Customer service – how much does it matter ?

Since coming back from the summer holidays, where shopping wasn’t high on my agenda, I dived straight into online retail, but came back for air with mixed emotions. The question that I keep on[...] read more

Getting hygge with Desmond and Dempsey

Hygge or no hygge, what’s better than spending an evening, or a night, or a part of the day in cosy, comfortable and cute pjs? British brand Desmond and Dempsey ( D&D for short ) was started a little over two years ago in the UK by the then girlfriend and boyfriend team of Molly & Joel, who earlier this year, in August, said ‘I do’ in Molly’s home town of Brisbane and became a husband & wife team.

Initially brand’s focus has been on online sales, as Molly & Joel wanted to collate as much direct feedback from customers & ensure their PJs were ‘perfect’ before expanding. The target audience is 20-35, but having said that, I no longer fit in this category, yet I have very much enjoyed starting and growing my own collection of D & D pjs last year, enjoying relative accessibility, timeless design and charming & personal customer service.

All of Desmond & Dempsey pieces are designed in a classic, elegant style, some more girly, others slightly more unisex or as Molly quite eloquently put it to me a while back ‘our pyjamas were designed as his shirt for her’. Molly and Joel consciously chose cotton over silk as primary material, so you can put your nightwear into a wash (make sure you put them into a mesh protective bag first, so nothing gets caught in the washing machine during the cycle) every couple of days or take them on your travel adventures, without compromising on style or comfort.

Initially Joel and Molly worked with a London factory, but as orders started gathering pace and Fortnum & Mason became a stockist (now Selfridges & Fenwick of Bond Street have joined that list as well), their factory team recommended a factory in Moldova, which was better equipped for greater scale. From then on the brand has been gathering pace and slowly and sensibly expanding their range (more on this later).

” Two years on from our launch and our mission hasn’t changed. We want to help Savour your Sunday. We jiggle at the thought of pottering around[...] read more

Laughter and contemplation with the first edition of Grazia in 2016

I have been a fan of Grazia pretty much since it’s launch in the UK and while I don’t have a subscription, I do buy it weekly. Last year I tried pitching a few ideas to the editor but they fell short and I was gently reminded that the audience is mainly women in the 18-35 age bracket.

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Having bought the first issue of the year yesterday, I was reminded of the age bracket, leafing through the magazine & before I switched off my bedside lamp, I thought I would write a post about some of the things that ‘grabbed’ my ‘over the 35 age bracket’ attention.

–  January is the time of new year resolutions and one of ’10 Hot Stories’ is dedicated to stopping hibernation and getting fit, with the suggestion that on-trend trackies might inspire you to do that. Sadly all the fitness gear in that feature, alongside all the fitness ads in the magazine are ‘modelled’ by women barely in their 20s who are slim/skinny, of model height and hardly breaking the sweat. That reminded me of a recent Instagramm image of Deliciously Stella, who poked fun at the ‘workout perfection’ phenomenon. I workout not to be pretty but to be fit and well & as far as I know, mere mortals sweat when they exercise & it doesn’t make us any less attractive, in fact i prefer that to airbrushed perfection.

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– I mostly leaf through the magazine but some features or stories grab my attention and I read them from the beginning till the end. One of those was ‘ The life-changing power of giving no f**ks’.

Some of us are born self-assured, some gain that perspective in later life, as experience makes you realise that only opinions of select few people in our lives really do matter or make a difference to what or how we do things. People like to advance themselves or talk about good intentions or supporting endeavours of others, but not everyone walks the walk. Sarah Knight, a self-confessed overachieving perfectionist, writes honestly and with humour about walking away from her senior book editor job after 15 years because the pleasure was sipping away from her life. January is indeed ‘the perfect month for giving fewer f**ks because the festive season is so, so draining’.

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– ‘Let’s style it from the boys‘ – seeing those images made me hoot with laughter and made my husband look at me with raised eyebrows, clearly questioning my sanity, when I suggested he ‘adjusts’ his office attire. Neither was I inspired to borrow those style ideas and incorporate them in my own wardrobe. I know plenty of men who are in touch with their ‘feminine’ side, but I don’t know any who would be drawn to dressing like men in the images below. The whole trend of making men more feminine and less masculine is somewhat distressing, as many already don’t know how to do a simple thing like put a nail in the wall and hang a picture, thus making women less romantic and more tough. If that trend continues, I don’t know what the future for relationship between men and women will bring.

