12 August 2014

Label to Love - Simone Rocha: Innovation and Experimentation


When I was studying Fashion at LCF, my second year collection was inspired by the textiles of Simone Rocha's father John Rocha.  While Simone is following in her father's footsteps, their style, whilst different, unite with the understanding and manipulation of fabric. 

I attended Simone Rocha's debut SS11 show at LFW through Lulu Kennedy's pioneering non-profit Fashion East initiative. The collection was stunning, I still remember the clean lines, white palette, and cut out panels. It was an instant hit and it is no wonder that four years later the fashion press eagerly anticipate her next collection. 

For Autumn Winter 2014 Simone Rocha seems at her most playful, the collection features a nod to the Elizabethan era, experimenting with the proportions of sleeves on coats and tops, adding a flouncing effect to create a dramatic silhouette. Short skirts were exaggerated at the hips and belted. One of my favourite looks is the red, sleeveless brushed wool check dress, developed by brushing wool over tulle. This is a further example of Simone Rocha's knowledge of fabric and aptitude for innovation.

Simone Rocha is a rising star today but most definitely a megastar of tomorrow. Look out for her next LFW show which will be streamed on the site in September. Until then take a look below for a glimpse of the AW14 collection.

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11 August 2014

The New Season: Buckle Up

                    FULL SIZE IMAGE

As we look to the coming Autumn Winter 2014 season and the new arrivals in stores, one dominant shoe trend is all about buckles. Featuring both as detail and as a fastening, strap up and show off your new seasons purchase. 

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5 August 2014

EIGHTEEN - The #shwishlist - A weekly edit of my favourite items..

It is eighteen weeks since I started these #shwishlist posts. It all began on my seasonal visit to Pure London. As I sat in the press lounge I realised I had the ability to use the site to shine a light on the independent brands which I had met during the day, these great brands, mostly British, were collectively explaining that they do not receive the same attention as designer brands, in the mainstream press. 

I have really enjoyed finding new brands and I love reading your emails and feedback.
Each post takes about two weeks to collate, from research and layout to writing and publishing.  I also think about the post all the time, as soon as I see a brand I want to investigate it's added to my dedicated Smythson #shwishlist notebook. 

This week the #shwishlist features a few of the names I jotted in my notebook. I am really excited by these brands and hopefully you will feel the same.

When the Doe family's tannery business closed after almost 100 years in Northampton. A set of old sample books, dating from the 1920s, was discovered, containing hundreds of different pattern and colour variations. This inspired Deborah Thomas to design a new collection of bags and accessories using the archive as a starting point and incorporating the samples in the designs. Today Doe Leather is once again made in the UK and producing the most covetable pieces. I especially love the iPad cases made from bridle hide.

Beehive is another storied label which started in 1785. The Knitwear brand create forever classics and staple basics that will be a part of your wardrobe for many years to come. I love the creativity on the Beehive website with the hand-drawn images you immediately feel as if your buying a piece of history.  I have chosen 'The Thoroughbread' for my wishlist as I love a chunky cable crew neck knit. (try saying that fast...!) It is currently available for pre-order and can be made in three colourways. If you like quality products made from British wool, this brand is the perfect fit for you.

Today I'm Me is a British brand made in London. The label blends experimental 3D visions with a 2D world, playing with scale and pattern to create an optical illusion that is practical and desirable. With fabulously quirky design details the bags are noticeable for the right reasons, this is all about creativity!

Linen Lawn was established by Maragaret Appleby, in 2009, to produce high quality garments with a nostalgic and feminine edge. With a focus on print, the collection features a variety of Liberty prints. I love this colourful skirt and shirt set which would work wonderfully for a Summer Wedding.

To allow you a closer view of these covetable pieces, I have pinned everything I have featured to my #shwishlist pinterest board. If you would like to recommend a brand or item, email: moi@sarahhayleyfreelance.com or tweet me with the hashtag #shwishlist.

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4 August 2014

the ICON 8 - Wedgwood's Butterfly Bloom Teaware

If you have ever viewed my instagram feed you will see I am very taken with life's little luxuries and in particular elegant tea ware. For me Wedgwood is the epitome of style and I find it hard to resist their beautiful collections and archive pieces. 

One of my prized possessions is my Wedgwood for Mulberry teacup and saucer, produced as 'tickets' for the Spring Summer 2014 show.  My ultimate favourite collection is Jasper ware, which I am collecting, featuring the iconic 'Wedgwood Blue' and typical white relief which was first developed by Josiah Wedgwood in the 1770s.

