Saturday, 31 March 2012

GW by Gok Wan for Specsavers

As dinner hours go, I can think of a lot worse ways to spend it, than in Cardiff's stylish KuKu Club, finding out about Gok Wan's latest collaboration with Specsavers, his 'GW by Gok Wan' range of glasses.

As a child I had to wear glasses - some delightful NHS pink and blue numbers that haunt me to this day! Therefore, although I no longer wear glasses, I was interested at taking a look at this new range.

Gok's range of glasses has a definite vintage vibe to it, with a '50s/'60s look. The shapes and materials used manage to be both vintage and modern at the same time. There are 13 styles in the range, all on sale for £99.

As well as showing the new range, Gok was also there to meet competition winners, who were going to be 'spectacle styled' by the man himself. They all seemed to really enjoy meeting him, and were really pleased with the glasses he chose for them, and the little messages he wrote for them.

One of the competition winners, Claire, wearing the spectacles chosen for her by Gok.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Jonathan Ward London Scented Candles : Spring Green Sale

One of my favourite recent brand discoveries, has been 'Jonathan Ward London' scented candles. I am a big fan of scented candles as a way of scenting the home. I have tried a lot of different brands, and have never been able to find one that provided a lasting scent with depth. Until know that is.

I recently asked the lovely ladies and gents of Twitter for their recommendations for scented candles, and 'Jonathan Ward London' candles came out top of the list. 'Jonathan Ward London' scented candles are all hand-poured, using centuries-old, artisan techniques. All candles are paraffin-free and use clean-burning soy and beeswax. 

If you like the sound of these, then you might be interested to know that Jonathan is holding a 'Spring Green Sale' to make way for some new additions to his collection. Prices start at just £4, and you can make savings of up to 63%, e.g. a large 'Citrine Ivy' candle for £12 instead of £32. The sale will be starting on Friday (30th March). If you are in London, then you can visit Jonathan Ward HQ, or if like me you are slightly further afield, then you can place your order via email or over the phone. I have already compiled my shopping list!

Whenever I light one of Jonathan's candles, people always comment on the scent, and I couldn't recommend them more. If you love scented candles, then this is the perfect opportunity to enter the olfactory world of Jonathan Ward. You won't regret it! And even if you are not a fan of scented candles, these would make a wonderful gift, as they ooze luxury, as they are housed in hand-blown crystal glass, and the packaging is beautiful.

Here are the items in the sale:

Old Packaging

Large Walk in Machu Picchu, 8.5oz 

Large Citrine Ivy, 8.5oz

Large Nightingale’s Jasmine, 8.5oz

Large Lulu in Provence, 8.5oz (Discontinued collection)

Large Cherrywood Falls , 8.5oz (Discontinued collection)

Medium Dance in Summer Rain, 6.5oz

Medium Lost in El Salvador, 6.5oz

Medium Velvet Moss Rose, 6.5oz

Medium Kiss in Rio, 6.5oz

Medium Citrine Ivy, 6.5oz

Medium Ode to Euan, 6.5oz

Medium Mombasa, 6.5oz

Medium Pietas Lavander, 6.5oz

Medium Dance in Summer Rain, 6.5oz

Medium Nightingale’s Jasmine, 6.5oz

Medium Peonies in Paris, 6.5oz (Discontinued collection)

Tealights – Cherrywood Falls, 9 tea glass tea lights (Discontinued collection)

Duo Set
Medium Dance in Summer Rain/Citrine Ivy 6.5oz
Medium Pietus Lavender/Nightingale’s Jasmine 6.5oz


Large Citrine Ivy, 8.5oz

Large Dance in Summer Rain, 8.5oz

Large Kiss in Rio, 8.5oz

Medium Mombasa, 6.5oz

Medium Ode to Euan, 6.5oz

Medium Citrine Ivy, 6.5oz

Medium Dance in Summer Rain, 6.5oz

Miniature Cherrywood Falls, 1.5oz

3 for £10

Miniature Peonies in Paris, 1.5oz

3 for £10

Miniature Green Tea Mandarin, 1.5oz
3 for £10

Three Kings, 1.5oz

3 for £10

*VAT not included

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Stylist Pick : My Choice

I recently posted about a great offer that was on Groupon - a voucher for £9.95 for your first purchase from Stylist Pick. I have been interested in the shoe and accessory subscription service since it began, so this was the perfect opportunity to try it.

In case you don't know about Stylist Pick, it is a site which offers a selection of shoes and accessories, which have been picked by stylists. When you sign up to the site you complete a short style questionnaire and it then selects products based on your answers. These are collated in the 'My Showroom' area of the site. However you can also order items which nearly made your showroom if you prefer.

