and it has very little to do with the champagne and sushi we knocked back, and more to do with the lovely chaps behind Garment Quarter, who were kind enough to chat with us about their new retail empire.

As a former buyer for fashion franchise Herviea, owner John Reid decided to take his merry band of merry men south from Manchester to our very own Bristol. Drawn by the quirky sensibilities of the city and a gap in the market Garment Quarter was born. Cabot Circus was an obvious choice where the boutique is already proving to hold its own against the likes of Harvey Nichols, drawing in a wide range of customers it's first two weeks.

Ship-Shape had a natter with John and his colleague Patrick who told us why they think GQ will suit Bristol shoppers. "The focus is on providing individual, tailored service to all our customers. We're already seeing return customers and beginning to get to know and anticipate their needs for the coming seasons."

Although the boys have been working solidly on Garment Quarter since moving to Bristol a few weeks ago, they have still been able to squeeze in a little down time and experience Bristol's infamous nightlife. Both the boys have been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the city's inhabitants have been; "I thought with Bristol being down South that the people would be a bit unfriendly" commented Patrick "but everyone we've met have been really nice and relaxed".

While S gave Patrick tips on the house music scene in Bristol, John gave me a hint of the kind of customers that have been frequenting the store. "The location is great and we've had lots of Saturday shoppers come in, as well as students and local footballers looking for something special. What we're offering is pretty unique to Bristol and with the range of labels there is something to suit everyone".

Naturally Vivienne Westwood's Red Label and Gold Label lines are present, as is Twenty8Twelve, Alexander McQueen (just men's underwear at present but hopefully more to follow) and emerging designers such as Ashley Marc Hovelle, who attended the launch.

Already there is talk of expansion and Patrick hinted that GQ could soon be setting up shop in neighbouring Bath. My fingers are crossed for John and the boys - all the stock in Garment Quarter has been handpicked and the focus is on individual care and customer service, something that while shine in its high street surroundings.

Garment Quarter, 25 Penn Street, Cabot Circus.

My partner in crime, S, and the lovely Patrick

Why hello, Melissa...

DJ, champagne and jelly shoes set the theme

Vivienne Westwood Red Label takes pride of place...

Bristol's best dressed men have been snapping up these plastic lilac loafers

Monday, 25 October 2010

If you go down to Leigh Woods today...

...you would have been in for a big surprise. My friend C is currently taking a photography course and she decided that Leigh Woods would be the prefect destination for a quirky shoot.

That's why on Sunday afternoon I was hauling a bag of jewellery, masks and other such props through the woods along with C and several of her friends, dressed in capes, Sgt. Pepper style jackets and boating hats. We certainly raised a few eyebrows amongst the families, walkers and cyclists enjoying a quiet Sunday stroll.

I can't give away too much about the shoot as C was working with film and hasn't yet developed her photos but above is a Polaroid I took of the quirky characters enjoying a mad hatter style tea party.

It was a fab afternoon and fingers crossed there will be plenty more projects like this coming up in the future...

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bristol Street Chic with OSOYOU.com

Bristol listen up. Your fair, fashionable city has been shortlisted as one of the style capitals of the UK on OSYOU.com. Obviously you and I know that Bristol is a fashion-forward city that could rival London or Manchester, and now we have a chance to prove it.

Last Thursday the folks behind high-street fashion website OSOYOU came to Cabot Circus to find and photograph the best of Bristol. Unfortunately, as they picked a weekday, I think they missed out on capturing many of Bristol's stylish residents but they did find some cracking shop workers and students, see below.

I particularly like Amie's look, above, with that gorgeous blush pink skirt and blouse combo - it's like the lovechild outfit of a prim and proper librarian and a rockabilly Gucci model. If you missed out on the event itself the fear not as you can still vote for your favourite Bristol gal to win, earning her some new threads and Bristol its rightful title of most stylish city.

You can go straight to the voting page for Bristol here. My money is on Amie but what does everyone else think?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Style History

My (soon to be) in-laws have been having a belated spring clean of their house and garage recently, which resulted in several boxes of the boyfriend's belongings turning up at our flat, competing for floor space against books, furniture, bags and whatever else gets thrown on the floor when I walk through the door.

