Monday, 27 February 2012

Mad Men: Series 5 Teaser Trailer

I love, love, love Mad Men. Finally, after eagerly anticipating the fifth series, the end is in sight. One month today on March 27th, Don, Betty, Joan and all the crew will be back, alongside those lavish Art Deco sets, razor sharp suits, delicious dresses and whisky before breakfast. Airing on Sky Atlantic just two days after Mad Men's US premiere on AMC, spoilers must be avoided at all costs! Keep your eyes peeled to Sky Atlantic for more Mad Men info. You can also set a NEVER MISS reminder. In the meanwhile, here's a terribly teasing, teaser trailer...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, from New York Fashion Week

Happy Valentine's Day everybody! I hope you have a lovely day, whatever your plans. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, it seems a timely opportunity to celebrate some of the styles currently seen strutting down the New York Fashion Week catwalks. From the ultra-feminine and romantic, to over/understated glamour and to body-hugging, flirtatious sexiness, it seems that love may be in the air for Fall 2012. Yet, many designers presenting their collections now have seemingly created looks to inspire your outfit for Valentine's Day... here are some ideas to try, or simply to enjoy:
  • Be bold with the rose theme and push romance to a brave new level (Marc Jacobs).
Marc Jacobs, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • Add daring to a dainty dress by choosing a deep red colour, and decorate with same-coloured accessories (Alice + Olivia).
Alice + Olivia, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • Eye-catching embellishments on an otherwise understated dress will transform your look (Lela Rose).
Lela Rose, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • Don't be afraid to wear exactly what you want. Mix prim & proper with princess-y and a touch of humour (Chris Benz).
Chris Benz, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • Eschew the dress altogether, in favour of androgynous glamour, made feminine with some special lace and heels (Tribune Standard).
Tribune Standard, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • Go for length and show skin sparingly. Shoulders and lower arms maintain elegance and class (Diane von Furstenburg).
Diane von Furstenburg, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • If the grecian goddess look works for you, it always will. Enjoy the flowing fabric and add some sparkle where possible (Erin Fetherston).
Erin Fetherston, Fall 2012 RTW, New York Fashion Week
  • If your figure looks best skimmed into a shapely silhouette, avoid overt sexuality with dramatic details: high(ish) necklines, 'boxy' accessories and slicked-back hair (Catherine Malandrino).
Catherine Malandrino, Fall 2012 RTW,  New York Fashion Week

Do you have a favourite Valentine's Day-inspired look? Which New York Fashion Week shows have you most enjoyed so far? Don't forget to check City Girl on Twitter and City Girl on Facebook, for regular show updates and other news.


Monday, 13 February 2012

The Artist: Peppy Miller, Fashion Inspiration

The Artist was possibly the most bewitching film of 2011. Visually dazzling, heartwarming and seductively different, The Artist is a silent, black and white 'picture' that transports the viewer to the highs and lows of Hollywood's studio system in the 1920's. Poignantly rendered is the contrast between the period's hypnotic glamour and excitement, versus fast-approaching change and uncertainty. Winning 'Best Picture' and 'Best Actor' at the 2012 Golden Globes, the anticipation surrounding The Artist's hopeful success at the Oscars is high. If you haven't yet seen The Artist, I encourage you to book your cinema trip now! Here you'll find The Artist's showing times in London.

One aspect of The Artist that captured my imagination was the stunning wardrobe worn by Bérénice Bejo as 'Peppy Miller', the film's lead female role. The decadence of 1920's dress, with dropped waists, tassels, beads, feathers and headwear is - excitingly - a Spring/Summer 2012 trend, to which many fashion editors are crediting The Great Gatsby, due for release at the end of 2012. The Artist gives us more reason to relish this trend, thanks to the detailed and accomplished eye of costume designer Mark Bridges (The Fighter, Boogie Nights), who has deservedly been nominated for the 'Costume Design' Oscar. Bridges captures the supreme femininity, cheeky flirtation, liberation and meticulous embellishment of fashion during this fascinating decade. Peppy Miller's striking hair, make-up and accessories complement each outfit perfectly. Bérénice Bejo wears the 1920's style so well, creating an undeniable fashion inspiration, or icon, out of Peppy Miller. 

As 1920's fashion is one of my 'ultimate' eras in style terms, I couldn't resist the opportunity to share with you some of my favourite 'Peppy Miller' looks: 

Do you like 1920's style? Which fashion era do you worship the most?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

City Girl Diaries on Facebook & Twitter

I am growing increasingly aware, as a mum-to-be, that the time will soon come when I am (happily) forced to take a break from work and the whole world of social media. I do hope you will bear with me during this inevitable absence and I will be back in business as soon as possible! In the meantime, please feel free to re-visit City Girl Diaries posts on the blog, or via my Twitter feed and Facebook page. All City Girl's blog posts, 'pics of the day' and lots of fashionable news from London can be found via either social channel. 

