Friday, 28 June 2013

7 Nails Inc polishes for £18

Just a quick post to let you know that today Nails Inc are again offering their 'lucky dip' selection of 7 polishes. For the bargain price of £18 you will be sent a random selection of Nails Inc polishes. You can potentially save up to £75! 

I have purchased one of these collections previously, and was very pleasantly surprised. I was sent a good selection of polishes and it made me try shades that I might not otherwise I have tried. You can't go wrong for this price. Even if you aren't completely happy with all of your polishes, then you can always share the beauty loveliness with friends. A great manicure and great karma!

If you want to try this offer, then you will have to be quick, as it ends at midnight tonight, and is only whilst stock lasts.

Have you purchased one of these selections before? What did you think?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lou Lou Chats with Robyn Coles, Milliner

Describe Robyn Coles (the brand) in three words.

Easy, comfortable, cool.

Princess Eugenie wearing one of Robyn's creations

Please tell us more about yourself.

I am a former luxury international fashion buyer turned milliner. I am based in Cardiff and passionate about producing all of my pieces here in Wales. Most of our work is bespoke, made to measure/order/match etc but we are increasing the brand awareness of our seasonal collections across the globe by showing internationally.

Does your brand have a signature style?

I think that my pieces are cool, contemporary and easy to wear. I personally like to be comfortable all of the time, this is represented in how I dress and in how I design. I think that if you feel uncomfortable then you usually look it.

Starry Night cloche from the AW13 collection

Would you say that your hats are more classic, or trend-led?

A mixture - classics never go out of fashion but it's nice to be able to mix them with new fabrics, techniques and styling.

There are lots of beautiful hats in the collection, but have you got a particular favourite?

From SS13 I like the leaf, it's so comfortable and easy to wear, and a little bit bonkers. Also the lily is becoming a staple of our collections and something that we start to replicate and develop season after season, there is a lot of mileage in that style and no one else does anything like it.

Princess Eugenie wearing the lily hat at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party

What has been the highlight for you since starting up your company?

Well two years ago I had never made a hat so the journey has been a very quick one. My first show at London Fashion Week (on the nude models) was a great point for me and really put the brand on the map. Most recently gaining the Royal family as clients was a wonderful moment too.

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

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I think that there are a few minor things I would change but they were lessons that needed to be learned. In the grand scheme of things I would take the same path as I am proud of where we stand today as a company and however rocky the path was to get here it was necessary and memorable.

What next for the company?

Showing at fashion week again, increasing our global stockists and seasonal ranges. I still love to do the bespoke work though and I didn’t think I would cherish that part of the business as much as I do. It's so wonderful working with individual clients for events and I am honoured to be involved in their special days from weddings to picking up OBEs. We have met some lovely clients in our store and you really get to know them, it's very rewarding making something for someone that they associate with happy memories. Working with brides is great as we get to see dresses and pics and experience the tears of their special day.

What motivates you?

It’s a fairly frivolous industry which I have worked hard in but I love. I am motivated by creating something beautiful and unique and although it's not world changing, to make something that a client loves and which make her smile and makes her happy is inspiring.

The responsibility of having a company and all that entails like staff, suppliers, clients etc – it’s a pretty big weight on your shoulders and you are the boss so the buck stops with you.

Who are your inspirations, and why?

They vary, design wise I see a lot of other milliners who I respect and admire, there aren’t that many of us around so we tend to know each other which is quite nice. I am inspired by other leading women in fashion such as Natalie Massenet, Tamara Mellon, Angela Ahrendts and Michelle Mone for sticking to their guns and building huge brands.

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

To have a good business head. I see so many inspiring designers with the greatest aesthetic and creative talent but they have no idea how to calculate mark ups, margins etc. They don’t know how to market a product or run a small business. In these cases no amount of creative ability can help. It's boring and dull but to create a big, lasting brand you need maths skills, tenacity, drive and the right attitude. Failing that get a good business partner, that often proves successful!!

Where can we find your hats?

In 28 Castle Arcade, Cardiff where all pieces are totally hand made by our small team. We stock everything there from bespoke, samples and seasonal collections. Our website stocks seasonal collections as does , , and we have more store locations buying our new season collections.

