Friday, 31 December 2010

An A-Z Guide of New Year Sales Shopping (Part A)

2011 is just around the corner, but the 'New Year' sales shopping extravaganza has already begun. Post-Christmas, our (personal) retail appetite is unprecedented. Widespread, substantial discounts on quality brands, gives fashion-lovers the perfect excuse to head to the high-street/malls/online. Some shoppers search for bags or coats, whilst others seek the most dramatic discounts. Not patient/brave enough to hunt for specific items at this time of year, I organise my sales shopping by store, selecting a few then finding out what each sale has to offer. I have arranged my sales shopping guide in the same way. Hopefully it will be an easy way for you to find sales that also appeal to you. Here's 'Part A'.

A) Find charming dresses and Accessories at Anthropologie and enjoy 70% off designer brands at Asos

B) Layer up with a beautiful Bonbi Forest tee (recently featured in Amelia's Magazine). Then, snuggle up in an English cardi from Boden and treat little family members with an outfit from Bells and Whistles Kids (both up to 50% off). 

Bonbi Tree Tee, by Bonbi Forest
C) Choose conscious cotton and cashmere, at Chinti & Parker (up to 70% off Winter getaway styles) and dress up for an occasion with 50% off at Coast.

D) Go vintage with Dahlia dresses and playsuits, or find funky t-shirts and accessories at Diverse Clothing, on Upper Street. You can also find courts or boots with up to 60% discounts at Dune.

Yellow Drape Sleeve Dress, by Dahlia

E) From party tops to cosy sweaters, Ella Moss has reduced many items. Speaking of cute knits, one of the labels currently topping my wish-list, is Elizabeth Lau; find her at Coggles. And, if you're going on holiday, stock up on the popular Eley Kishimoto 'Flash vests', not forgetting your skateboard

F) FrostFrench boasts striking prints, detailing and 70% off. Meanwhile, French Connection has reduced items by 60% across various collections, including the 'Catwalk Collection' and '1972 Vintage Collection'. 

French Connection Clover Jersey, Catwalk Collection
G) Fall in love with unique furnishings, at Graham & Green (up to 70% off). Treat your man to a jersey or 'Liberty Shirt' with up to 60% off, from exciting South-West brand, Griffin

H) Find your inner boho-chick, with House of Harlow at My Wardrobe (up to 50% off). And, you can't fault H&M for stylish but staggeringly affordable pieces. The 70%-off sale, includes this gem of a skirt, below.
H&M Chiffon Skirt

I) For stylish mums-to-be, look no further than Isabella Oliver Maternity. For the rest of us, Isabella Oliver 365 contains some of the gorgeous jersey and wrap dresses that made her name. For an edgier look, Parisian brand Iro is worth discovering. Their distinctive designs can be found at Urban Outfitters, also reduced.

Lucy Mini Check Blouse, by Iro

J) One of my personal favourite US imports, J Crew (at Net-a-Porter) has up to 50% off. From lavish gowns, to military jackets, to sequin skirts, this is a must-see sale. Alternatively, for a super-smart addition to your wardrobe, try Jaeger. With savings up to 50%, many highly-covetable items are now within reach. There is also an 'Under £100 page'.

Jaeger Zip Detail Parka Dress

K) With brands from Mackage to Irwin & Jordan, KJ's Laundry is a brilliant boutique. For a sales splurge, check out their online sale or Marylebone store. Looking for ethical fashion? Try Komodo, pioneer of ecologically produced and fairly traded clothing. Their soya jersey dresses and tops are utterly charming.

L) From one London boutique to another, Labour of Love is a treasure trove of creative designs, all just a little bit different. Many items are available in their impressive sale, including pieces from their eponymous label. I love this sundress... save it for summer! Home to independent fashion designers, The Laden Showroom also has a super sale online and in-store (Brick Lane). And, for one of the most reliably covetable sales, visit LKBennett. Shoes, dresses, bags and more.

Labour of Love sundress
M) The afore-mentioned My Wardrobe is definitely worth browsing, for that wishful 50% designer find. Elsewhere, By Malene Birger's own site has a 40%-off sale, making statement luxe items available for less. I know where I'll be heading...

Cordis Double-Breasted Shirt, by Malene Birger
Don't forget to check the retailers featured in my Last-Minute Gift Guide, for their sales. 'Part B' of my A-Z Guide of New Year Sales Shopping, coming soon...