To cut a long story short, the boyfriend inherited the task of dealing with his grandparents house after they passed away a few years ago and so it was that we found ourselves on the living room floor, sorting through boxes of stuff he had decided to keep at the time. While he tackled military memorabilia, I was trusted with the task of trawling through 50 odd years of photographs.

As something of a photography fanatic, I was delighted to see everything from Polaroid snaps in the 70s to tiny, passport photo-size snaps from his grandparents in the 1940s. M's grandmother Christina used to be a model and the snaps that you can see here are ones her husband took of her throughout the years.

Above: M's grandmother Chris, third from the left

This was long before the age of digital photography and yet there were literally hundreds of images like this of Chris posing on holiday, outside their home and with her friends. There were shots of her taking part in modelling competitions and on holiday in a kaftan Ossie Clark would be proud of.

One of the things I love about fashion, blogging in particular, is how important street style and different sub-cultures have become. Outfit posts are so common these days and while there are some blogs out there that excel at this (The Satorialist and What Katie Wore, for example) there are also many bloggers out there that deliver half-hearted attempts. I include myself in this majority, which is why you won't often see me posing in my new threads.

However, when I look at all the images of what were effectively outfit posts for a different generation, I am inspired by the relationship between subject and shooter. Some shots are candid, some staged but in each Chris has that glamorous appeal that I associate with this era.

Fresh faced but with immaculate hair, fitted outfits and simple accessories, these images could appear on any vintage fashion blog today. Although fashions and models of camera changed over the course of 50 years, her knack of style and her husband's love of photographing her remained the same.

I wish I could have been around to experience such important decades of fashion and photographic developments but for now I'll settle for seeing them through the lens of M's grandfather.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Prairie chic at Peacocks

I spent the afternoon with S in Broadmead and Cabot Circus, searching in vain for a decent pair of brogues to take my feet from summer to autumn and yet again I drew a blank. I did however, stumble across this delightful black dress, above, in the Peacocks sale.

With ruched puffball sleeves and a scallop hemline it isn't perhaps the most practical of purchases I could have made in October but I just couldn't resist. The scallop details and rose embroidery are very well finished and the shape - is very Little House on the Prairie. If I had found this £10 gem a couple of months ago it would have been worn with bare legs and gladiator sandals but I reckon it will look equally good with some opaque black tights and my new boots.

I also managed to sedate my current appetite for shoes by grabbing a new pair of ankle boots. Both previous pairs I had (gold moon boots and red Superman-style affairs) had more holes that Swiss cheese so as painful as it was, it was time to let go. The new pair are far more sturdy, with decent soles, a slight heel and chocolate brown leather - a fr more versatile than pillar box red or gold!

No picture unfortunately as my flat is a tip at the moment and you can hardly hang boots in front of a window now can you? So instead, her is a close up of the scalloped neckline and embroidery detail on the bust of my prairie chic dress...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Wan and Only...

Due to other commitments I couldn't make it to the Fashion Weekender - the 2nd birthday celebrations of Cabot Circus - as mentioned last week, which I was gutted about as it meant missing out on a one-on-one chat with style guru Gok Wan.

Since rising to fame as the presenter of How to Look Good Naked in 2006, Gok has helped a nation of women overcome their fashion fears with encouragement, a pally approach and plenty of flattering underwear to boot. While some women I know aren't fans of his 'Aunty Gok' approach - the boyfriend is convinced he is straight and just camping it up as an excuse to feel up women - I think his approach is fantastic and far more forgiving than some other TV stylists I could mention (Trinny and Susannah, I'm looking at you).

Although I couldn't make it to see Gok in person, the lovely folks at Cabot Circus took the liberty of asking him a few questions on his style secrets and what he really thinks every fashionista should own...