If you could see anyone wearing a Robyn Coles creation, who would it be?

Anyone who feels happy and confident in it!

Top Tip?

With hats and/or fashion in general ignore the rules. If you feel happy and comfortable and confident then that is the most important thing – and that shows.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Enduring Influence of British Beauty & Style at Charlotte Tilbury's House of Rock 'n' Kohl

On Thursday, I travelled up to London for the 'British Style' talk which was part of Charlotte Tilbury's House of Rock 'n' Kohl concept store at Selfridges . As you will know from my previous post, I was really looking forward to this event. I had a full day in London, so I also managed to go and see the Erwin Blumenfeld exhibition at Somerset House. I will save that for another blog post though.

Sophie at the entrance to the concept store

As well as looking forward to listening to the super-stylish quartet of Laura Bailey; Alice Temperley; Charlotte Tilbury and Caroline Issa give their thoughts on British style, I was also looking forward to meeting my Twitter friend Sophie in person for the first time.

As I approached Selfridges I was immediately struck by this holographic portrait of Kate Moss by Chris Levine in the window which had been commissioned for the event. I took the Vine to try and give you an idea of the effect.

After meeting Sophie inside, we took our seats in the front row. The layout and design of the store and staging area (see the image below from Temperley) meant that there was a really intimate feel to the event, and it almost felt like we had been invited into Charlotte's own house to listen to a group of (super stylish) friends having a conversation. I am sure that you won't be surprised to hear that all of the panel looked supremely stylish. After seeing them close-up I am coveting Caroline's 'Parrot' shoes from her collaboration with L.K. Bennett even more than I was before! Laura Bailey's 'Girl' jumper by 'Bella Freud' has also gone on my wishlist.

Caroline Issa started proceedings by asking the panel what British style meant to them. One thing that all of the panel agreed on was the irreverence, originality and individuality which lies at the heart of British style, combined with a respect for our heritage. Alice Temperley noted how British designers live and breathe history and art, and are able to fuse heritage and patterns, and are not afraid of being original. She cited Vivienne Westwood as the classic exemplar of British style, mixing a love of heritage with a sense of subversion and humour. Alice believes that the current crop of new British designers are the most exciting that we have had for a decade.

When asked about the biggest influence on British style today, everyone agreed that it had to be social media. It was interesting to hear the panel's perception of social media as a double-edged sword, which can be both empowering and frightening e.g. they cited social media as being responsible for the rise of Cara Delevingne,whilst also discussing how social media shots straight from the side of the catwalk have made it so much easier and quicker for brands to copy a designer's collection.

Fashion is a global business, so it was no surprise to hear the panel discuss the enormous influence of Britain on international fashion markets. Apparently 70% of Paul Smith's business comes from Japan, where they can't get enough of British style, especially diffusion lines. Charlotte Tilbury also noted how designers such as Tom Ford are constantly influenced by British heritage. However, judging by Charlotte Tilbury's impressions of Carine Roitfeld's reactions to Britsh floral designs, it would appear that not everyone is as enamoured of all aspects of British style!

All of the panel were in agreement that in response to the fashion world 's current obsession with all things fast-paced and digital, there was likely to be a a backlash to the effect of technological innovation. In the future there would come a yearning for craft, etiquette and individualism; hand-written thank you letters and special party dresses.

British style is ever evolving, so it was interesting to hear what items the panel felt would define British style in 2013 if they were to be placed in a time capsule e.g. a fit and flare digital print dress (Alice Temperley);  a Christopher Kane 'Pretty in Pink' dress (Laura Bailey) and anything by Alice Temperley or Tom Ford (Charlotte Tilbury).

At the end of the session, Caroline Issa invited questions from the audience. Sophie grasped the opportunity to ask them what the last item they had purchased, and also what was top of their wish lists:

Charlotte Tilbury: 'Dolce & Gabbana' dress (this was very topical as 'Dolce & Gabbana' had just been found guilty of tax evasion, which Charlotte hadn't yet heard). Wishlist: More kaftans by 'Alice Temperley'.