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– ‘Hottest health kicks‘: reading about the things that others say ‘will rock’ your wellness, is always fun but a timely reminder that before we start buying into trends and fads we should really question their benefits for us. The answer is clear how it benefits PR, marketing and brands.

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Streamed Classes: great for those of us who love working out from the privacy of their own home or when travelling.

Fitness Gaming: I know that even young kids love virtual reality, but personally I prefer to do real things, like actually swimming in the sea or going on a rollercoater, instead of ‘imaging’ doing it. A life is worth living & not pretending to do so.

Wearable tech: a top monitoring one’s heart rate sounds great but I draw a line at leggings telling me the amount of calories burnt. Do we really need the earpiece that tells us to chew more slowly or a gadget that tells us to sit more upright? Instead of spending the money on those, I would rather use my mind to do that, for free.

Normcore eating: bless the ‘diets be gone’ slogan – I would ban the word if I could!


Artichoke
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Culture & Make-Up: Ellis Faas Red at the Temporary Fashion Museum in Rotterdam


Ellis Faas is one of the most unusual make-up artists I have met in person and the products that she
[...] read more

The story of Pomellato creative jewellery design ‘idea’ borrowing

We associate jewellery with happy events in our life – a special occasion, an achievement, a treat. In a modern world it’s not just men who give gifts of jewellery (wonderful as it is when it happens) but women are becoming more and more comfortable at treating themselves to a piece that makes their heart flutter. But how would you feel if a piece designed by one brand, albeit a lesser known to a wider audience, was introduced as a new design by a top luxury brand?

Ramon is a Spanish family run jewellery brand that was started many years ago, in 1888 in Barcelona, to be exact. My parents knew the matriarch founders and now a younger generation of my family keeps the traditions by being the customers as well. A few years ago two rings pictured below were purchased from Ramon.  I have adored wringing them since then – they are modern, yet timeless and I feel very glamorous when I have them on my fingers, even when I am in jeans and a casual shirt.

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Last year I received an e-mail from the manager of  Italian luxury jewellery brand Pomellato in London, telling me about their new collection, Arabesque. The e-mail  said ”The Festive Season is not far away and I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that all Pomellato jewels are handmade in Milan and can take up to 60 days to create. In order to guarantee your gift is ready on-time I invite you to come and visit us in-store where we would be happy to assist and show you our latest collections.”

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I e-mailed back with a question about the similarity of designs to my Ramon Rings and the manager kindly requested that I pop into the shop to show my rings. I send him the images and he promised me to follow it up with the Italian head-office – I am yet to hear anything back and we are in spring now. To the best of my knowledge it’s not the first time Pomellato ‘copied’ the designs but sadly there is not much Ramon, being a smaller brand can do about it – is that what we call ‘fair competition’ ? Ramon works with Chanel, among their other customers, and their shop is a treasure trove where I can be happily lost for hours, browsing the designs and asking questions. Their service is always prompt and courteous and their designs appeal to a wide audience of customers, including very young customers.

Today Pomellato is one of the Top Five Brands with the fastest sales, alongside Bulgari, Chopard, Tiffany and Cartier, with the prices to match and beautiful Salma Hayek as the face of their latest campaign. The brand was founded in Italy in 1967 in Milan. They have a reputation of innovators, which considering this issue, doesn’t sit well with me personally. From a brand like theirs I would expect originality, especially considering their prices, yet they seem to get away with what they do and ignoring the questions from a customer that raises the issue that makes me, for one, feel uncomfortable.

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In our day and time, when everything is super fast and quickly available, I view originality and craftsmanship as true luxuries. How does one originate ideas? Where does one’s inspiration come from? What’s first – the chicken or the egg? We all love Zara and shop there but they don’t pretend to come up with original ideas when it comes to clothes & accessories design. From a brand like Pomellato I would expect uniqueness when it comes to their collections. A dash of honesty would help as well.

Milli Millu SS15 Collection

With every season change the subject of fashion comes to the forefront of female mind and with it we think what new purchases need to be made, in order to make us walk hand- in-hand with fashionable trends or maintain our classical styles with a modern edge. For me accessories always offer a fresh way of completing a look and one of my trusted brands is Milli Millu. Mireia, Milli Millu’s founder and her team always keep customers favourite styles ( adding new colour combinations ) as well as introducing new styles twice a year. Shall we have a look at Milli Millu SS15 collection ?

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Above you have the candy coloured selection of The Stockholm, as well as my personal favourite The Midi Zurich. Both are incredibly roomy and will take you from work to a night out easily.