Q. What is your greatest fashion indulgence?

A. My collection of vintage trainers and my favourite second hand leather jacket.

Q. What is your life’s motto?

A. It’s not what you know, it’s what you know when you know it!

Q. Best shopping experience?

A. They’re all great! I love to shop and I really feel my hard work and dedication has made me King of the Tills!

Q. What do you love about fashion?

A. It’s power to transform both your appearance and your mood.

Q. What are your favourite words or phrases?

A. Probably ‘gorgeous’ and ‘bangers’!

Q. What one item of clothing makes all women look good?

A. Every woman should own a little black dress - it's a timeless classic but it must suit you.

Q. What's the best thing for smoothing out lumps and bumps?

A. Good underwear!

Q. What is the best style advice you give to women?

A. Get your foundations right. You cannot dress anything unless what's underneath is all in the right proportion.

Q. Which celebrity's style do you admire the most?

A. I think SJP* is consistent and I also like what Florence from Florence + The Machine is doing

*Sadly I think the answer to this question applies to the other SJP... ;)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Something for the weekend... Gok Wan does Bristol

Channel 4's saviour of style Gok Wan is coming to Bristol this weekend to help Cabot Circus celebrate their second birthday. As part of the Fashion Weekender, Gok will be presenting catwalk shows in Cabot Circus on Saturday 25th September, while the fun continues on Sunday with catwalk shows from Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser.

The shows will preview the latest A/W 10 looks including animal prints, aviation and military, above, and there will of course be plenty of discounts and competitions on offer from participating stores too.

Cabot Circus has put Bristol on the map as one of the best shopping destinations in the South West and is the icing on the cake of Bristol's independent labels and boutiques. Speaking to Cabot Circus bigwigs last week Gok commented: “Since the opening of Cabot Circus Bristol now boasts the best shopping in the South West with an amazing mix of high-street and designer brands. Bristol has a very unique style – it’s urban, edgy and cool. I can’t wait to see what Bristol has to offer on 25th September!”

Hopefully Gok will have time in his busy schedule to check out the other essential Bristol fashion destinations that give Bristol it's 'urban, edgy and cool' style. Unfortunately Ship-Shape wont be covering the event due to other fashionable commitments in Cardiff so make sure you get down there and check out the trends and tips for yourself!

All the Fashion Weekender events are free and the catwalk shows kick off at 11am on Saturday.

To get more information and find out how you could win a personal styling session with Gok visit www.cabotcircus.com.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Push: style without substance

For a while now I have seen some fast-paced fashion ads cropping up on Five's younger, cooler sister channel Fiver (where I get my regular fix of Aussie soap heaven) for new reality drama Push, and this afternoon I finally caved and watched the first episode on YouTube.

Before I divulge my own opinions on this series about a fashion writer trying to make it in London, let me give you a little background info. Lydia Harrison is a blonde twenty-something with a penchant for Topshop and her fashion blog, Style Push.

Lydia has made the move from Glasgow to make it big in the fashion world, dreaming of a job on a glossy magazine such as ELLE. She is currently living with her ice cold cousin Chloe, has a Scottish gay best friend Alex (who has also moved to London) and has left behind a Scottish rogue who cheated on her and broke her heart.

Set in trendy North East London, the show is described as a reality drama, whereby the main characters are played by actors but the assignments that Lydia takes on (writing for ELLEuk.com and Models 1) and the fashion industry insiders she meets along the way are very real.

Above: Lydia wearing Topshop, YSL and Beyond Retro from episode 3

I'm guessing, from the 'edgy' adverts, late night slot and mix of reality and scripted drama I've seen in the first couple of episodes, that the makers were going for mix of The Hills and Sex & The City, set in the gritty yet glamorous streets of London.

Combining real fashion industry brands, publications, websites and Lydia's very own fashion blog is a very canny move - brands get publication and advertising while the interactive nature of a blog and Twitter account involve the reader. The lovely people at Fiver have even complied soundtracks and a lookbook for each episode.