Today the collections are designed in the Wedgwood Studio in their Barlaston, Staffordshire, home. What I admire most about this renowned brand is how they seamlessly blend old characteristics and patterns with new prints and shapes. It isn't easy for a brand so steeped in history to continue to be 'current' but Wedgewood maintains their position bringing a taste of luxury to our tables which will stand the test of time.

The Icon this week is the Butterfly Bloom collection, the perfect set for a summer garden party. With it's vintage floral patterns, inspired by archive pieces, throw on a summer dress, deck the garden with bunting and set the table for a stylish Wedgwood tea party.

1 August 2014

Country Style - Explore My Cotswolds


As many regular readers will know, I am a very proud Cotswoldian. My family have lived in these rolling hills for over 100 years and I am eternally grateful, as in my eyes it is the most beautiful place on earth. 

The last of my Country Style posts, this week, is dedicated to the shops and businesses where I spend quite a few hours. 

Stow on the Wold
New England Coffee House, Digbeth Street
I am not exaggerating when I say the coffee at New England is the best coffee in the Cotswolds. With beans freshly roasted on the premises my favourite drink is the velvety smooth Cappuccino.
The Grade Two listed building was built around 1660-1670. Surrounded by beams, creamy Cotswold stone and original details, sit and relax or catch up with friends, within the four comfortable lounges on four floors.

Foundation, The Square (A further shop is in Cheltenham, Montpelier)
When I was studying for my degree at London College of Fashion, I worked weekends in Foundation.  
Established in 2002 by designers Gemma and James Wiseman, the shop boasts exciting and inspirational brands from the UK and around the world.  I owe Foundation for developing my love of the brand By Malene Birger and introducing me to the fresh designs of Libelua.
With various price points and styles there is something for everyone at Foundation and an array of gifts which make the perfect presents.

Cotswold Baguettes, Church Street
Cotswold Baguettes offer excellent lunchtime takeaway treats, including freshly baked baguettes with a wide selection of fillings, hot jacket potatoes baked in a King Edward Potato oven and various salads.
If you are visiting for the day, work or live locally the excellent service and quality you find will inspire you to visit again.

Highgrove Shop, Long Street,
The Highgrove Shop occupies a period building thought previously to have been a brewery. Many of the period features have been retained. I love the products found in the shop which sells exclusive gifts for the home and garden that often reflect the personal interests of HRH The Prince of Wales. The products are inspired by the beautiful gardens at Highgrove are sourced responsibly with regard to environmental issues.

The Wild Rabbit, Church Street
The Wild Rabbit is a new addition to the Daylesford empire located nearby in Kingham. 
The 1750's inn has been renovated to an outstanding standard, combining traditional country decor with a modern vibe. 
The food is first class, of course organic and made by Carole Bamford's former chef Adam Caisley. 
The twelve guest bedrooms are named after woodland animals and the interior is in-keeping with the achingly tasteful decor. From monogrammed cotton linen to airy neutrals and creamy exposed Cotswolds stone walls.
With topiaried rabbits, three log fires and copious amounts of rustic and artisan charm, The Wild Rabbit is the latest place to unwind in a seriously chic setting.

Sue Parksinson, Various Locations
Sue Parkinson was established in 1973.  Still family run for over 40 years, the lifestyle store continues to be an inspirational source with a great mix of clothing and home wares.
I have watched the business expand over the years to include three shops in Broadway dedicated to the different products they offer.
For interiors there is a large showroom store located in the Broadway Design Centre, a sale shop close-by and within the original shop, opposite the road,  you find designer clothing from brands such as Sonia Rykiel, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti and Marc Cain amongst others, including accessories from Anya Hindmarch and Mulberry.

Willersley Hill, Broadway
Dormy House Spa
Situated high above the village of Broadway is Dormy House, a recently renovated 17th century farmhouse and a further example of sumptuous contemporary design juxtaposed with country details which  form an elegant rural retreat.
The House Spa is incredible. With a selection of spa days on offer and indulgent treatments by Temple Spa the House Spa is a little bit of heaven located in beautiful setting.

Montpellier Chapter, Bayshill Road
Located in the heart of Cheltenham's renowned Montpellier lies this sophisticated hotel. Montpellier Chapter is a great place to stay, dine in the restaurant or take tea in the conservatory.
You will find me in the Lounge with a pot of tea writing and researching for a feature.
With light and airy interiors and open fireplaces the rooms are perfect examples of Cheltenham's grand regency style.

