Saturday, May 19, 2012

ToMax Talks Interview with Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman, Tessa Edwards and Jas MB

There was much anticipation in the room for the Alexandra Shulman interview with Tom at the ToMax talks: a room of 500 young women (and a few mums) eagerly awaiting to hear about the inspiring career of the British Vogue Editor of the last 20 years.

 Firstly though, we were introduced to Jas MB, a luxury handbag designer who told us his life story which started off in quite an unglamorous way; selling bags on the streets of India.  Out of sheer determination, love for handbag design and an eye for a niche gap in the market, Jas MB propelled himself into the heart of Paris Fashion week. Jas MB is not inspiring for his fashion sense, but for his savviness.  In 1993, Jas established himself as a pioneering accessories designer, creating the first DJ bag. They are now sold at Liberty in London.

Then Alexandra came up on stage. A woman of glamour and grace, Alexandra knows how to hold a crowd's attention. This is less for her fashion sense and more for her natural journalistic ease and approach to answering sometimes tricky questions from the crowd. One of these came from an older member of the crowd who asked Alexandra why the young generation of today do not have the same individualism and extroversion when it comes to fashion and style. This question, in a crowd of mainly 20-something very fashion-conscious women, could be tricky to answer, but Alexandra dealt with it in a very mature way. She reminded the woman that whilst it is perhaps true that fashion in the 70s might have been more daring, it is also important to remember that her memory of this period could also be somewhat skewed. Indeed what she thought was a London full of eccentric and creative fashion savvy kids, could also have seemed to the older generation like a room full of clones in flares. Alexandra also pointed out that by not being of the younger generation, they both would not necessarily be aware of what defined individualism.

On this note, I took a moment to look around the room. Yes, it seemed there was some truth in this statement. I could point out a lot of hair tied up in high buns, with died tips, skull earrings and black lace, black fur, black leather, black everything. However, the intricacies in how these were worn, the accessories these were paired with and a certain je ne sais quoi was still there. Recently, someone close to me pointed out that I am very quick to judge an outfit by whether it is vintage or high-street and that I don't even noticing I am doing it. I think this is the most important statement of all, rather than care what is in and what is not, what is outrageous and what is boring, what is Middleton and what is Moss, we should think what looks and feels good, what makes people happy and what works.

Alexandra continued by embracing the individualism of today which is coming out through new mediums, from fashion blogs to street style photography and the rise of the high-street trends. We are no longer in a high-end fashion world only open to very few. This can be transferred to her point on what sells. With the end of the supermodel era in the late 90s, magazines reverted to using Celebrities on their front covers. However, even this is proving to be increasingly difficult, with higher demand for money and more restrictions on who to use and how.  This does not always transpire in the same way when it is used in a fashion context. A famous popstar, such as Adele, who may be the best selling artist of the last few years, does not necessarily sell Vogue copies (turns out these were the worst ever selling Vogue Magazine). Is this surprising? No, Vogue remains a fashion magazine selling fashion, not faces, and Adele remains a voice.

Interestingly, the Daily Mail were quick to pick on Alexandra's statement, and dramatize this in a Daily-mail esque way. Sadly, Alexandra was not trying to cause controversy, but only pointing out that Fashion is a business, and the reason she is so successful is because she treats it as one. Still, we can be 99 percent sure that she is probably receiving hate mail from Adele's fans out there right now. Oh dear.

From the woman herself: "Fashion should not be elitist in any way, and every one should be part of it. Ultimately the fashion industry sells FANTASY, which remains an important motivator to move out of your comfort zone. DREAMS are more important, FANTASY is a niche, most fashion is about a version of yourself you wish to project". Alexandre is revolutionizing in her attitude and determined to change the industry for the better. Under her influence, Vogue has started a Health Initiative. This includes never using models under the age of 16 (thankfully), and trying as best they can to make sure all models are healthy and happy. As they only have their eyes as proof of this, it remains a hard task to achieve and a wider change in society would be needed to get it actually kicking off in any impact-full way. Vogue are however proud to announce that they have never published diet tips, or talked about being "too fat", and thus it is actually up to the press to change their ways.

And a final question from the audience; "Do you see Brands from Asia becoming more renowned in the future?"  Alexandra responds saying "Asia has become the biggest consumer of designer clothes. There are already many high-end Asian designers out there, who are yet to get the same attention as their European counterparts. These things take time, years even, to develop trust on design and quality with consumers". One thing not mentioned at the talk is the rise of many young Asian designers such as Grace Raiment as mentioned in my post below, who are really making an impact and creating beautiful capsule collections with class and a certain edge that give their collections a real awe inspiring appeal. Grace raiment's clothes can be bought online at British online store Wandering Minds, which specializes in getting these young International designers noticed.

