Sunday, 29 January 2012

Chanel 'Black Pearl'

I am eagerly waiting to pick up the new Chanel nail polish shades, which came out on Friday, but until I get my hands on them, I thought that I would post about one of my recently re-discovered Chanel favourites. I love my nail polishes, and I generally treat myself to one of the limited edition shades every season. It’s the closest that I will get to a Chanel 2.55 anytime soon!

Last week I watched a video on Lisa Eldridge’s website, in which she shows her ten favourite polishes. I own two of them, Chanel ‘Black Pearl’ and Ciate ‘Mistress’. I regularly wear ‘Mistress’, but realised that I hadn’t used ‘Black Pearl’ for a while. So I decided to give it an outing.

‘Black Pearl’ is from the S/S 2011 Collection, and is meant to look like Tahitian black pearls. I initially wasn’t 100% convinced about this when I saw it in the bottle, but decided to give it a go. But when I tried it I really liked it. Which is why I’m not sure why I haven’t worn it in a while! It is a green-black with a pearl lustre finish. I like wearing this, as it is very different to other polishes I own, but isn’t too ‘in your face’, so it is perfect to wear every day. This is definitely going back on my list of favourites.

Have you tried ‘Black Pearl’? What did you think of it? What other ‘Chanel’ polishes do you like?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lou Lou Chats with M from Evol Heist

Next up in my 'Lou Lou Chats' series, is the lovely M from Evol Heist. I first came across 'Evol Heist' on a friend's Twitter timeline, and was really struck by their pieces. I am loving their latest collection, 'Smoke and Mirrors'. M kindly agreed to answer some questions about what inspires the brand's striking and distinctive pieces.


Describe Evol Heist in three words.

Unusual. Hand-made. Dramatic.

Please tell us more about yourself.

I have come from a Fashion- Marketing background, which was mainly business concentrated, and I found it quite boring as my natural passion comes from transforming visual things, or further developing a simple shape into something that looks like it is from some sci-fi- fashion editorial extravaganza. You know - something pretty distinctive.

I have always made my own jewellery, and most of the time I still customise my own clothes. I used to get compliments in the street and from friends and strangers who wanted to have my personal jewellery pieces made for themselves. I eventually fell into developing EVOL HEIST, creating jewellery collections for people who like to wear things that are quite striking.

What would you say is the Evol Heist signature piece?

Death Grip Duo - £50

Our ‘Death Grip Duo’. Since their release on Halloween 2010, they have been sold to every corner of the world, re-worked with spike studs, UV/ Neon glowing paints for musicians to wear on stage, featured on X-Factor on Little Mix, Big Brother UK (Tom O’ Connell), several magazine fashion editorials, and are still our global best seller over a year later.

What piece from the collection do you wear the most?

I tend to wear our ‘Bone Bracelet’ quite a lot, but I am a little bit obsessed with most pieces from our new collection, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’. I have literally been wearing that entire collection almost every day of the week, since the pieces are so versatile and are so on- point to wear with a winter wardrobe. I have been told that our neck pieces from this collection “really make an outfit”.

Evol 'Eye' necklace - £28

Lolita's Spike Collar - £38

Mirror Gold Collar - £30

One of my favourite pieces from the 'Smoke & Mirrors' collection - Matte Gold Collar - £28

What has been the highlight for you since starting up Evol Heist?

We have had so many highlights. A distinct one is being worn by ‘Little Mix’ on the Halloween show of X-Factor UK, but generally we get to work with musicians across the world designing custom pieces for them which is incredible. We never thought we would be communicating with and meeting musicians we love. We are HUGE music fans.

What motivates you?

My customers and their amazing and inspiring feed- back. Their emails make my day!

What inspires you when you are designing?

Mostly my brain and my subconscious. I have very vivid dreams that could have a distinctive feel to them, which inspires me to design a collection around that, or art direct the look-book containing those elements. I also develop collections based on things I would really love to wear myself. We do consider a certain few guidelines when creating each collection too, like geometry; texture; which era/culture its inspired from etc. The design process is a lot of fun,and I am constantly designing.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?

Be obsessed. Be unique.

What’s next for Evol Heist?

Our aim for 2012 is to continue finding great stockists around the world to hold the EVOL HEIST brand; we are currently stocked in Los Angeles - USA and Bristol - UK. Also, to do more jewellery/ designer fairs across the UK. We love meeting our customers and getting people's reaction when they see our pieces.