Country Views
One of my favourite roads at home lies between Cutsdean and Snowshill. Predominantly untouched countryside the open views of rolling hills, farmers fields and Cotswold sheep make for the most picturesque of images. 
You can even stop by Cotswold Lavender for a fragrant feeling and refresh yourself in their summer tearooms.

31 July 2014

What to Wear On: A Country Weekend Retreat


Living in the Cotswolds myself, I rarely stay at hotels at home so I have sought advice from friends who have. One of their favourite places to stay is Barnsley House, a Grade 2 listed house, built in 1697, near Cirencester. 

Last year I attended a dinner party at Barnsley House where we all sat sipping G&T's on the hotel's fabulous terrace overlooking the gardens.

The contemporary décor blends with the traditional features of stone fireplaces, wooden beams and floors to preserve the character of the building. 

I am told that the rooms are spacious and comfortable and the Spa is second to none. One day I might make my way to spend a few nights at the hotel for 'research' purposes naturally!

To ensure a chic arrival at your weekend retreat, be sure to pack everything in one of Tusting's leather holdalls.

On Monday this week I presented classic pieces for a country wardrobe. Today I feature my favourite items fit for a weekend country wardrobe. Dressing for a weekend away is similar wherever you are. The idea that in the country everyone is kitted out, head to toe in tweed is a myth. Whilst we adopt certain areas of tweed into our style, for example a tailored jacket or a bouclé coat, a true country girl wouldn't go overboard. 

Keep in mind you are dressing practically for a weekend where you will be walking, shopping, lunching and relaxing. Ensure your wardrobe contains the basics. I have chosen, jeans by MiH, a crepe top by Whistles and Calder London's tailored jacket.

Always remember to pack something for the evening. Sparkle never goes out of style so I have opted for this silver sequinned sleeveless top by Rabens Saloner at Foundation, teamed with this ribbon mesh skirt from Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis.

For afternoon relaxation choose light layers. I love this painterly top by Havren teamed with Judy Wu's Cropped Trousers and this sumptuous knit by Peregrine.

Keep boots flat, Hunter's wet-look boots are a glamorous alternative and I love these Chelsea Boots by Office for shopping days.

Keep the jewellery minimal but statement. I wear my Jessica de Lotz wax seal necklace everyday, it is light to wear and just the right size to be noticed.
Jana Reinhardt's sleepy fox earrings, nod to the countryside and with their whimsical charm they are irresistible.  I adore all of Shaun Leane's jewellery but especially this cherry blossom ring. It's thoroughly delicate and feminine and in-keeping with the nature theme.

If you are heading to the Cotswolds or countryside this Summer tweet me a photo of your #countrystyle look and I shall add it onto Pinterest to inspire others.

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Eugenia Kim at Liberty.co.uk
Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis
Rabens Saloner at shopfoundation.com
Judy Wu at wolfandbadger.com

30 July 2014

Country Style - Jewellery Notes featuring Lucy Jade Sylvester

My Country Style week would not be complete without showcasing the beautiful nature inspired work of Lucy Jade Sylvester

All of Lucy's pieces are created in her Oxford based studio where she transforms elements of the countryside into wearable pieces featuring leaves, poppy seed heads and beetles amongst other fragile forms.

My favourite pieces are the twig designs, especially the earrings and rings.

Lucy is stocked on her own website and also the fabulous notonthehighstreet.com.

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29 July 2014

What To Wear To: A Country Summer Wedding


I know from experience that it isn't easy dressing for a country wedding. With a dance floor which could be a lawn, seating which could be bales of hay to the flagstones in the country church. Negotiating your way across various terrains can be difficult, unless you are prepared.  

The look to aim for is a combination of style with comfort. Take a pair of chic flats to help you on the dance floor, wear a loose jacket and scarf to add the extra layer in the evening and chose dresses which are either soft and floaty or versatile. I have featured womenswear label 'In One Clothing' once before and I love their dresses. The label presents a collection of multi-way dresses. The aptly named 'Confetti' dress can transform into 14 different styles in an instant. 

Opt for statement accessories like this whimsical swan necklace by Swan or the Art-Deco inspired ring from V Jewellery. Keep hats subtle and stylish, I am loving everything by Siana Yewdall and Cheltenham's Lisa von Hallwyl.

Trying to maintain battery charge at a Wedding isn't easy, especially when taking photos or videos, however with Handbag Butler's 'Mighty Purse' their chic leather clutch comes with a genius technological feature enabling you to recharge your phone twice over. 