Following City Girl Diaries on Facebook or Twitter are great ways to stay in touch, if you're not already subscribed to City Girl Diaries by email, 'Google Friend Connect' or via Bloglovin' (check out the left-hand side of the blog to sign up for any of these). 

A big thank you to all my friends and followers!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Guest Blog Post: This is Your Kingdom

As soon as I discovered This is Your Kingdom, I knew I'd stumbled upon an enchanting haven in cyberspace, which could become deliciously addictive. Described as "a trusted insider's guide to the UK's most lovely places", the site shares charming and potentially secret places across the UK (it is not solely London-focused). After working on British Vogue's Secret Address Book, and Time Out's "Secret London Spots" and "101 Things to do in London", I appreciate the time and effort it takes to unveil unique and special places, but also the fun that goes along with that. Spend just a few minutes perusing the beautifully designed This is Your Kingdom site and the joy of founders Hannah and Rebecca as they (and their readers) impart their lovely local knowledge is palpable. On the site, you will find features to include Bellinis & Boatrides in York, or a Vintage Treasure Trail outside Shaftesbury. However, for their guest post on City Girl Diaries (the blog's first-ever!), the lovely Hannah and Rebecca wished to share their extensive London-based knowledge, as part of their New Year 'I Will' Action List: attractions & distractions for a happy, healthy and productive 2012. Take your time reading and enjoy the links!

This is Your Kingdom's Guest Post for City Girl Diaries:

We’re only weeks into the New Year but if you’re already struggling with a rather miserable list of ‘I will not’ type resolutions then help is at hand. We have put together a marvelous compendium of favourite ‘sober’ things to see and do in London; the perfect distraction from sworn abstinence and all the inspiration you need to ‘eat, drink, walk, think, potter, ponder, snuggle, shop and sleep’ your way to a happy, healthy and productive year ahead! So, without further ado, here is your ‘I will’ list for 2012:
Make & Create: A fun, relaxing and productive way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends. Best of all, you come away with something truly bespoke and personal to you, much better than a hangover we thinks. From constructing wigwams in East Sheen to dressmaking in Clapham, shoe crafting in Hackney and bunting making in Balham, there are plenty of fantastic independent craft venues across the capital at which to get those creative juices flowing.

The Papered Parlour, Clapham

Potter & Ponder: London is full of lovely, little high streets lined with unique independent shops. How about cupcakes and collectables in Crystal Palace, brunching and browsing in Muswell Hill, grocery shopping at the Royal Hill lovelies in Greenwich, or unearthing trinkets on Northcote Road in Clapham? Dip into a new part of the city and do your bit to support independents and the passionate, creative locals who run them.

Explore & Discover: The city is dotted with gorgeous green spaces, beautiful buildings and hidden secrets and the best way to get out and discover these is on foot or (our preference) by bicycle! Find pelicans in St James’ Park and discover secret snack spots in Chelsea. Feel the wind in your hair as you cross Walthamstow Marshes and marvel at the views from the lawn at Kenwood House in Hampstead.

Kenwood House, Hampstead

Snuggle & Sleep: Cosy nights at home in front of the fire are the best way to get through the winter months but it’s important to get out once in a while so snuggle up at this cosy cinema in Shoreditch instead, take in a play at this small stage with big performances in Notting Hill or catch the Sunday film night at this eclectic café in Waterloo.

Indulge & Enjoy: We’re all for partaking in some serious scoffing to counter-balance the lack of boozing and London has a whole host of fabulous foodie destinations not to be missed. Take vintage tea in Hammersmith, find fine fayre on Maltby Street, seek out the yummiest coffee in Chelsea and master the sweet things in life at this unique cookery school in Queen's Park.

The Art of Puddings Cookery School, Queen's Park

Weekending Away: One of the best things about the city is that it’s ever so easy to escape for a weekend away. Take the train to Brockenhurst in Hampshire for gastro dining and luxury rooms at The Pig, tootle off to Cambridge (bicycle on tow) for city living mixed with gorgeous countryside, or take a trip to the great British seaside for fish and chips and market mooching.

Embrace Rurban Living: You may be in one of the world’s largest cities, but London has plenty of ways to forget where you are tucked up its sleeve. Take a trip to one of the many ‘city farms’ in Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Vauxhall or explore the many waterways, open spaces and growing gardens on offer to each of us across the capital.

Stepney City Farm, Tower Hamlets

Try a New Hobby: From open air swimming, to outdoor trapeze or Bolshoi ballet for beginners, there are plenty of weird and wonderful ways to challenge your mind and body across the capital. We thoroughly embrace the ‘try everything once’ mentality, though usually reward ourselves afterwards with a nice piece of Victoria sponge.