Where are you going sales shopping? x

Happy New Year's Eve 2010

Happy New Year's Eve from London! Have a wonderful time tonight.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas. Where did you go? What did you eat? What did you wear? I loved receiving emails and tweets from many of you, with ideas for your special festive outfit. It would be equally excellent to hear about your New Year's Eve 2010, do leave me a comment, or send an email to

Thank you to all my followers via City Girl Diaries (EC1), Facebook & Twitter (if you haven't already visited me there, please do!). I'm looking forward to many more adventures in 2011 x

Image: from a holiday to Cannes.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

City Girl's Last-Minute Gift Guide

I hope you are all having a wonderful pre-Christmas week! In an ideal world, everyone will be starting to wind down now, save for festive social events. I'd love to hear what you are wearing this Christmas, particularly for the 'Big Day'. Speaking of which, it's usually around this time that I jot down all outstanding presents and scramble to find 1/2 hour in which to run out and brave the crowds (and icy conditions). True to form, my gift guide is a little late coming. Nonetheless, I hope it's still useful/interesting/introduces you to some new London labels! It's a girls gift-guide, so you boys might want to take a peek. Ladies - you might find a gift for yourself (we all need one, from time to time!) or a friend/family member. It could also be useful to print out and leave in strategic spots around the house. Here goes...

If you have a bigger budget, check out luxury (but lesser-known) handbag designer Anya Sushko. These stunning handbags and clutches provide a well-accentuated but feminine and shapely accessory to your outfit. You can find Anya at four London locations, including the Dorchester hotel and Mary Portas' Living and Giving Shop.

Anya Sushko, Grey DECODAME A/W 2010

Another name worth discovering, is Kirt Holmes, whose luxuriously intricate jewellery would make a stylishly timeless gift. Find Kirt Holmes in Camden.

Kirt Holmes Swarovski crystal double strand necklace

A girl can never say no to lovely lingerie, especially when it's from fashion-forward Marylebone boutique, Apartment C (see my recent interview with Apartment C owner, Kenya Cretegny). Here's Apartment C's address.

Fleur of England Boudoir Bra

For some understated glamour? How about these wool and leather mittens, from the latest French brand to arrive in London, The Kooples. Parisian- chic, here I come! Visit any of The Kooples four London stores.

Fashion illustration has been in the spotlight and for good reason, with books like Fashion Drawing in Vogue, Manolo Blahnik Drawings and David Downton's Masters of Fashion Illustration. Any would make an enviable gift. Visit your local bookseller.

Moreover, Taschen, the King of gorgeous 'coffee table' books, has published a beautiful keepsake telling Emilio Pucci's story. With a limited edition of just 10,000 copies, each unique copy is bound with one of a selection of recent prints from the Pucci collection. Here's Taschen's London store.

Taschen's 'Emilio Pucci'

If you act quickly, you can still arrange collection of a deliciously decadent hamper from Caprice Holdings Ltd (the people behind The Ivy, Soho House, Annabel's and Le Caprice!). Their Annabel's Christmas Hamper includes chocolate truffles, Cherry panettone, Sicilian pistachio biscuits and Louis Roederer Champagne. Wonderful. Call Caprice Holdings Ltd by 22nd December to collect. 

Annabel's Christmas Hamper

Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart is another treat for domestic goddesses out there! Whether you love Mocha or Greek Yoghurt & Honey cupcakes, you'll love trying these recipes and "being a big kid again" (in the words of author and bakery owner, Samantha Blears). Visit The Love Bakery to make your purchase.

Cupcake tower, Love Bakery launch (which I attended recently)

A recent visit to Lucy in Disguise and I've discovered a whole new way to vintage shop! A clean, spacious and superbly styled store is matched by beautiful statement pieces from different eras. Downstairs at Lucy in Disguise' Covent Garden store, you'll find a  hair and make-up salon, nails bar and With Diamonds VIP Dressing Room. Find a one-off piece upstairs, or book an appointment downstairs.

Lucy in Disguise

And, in London's Lower Marsh (just off The Cut, near The Old Vic), there's a shop called Radio Days, where you may well find a vintage gem. Whether clothes or jewellery, a hat, a pink Barbie phone, or retro mags... there's lots of inspiration here.

Radio Days, Vintage store

Keep smiling throughout tempestuous weather, with a Lulu Guinness umbrella.  I've had my sights on this one for a while! Find your closest Lulu Guinness stockist.