The pesky little weak point is that the show itself is, for want of a better word, a bit shit. The plots are unbelievable, the script is stilted and stale and describing the actors as 'wooden' is me being polite. The conversation doesn't flow, the scenarios feel beyond contrived and even the backdrop of Shoreditch and Covent Garden does little to save the show. After only two episodes (I had to give it a fair chance after all) I feel like I know where the storyline is heading and the fact that after a week in London the main character already has an in at ELLEuk.com is a little far-fetched.

Push is a fantastic piece of marketing for all involved, except perhaps for the actors, but it falls flat as the primary function of an entertaining, gripping drama. The producers have clearly gone for style over substance and other than the closet candy worn by Lydia and Chloe, there is very little worth tuning in for.

Push, Wednesdays at 11.25pm, on Fiver

Monday, 6 September 2010

Consumed by Clothes

Sometimes I wonder why I write about certain topics and other times I feel like I was born to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard as is more often the case. My current article for Running in Heels is a mix of the two. I know I'm happy writing about clothes (God knows I have enough) but this time I took on the topic of what to do when you have too many clothes.

Just like the fictional Rebecca Bloomwood of the Shopaholics novels, who is something of a hypocrite when it comes to lectureing others on their finances, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel hypocritical giving advice on how to manage under a mountain of clothes.

Now don't get me wrong, I do try very hard to keep my closet in check but it isn't easy and takes discipline. Especially when my wardrobe isn't big enough to cope with my shopping addiction. I fully believe that even with Carrie Bradshaw's ridiculous wardrobe from the SATC movie I would still struggle to fit in all my bags, shoes and dress. However, one really must practice what one preaches so if you'll excuse me I need to tidy up my chest of drawers...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Style Crush: Katy Perry

I have a guilty secret. I have a girl crush. I've tried to fight it and be strong but the cupcake bra was the final straw - I have a style crush on Katy Perry.

It hasn't always been this way though, honest! I distinctly remember despising 'I Kissed a Girl' so much that I wanted throw my radio out the window whenever I heard it. I warmed up a little when I saw the video for 'Waking Up in Vegas' and by the time there was that appearance at the Met Costume Institute Gala, in a dress so wacky it required a battery pack, I was smitten.

Skintight American flag dresses, 50s pin-up, heck, the girl even makes geek chic look good, though I don't think hubby to be Russell Brand would agree, below.

Katy shows off her geeky side on Twitter

What I like about Perry is the way she has fun with what she wears. Sure there is a whole load of concept behind the costumes and props in her videos but, unlike a certain Lady Gaga, you know that Perry will switch this off when she nips out to buy a pint of milk.

Tongue in cheek with the ability to poke fun at herself and fashion, Perry is a fresh alternative to serious pop and takes 'sugary pop' to a new level in her new video for 'California Gurls'. The cupcake bra was the icing on the cake and while I don't think I'll be busting out in a superhero outfits any time soon, Ms Perry has won my heart in the style stakes.

California Gurl images courtesy of Starcasm.net

Sunday, 22 August 2010

London Yardies

I've just gotten back from a fantastic weekend catching up with friends in London and am exhausted! Perhaps the numerous bottles of wine the night before trekking across London for the bloggers Yard Sale this morning wasn't the best idea, but it was worth it in the end.

For some reason I was expecting a tiny yard with a queue stretching round the block and Susie standing at the entrance with a clipboard. Fortunately it was a breeze to find, a huge space and although there were a few skirmishes to get at the rails, the crowds were few, especially when we first arrived.

All the stall holders were lovely and there were some great buys on offer but Susie's trestle tables definitely had the most items and the best prices, and this is where I found a gorgeous tan leather doctors bag and a blue cotton 'House on the Prairie' style dress, all for the bargainous price of a fiver! My London pal Polly found a gorgeous printed scarf and top after rummaging around in the bottom of a suitcase so we came away happy, though without a hot dog as the BBQ was undergoing some technical problems...

[Edit] Thanks so much to the lovely Susie Bubble for hosting the event, you can read her synopsis of the event and have a gander at some fab photos by reading her Yard Sale post here.