Where would you like to be in five years time?

Developing a sister- brand, and possibly making bigger things than jewellery!

If you weren’t designing jewellery, what would you be doing?

Probably making cartoons or working in trend-prediction.

Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Maybe have started doing jewellery fairs at an earlier stage, but other than that, I’m very happy with the choices and decisions we have made!

Top Tip

Stay positive. The world is yours; make of it what you want!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Style Crush: Taylor Tomasi Hill

Today's post is about one of my major style crushes: the uber-stylish Taylor Tomasi Hill. Taylor is the former Style & Accessories Director at Marie Claire USA, and is now the Artistic Director at Moda Operandi.

I can't remember where I first saw her picture (the image below), but I remember really loving her look - the combination of simple pieces in pale colours contrasting with the rich reds of her scarf. Not to mention her stunning red hair.

If I was able to channel an ounce of Taylor's style I would be a very happy woman. I have yet to see an outfit of hers that I didn't love. She succeeds in putting together pieces together to create a look that is stylish, but never 'too much'.

So, what do you think of Taylor's style? Who are your style crushes?

Randomly, after I had written this post, 'Equipment' put out a tweet asking who people's style icons were. As I was very much in a Taylor frame of mind, I tweeted them saying that I loved Taylor's look. Much to my amazement, she later tweeted me to thank me. If only I'd thought to ask her for some style tips!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Fashion or Feminism?: I'll take them both and in every colour!

Yesterday, I was reading my weekly copy of 'Grazia' magazine when I came across an article by Polly Vernon. In the article, Polly looked at the recent furore surrounding Louise Mensch (author and Tory M.P) who appeared in 'GQ' magazine. Following on from her appearance in the magazine, some newspapers started to compare her to Katie Price. Janet Street-Porter also criticised her in an article entitled 'You can't be a clothes horse AND a feminist'. Whilst Polly Vernon didn't defend Louise Mensch personally, she was determined to "defend a feminist's right to fashion", and describes herself as a "fancy, furious, frock-wearing feminist". 

The piece really struck a chord with me, as on a number of occasions I have had comments (or worse the condescending 'look') from people who are dismissive of my love of fashion and beauty, as if it is impossible to be interested in both Chanel AND what's going on in society. I might have Chanel 2.55s in my eyes (a girl can dream!), but that doesn't mean that I am blind to anything outside the world of fashion and beauty. It also raised a wry smile, as it reminded me of a comment one of my house-mates made to me when I was in University: "You would definitely be my 'Phone a Friend' Lou, as you know what nail polish is in this season and also lots about History & Politics." Which was just as well since those were my degree subjects! Although I'm not sure why she thought these were mutually exclusive.

Louise Mensch (Photo: Simon Emmett/GQ)

I agree wholeheartedly with Vernon's take on the issue, that "good clothes can be empowering". It's not about having to wear hideously expensive pieces. but rather pieces that express who you are, or that make you feel good. I am really interested to hear your thoughts on this. Have you ever had any negative comments about your love of fashion and beauty? What was your response to those comments?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lou Lou Chats with Amina from Jewel Heritage

I am a big fan of jewellery as the perfect way to add something to an outift, and one brand who have been on my radar for a while is 'Jewel Heritage'. The pieces are really striking, and very detailed. Amina from 'Jewel Heritage' very kindly agreed to answer some questions about the brand and what inspires her.


Describe 'Jewel Heritage' in three words.

Individual. Macabre. Thoughtful.

Please tell us more about yourself.

I studied design in college and fell in love with it. Illustration is my ultimate love alongside jewellery. I’ve had no normal jewellery training but I have learnt so much about the process from just doing it. And here I am, doing what makes me happy. I also have a soft spot for Vincent Cassel, and I’ve recently taken up hot yoga and love it!
Is there a particular piece that typifies the 'Jewel Heritage' look?

TheHarbinger of Death. It’s our most successful and cherished piece of design. It also sums up our brand: dark, mythological and well executed. Or at least we aim for our brand to be!

What is your favourite piece in the collection?

Oh that’s difficult. That is like asking a parent who their favourite child is. The Eyeballin’ was my first piece so it has a special place in my heart, much like someone’s first born will! Eyeballin’ - Jewel Heritage’s first child!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The past, the present and the future.

What has been the highlight for you since starting up 'Jewel Heritage'?