Laura Bailey: The aforementioned 'Bella Freud' jumper. Wishlist: Always 'Charlotte Olympia' shoes and definitely Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream. Laura described herself as more of a "random walk past a window and fall in love with something" person as opposed to a wishlist creator.

Alice Temperley: Cherry mirrored glasses. Wishlist: Alaia crisp white shirts.

I was really interested to hear the panel's response to a question on the difference between Northern and Southern girls, as I spent four years living in Liverpool. Charlotte Tilbury summed it up with "bare legs in Winter, and lots of makeup." Alice Temperley was quick to acknowledge that her Northern customers and stockists are incredibly savvy about fashion, eg. she mentioned 'Cricket' boutique in Liverpool, and noted that Manchester is very often the second city in the UK that a designer will open a store in after London.

When it came to choice of staple products, I probably would have come down somewhere in the middle of all of the responses:

Charlotte Tilbury: Mascara; eye-liner; great shoes and accessories

Alice Temperley: Lipstick

Laura Bailey: Blusher; Chanel compact, and a classic YSL white shirt.

Sophie managed to ask a second question, which focused on whether any of the panel had plans for further collaboration with other brands. Alice Temperley was very quick to say that she had no plans for further collaboration, which was very interesting in light of her recent collaboration with John Lewis (The black silk top I purchased from the 'Somerset by Alice Temperley' range which I love is one of my go-to pieces, so I will be disappointed not to see another collection). Charlotte told us all that her own makeup range would be launching in September, and that she loved working in an industry where she was surrounded by so many creative people.

I did use my Selfridges gift card to purchase some items from Charlotte's edit of products, but I will blog about those in another post. I had a fabulous time at this event. It was fascinating to hear from four ladies who have been responsible for influencing British fashion, whether it be as a designer, a makeup artist or a street-style icon.

You can watch some of the highlights of the talk on Charlotte's  YouTube channel. And while you are there, take the opportunity to  watch some  of her fabulous makeup tutorials.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Charlotte Tilbury's Make-Up House of Rock 'n' Kohl at Selfridges

I am very excited to be going up to London for the day tomorrow. The reason for my visit? To attend the 'The Enduring Influence of British Style & Beauty' talk at Charlotte Tilbury's Make-Up House of Rock 'n' Kohl. Charlotte will be in conversation with three of the UK's most stylish ladies: Alice Temperley; Laura Bailey and Caroline Issa. I can't wait to hear what these stylish ladies have to say.

The Concept Store in Selfridges, which is open until Sunday is part of Charlotte's first ever beauty Festival. There are a host of events going on, including the talk which I am attending, and also a number of free activities:

#QuickFlick Eye Makeovers
Lipstick Slicks
Manicures & Nail Art
Make-up Bag Surgeries
Lipstick Readings

There will also be the opportunity to win a starring role in one of Charlotte's make-up videoes in the Beauty Flash photobooth.

I will be using my trip as an opportunity to finally use the Selfridges gift card which I won in a competition in December. Timing couldn't be better, as there are some fabulous items in the Selfridges sale.

As if this wasn't reason enough to be excited about my day trip, I have just heard that one of my favourite beauty bloggers, Caroline Hirons is appearing in-store earlier that afternoon, and I will also be meeting my Twitter friend, Sophie, for the first time in real life! She has just been selected as the Editor of the Elle UK 'Edited by the Interns' issue, so it is a really exciting time to meet up with her. Congratulations again Sophie! You can check out Sophie's fabulous winning entry here.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Lou Lou Chats with the Marks & Spencer design team

 Last month I posted about the fabulous new Marks & Spencer collections for Autumn/Winter 2013. I can't wait for the collections to arrive instore from July, but in the mean time, I took the opportunity to quiz some of the Marks & Spencer design team about their favourite pieces and to ask them for their top tips.


What are your favourite pieces from the new collections?  How would you style them?