Get a Caffeine High: Substitute alcohol with caffeine and spend afternoons cosied up in coffee shops catching up with friends. If like us you are a bit of a coffee snob (just the right strength, not too hot, milky or frothy) have a peek at these TiYK recommended spots in Hampstead, HackneyHither Green, BrixtonDeptford, Hammersmith and Battersea.

The Cupboard Deli, Shepherd's Bush

If you would like to nominate your favourite thing to do or see in the UK, you can take part in This is Your Kingdom's Back Britain campaign! The best entry each month wins a prize; enter by February 29th and you could win a beautiful gift set by KatieMosa.

Would you like to write a guest post for City Girl Diaries? Get in touch & say hi:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

City Girl Reports: Marni for H&M, directed by Sofia Coppola

H&M has recently enjoyed some high-profile collaborations, to include Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Jimmy Choo and recently, an underwear collection designed by David Beckham. The next label to jump on this successful designer-meets-high-street-bandwagon (and perhaps the one I am most excited about), is Marni. Designed by Marni's founder Consuelo Castiglioni, the Spring 2012 collection for H&M will be available online and in 260 stores worldwide on March 8, one month from today. Juxtaposing colour, print and pattern, Marni for H&M will give both male and female fans an opportunity to enjoy everything the label has become loved for, at a fraction of the usual price. Sure to sell-out and sure to stand out, Marni for H&M will tap into Spring/Summer 2012 trends for lively, embellished fabrics and accessories, whilst offering a seductively unique capsule collection. Let the holidays and good times roll! Here are a few sneak-preview pics:

Consuelo Castiglioni and H&M's Margareta van den Bosch style a model
Consuelo Castiglioni sketches the Marni for H&M collection
Consuelo Castiglioni styles a male model
Upping my excitement to an even greater level, the Marni for H&M advertisement film has just been released and was directed by one of my favourite filmmakers, Sofia Coppola. The perfect choice, in my opinion, to capture the vivacity, colour and adventurous spirit of Consuelo's creativity and the Marni ethos. Styled by British Vogue's Lucinda Chambers and Michelle Rafferty and featuring British actress Imogen Poots, Coppola's film was shot on location in Morocco. Evoking her previous films such as Lost in Translation or Somewhere, Coppola's visually stunning cinematography, lighting and composition bring a multi-layered story and stimulating environment in which the artistry of Marni's clothes are expertly captured. As achieved previously, Sofia Coppola's dreamy shots are teamed with perfectly paced and well-chosen music, in the form of Bryan Ferry's Avalon. 

Here is the Marni for H&M video, directed by Sofia Coppola (if you are reading this via email, you may need to visit the blog, or YouTube for a wider view):

Marni for H&M will be available online and in-store from 8 March 2012. 

Images) British Vogue.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bistro Du Vin: Clerkenwell & Soho

The Hotel Du Vin group has carved out a niche, designing boutique hotels with a difference. Luxurious and intimate, their decor and design imparts classic French style, as well as looking to their surrounding Anglo environment for inspiration. As such, Hotel Du Vin has gained a reputation as a hip hangout for locals as well as guests from afar. I have often enjoyed a glass of champagne or a hearty meal at the Brighton Hotel Du Vin, during a frosty weekend by the seaside. Last year, Hotel Du Vin realised they were onto something good and seized the opportunity to expand into stand-alone restaurants, under the brand name of Bistro du Vin. London has been the lucky recipient of both Bistros du Vin to date, situated on Clerkenwell's St John Street and Soho's Dean Street. Both equally charismatic locations with standout individual features, each brings the beloved French bistro (great food, wine and atmosphere) to our city. Similar to its parent hotel group, Bistro du Vin can be enjoyed in many ways: drop in for a drink, a wine tasting, some cheese or seafood, or a three course meal. A clever mix of English and French sensibilities, Bistro du Vin is not unlike an (upmarket) Parisian bistro, where you can watch the world go by with "une assiette de charcuterie", but you can also visit at the weekend for a scrumptious Sunday Roast.

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - bar

I was excited to taste Bistro du Vin's food, wine and ambience, after an invite to dinner at the Clerkenwell restaurant. It now holds particular resonance in my memory, being one of the last non-pregnancy-diet menus I relished, before discovering that I needed to tweak my tastes somewhat over the months ahead*. Arriving by the bar entrance, amidst homely yet sumptuously stylish interiors, I walked straight towards the bustling open kitchen and inviting restaurant before me. Smart yet soothingly informal and so fitting in its EC1 surroundings, I was pleased to recognise the Hotel du Vin 'stamp', yet this dining spot undoubtedly held a magic of its own.