Fashionable follies fight over Susie's treasures

London's best dressed also raided the rails of Frou Frou and Style Slicker

My £3 vintage blue dress...

... which goes rather nicely with my label-less £2 leather doctors bag (vintage scarf added by moi)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Something for the weekend... Quakers Friars

I know I'm going to feel old just writing this but when I was younger all we had to entertain ourselves during the summer holidays was running around on the beach and going to the local park. Fast-forward to the summer of 2010 and Bristol's youngsters can learn to designer their own clothes, try their hand at photography and attend journalism workshops!

Magazine Live! Is a five day event that kicked off at Quakers Friars in Cabot Circus on Wednesday and promise to educate and entertain creative kids aged 5-11. Events will be focused around a different theme each day and booking is not required so this would be a perfect event to take the kids to if they are no longer satisfied by making Rice Krispie cakes or helping around the house...

Magazine Live! is the first event of its kind and will give children a chance to express their creativity and explore beyond what they learn at school. A magazine will be produced across the course of the event by the participating children and there will also be a catwalk show too.

Events like this are a fantastic way of showing children how they can be creative and perhaps in fifteen years time the Next Big Thing in blogging or fashion design might be up on a podium reminiscing about their first foray into fashion...

Magazine Live! takes place at Quakers Friars until Sunday 22nd August. All events are free. For more info check out the Cabot Circus website.

[Edit: Photos added Aug 20th]

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Style Bubble Yard Sale

This is happening in London on the exact weekend that I will be visiting the big smoke. Cannot contain myself and not even a hangover or tube closure will get in the way of attending this - one for your diaries if you're a Londoner... Check out what Susie has to say on the event and get all the info you need here.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

What a Goldmine!

In the words of Austin Power's Goldmember, 'I like gooooold...' I also like treasure and bargains galore so I was excited to attend the opening of Stokes Croft's very own Gold Mine. The brainchild of those clever Dutty Girls on Cheltenham Road, Goldmine is a pop-up vintage boutique that is taking over the old motorcycle show room on Stokes Croft for a couple of months.

The not-for-profit venture will see proceeds go towards fashion and music workshops for the women of Bristol. All the clothes and accessories are a uniform price, ranging between £8 for boots and up to £15 for jackets, which makes a nice change from the overpriced stock in many of Bristol's vintage emporiums.

For tonight's launch I took along partner-in-crime Amy B to see what all the fuss was about and, glass of wine in hand, raided the rails. There were some fab find including a couple tapestry bags and a Laura Ashley dress that I had my eye on, while Amy found a couple of long granny style printed skirts that looked great on her - being able to pull of an elasticated waist with aplomb is truly a gift!

The party was in full swing when we got there, with a female DJ on the decks and wine and beer being consumed like water outside. From the looks of things it was the male species that were outside drinking, while their female counterparts were inside looking for buried treasures. There were a couple of fashion-forward men checking out the menswear (limited but good quality) but most of the shoppers were after dresses, jewellery and everything else in between.

Although I came away empty handed (apart from a glass of white wine and a choccy biscuit) I was pleased to see a wide selection of vintage on offer at good price. Despite the urban edge in Shop Dutty there was a wide variety of styles and genres covered and I will definitely be popping back before Gold Mine closes its doors in October.

The Gold Mine will be open seven days a week until mid October so pop down and bag yourself a bargain. For more info check out their Facebook page.

There is plenty of room in this old motorcycle showroom

As the party went on into the night vintage lovers, and I suspect long suffering boyfriends, made a beeline for outside
I fell in love with this black sheep jumper but sadly it was a little too itchy for me!

Gorgeous leather boots of bargain bucket prices

Mmm... shotgun a jammy dodger!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Some things for the weekend...

I have been so busy with my new freelance gig that I have had hardly anytime to blog about the fashions of Bristol of late, let alone go out and experience them for myself, so apologies for the sporadic posting of the last couple of weeks.