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The Bogota is the new addition and the combination of sand, yellow and off-white is particularly striking. You have a handle that is comfortable for the hand or shoulder plus there is a strap , offering you another option on the way to carry this bag. Practical for travel but equally attractive as a daily carry-all.

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The Seattle is for those women who can fit their life into a compact bag. There are two sections and it has more room than let’s say a clutch, making it a lovely option for a school run or travel, to keep your valuables and documents in, leaving your hands free.

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The Singapore is a great bag for arty women or those women who like large bags. What makes this Milli Millu design different from others available from[...] read more

In-conversation with scarf designer Fariba Soltani

The journey of becoming a designer is a long one, which makes listening to someone recap it for you a fascinating process. Fariba Soltani is quiet a striking character, a woman who clearly sees where she is going and who is not afraid of the challenges that her career presents her with.

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Fariba launched her eponymous line of designer scarves in the beginning of this year and was offered a place on Fenwick’s ( in Bond street ) accessories department shelves three months later. Knowing fully well that it is by no means an easy task, I observed Fariba closely, intrigued by her, as we chatted animatedly over juice.

In real life Fariba appears exactly the way that a photographer’s lens captures her. An average height, with shortish raven black hair, a vivid red lipstick framing her lips, wearing impeccably white shirt and one of her scarves draped casually around her neck, she certainly comes across as a confident, modern woman.

She was born in Iran and lived there until the age of 25, when she moved to London, following the winds of change. Fariba’s parents tried to push her towards a career in medicine but as Fariba told me, ‘medicine never charmed me’. Somehow, intuitively, she knew deep inside that she wanted to evolve creatively.

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Having gained a Bachelor degree in Interior Architechture from Kingston University, Fariba ended up working for the practise of the renowned architect Sir Norman Foster but ruefully admits that when one works in a practise like that, work becomes your life. Having gained the experience, Fariba moved on, taking freelance work, residential and interior design projects, which included work for the Fox Linton design office. What became apparent from early on in Fariba’s career in architecture is that when you work for someone, you have to follow ‘signature’ design, instead of allowing your creative flair to flow freely. Eventually, Fariba came to a very clear realisation that she wanted to develop her own products, instead of creating things for someone else.

Recently I came across an interview with Frida Giannini, Gucci head designer, in Surface magazine, where she mentions that ‘ in fashion architecture is important’, so it should come as no surprise that Fariba started a line of designer scarves, utilising her visual, as well as artistic skills that she continues to develop and refine with every collection. Drawing inspiration from architecture & patterns, but most importantly her homeland’s culture, Fariba’s scarves become an endless source of wonder and delight for anyone who lays their eyes on them.

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Yet it was watching a TV programme about Liberty’s of London and catching a glimpse of the prints of colours of stones done by Richard Weston ( a well-known lecturer, who has his own studio which uses digital date to capture natural materials like shells and rocks to create a wide variety of products ) that sparked an idea in Fariba’s heard that is like a cauldron of creativity.

Having found an Italian company in 2013, within three weeks Fariba had her first set of test of scarf prints. So far she has produced and created one collection, with the second one, The Salda, being shown in Paris at a trade show on September 26-29 and launched publicly in Feb/March 2015.

Initially Fariba wasn’t sure how to present her idea, as it was concept based around the journey of creating a piece. So Fariba started with taking lots and lots of images in order to create multi-layered prints for her scarves. When you see them in real life you don’t know whether you want to wear them or frame them and hang them on the walls of your home, like works of art.

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When a collection is being created, it isn’t about the quantity of designs, it is about the design satisfaction level. Fariba picks up a topic she knows nothing about and starts exploring, choosing colours ( her designs aren’t trend related, thus giving them a timeless quality ), finding references in artwork, expanding, digging, until the idea becomes complete and breathes life into each design.

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Fariba’s first collection, called ‘The Atrisa’, was inspired by fast-moving phenomenons around us, when eyes don’t have a chance to adjust the magnitude when racing against time.

This collection is subtly vibrant, catching the hidden beauties & letting you wear moments frozen in time ( combining the sensuality of silk & the softness of modal[...] read more

L.K.Bennett fashion show at Marylebone Hotel

Last week I attended an L.K.Bennett fashion show at the Marylebone hotel and was surprised that instead of just looking at bags and shoes, my eye was drawn to their clothes collection as well.

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Marylebone hotel already offers personalised shopping experience for its customers at L.K.Bennett’s Marylebone store and on this occasion the fashion show was not just[...] read more