Apart from the amazing customers from all around the world, from LA to Finland, it has to be appearing in print in The Evening Standard as a brand to watch at London Jewellery Week, alongside a hero of mine Alex Monroe. Also, appearing in Grazia’s fashion charts as a 2012 trend.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?
With the business side of things, it will all come with time. You can be given the best advice, tips and motivation on how to run your own business, in whatever sector, but the best thing you can do, is just start with whatever funding, materials etc you have to hand. Let life teach you all you need to know.
Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I never look back, only forward.
What’s next for 'Jewel Heritage'?

Bigger and better things we hope! A new website alongside a new collection in February. We have a huge giveaway planned on Facebook once we reach 1,000 fans. We are also venturing into bespoke pieces. Just to grow creatively and offer something new and exciting with every collection.
Where would you like to be in five years time?

Alive, healthy and doing what I love. To have 'Jewel Heritage' grow. My ultimate goal is for 'Jewel Heritage' to be stocked in Liberty. They have been on my hit list since the very start. Who knows, maybe even a little boutique of our own one day? Bricks and mortar.

What motivates you?

My desire to be really, really good and leave an impact, even if it is just on one person.

Top Tip

If you are looking to become a designer, be it in fashion, jewellery, illustration and so forth, be sure your driving force is your passion for the freedom of being creative and your love for design and not for the money side of it. Creativity first, then think about the business side of it. That’s the way I like to run 'Jewel Heritage'.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Yoga Styling: Chanel vs Manuka Life

Chanel. Now I don't know about you, but that's not the first thing that I think of when I think yoga clothing. But Karl Lagerfeld obviously has other ideas. The latest Chanel ad campaign features Joan Smalls and Saskia de Brauw taking part in a variety of activities, from yoga to gymnastics. All whilst clad in this season's finest Chanel. As you do.

If Chanel is a non non, and you don't fancy doing the Downward Dog in your Dolce, or the Warrior in your Westwood, then you might want to check out 'Manuka Life'. I came across the brand when I was looking for some clothing to wear to the brilliant 'Yoga Fever' hot yoga classes that I have signed up to. My usual gym attire just wasn't suitable, so I decided to call on the power of Google to source some. 'Manuka Life' has a great range of clothing which is perfect for wearing to yoga class or just to relax at home. The clothing is made from sustainable yarns and fabrics, which reduces the demand on natural resources. 

Living Tee - £14.40

Living Pedal Pants - £14.40

Bamboo Serenity Cover Up - £15.20

I was really impressed with the items that I ordered (the Pedal Pants; the Living Tee and the Bamboo Serenity Cover-up). The pieces are soft enough to allow plenty of movement, but the cut and fit on the pieces is such that I'm not worried that I'm going to be exposing myself to the rest of the class! They also roll up easily, so that I can put them in my new LILIFI shopper, which means I don't have to cart my big gym bag around with me.

And what is even better, is that 'Manuka Life' have currently got a 60% off sale. So if you are looking for some new fitness kit, or just some comfortable pieces for lounging, then check out 'Manuka Life'.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Buyapowa Bargains

I have posted about individual offers on 'Buyapowa' before, but wanted to do another post about the site, as they have got some great beauty co-buys lined up over the next few weeks. If you haven't heard of 'Buyapowa' before, it is a web-site that invites the public to suggest items that they wish to purchase. The buying team then do their best to source the items and negotiate a discounted price. Once the items go live on the site, the price drops as more people opt in to the co-buy. A simple but perfect idea. I have made some great purchases from the site, all with really good discounts: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick (£8 off); Benefit 'They're Real' Beyond Mascara (£7.50 off); Shu Uemura eyelash curlers (£6 off).

I really like the fact that the site lists forthcoming co-buys, so you can be notified as soon as particular items go live, thus minimising your chances of missing out on a great beauty bargain. Future co-buys include 'Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouge and 'Liz Earle' Superskin Concentrate. Although saying that, the site isn't just limited to beauty buys. If you want it, you can suggest a co-buy for it. Recent items have included everything from HP printers to bike lights. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself over to 'Buyapowa'!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

London Printworks Trust: Counter Feat

London Printworks Trust, which has helped a number of British designers, is facing a 100% cut in its funding. It needs £200,000 to stay open this year. Its response to this? Printing its own money! But not just any old money. The bank notes in question are designed by a host of designers, including Holly Fulton, Victoria Beckham and Jonathan Saunders. The idea behind this initiative is that members of the public purchase these limited edition 'art notes', with the money going to the Trust. They come in £50, £20 and £10 denominations. Each one comes with a certificate of authenticity, which shows when the note was printed, and how many were in the print run.