I went for these t-bar shoes with a bow detail. I really liked the slightly vintage feel to them, and they were also a close match to a 'New Look' pair that I had seen on Laura Fantacci's blog ('Wearing it Today'), which I really liked. I ummed and ahed over the red and black colours, but the red wasn't available in my size, so the decision was made for me!

My parcel arrived within a couple of days. The shoebox comes wrapped with black ribbon and gift tags and comes in a bag, which adds to the feeling that you are treating yourself. It reminded me of the 'my-wardrobe' and 'Cocosa' packaging. I later noticed on the invoice that Stylist Pick is part of the same group as 'Cocosa', so I guess the company is taking tips from its older sister.

I was very impressed with the service I received from Stylist Pick. I had a query regarding placing an order, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response to my email within half an hour. The site has free delivery, and also offers a free return service.

Have you tried Stylist Pick? What did you think of the service?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

St. David's Cardiff Ladies Night

This Thursday sees St. David's Cardiff shopping centre holding its first ever 'Ladies Night'. Over 80 of the centre's store, from Reiss to Warehouse, will be offering discounts of up to 20%. There will also be entertainment and nibbles, to add to your shopping experience.

Here are just some of the discounts on offer:

Warehouse - 20%
Gap - 15%
Monsoon - 10%
H & M - 10%
Reiss - 10%
L. K. Bennett - 20%
Dune - 20%

In addition to the discounts on offer, you will also get the opportunity to be pampered by the hair and beauty experts from Kamigata Aveda Salon & Spa at their pamper station. You should also keep a look out for the Big Red Beauty Bus on The Hayes (sounds like my kind of public transport!), which will be offering makeovers.

If you are stuck for Spring/Summer styling ideas, then why not check out the John Lewis Fashion Showcases, taking place at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.

As part of the event, John Lewis will also be holding their seasonal Beauty Event, but this time until 10pm, giving you an extra 2 hours of beauty loveliness. I really enjoy these events, as they are a great opportunity to ask the advice of a number of beauty experts, all whilst sipping on champagne and nibbling on canapes! I always find the staff are really helpful, but never give you the hard sell. This time around, the store will also be turning its Espresso Bar into a Cocktail Bar. I wonder if Espresso Martinis are on the menu?

If you work up an appetite shopping, then you can pay a visit to one of the restaurants in the 'Eastside' restaurant quarter. e.g. Pizza Express are offering 20% off, and Yo Sushi! are offering a 40% discount.

You can find further details on the St. David's Cardiff website or Facebook page

Friday, 23 March 2012

My Gap Bargains

Yesterday, when I walked past Gap in the St David's 2 shopping centre, I couldn't resist popping in when I saw signs saying that they had a sale with up to 75% off. I was in a hurry, so didn't have a lot of time to browse, but I did end up purchasing these two items. I thought that they would be the perfect way to bring a pop of neon to my outfits this Spring. The breton-stripe top was a bargain at £4.99 (originally £14.99), but the belt was an absolute steal, as it was reduced from £14.99 to a bargainous 97p! I will definitely be paying the store another visit, to stock up on basics at a great price.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

When Uniqlo met Orla Kiely

Following on from its recent collaboration with Laura Ashley, Uniqlo has linked up with another brand synonymous with colourful prints, Orla Kiely.

Orla Kiely is an Irish designer, who is based in London. She is famous for her colourful and stylised repeat prints, which manage to be both modern and nostalgic at the same time. In this collection, you can see some of the designer's most iconic prints. The range includes t-shirts; shirts; stoles; tunics, and room shoes (or slippers to you and me!).

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

You'd be better off with the money in the bank you know!

Today's blog post is from the lovely and very stylish Penny, who I met on Twitter via a shared love of all things Chanel. I was in awe when she revealed that she had an archive of Vogue magazines, going back over 30 years, and was delighted when she agreed to write about it for my blog.


My interest in fashion began many years ago when I was a small child, playing dress up with the beautiful clothes and hats that my mother and grandmother had magically stored in their wardrobes.

There were always loads of magazines around the house too, and I was about 10 when I started using my pocket money to buy more. Then I got a holiday job in a bookshop, in the magazine section of course! That was when my addiction really began - 40 years ago, and since then it's been 'Vogue UK', 'Harpers & Queen' and 'Tatler', every month, with loads of other titles coming and going over the years.

Back in those days of course there was no internet, no air freight delivery, no Facebook and no Twitter!  Fashion occasionally  appeared in the newspaper  and on the TV news,  but mostly we had to wait for the  magazines to arrive by sea, usually 3 to 4 months after they were published – and that was the first time we actually got to see the Royal weddings, the new collections, the models, the parties , the new seasons ads  etc.  It’s really hard to think back to those days now as I sit here watching LFW 2012 live streaming on my iPad and reading my e-version of the current Sunday Times Style magazine.