Lulu Guinness, Superslim Cosmetic Girl umbrella

Next, onto one of my favourite accessory brands, for their innovative transformation of that wardrobe staple, hosiery. It's Tabio and here are my gift- picks: 30 denier tights in luscious Raspberry, and super-snug leg warmers. Here's a list of Tabio stores.

Tabio 30 denier tights, raspberry

Tabio long fur legwarmers

Ethical fashion is having a moment. One of the best causes I've heard recently, is epitomized by the exquisite 'Midomo' charm bracelet, below. Although deserving of much more space, you can read the full Midomo story here.

The Midomo bracelet, by Alex Monroe

Designed by Alex Monroe (remember the famous bumblebee necklace?), each bracelet sold covers the cost of donating a revolutionary water purifier to an African community. Commissioned by Red Button Design Ltd, an award-winning humanitarian design company, this is one story you'll want to read. And, in the meanwhile, why not bump this stunning statement piece to the top of your Christmas list? Buy online, at the Midomo website.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the gifts featured. Let me know how your shopping is going! Good luck x

Friday, 17 December 2010

City Girl Reports: Carine Roitfeld leaving Vogue

Milan Fashion Week, October 2010
Big news for this Friday, is Carine Roitfeld's resignation from French Vogue (or Vogue Paris). Editor of the leading magazine for 10 years, Carine intends to concentrate on "personal projects". In the words of Jonathan Newhouse, president of Condé Nast International: "It is impossible to overstate Carine's powerful contribution to Vogue and to the fields of fashion and magazine publishing. Under her direction, Vogue Paris received record levels of circulation and advertising and editorial success". Whatever the reasons for her departure, Vogue fans worldwide will no doubt mourn the presence of such a stylish character, who made her mark on the fashion world. Here's hoping that Carine's "personal projects" will keep her (and her sleek wardrobe) firmly in the public eye.

New York Fashion Week, September 2010

French Vogue's 90th anniversary party, Paris Fashion Week
Images) Telegraph.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Competitions: Fashion Season Highlights

As you may be aware, The 3rd Fashion in Film Festival, came to a cinematic close yesterday. I hope both prize winners enjoyed their evenings at the BFI. However, if you missed out, don't fret; London is enjoying one very stylish season. In this spirit, the fantastic French film channel, Cinémoi, is holding two fashionable competitions. Read on to enter...

Competition 1)

Miss Dior by Rene Gruau, 1960
Miss Dior, R. Gruau, 1960
The first competition, is for Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty at London Fashion Week venue, Somerset House. The exhibition, running until 9th January 2011, showcases stunning artworks by renowned illustrator René Gruau, including original illustrations for Christian Dior perfumes and Dior Haute Couture. Enter here, for Cinémoi's Dior Illustrated competition.

Competition 2)

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, DVD
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, on DVD
The second competition, celebrates the DVD release of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky: an unbelievably stylish, luxurious and sexy biopic about Coco Chanel's tragic and passionate love affair. The film was nominated for this year's César Award, for Best Costume Design. Enter here, for Cinémoi's Coco & Igor competition.

Competition closing dates:
Don't forget to enter both competitions by Wednesday evening (15th December). Cinémoi run competitions every week, so keep your eyes peeled to their competition page. Available on Sky or Virgin, Cinémoi is a TV channel, devoted entirely to French cinema. Subscribe to Cinémoi.

Images: Thank you to Cinémoi.

Head over Heels for Love Bakery (and King's Road)

EC1 might be my patch of London's playground, from which adventures/diaries begin. And, it may influence my opinion or (at least, initial) feeling towards other London boroughs. That's not to say I'm constantly looking for a clone of Smithfield Market, Charterhouse Square, St John's Street, or Clerkenwell Green (where Fagin and the Artful Dodger initiated Oliver into pickpocketing!). But, if you're an EC1 fan, you'll know its magic. The architecture, the contrasts between old and new, and the illusion that you're experiencing a still-undiscovered London, which you can call your own. However, part of our city's appeal lies in its diversity. And, whilst my EC1 roots will never be in question, I love many other postcodes. I went to one of my beloved parts of SW recently: the King's Road, Chelsea. For me, the street known for Mary Quant and Viviane Westwood, exudes cool - in a very charming, smartly-dressed England kind of way.