I purchased a Holly Fulton £10 bank note, which features her trademark Art Deco design style in gold on a white background. 

Here are some of my other favourite designs:

Victoria Beckham's £50 note

Jonathan Saunders' £50 note

This is a great way to get a piece of designer art, whilst helping the Trust's work helping up and coming designers and also its community outreach work. You can purchase the 'art notes' at

Monday, 9 January 2012

Lou Lou Chats with Emma Allen of Style Sequel

When I was reading a recent edition of 'Elle' magazine, one of the staff members mentioned that they sold items that they no longer wanted in their closet on  I had never come across this website before, but was keen to check it out, as I know from the weekly 'What Elle Wears' blog posts, that the 'Elle' staff members are a VERY stylish bunch. Once I had, it was serious style website love, with a combination of brilliant pieces from recent seasons together with style classics. I am really pleased with my first purchase from the site: a 'Tucker' leopard print jacket, with a silk rose print lining - with tags and originally retailing for approximately £400 - with a starting price of £25!

Describe Style Sequel in three words.

Beautiful. Hand-picked. Pre-owned.

Please tell us more about yourself.

I have always loved beautiful clothes and have been an avid pre-owned shopper myself for as long as I can remember. I started selling a few of my own piece on eBay around five years ago, moving on to selling for my friends and then for a select group of ladies in Notting Hill. My ‘catchment’ area quickly grew to cover the whole of London and the UK and I also gained many international sellers.

Emma from

Why did you set up Style Sequel?

By the end of 2010 I had built up a wonderful and extensive list of sellers and buyers around the world but I felt I had taken my business as far as I could alone. I really felt that there was a gap in the market for a truly specialist clothing reselling platform, with a high level of care and service and a 100% authenticity guarantee. I really wanted the experience of selling second hand clothing to be as easy and simple as possible for our sellers and also as much a pleasure for our buyers as buying an item new.

Azzedine Alaia A/W 2010 Black Crackle Leather Corset Boots

What makes Style Sequel different from other websites?

We bring our buyers pieces from the best wardrobes around the world. We create a profile for each of our top sellers – from Laid Back Stylista to Jet Setting Socialite – and we give our buyers the chance to get inside their wardrobes. They can even follow specific wardrobes on the website and we alert them when we get more items. We also work hard to hand select the best pieces from these wardrobes and to offer our buyers a wonderful selection from established brands such as Chanel and Hermes, alongside smaller or more ‘niche’ labels such as Carolina Bucci or Comme Des Garcons.

Another focus is on giving our buyers a second chance to own those key pieces they may have missed out on in the past. We love to give our buyers as much information as possible and we highlight items that we think are ‘Style Icons’, ‘Collectibles’, ‘Limited Editions’ and my own ‘Editor’s Picks’ which are just things that we love.

For our sellers we really do try and make things as easy as possible – we understand how busy they are. We have the option of home collections or we can help them get their items to us in a way that is convenient to them. We aim to sell all items within 6 weeks and we really do try and do each and every piece justice. I have a really passionate interest in ‘recent past’ fashion (I of course keep an eye on current ones too) and I love bringing this knowledge to Style Sequel - it really does help us get the best from each piece we sell.

And we offer a 100% authenticity guarantee on every single item.

Lanvin Spring Summer 2010 Navy Silk Draped Dress

How did you build up your list of sellers?

I was very lucky to bring many wonderful sellers with me from my previous business (these I built up from good old fashioned leafleting and word of mouth) but with Style Sequel we have greatly added to that list via some lovely PR, wonderful word of mouth and directly contacting people we think could really benefit from our services.

Hermes JPG Shoulder Classic Orange Birkin Bag

What has been the most unusual/standout piece that someone has approached you to sell on the site?

There have been so, so many wonderful pieces. From a stunning Hermes Birkin to a super rare Tom Ford for Gucci leather corset. We have sold amazing Chanel Cruise suits and more amazing pairs of Louboutins than I can remember. When we get pieces like this I feel it is our duty to do them absolute justice and I still get excited about handling them. We also love a piece with a story. Recently we sold a beautiful 1950s fur coat that had belonged to the mother of our seller. My seller gave me some wonderful background history which I was able to pass it onto the buyer who loved the story so much she asked if I could put her in touch with the seller to find out more. They are now firm friends. That is the kind of thing that makes my day.