40 years x 12 months x 3 titles is a LOT of magazines!   I’ve moved house 6 times since I started collecting them, the last time only 1 year ago and believe me it takes a long time and a lot of car trips to move them all – and there is very little appetite from anyone else to help pack up the boxes and lug them down and up the stairs.
People always ask me what I do with the magazines and I can honestly say that I still read my back copies all the time. I am working on a project currently to photograph every British Vogue cover in my collection by month and Tweet/Instagram them along with some highlights from each magazine. I love the memories and the responses that I get from the Twitter sphere with new followers and friends appearing every week.

My father’s catchphrase when he was called upon to help me move the piles of magazines was “You’d be much better off with all this money in the bank” but he was definitely wrong. Those articles and pictures were the stuff of dreams for me when I was young and before I was able to visit London and Paris regularly and see all that magic for myself. Now they provide the material for the constant planning of the next trip and make the distance between New Zealand and the fashion world ALMOST disappear!
You can follow Penny's Vogue archive by following her on Twitter (@pjc16) or  Instagram (pjc16).

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

When Richard Weston met Harvey Nichols

As you will know if you are a regular reader of my blog, I am a big fan of the mineral-inspired prints produced by Professor Richard Weston. I own one of his scarves (the Siberian River Charoite print), which I wear all the time. If you too are a fan of the scarves that Professor Weston produces, then you will be pleased to know that his range of products is expanding yet again.

This month, Weston Earth Images has exclusively launched its new range of silk tops in Harvey Nichols stores. The simple structure of the tops is the perfect canvas for the vivid and complex mineral-inspired prints. Bold prints are a big trend this season, and these are the perfect way of introducing some print into your outfit. The tops are priced at £110, and are available now from Harvey Nichols stores.

Snowy Quartz

Elestial Quartz

How would you style yours?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Lou Lou Chats with Sam Brightmore from 'Bottega'

Today's 'Lou Lou Chats' is with one of my favourite and most stylish friends on Twitter, Sam from 'Bottega'. I first bonded with Sam over a mutual love of all things 'Chanel'. She later turned out to be my Fashion Fairy Godmother when she lent me clothes for my 'Red' magazine photoshoot. Sam runs her own boutique and cafe ('The Birdcage) in Cheshire. Well when I say 'boutique', I think that that is a massive understatement. 'Bottega' is a veritable emporium of all things lovely and stylish, from clothing and accessories to gifts and gorgeous items for your home. I was so pleased when Sam agreed to answer some questions for my blog. So here she is, the super-stylish and lovely, Sam Brightmore.


Describe 'Bottega' in three words.

Eclectic. Escapist. Indulgent

Please tell us more about yourself.

I’m a workaholic but genuinely love my job. The only thing more important to me is my partner and parents and my 3 children who all share my passion for art, fashion and travel.  My friends are also really important to me. They ground me and are hugely supportive. I’m also lucky to have some firm friends in retail with whom I can bounce ideas off. My ideal day would be breakfast in Paris with a croissant and the perfect coffee in the sunshine, followed by an afternoon shopping in New York’s Barneys, Henri Bendel and ABC Carpet & Home on Broadway; with a trip to the Frick or The Guggenheim. My perfect  evening would obviously be at the Blue Marlin Ibiza, watching the sunset with a Mojito in hand listening to Balearic beats.

Sam on a recent trip to New York

How would you describe your personal style?

Hugely eclectic, I’m a fashion chameleon and actually quite fickle! I love everything from strong and quite masculine tailoring to bohemian chilled out. I am never girly and feel quite ridiculous in overly feminine looks. I will always ‘edge’ an oufit. I call it ‘Glunge’ - Glamour meets Grunge! I am also a total jeans girl, and day or evening outfits always revolve around them. I own too many pairs! Fashion is my enjoyment so I’m playful with it.  It reflects my mood.

Why did you decide to open 'Bottega'?

I saw a gap in the market for a concept store, and was frustrated at not being able to find unusual items either for design projects whilst working as an interior designer, or for myself.  I was also constantly disappointed with the North’s lack of bridge brands in fashion. I couldn’t add to my wardrobe without going to London, something I love but couldn’t do at the drop of a hat. Having worked in some of London’s most eclectic & unusual stores such as 'Liberty' & the 'General Trading Company', everywhere seemed quite pedestrian in comparison!

What has the highlight been since opening the boutique?

The most recent highlight has to have been being nominated for Mary Portas’ & The Daily Telegraph’s Best Small Shops in Britain, where we have been shortlisted as one of the top three in the Womens’ fashion category. We were also very happy to be thought of as one of the top 50 boutiques outside of London by Stella Magazine.

Is there a typical 'Bottega' customer?