Alexandra Shulman and Max

View of Room in Battersea

Roxane Haydon (me!), Harriet Kay and Olivia Floyer at ToMax Talks

Finally, we were treated to a very interesting video by Artist Tessa Edwards, covering the topics of fashion an fantasy. She also sells beautiful jewelry which you can buy on here website.

TeToMax Film by Tessa Edwards

Here is a video of the whole event:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interview with Lady Lace at Relevant

Lady Lace! Where to start with this one, internationally educated creative art student turned burlesque dancer turned vintage shop owner, Lady Lace is the master of all alternative trades, and has the most brilliant humour, enthusiasm and go-getter attitude, you can't not love her.

I eagerly asked if I could interview the lovely Lady, as part of my first of many interviews following the 22 year old recession stressed "what are you up to now" generation. Let's be honest, we are all secretly stalking one another to find out what everyone is up to now... and there has been many interesting "ous and ahhs and wows" when talking about this Missy. 
So here it goes:

 1: Who are you? My name is Willow Hilson, but I usually go under my previous stage name of Lady Lace around here.

2: Where do you call home and what makes it special?  For the longest time I could not answer that question. I grew up in South East Asia between Singapore and Indonesia. So home was wherever my parents decided it to be. Now that I am older, I just associate home with where the sweetest cup of tea is, and right now that's Exeter.

3: What do you do? I am currently working on a new project, I have just recently hung my stockings up and decided that it was time  to run my own Vintage shop in Exeter. So here I am! There is a great gap in the market for affordable vintage and I think I have really got a good thing going on ! Relevant (on Twitter too!) is like the new step in my life.  Having been a Burlesque Dancer for so long, Its definelty a change from the hot spotlight of the stage. I like to Think Relevant offers a small city like Exeter the opportunity to broaden it's horizons and discover new things. Much like Exeter has done for me. From Vintage to Modern Fashion we cater for everything and everyone. The best part of Relevant is the pricing, you won't find more affordable when it comes to vintage !

4: Whats the best part of your day? I don't have a best part, I usually tend to just love everyday, the whole way through? From the moment the shop doors open till the moment they close. Every customer always comes in with a smile and the shop is always full of giggling ladies trying on outrageous outfits or perfect dress. Do you remember than scene from Narnia where they walk into the wardrobe? that is my average day with added coffee obviously !. You open the door, battled through clothes,  and then find the most amazing coat ! It's like a giant dress up box and everyone get's to join in !
5: Who are your role models? This is a hard question, I don't think you really need role models. Why be a cheap imitation when you can be a perfect original?

6: Where are your favorite hang out places? This is also a very hard question, it varies in my moods and my outfits. If I am going for more of a retro vintage inspired look I tend to lurk around  dark couches in the Bikeshed, it's the perfect bar for cocktails and interesting conversations.

Oh we do love her,

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Right so I have decided to take my blog into a new angle, and as you may remember I used to do Street Style fashion way back when I was still at Uni. This was extremely fun and very exciting, getting friends of friends starting to dress up just in case they bumped into me in the Library (I'm thinking of you Alice...), but it lacked a little depth ( a lot of depth, it was, purely, about the clothes). I have decided to go back to this idea, making the most of my London Town, and start Blogging about the lovely people I see and meet every day. My first post will be interviewing Burlesque Star turned Alternative Clothes shop owner Lady Lace. Watch this space.

Me, a musician.....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grace Raiment and Wandering Minds

I'm the social media "aid" for Wandering Minds, and I love it. I have always had a love for seeking out the latest fashion trends and styles in and around my home town, London. Elisa has allowed this to expand on a much grander scale. Her trip to Asia has inspired us all to walk out of our London bubble and check out how they do it elsewhere, and my gosh are they experimental! As described earlier on the Wandering Minds blog, I'm the one that is good at getting overly excited and hyper, but Elisa is the one that gets things done. Currently I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I think will give us the edge that makes us stand out from other online stores. Our focus is more on sharing the experience: highs and lows of a fahsion start-up. For this, we have collaborated with film school studuent Gaelle to create a behind the scenes video of our first ever photoshoot (soon to be released here), and we are also collaborating with a very cool group of London College of Fashion students to give you the behind the scenes coverage of our next shoot, which will have a more urban emphasis. I have had a sneak peek at the clothes which will form part of this new colllection and its hard for me to keep it all secret, all I can say for now is we have sleek-cuts and bold designs made from exceedingly good quality fabrics. Ok fine, so here are a few items we just had to share with you, check them out!
The description of the dress from the website says it all: " This white summer dress with thin red stripes is like a posh girl who's a sexy vixen deep down. The pleated skirt is its conservative, good girl side, while the deep neckline adds a beautifully seductive touch to this truly unique number. The high-quality cotton is slightly rigid but flexible so that the dress keeps its shape. Designed by Seoul-based young designer Grace Raiment, this very special dress will make boys and girls' heads turn, for different reasons."