Christian Louboutin Lucifer Bow & Spike Heels

What has been the highlight for you since starting up the business?

Every day is a new challenge and there have been many highlights. Hiring our amazing assistant Novia was a real boost. She does such a wonderful job – we could not manage without her. Getting some wonderful PR in Elle and the Vanity Fair A-List has been amazing, as have been some of the fabulous sellers we have recruited since we launched. For me each new seller is a highlight. Also of course seeing our buyer/customer base grow each and every day, and getting wonderful comments from them when they buy something they love or have wanted for a long time – I will never not find that truly uplifting.

Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I’d have set up Style Sequel sooner. It is sometimes hard to make the jump from working for and by yourself into joining with others but it really is the only way a good little idea can become a good big idea. Admitting I could not do everything alone is something I really wish I’d done earlier.

Prada A/W 2000 Yellow Anemone Print Tea Dress
What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?
I think most new business rules apply regardless of the area you are in. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve but also you can’t be scared to move with new ideas as you go along. Realise and embrace the fact that it will be very hard work and that you will have to wear many different hats – admin, finance, customer service etc. Don't let any little setbacks get you down - all experiences are valuable and most can be turned to your advantage if you think creatively enough. Fashion is full on and fast moving so you need to be prepared to move and react.

What’s in the pipeline for Style Sequel in 2012?

We have so many plans for Style Sequel and lots of new features in the pipeline. We are setting up a 'desperately seeking' service for customers looking for specific rare, sold out etc pieces. We will also be focusing on making the site a really wonderful place to visit in its own right – a real haven for lovers of pre-owned fashion.

What motivates you?

The belief that there really is the need for a truly dedicated, top level designer resale website out there – one where the clothes and the story behind them are key. I really want the experience of buying beautiful clothes second hand to be just as wonderful as buying them new. And I want all ladies with amazing wardrobes to know that there is someone out there who really want to help.

Also every single day.....the pieces we sell, meeting my sellers, talking to my buyers...all of that. It is a joy.

Top Tip

Love what you do! I know it sounds obvious but you won’t get where you want to be if you don’t.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Iris Apfel for MAC

Iris Apfel. You might not recognise the name, but I am fairly sure that you will have seen photos of this inimitable lady in plenty of style publications and blogs. Over the past decade, Iris has become a style icon, partly due to the 2005 exhibition celebrating her distinctive style : Rara Avis (Rare Bird). Apparently, Alexis Bittar's PR person has a tattoo of Iris on her wrist! Over the course of her eventful life, Iris has worked at Women's Wear Daily, established her own textile firm, and designed interiors in the White House for 9 American Presidents. And now she can add MAC collaborator to her CV, as she has created a 20-piece collection with MAC.

If you have been reading my blog from the start, then you will know that  I have been trying to move away from the neutrals of old, and to experiment with brighter makeup shades, and in particular brighter lip colours. Therefore I was really excited when I saw the Iris Apfel collection.

MAC say that the collection, which Apfel worked closely on, is "inspired by a rare bird who has always been ahead of her time". The collection contains lipsticks, eyeshadows, mascara, eyeliner, brow pencil, nail polishes and beauty powder. The products come in a range of vibrant shades, from scarlet to hot pink to "robin's egg" green. I love the names of the products too, with most of the products being named after birds, e.g. 'Party Parrott' and 'Scarlet Ibis'. 'Scarlet Ibis' matte lipstick is actually top of my wishlist from this collection, and I can't wait to try it. It was used by the make up artist backstage at the Erdem S/S 2012 show.

The collection is available online at .

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Give and Make Up

I thought that as quite a few people might have received unwanted gifts of makeup and toiletries over the festive period, that I would repost one of my earlier posts about the fantastic 'Give and Makeup' initiative, which helps women and children who have escaped domestic violence:


If you are an avid reader of beauty blogs, then I'm sure you will have come across this logo (or a variant of it) on a number of blogs.

Just in case you've never had time to click through to the webpage, then here's a quick post to let you know what it's all about.

Give and Make Up is a fantastic initiative which was set up by the lovely Caroline Hirons a.k.a Beauty MouthCaroline is, in her own words, a "3rd generation beauty industry lifer" (her mother and grandmother also worked in the beauty industry). In fact I wouldn't be surprised if there is lip gloss running through her veins.