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - open kitchen

Due to an early lunch sitting, the seats encircling the open plan kitchen were not yet fully taken, but very soon they would be. Next time, I look forward to taking up residence there for an hour (or few!), watching the skilled chefs at work and surveying the inviting foods adorning the sides:

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell

Sitting at our cosy table, we were met by warm and knowledgeable serving staff (including, naturally, an expert sommelier), as we sampled the delicious bread basket and took our time over the menu. As someone who adores French cuisine, there were many possible options, from the more familiar to the more unique/authentic and typically, meat and fish were dominant. I began with salmon, horseradish cream and watercress: four thick, succulent slices of melt-in-your-mouth heaven. Like French fare at its best (and seemingly adhering to the Bistro du Vin model) this starter was an example of high-quality ingredients, prepared simply but with such panache.

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - salmon with horseradish 

My husband's Selsey crab starter was equally graceful in preparation and delivery of crabmeat so fresh that visions of the French seaside came to mind with every bite.

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - Selsey crab 

Accompanying these tastes of the sea with a refreshing San Pellegrino, we listened to the sommelier's advice for a bottle of red wine to accompany our upcoming meaty mains. We settled on a delightful Chateau Moulinet Pomerol 2004, offering a hearty blend of juicy fruits, hints of oak and balanced tannins, complementing both my lamb with puy lentils and my husband's fillet steak. 

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - Herdwick lamb rump with pancetta & lentils

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - Fillet steak with peppercorn sauce

Both main courses were infused with flavour and cooked elegantly. Sides of 'carrolls heritage potatoes', pommes frites and buttered vegetables were delicious. I could have eaten a whole plate of the first, whose irresistibly fluffy insides were enveloped in crispy, slightly salty outer shells.  

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - side dishes

I was highly satisfied, following our main courses, but couldn't resist the Valrhona chocolate and honeycomb tart. And what a sensible decision that was. Each powerfully rich cocoa-y taste was indulgent and just the right side of dense, although the combination of velvety chocolate paired with homemade, crunchy honeycomb and vanilla chantilly cream would always be worth a little discomfort, even if you can't possibly find any 'room'. 

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell - Valrhona chocolate tart

After lunch, we learned about the many ways in which you can enjoy Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell. Wine, as the website says, is their "lifeblood" and the wine list (and sommeliers) should be exploited as much as possible. If you wish to sample a special wine by the glass, their glass dispensing machine is worth getting to know (you can even get a 'wine by the glass card'), as is their diary of wine and cheese tasting events. Alternatively, if spirits are your preference, Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell's Whisky Snuggle seats up to 12 guests and there is also a cigar menu. Private dining is also available.

It is now my intention to try Bistro du Vin Soho, with its own unique menu and environment. True to it's on-trend location and vibe, Bistro du Vin Soho has introduced a non-alcoholic 'mocktail' called 'The Lemon Detox by Bistro du Vin Soho', in time for London Fashion WeekIt claims to be 'cleansing, calming and detoxifying' and contains camomile tea, cranberry and lemon juices, cayenne pepper and 'Lemon Detox Madal Bal Natural Tree syrup', a favourite to stars like Naomi Campbell and Beyoncé. For those looking to avoid alcohol or get in shape for summer, 'The Lemon Detox by Bistro du Vin Soho' is available until May. 

The Lemon Detox by Bistro du Vin contains Madal Bal Tree Syrup

Alternatively, Bistro du Vin Soho also offers a wonderful variety of wines and cocktails, which I'll be very keen to sample once I can enjoy a good glass again. What's next for Bistro du Vin?

*Apologies for posting this review belatedly. Menu items may have changed, but please find a Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell menu and Bistro du Vin Soho menu here. City Girl was a dinner guest of The Massey Partnership.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Innocent Drinks: Valentine's Day Smoothie

As I type, I am devouring an Innocent Smoothie. I have always been a fan of Innocent Drinks and particularly so during my pregnancy, where any incentive to combine deliciousness with several helpings of the dreaded '5 a day' has gone down a treat. Smoothies aside, I also love Innocent orange juice (with bits) and their 'tasty veg pots'. So I was excited this morning to discover a delightful delivery from Innocent Headquarters...

Indeed, this is no ordinary Innocent Smoothie, but a cheeky blend of strawberries, bananas and... love! A charming concept for Valentine's Day (yes, it's less than 2 weeks away), you can 'Make your own Valentine's Smoothie' via Innocent's website, giving your Valentine a similar treat. Simply select their favourite recipe, create your personal Valentine's greeting and your unique label will be generated, to print out and attach to that special smoothie bottle. 

It's a sweet way to surprise your Valentine, and surely far more original than a chocolate heart. I love such small, yet personal romantic tokens and feel that extravagant gift-giving is not the point of the day itself. But, if jewellery or a weekend away are on the cards, one of these would always add a lovely extra touch. 

Click here to 'Make your own Valentine's Smoothie'.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License