No, there really isn’t. We cater for women aged 16 to 60 and beyond. We have always believed 'Bottega' ''has a style for everyone. We buy pieces that appeal to different people in different ways and that can work for anyone. However, I would say that our customer appreciates the service level and the next level we always go to.

What are your most popular pieces in 'Bottega'?

There isn’t really a ‘one’ piece that sells more than others. We sell capsule wardrobes to clients, so everything is worn to its optimum and complements other pieces. We don’t believe in throw away fashion, but a commitment to a long and fulfilling wardrobe life. We don’t sell anything too basic...basics can get lost in the store...there has to be a real twist to most items we buy. It has to be remarkable! Even a tee needs to have something about it!

What new brands are you stocking for S/S12?

We are very excited about our new S/S 12 brands. My personal favourite is 'Elizabeth and James'.  I love the neon colours, floral prints and edgy but feminine styling. We have also started stocking 'Victoria Beckham Denim' which has had a massive response, and we have virtually sold out with clients coming back to buy in a second colour. We have yet to have a client who has tried and not bought!

'Elizabeth and James' S/S '12 - I love the vibrant print and the candy pink jeans.

'Elizabeth and James' S/S '12 - I love the combination of mixed prints in this look.

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

No, I’m really happy with where 'Bottega' is now, how it’s grown and translated from its origin, which was a tiny village in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no footfall. We quickly gained a reputation for offering something different, and those clients that found us in those very early days are still very much with us and are firm friends. It’s been really hard and there have been struggles, but I’m pleased with how I’ve got here today. I guess even inspite of the relocation in Sept ’10 and huge refit costs, we are still here and I guess that has to mean something.

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

First and foremost you have to be very realistic about the time you are able to give to it....It is not and nor will it ever be a 9-5 job. It is your baby. It is the first thing and last thing I think about every day. In addition to that you must be passionate about what you are doing because as well as time, it takes incredible energy and so much drive to keep moving forwards. I never switch off from it and there are times that I feel as if I step away, I will lose my foothold. It’s a huge step and everything has to come secondary to it. If you aren’t prepared to put in the long hours then don’t even consider it!

What is in the pipeline for 'Bottega' in 2012?

2012 is going to be an exciting year for 'Bottega'. We are collaborating with Cleo B, the shoe designer in April for a fashion show being held at Cleo’s family home, Bolesworth Castle also in Cheshire, and not too far from Tarporley. Think Studio 54 meets Ibiza - it’s going to be a hot ticket to an excellent party. It is strictly invitation only and we are very excited about it. The 'Bottega' website will also be going live in 2012 and will be in an editorial style, highlighting all areas of the store; cafe menus; press and events. Finally I will have a forum from which to blog!

Sam and Alicia from 'Bottega' at an Olivia Rubin show

What motivates you?

My passion for my job, the desire to find under the radar brands and seeing 'Bottega' flourish with the clients. I really get a buzz from the faith and trust that our clients have in us. They truly respect and appreciate our opinions, and seek our advice on more than just fashion decisions. We are so much more than just a store. We literally have been here through some of the worst times in our clients’ lives, whether it be divorce, illness or bereavement. That sounds trite but it is so true, and there’s nothing nicer than hearing how that outfit picked them up off the floor! 'Bottega' is like a little haven, and a lot like therapy for many!

Top tip?

The mantra that I live by is "Do unto others as you would be done by." I also think it's nice to be nice.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Roger & Gallet Eau des Bienfaits Fragrant Body Mist

Last weekend saw the sun finally make a reappearance after what had been a rather miserable grey week. And in what was perfect timing, I was sent this product to review. This new product from French fragrance house 'Roger & Gallet' combines a beautiful summery fragrance with active ingredients that hydrate and soften the skin.

Fragance wise, this body mist has top notes of mandarin, bergamot and lemon, which is a really invigorating combination. The heart notes of the fragrance are blood orange; violet leaves, and orange blossom. The mist has base notes of cedar and patchouli, which give it some warmth and depth.

The 'treatment' ingredients include aloe vera (hydrating); kiwi extract (quenching); ginseng (toning), and fruit acids (smoothing).

As soon as I sprayed this fragrance from the gorgeous orange glass bottle, I felt really invigorated and refreshed. This body mist is a Mediterranean Summer captured in a bottle!

In the past I have found that some body mists can be too heavy, which means that you have to wait a long time to put your clothes on. However, this was absorbed into the skin really quickly,which is great if you are in a rush. The dual nature of this product also means that you don't have to double up on products, as this can be used as both a fragance and skin hydrator.This makes it perfect for taking on holiday, or just keeping in your bag for when you want a 'pick me up'. I am going to carry it with me for when I want a refreshing fragrance boost throughout the day.

This fragrance is available from Escentual , for £28.50 (100ml)

Fine print: I was sent this by Escentual for review purposes.


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