'Give and Make Up' is a non-profit initiative whose sole purpose is to work with Refuge and Women's Aid, to get daily essentials into the hands of women and children who have had to flee to refuges to escape domestic violence. Each week two women in the United Kingdom are murdered by a partner or ex-partner. One woman in four experiences domestic violence in their lifetime.

'Give and Make Up' take your unwanted make up, toiletries and baby products and pass them on to the women and children who need them. The list of items needed can be found below:

Everyday Essentials
bath/shower gel
body lotion
feminine hygiene products
shaving products
at-home hair dye colouring kits



makeup brushes
makeup bags
curling tongs

Baby Products
all of them!

In Wales, 'Give and Make Upare working with Welsh Women's Aid (WWA) and 'Escentual' (who are a Cardiff-based online beauty site). If you would like to help, then you can send your items to 'Escentual' either by post (*address below) or you can drop them off at 'Central Pharmacy', Wellfield Road. 

When I read about this initiative I was really impressed. It's such a simple idea, which can make a big difference to women and children who need help. And on a personal level, it meant that I could clear out my cupboards without having to throw out perfectly good products which just weren't right for me. I also think that it's great that items that might be seen as frivolous, can make a real difference to people's lives. So if whilst you've been reading this post you've been making a mental note of all of the things that you've got in the cupboard but have never used then why not send it 'Give and Make Up's way. It could be that Christmas gift set from Boots that your aunty gave you, or maybe you were just a little over-zealous with the 3 for 2 purchases? Whatever it is, if it's on the list, then I am sure that 'Give and Make Up' will appreciate it.

If you don't live in Cardiff then check out the 'Give and Make Upsite for details of how you can donate items in your area.

*, Give and Make Up, 63-67 Wellfield Road, Cardiff, CF24 3PA

Monday, 2 January 2012

Lou Lou Chats with Richard Weston

For me, one of the standout stories on BBC2's 'Britain's Next Big Thing', was that of Professor Richard Weston. Just in case you didn't catch the programme, it gave budding product designers and craftspeople the opportunity to pitch for well-known companies such as Liberty and Boots. Richard Weston pitched his designs to the Buying Team from Liberty, one of the country's most prestigious department stores. I was immediately struck by his absolutely stunning over-sized scarves, and I remember my Twitter timeline being full of equally impressed people. And there was also a bit of real-life interest, as it turns out that Professor Weston works for Cardiff University like me, and also lives in the same village. As I find Richard's combination of careers really intriguing, I asked him if he would be willing to answer some question for my blog. I was delighted when he agreed. Almost, if not more than when I finally got to purchase one of his scarves a few weeks ago!


The ‘Independent on Sunday’ described you as a “hot new British designer”, how would you describe yourself in four words?

In love with nature.

Please tell us more about yourself.

I'm a Professor of Architecture at Cardiff University, and have been teaching and writing about architecture for almost thirty years. I've also had a lifelong fascination with form and pattern in nature, and as a first-year student was introduced to books by Gyorgy Kepes that explored a 'language of vision' common to nature, art and design. They left a lasting mark.

What sparked your passion for mineral and rocks?

The visual fascination of their structure, patterns and colours, and their inexhaustible variety. The crystalline forms are rather obviously ‘architectural’, while to anyone sensitive to colour, the ‘molecular’ gradations and dramatic contrasts of colour are a delight.

What inspired you to turn your interest in minerals and rocks into a business?

A friend mentioned that the high-resolution files I got using digital scanners could be printed on fashion and interior fabrics.  The potential was immediately obvious to me – if not to people ‘in the trade' – and the break came over six years after I started collecting these images, with Liberty’s ‘Open Call’ for new products. I attended an event in February 2010 that was filmed as part of what became the BBC2 series ‘Britain’s Next Big Thing'. It was as good a launch as you could wish for.  

How would you describe your pieces for anyone who hasn’t seen them?

In a sense there isn’t a ‘typical’ example because the geological sources are so various, but equally they are instantly recognisable as ‘natural’ rather than conventionally ‘designed’. Most are characterised by extremely subtle gradations, as well as striking contrasts of colour, making them perfect for digital printing. Many have unexpected shifts in pattern and seemingly random ‘events’; and in some the system of order – such as banding – is obvious, while in others it’s elusive to pin down, but always present and somehow ‘sensed’. In a deep way I believe these things are ‘made like us’ and we feel at ease with them in the same way as we feel at ease on a beach with the sound of the waves.