Anywho, there are plenty of exciting fashionable happenings taking place this weekend including the epic Bristol Harbour Festival. OK, while not exactly fashion related it will immerse the centre of Bristol with live music, local produce and plenty of warm cider. There are fireworks, sailor caps worn in a ironic way and lots and lots of boats, decked out in colourful flags and bunting. Celebrations kicked off last night and will continue across the weekend so grab your friends and a picnic blanket and head down.

Next up is Motel. Originally only a Bristol brand, you can now find the iconic prints and simple body-con dresses across the country in Topshop, Republic and House of Fraser to name but a few. Luckily for us Bristol-based girls their flagship store on Park Street is getting a makeover which has resulted in a pop-up shop opening up across the road next Cooshti! The shop opened its doors on Monday and will be selling stock at ridiculously cheap prices and till the old store re-opens in mid August. For more info check out the Facebook event, here.

Finally, if you have any energy left this weekend then you should hot-foot it down to Stokes Croft for the opening of a brand new vintage store, above. The brains behind Dutty Girl are launching Goldmine tomorrow night, and opening to the public on Monday. Running till mid October, you have but weeks to get your hands on cheap-as-chips bags, retro t-shirts and 80s jumpers. The location of choice is Central Reservation, once a motorcycle showroom, this huge space is now used for exhibitions and promotion of the visual arts. Goldmine will be open seven days a week so there is no excuse not to pop in and bag yourself a bargain.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Victoria Topping: One to Watch

Slightly off topic but I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing digital illustrator Victoria Topping for Crack magazine. Although a little nervous, Victoria was a pleasure to interview and I was struck by the beauty of her illustrations. Working only on her precious Mac Victoria uses her love of disco and wallpaper patterns to create complex drawings built up of layers, textures and shapes.

Victoria has already had one fashion collaboration with Donuts (of Perry Road) but there will be more in the pipeline over the next few months so if you like her stuff as much as I do then keep an eye out on her website for more info.

You can read the full interview when Crack is out next week but to find out where you can get your hands on a piece of digital art check out her Facebook page here.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why I Heart Anna Piaggi

Anna Piaggi, photographed by David Baily for Another Magazine, courtesy of the V&A

I recently started writing for a fantastic website called Running in Heels and my first article for them was published today. RIH is a pan-European website for women 'with brains as well as style', set up in March 2009. Politics and culture have an equal footing with fashion and beauty and the site is a refreshing alternative to many of its celeb-following, relationship driven competitors. The lovely editor Alice just happened to have a profile of Anna Piaggi that needed writing so I jumped at the chance to wax lyrical about one of Italy's greatest exports.

If you haven't heard of Piaggi then obviously you should check out my profile of her for RIH here but, in brief, she is a whirlwind of colour and enthusiasm that has inspired the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Manolo Blahnik to name but a few, can still rock a front row despite being comfortably into her 80s and has provided visual inspiration to her native Italian Vogue for the last thirty years.

The Running In Heels website

When I first had the epiphany that I wanted to be a journalist, Piaggi was one of the first topics I covered. Her Fashion-ology exhibition at the V&A back in 2006 showed me just what a fashion writer could look like, though I'm sure I've never seen another fashion creative come close to her in terms of style, flare or passion.

The article I wrote was a review of this exhibition, which appeared on a folded piece of A4 around my campus which was our creative alternative to the student newspaper. I still have a copy of it somewhere, where my little review sits in between a crossword and a page of creative writing.

At the time I had only just rediscovered my passion for writing and was attempting to turn it into a degree. I approached local magazines and publications for work experience and ended up becoming the fashion columnist for a magazine that I am still writing for, four years later.

My profile of an Iconic Fashionista...

I still have the exhibition catalogue for Piaggi's exhibition carefully tucked away on a bookshelf as a reminder of my first piece, and my first piece of inspiration as a fashion journalist. Whenever I see a picture of her front row antics I think back to the time I walked up the stairs into her exhibition, loosing my student self in her lavish costumes, treasured furniture and enigmatic magazine spreads.

Piaggi is a true fashion icon and will provide you with inspiration no matter what your vocation so do some research, read her books and just enjoy the visual feasts that she has provided over the last forty years...