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.


  1. Oh wow this place looks amazing, bet you had a wonderful time and picked up some great make-up tips :)
    I always love a trip to London - going next weekend in fact, cannot wait

    Laura x



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