“The full structured skirt is one of next winter’s most fashion-forward looks, with a half or full circle silhouette and below the knee length creating an elegant, retro inspired mood.  The per una rose brocade dress is my favourite interpretation of this with its deep red tones and sweeping skirt.  Wear it on its own as a show-stopping evening gown or style with a cashmere polo neck to emulate a demure 1950s look.”
 - Karen Peacock, Head of Design, per una, Indigo & Accessories

“Rounded, unstructured and gently cocooning, the M&S Collection pink duster coat is my favourite outerwear statement for the new season.  Soft silhouettes were a key catwalk direction making this M&S Collection coat the perfect update for winter.  My favourite thing about this coat is that you can style it up in any way you choose from a smart tailored trouser or pencil skirt worn to the office or draped over the shoulders of a beautiful party dress.”
 - Neil Hendy, Head of Design, M&S Collection

Sum up the new collections in 3 words

"Stylish, affordable, luxury." - Karen Peacock

"Great quality, feminine design." - Neil Hendy

What makes these collections different from previous seasons?

Karen Peacock: We’ve injected some love back in to our brands and focused on their brand signatures to ensure that every product in each of our collections has been designed specifically with our customers in mind.

Neil Hendy: In the autumn we introduce M&S Collection which will offer customers the very best choice in confident, stylish clothing.  The new collection will offer a considered edit of stylish wardrobe essentials with a renewed focus on great quality, everyday clothing making it easier for our customer to shop and navigate our stores.

What pieces do you think every woman needs in her wardrobe?

Karen Peacock: No woman should be without a beautiful leather handbag to complete her look. Our Autograph leather bags are beautifully designed with luxurious detailing and buttery soft leather to last from season to season.

Neil Hendy: Every woman should own a perfect black trouser and our premium range of Italian wool trousers cover the 5 Key Shapes of the season - superslim, slim crop, modern bootcut, wide leg and straight leg.  Designed to flatter the figure and made of luxurious Italian virgin wool these are the ultimate wardrobe staple whatever the season’s trends have in store.

What is your AW13 wardrobe essential piece?

Karen Peacock: "Statement earrings will update any outfit for the season ahead, moving the oversized jewellery trend away from the neckline and bringing a new focus to framing the face.”

Neil Hendy: “The coat is going to be the biggest wardrobe statement for the new season and there are so many great new styles on offer.  From the softly cocooning silhouette of the M&S Collection duster coat to the more fashion-forward biker there is something to suit every woman’s style this season.”

What is your number one piece of fashion advice?

Karen Peacock: “Always buy the best possible quality that you can afford.  Whatever the catwalks dictate for the season ahead, nothing beats a luxurious, beautifully designed item of clothing or stand out accessory to make you feel special.”

Neil Hendy:  “Be aware of your body and the styles that flatter your figure.  No matter what the trends are for the season you can always find a way to work them into your wardrobe if you’ve got your style foundations right.”

Friday, 14 June 2013

Winner of the Innocent Inspires tickets

And the winner is....

Thanks to the random number generator, the winner of a pair of tickets to the 'Innocent Inspires' event, and also a month's supply of smoothies is Louise Trillwood.

Although the winner wasn't selected based on their inspirations, it was great to see a variety of inspiring individuals listed, eg. Luella Bartley, Jenna Lyons and Lily Cole.

Here is who Louise described as her inspirations:

"Something that inspires me are business women who are successful in their own right, support gender equality in the workplace but also lend their talents to making a positive change in the world eg. Martha Lane Fox and Sheryl Sandberg,  and so many more…"

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Red Lippy Project

I need no excuse to wear a fabulous red lippy, but if one was needed, then I can think of no better inspiration than 'The Red Lippy Project'. Starting tomorrow (Sunday 9th June), 'The Red Lippy Project' is teaming up with 'The Eve Appeal' to raise awareness of cervical cancer screening. The project aims to make talking about the cervical screening test less taboo:

"The campaign is celebrating femininity and the importance of looking after ourselves and each other. The initial idea was to create a platform that talked openly about the importance of cervical screenings and cervical cancer with a fun, bold, visual language that women and especially younger women can relate to."

I will be showing my support for this project by wearing my favourite shades of red throughout the week, which I will be sharing on Twitter and Instagram.

If you are a red lips kind of lady, then don't forget to share your photos with @redlippyproject and #theredlippyproject Even if red lips are not your makeup look of choice, you can still support the cause and its vital research by texting TRLP80 £10 to 70070. 