Remember that dressing for a country wedding can still be elegant and modern, rural doesn't have to mean rustic.  

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Eskay W London at wolfandbadger.com
Diane Von Furstenberg at matchesfashion.com
Handbag Butler at cuckooland.com

28 July 2014

Style - Country Classics - A thoroughly British capsule wardrobe


Inspired by my week at home in the Cotswolds, this week I am bringing you a series of Country inspired style posts. 

I have opted for pieces by British brands and designers. When we naturally think about Countryside attire our minds drift to Ralph Lauren, Hunter, Le Chameau and Hermes. With their equestrian detailing and rustic styling these designer brands have positioned themselves as the go-to labels.  Whilst not detracting from the fabulous products by these non-British manufactured brands, it is a time to shine a light on their British competitors. We have many British labels which create luxurious pieces with the same, if not better, quality; however they lack the big budgets to allow the creation of widespread PR campaigns and therefore rely on British journalists and stylists to promote them.  One of these brands is Pip Howeson. The coats created by this fresh label are expertly tailored and made from the finest of British fabrics. Last year I styled the 'Florence' coat on a shoot and instantly fell in love with the quality. What I also admire about this brand is the versatility of the design. Team your coat with heels and you have the perfect dress coat for an evening out or add a pair of leather riding boots and you have stylish racing attire. 

Once you find these basics which form your countryside capsule wardrobe you can start to embellish the look with jewellery, scarves and bags which add a more feminine touch to an otherwise masculine silhouette.  I love the jewellery by Daisy Knights, this feather ring is the perfect piece to finish off a country inspired look.

Look out for tomorrow's post where I shall present the best outfits for a country summer wedding/garden party.

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22 July 2014

SEVENTEEN - The #shwishlist - A weekly edit of my favourite items..


Today I am attending the launch of #BuyBritishDay at The House of Commons, this inspired me to bring you a wishlist featuring British labels.

The first ever #BuyBritishDay will take place on 3rd October2014. The initiative established by the Best of Britannia show is to encourage customers to support brands and businesses that design and manufacture their products in Britain. I am proud that we have amazing brands that happen to also be British. Allow me to introduce you to some of my favourite this week.

Vandal Shoes have been creating women's shoes in Norwich for over 75 years. My favourite style is the Morston in black lizzard print.  Currently in the sale these shoes are a fabulous bargain as they would suit for so many occasions.

I saw Wildfire cases completely by chance while searching for a new iPad case. The brand create wooden MacBook cases using impressive craftsmanship. I have opted for the Landsdown which features a darker wood with a flame orange lining. I have always loved stylish and practical products and Wildfire fabulously put this into practice.

Oxfordshire based jeweller Lucy Sylvester is one of my instagram friends.  I love seeing her feed where she shares what she has made and how she uses our mutual love of the British Countryside as her inspiration.  I adore this twig ring for its ultimate simplicity. Made from silver and 18ct gold vermeil it is a piece you can look at with memories of the countryside.

I am really excited about womenswear brand Emelia Bass, established by two friends, Noor Albazie and Kawther Mokhlif. The clothes are elegant, modern and made to flatter the female form.  My favourite piece is the 'Monaco Dress' because not only is it pink but it is also fabulously feminine. The brocade skirt works perfectly with the chiffon overlay bodice and I love the unexpected low-back. 

Newly launched homewear brand Beulah-Home create luxury knitted cushions, throws and pet blankets all knitted and manufactured in Britain. I love blankets, even on a hot day you will find me wrapped up on the hammock with a knit for comfort. I think the Daphne throw is my ultimate favourite due to its texture and mix of colours although I have fallen for practically everything on their website. Trust me, you will too!

Adding a sporty element to my shwishlist this week is the Ensign casual shoe from Walsh UK.  I discovered these on instagram with the #BuyBritish hashtag. I loved the blue shade and decided to learn more about the brand. Founded by Norman Walsh in 1961, Norman began his career aged 14 and by age 16 he was selected to make running shoes for the 1948 British Olympic Team. The brand went on to develop footwear for a variety of sports including rugby, football and fell running amongst others. Today the brand continues to build on the heritage and history established by Norman Walsh. 
I have a feeling the Ensign isn't unisex but I am more than confident us ladies can pull them off!

To allow you a closer view of these covetable pieces, I have pinned everything I have featured to my #shwishlist pinterest board. If you would like to recommend a brand or item, email: moi@sarahhayleyfreelance.com or tweet me with the hashtag #shwishlist.

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