What is the process involved in creating your scarves?

The minerals are scanned using either reflected or transmitted light and I then look to frame a ‘design’. Depending on the material it may then take a few minutes or sometimes hours to digitally ‘clean’ the selected area – many come with microscopic traces of polishing powder and it’s impossible to eliminate dust etc. The digital files are then sent to our printers in Como where they are printed, steamed, washed in a succession of chemical baths and dried; they then send them to a finishing factory who ‘stenter’ them in a machine longer than a cricket pitch – this straightens out the weave, restoring the satin sheen and ensures they are square. The finished fabric then goes to a quality control factory who check for blemishes, and finally they are cut and the edges sewn. Quite a lot of operations to produce a square of silk!

      You have taken thousands of images of minerals and rocks, but do you have a particular favourite?

      Yes, it’s one I call ‘wild quartz’ that comes from an unusual form of this ubiquitous mineral called ‘elestial’ quartz. It grows in cracks in rocks rather than as the familiar crystals and was leant to me by Debbie Campbell, who owns the Debris jewellery shop in Pontcanna, Cardiff, with the words "it looks rather dirty but there’s obviously something going on and you might get something out of it" – and how! It’s tiny, but absolutely teems with ‘events’, random splashes of colour from ‘inclusions’ of other minerals, and everywhere there are traces of the underlying crystal structure.

Do you consider Weston Earth Images as a natural progression, related to your career in architecture, or as a totally separate thing?

To me ‘architecture’ in its widest sense is about a love of order – hence we speak about the ‘architecture’ of the universe, matter or whatever. And so for me there is a deep connection between what to other people may appear totally different fields. I’m not interested in fashion per se, but in beautiful, well-made things – be they scarves or buildings.

       What has been the highlight of the last year?

     It has to be the broadcast of ‘Britain’s Next Big Thing’ – and the amazing range of responses it brought from people who share my passion for these glimpses into the deep order of nature.

       I love the image of you in the pink scarf that ‘The Independent on Sunday’ and ‘’ used. Do you wear your pieces in real life?

      I have always been a ‘tie man’ and the source of that image, bloodstone (slightly naughtily, the colours have been ‘inverted’ to complementaries in Photoshop), was used to make one of my favourite ties. I have a suit jacket lined with the same image and will certainly be wearing the men’s cashmere scarves we’ll be launching in 2012.


     Looking back at the development of Weston Earth Images, is there anything that you would have done differently?

     I don’t think there is. I suspect most people would have been more pushy in trying to find commercial outlets for what, in retrospect, seems such a ‘no brainer’ of a product – but it didn’t start out with any commercial end  in mind, so I wasn’t that bothered. And without the delay there wouldn’t have been Liberty, BBC2, Net-a-Porter and publicity money couldn’t buy – if not yet, sadly, profits to live on let alone die for!

     What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?

      Be prepared for a long hard haul – even when you have ‘broken through’ it seems fiendishly hard to make a living. Some people get a break early by being ‘spotted’ at their degree show, but mostly it looks to me like a crazy world in which very few make it.

      What motivates you?

 A relentless search for doing something new and a desire to make things in tune with the timeless order of nature. I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious, but it’s the abiding passion of my life, even if most of what I’ve done day to day to make a living, to meet the demands of the Research Excellent Framework etc feels peripheral to it.

      If you could see your work anywhere, where would it be?   

       I have been repeatedly told by the guardians of galleries that these images are not ‘art’ – and, even worse, dangerous because people ‘might mistake them for art’ (I quote!). But if photography can be an art form, I don’t see why the digital scanner can’t be. In the nineteenth century photography was christened ‘the pencil of nature’ and these images seem to me to stand squarely in that tradition. So a decent art gallery would do nicely!

     What’s in the pipeline for Weston Earth Images in 2012?

      We’ll be launching silk tops in another very well known London store, men’s scarves, and a host of non-fashion products as part of the expansion of a major fashion website – beach towels, cushions, iPad covers… And four of our images, 2-storeys high in glass, will be greeting athletes in their apartments at the London Olympics. Personally, I hope to find more uses for them in architecture, along the lines of the silk-in-glass louvers for the new house in Camden by the architects Patel Taylor.

Top Tip?

        Trust your eye.


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