Chylak bag

DEATH OF AN “IT” BAG

Despite this title, a recent Dior campaign, where the fashion house gifted scores of influencers a re-issued saddle bag made it clear that an IT bag is alive and well. The bag promptly sold out and the photos of it flooded Instagram. Couple of years ago I would consider buying it. These days, I shudder at the thought of owning an an IT item of the season.

My bag collection is very small. I own a vintage Chanel 2.55, which I bought 11 years ago and two Celine bags, with no logo or hardware and only tiny, gold embossed letters. Blink and you miss them. As I know myself more and more, my taste takes me on a journey towards absolute simplicity- austerity almost. I cannot imagine myself wearing Ralph Lauren blazer with the brand’s recognisable logo. By the same token, Michael Kors bags are utterly lost on me.

My grandmother told me once that the ultimate luxury is only recognisable to a knowing eye. I now know what she meant and it has become my style motto.

I don’t buy anything these days because all my cash goes into development of my brand. But one day, when have disposable income again, I will buy two bags, which I love for their utter simplicity and elegance.

Zofia Chylak is a Polish brand who makes incredibly stylish yet utterly inconspicuous handbags. I owned some of her first creations and loved them. Granted, these days the waiting list for most of her bags is longer than from here to next week, yet because of lack of hardware and stunning elegance, they don’t feel like a coveted IT item of the season. There is no shiny logo dangling from a strap. A “crocodile” embossed small handbag which I have my eye on has a charm of a vintage Kelly, yet is totally contemporary. The other bag I’m coveting is Roma is by a British luxury brand, L.O.N.B. Again, it’s so elegant yet so discreet. It’s the opposite of being you face yet you would do a double take if you saw it on the street. Both are items I can easily see gifting my granddaughter one day, long after the excitement of Dior saddle bag had vanished.

I woke up like this

THE ILLUSION OF “I WOKE UP LIKE THIS”

Those of us who ever read any books on how Parisian girls don’t get fat and swan around looking all cheekbones and tousled hair, could be quite susceptible to the myth of “I woke up like this”. I know I have been. “I woke up” with perfectly tousled hair and luminous skin. “I’ve just put on some concealer and smudged an eyeshadow, and just happen to look amazing”. Yeah… I know I’ve certainly felt inadequate in the looks department. The apparent simplicity of the look- I mean how hard can it be? The answer is very and you will most probably need a professional help unless you’ve done it for so long you are practically pro yourself.

When I called on the help of @aga-makeupartist the brief was straightforward- make me look like one of these French girls 😉 I wanted my face chiseled by light and shadows, with no obvious eyeliner, pencil or too much mascar. I wanted “natural” hair that looked like a careless bun, which I put up in a hurry that morning and now it was half falling apart. I imagined we would be done in 30 minutes flat.

An hour and half, we were still there.

Two hours later and effect was incredible- suddenly I was all cheekbones with luminous skin and deep green eyes, thick, tousled hair…and yet, had I told you I woke up like this, you could really believe it.  In a way it was a revelation- firstly that it is all an illusion. And that you can achieve it – if you want to. And that no one really looks like this in real life (unless you are Giselle that is ;)). The drawback of course is that you need to know what you doing. And that it takes a long time- even for a pro. But at least I’m over the illusion now.

Ethical fashion brand

OUR FIRST SAMPLES

It was very exciting and very, very nerve wracking. As I was waiting for Ana, our sample maker, anxiety was taking my brain hostage.  Has she understood my vision? And if so- will others believe my vision enough to want to be dressed by me?

Ana finally arrived and when she took out all three samples from her bag, I relaxed. Things were good. Samples she produced were exactly what I imagined. Yes, there are things to change but this was obvious- after all this was our first fitting.  Sleeves will be more t-shirt like rather than cap sleeves, and waist in two dresses will go slightly up. Sleeves in a third dress (not on the photo) will be little more dramatic. A lining under a skirt will create a slightly exaggerated, yet still wearable shape.

I wanted to create a small collection of desk to dinner dresses with clean, strong lines. Dresses for women who don’t wear frills or flowers. A woman on Instagram said she loved calmness of my line. I loved the comment so much-  for me it meant the she understood what I set out to create.

There is still a way to go for me. I’m waiting for a delivery of bamboo silk for final samples. I need to organise production, a website, packaging, promotion…But things are moving forward and it makes me very happy.

MY COATS PET PEEVE

September chill in London made me think about a new coat. Our first line of coats will be released in time for next winter so this time around I will have to think about buying one. I’m very picky when it comes to my coats- they have to have big enough collars (fast fashion brands always produce coats with narrow collars), which are stiff enough to stay up (very, very rare).  Fabric must be dense and hold shape and the cut must be slightly exaggerated (limp fabric and stingy cut are the biggest giveaways of a cheap looking coat). Isabel Marant has been my favourite for some time. I managed to buy her coats on The Outnet with some great discounts.

I get really annoyed when brands try to pull a fast one on me. Take Zara for example. Their women coats have OK cuts but awful quality fabric. For the same price their men coats are much better quality, fabric wise. Why??? And most importantly- why are allowing this to happen? My other pet peeve is when a premium brand charges £500 for a coat when I can see from a mile off there are problems with quality- for example there is pulling at the seems (LK Bennet, I’m looking at you). In general, there seem to be very little thought going into the designs (I’ve already had a rant about it in one post below :)). And you know what- the customers sometimes have very little choice so they shell out their hard earned cash to buy this trash.

There seem to be very little in between, good quality coats that don’t cost £2,000 and are ethically produced. Do you know any? Share them with me!