I have also changed the blog's cover photo on Facebook to show my support for the cause. You can find it here if you would like to do the same!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Happy Birthday Atterley Road

One of my favourite online discoveries of the past year has been Atterley Road. The site has a great edit of both premium high street and boutique labels, including Whistles, Petit Bateau and Ganni. The aim of the site is to offer the experience of shopping on your favourite street, but online.

They say time flies when you are trying to be stylish (or something like that!) , so I couldn't believe that the store's first birthday had come around so quickly. To celebrate its first year, Atterley Road is turning the usual birthday logic on its head and offering its customers something special. Here are the giveaways which will be running over the next fortnight:
  • June 7th – 9th - Win a £1,000 summer wardrobe from Atterley Road
  • June 10th - Will Torrent signed book and a Pampered Chef hamper of goodies
  • June 11th - Win a Petit Bateau outfit & preview copy of special edition vintage archive book 
  • June 12th - An Allium B liberty print dress and flowers for 6 months from Wild at Heart  
  • June 13th - personalised Zatchels with customised finishings/leather and monogrammed initials 
  •  June 14th-16th - £1,000 summer wardrobe at
 So if you are feeling lucky, and in need of a style boost, take a trip to Atterley Road. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Win 'innocent inspires' tickets & free smoothies for a month!

I think that we can all do with some extra inspiration every now and then. I know that I certainly can! That is why I was really interested to discover the ‘innocent inspires’ series of events.  The series invite you to “leave your shoes at the door and feel the grass between your toes as you step inside the innocent yurt for an evening to discuss some of the things we can all do to make a difference”.

The next in the series (Paradise Park, London - 7pm, 19th June) is of particular interest to me, as one of the speakers is model Laura Bailey, looking at how we can live a stylish and sustainable life. We all want to look stylish, and if we can be sustainable at the same time, then all the better. Other speakers at the event include Arthur Potts Dawson discussing sustainable food, and also the Good for Nothing Crew, who will be talking about how you can use your skills to do some good (and create some good karma while you are at it!). And just in case you are worried that the events might just be a series of standard talks, ‘innocent’ promise that the series will be all about “laughing, smelling, tasting, jogging, drawing and thinking, and above all, lots of inspiration!” Oh and of course a few smoothies and a delicious picnic thrown into the mix!

If you are more of a ‘hands’on’ type, you will also be able to help transform an urban area into a wildflower wonderland with the Guerilla Gardeners. 

Unfortunately I am unable to attend the event. However ‘innocent’ have very kindly given me a pair of tickets for the event for one of my lucky readers. And the winner will be able to keep the inspiration going after the event with a month’s supply of delicious ‘innocent’ smoothies.

To enter the draw, please leave a comment below telling me who/what inspires you, and why. You can gain extra entries by doing the following: 
  • Following me on Twitter and tweeting this: “Find some inspiration with ‘Lou Lou Muses’ & #innocentinspires
Each of the above will gain you one additional entry, so if you do all three you will get three entries into the draw.

The closing date for the competition is noon on Friday 14th June. The winner will be announced the same day.

So, who/what inspires you and why?

Monday, 3 June 2013

My Month in Instagram: May

A slightly delayed post, but I thought that I would share some of my photos from one of my favourite social media platforms, Instagram. I love how it gives people the opportunity to take beautiful photos, even if they aren't the best photographers! The Instagram filters and I have become firm friends!

Clockwise from top left:
  • I went for a run in the fields behind my house and was really struck by the intensity of the colours. If cross-country had been like this in school I am sure that I would have been more inspired to do it!
  • Cardiff University where I work has some beautiful Portland stone buildings surrounded by magnolia & cherry blossom, I couldn't resist taking a photo on my way back from a meeting!
  • My new mantra after following Natalie Massenet's talk at the Vogue Festival.
  • At the start of the month I (and 500 other people!) took part in Goodnight Walk around Cardiff to raise funds for Tenovus Cancer. The route was 10 miles but it seemed to go really quickly as I was lucky enough to be walking with two of my lovely colleagues.
  • This month I have been all about the statement necklace. I dug out this one from last season that I picked up in H & M. What do you think?

You can follow me on Instagram as louloumuses .


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