Mary Quant's boutique, King's Road, Chelsea
Mary Quant's boutique, Bazaar, 1959

From breathtaking Edwardian and Georgian townhouses, to a fashionable past and stylish present of boutiques and restaurants; Chelsea has a magic of it's own. Shopping never seems uncomfortably hectic, unlike the tourist-trap of Oxford Street, W1. So, for a leisurely walk around town (or selective Christmas purchases), the King's Road is high on my list. Recently, I visited the famous street for a book launch. With cupcakes. I couldn't resist. Arriving at the expansive but homely branch of Anthropologie, I was greeted by the brand's lovely PR (and party hosts). Champagne, celebrities, fashion and foodie people present; it was an lively backdrop for the publicised book in question. And which book was it? Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart. The wonderful recipes (perfect for a Christmas gift) celebrate Love Bakery, just a champagne-fuelled stumble further along the King's Road.

Cupcake tower, Love Bakery
Cupcake tower

Strawberry and cream cupcakes, Love Bakery
Strawberries & Cream

For a PR guru turned mother Samantha Blears, cupcake stardom came somewhat by surprise. Baking cupcakes for children's parties and school fairs, Samantha discovered that her very popular treats were not only straightforward to make, they could be infused with imagination and enraptured children and adults alike. Cooking into London's cupcake craze, Samantha decided to open Love Bakery in March 2009. And how has she crafted her unique identity, alongside the likes of nearby Hummingbird Bakery? Well, Samantha has worked incredibly hard to maintain the child-like magic with which her brand evolved. For anyone who  remembers childhood trips to the candy shop, Love Bakery will not disappoint. A 'kingdom' of all things sweet, it's quintessentially English, retro-Kings Road and nostalgic fantasy. A masterful seduction of children and adults alike.

Rhubarb and custard cupcakes, Love Bakery
Rhubarb & Custard

Vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes are unsurprisingly popular, but what's  Samantha's trademark? Her sugar-paste cupcake adornments: flowers, farmyard animals and, really, anything you can imagine. At the party, I sampled miniature cupcakes and 'love pops' (round, iced cupcakes on a lollypop stick) and would recommend you do the same.

Love Pops, Love Bakery
'Love Pops'

Love Bakery also offers spectacular occasion cakes, which cannot fail to enchant the child in all of us (and which take me back to the fairytale cakes of my early years - similarly the product of a mother's love and culinary flair). 

Mermaid cake, Love Bakery
Celebration cakes
Spaceship cake, Love Bakery

Toadstool cake, Love Bakery

The Anthropologie-held party was a delicious way to discover Love Bakery and widening eyes and pointing fingers were soon joined by the licking of lips and even wider smiles. A fun and fantastical twist on the cupcake, takes it to a theatrical new level; as you try your first cake adorned with a glittery blue car, you realise that Samantha has achieved something extraordinary with the ordinary (after all, despite being in-vogue, cupcakes are not difficult to make). As for the basics, The Love Bakery's sponge is faultlessly fluffy and soft. And, despite impressive embellishments, the overall taste is not overpoweringly sweet. 

Glitter car cupcake, Love Bakery
Glitter cupcakes

Chocolate Brownie cupcakes, Love Bakery

A covetable Christmas gift, Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart is available at Anthropologie or via Amazon. Love Bakery itself, can be found at 319 King's Road, London SW1. 

Images: 1) Victoria & Albert Museum, the rest) my own.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Déjà vu: Part B (14/11/10 - 02/12/10)

My second re-cap of recent City Girl (EC1) posts. I promise these will become more regular! 

*In addition to my usual Déjà vu, I am running another Fashion in Film giveaway! See below... 
  • David Koma, S/S 2011: I consider the rise of talented Mr Koma and view his Spring/Summer 2011 collection at Modus' press day.

David Koma, S/S 2011

A pastila of chicken, El Cantara

The Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world

Cecil B DeMille, Male and Female

Apartment C
I'd love to hear if you like any posts in particular...

Image credits: please see original posts.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Déjà vu: Part A (09/10/10 - 13/11/10)

Welcome to Déjà vu, where you can revisit recent posts from City Girl Diaries (EC1). Thoughts and comments appreciated, as always.

Beautiful Bottoms
Little White Lies
Kanchan Couture: Distant Pasts (Demi Couture)
Silk rose hat, Not on the High Street

Image credits: please see original posts.

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