Unbuttoned shirt

UNBUTTONED SHIRT

I have a conundrum every time I try on a shirt I’d like to buy. Do I leave the third button undone and have my breasts fully on show or do I do it up and look like a secretary on the way to the office?  I swear that not many brands actually consider where they place a third button. Mostly, I get that run of the mill, same cut, same old, sam old  which I don’t like because doing up the third button makes me look a little frumpy. I have one perfect shirt from St Lauren where the button in placed slightly lower and it creates that sexy, nonchalant look I covet on Instagram- and it’s actually wearable IRL (and I’m able to skirt the bra, too!).  It feels such a small but significant detail to attend to. Does anyone else have this problem or am I just being picky?

gold bangle

SINGLE GOLD BANGLE

My favourite piece of jewellery is a single gold bangle. It goes with everything- a white t-shirt, oatmeal cashmere jumper ro grey marl sweatshirt (sleeves always rolled up) and of course, a black dress. I love to wear mine on its own to make it more stand out. The Cartier “stack” has been all over Instagram in the last year yet I think it’s the single piece that whispers of understated luxury and chic.

silk shirt

SILK SHIRT

Doesn’t this shirt look just fabulous? It’s lustrous and luxuries yet utterly wearable. You could pair it with a nude skirt in luxurious suede for added sophistication or with jeans for more relaxed yet polished style.

I’d love to make a shirt in bamboo silk I saw the other day. Lustrously white, like a marshmallow or sophisticated in a luxurious hue of toffee or cappuccino.

tweed suit

TWEED SUIT

In a previous post I was talking about a tweed suit as part of capsule wardrobe, which would go with different separates. A skirt would look amazing with bare, bronzed legs and Hermes style sandals or 90’s style dainty heels and simple t-shirt, or black, men’s cashmere jumper with rolled up sleeves. A jacket would be great with both jeans or leather  trousers.

overdressed at a party? Here is what to do

OVERDRESSED AT A PARTY? HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO IN SECONDS

You’ve been thinking what to wear to this party for the past two weeks. It’s a big one, the one who got away is going to be there and you want to look your best.  Your outfit from Net a Porter arrived on Friday and your friends all agreed you are going to look just fabulous. On the day you get a blow dry and manicure. You spend an hour priming and contouring until you have Kate Moss cheekbones. You know you are looking gorgeous and you are discreetly surveying the crowd, checking if your ex has noticed you yet when suddenly you see her…

She is leaning casually against the piano,  holding a glass of champagne. She is wearing a tuxedo jacket, her hair look as if she’d lost her hairbrush three months ago and her red lipstick goes a dream with a subtle, golden tan. You spy a single ring on her finger. She looks like she has someplace better to go afterwards and you suddenly wish you could swap places with her.

What do do if you find yourself overdressed at an event or simply want to look more effortless (not casual)? There are three things you can do immediately:

  1. Take off your make up. I mean, sure you want to leave the foundation and perhaps swipe a bit of bronzer on your cheekbones but I would leave Kardashian inspired make up well alone. A red lippy and maybe a tiny bit of bronzer is all you need.
  2. Muss up your hair. Glossy, bouncy blow dry a la Kate Middleton says “I’ve been getting ready for the past 8 hours”. Batiste dry shampoo from your corner drug store is your friend- gives your hair volume and texture, and that bedhead, nonchalant look.
  3. Swap your stilettos for flats. Whether they are sneakers, ballet pumps or Hermes flats (especially Hermes flats), they have the ability to make your outfit look  little more nonchalant and carefree than a pair of killer heels.

And if you can, grab your man’s jacket and roll up the sleeves. Ready to party? 🙂

 

Sustainable fashion

THE REAL COST OF A £30 DRESS

I have a guilty pleasure- I follow an account on Instagram where the creator often shows her mood boards and fashion finds on Instagram stories. She does it very well- you first see a well put together, inspirational mooboard and then, once you feel sufficiently inspired,  you can simply swipe up to purchase an outfit you’ve just seen on the board. An added bonus- the clothes are rarely more than £30.

Despite watching her Instagram stories almost religiously, I’ve never bought any of her recommendations and I never will.  I simply cannot buy a £30 dress because I know that the cost- to everyone else but me, would be much, much greater.

First of all, there is a human cost. We all remember Rana Plaza disaster yet do you know that after a while, things came back to almost the same way they were before the death of over a 1,000 of people? The main factor driving this is a price. Everyone says things like “fair trade”, “fair pay” and “sustainable” and then go to a fast fashion chain and purchase trousers for a few pounds. When customers demand cheap fashion, the simple equation is that to keep the proces down, the workers must earn a pittance.

The other factor is the fabric.  Polyester is cheap to manufacture so if you check garments from fast fashion companies, 98% of their clothes will consist of 100 % polyester. Here, the cost to us is twofold. Firstly producing polyester uses a tremendous amount of fossil fuel. Secondly, polyester is just plastic, heated and forced through spinnerets into fibres. Not only is not biodegradable but when washed, it released tiny microfibres which are too small to be bought by any filters, and travel straight to our rivers and oceans.

I cannot get on board with this and I think we have no right to use the planets resources in this way.  My dad is a politician and he had always thought of himself as a “keeper” of the town he governs. He plans (along with others), invests, thinks about the future of the town and next the next generations of inhabitants. I think we should think of ourselves in the same way- we are keepers of the planet for people who come after us. We can use the resources responsible but we cannot mindlessly plunder everything in sight and abuse others in the process.