“When people think of fashion, they always prefer to see the crazy side, the clichéd side of it. But that’s wrong. Fashion is an important part of woman’s life.”
Photo source: Vogue Australia September 2010
“When people think of fashion, they always prefer to see the crazy side, the clichéd side of it. But that’s wrong. Fashion is an important part of woman’s life.”
Photo source: Vogue Australia September 2010
Even before you learn that Natalie Hand runs Viva London, works with the most beautiful models, speaks two languages and has a degree, you see red hair, gorgeous eyes, hear her soft voice and… well, if you are anything like me… you lose an ability to put words into proper sentences. When we first met, I totally failed being me – I just smiled and swallowed everything I wanted to say. All I could think of was being in a very special place (both literally and metaphorically) and meeting somebody who looks like Christy Turlington (in her supermodel days) and has the best job in the world.
When my brain got back to functioning again, I asked her for an interview – being the treasure that she is, she agreed.
Who did you want to be when you were a child?
An actress. I played Mary in my infant school Nativity play and loved it, even though I remember cringing at 'Joseph' as I thought he was bit of a nerd. I sung and dance playing Marta at the age of 10 in The Sound of Music at Nottingham Theatre Royal. I thought I had really hit the big-time (!) and I even learnt how to yodel! After that I wanted to be a barrister for a while.
When did you feel that fashion really got under your skin?
I must have been about 16, when I started studying for my A levels. The 'Supermodel' era was peaking and I managed to be swept away by the tail end of it. I was more fascinated by the glamour and excitement than the clothes themselves at first I think.
How did you get into the industry?
Pure fluke if I'm honest. I was moving around unhappily trying various post-graduate jobs for size when one day I saw an advert for a 'Junior Booker' at a model agency in the newspaper (probably the Media section of the Guardian). I liked the sound of a model agency as I certainly loved fashion. But also I had been infected with a curious passion for faces since poring over those pictures of Christy, Kate and Claudia. I loved how they could appear to be like silent movie actresses in the pages of fashion magazines. Such chameleons, such storytellers. The thought of being able to play my part in bringing these magical stories to life by finding the right 'actress' for the role... I knew it would be a challenge I could relish.
What are the most treasured memories about working in fashion so far?
One of the most fulfilling things is how you grow with the girls. You can take on a New Face with lots of potential and over the months and years watch her bloom - both personally and professionally. You become very close and revel in their triumphs as much as if they were your own. This is not only a memory but fortunately an ongoing reality. But I also was lucky enough to watch many McQueen shows. They were definitely some of the most emotionally moving experiences of my career.
My most favourite moments - I suppose being privy to the inside world of the fashion industry, being able to watch incredibly talented people (many of whom have become friends), create inspiring and beautiful things and moments. Working with them to help their visions become reality.
Having had the chance to live in Paris for seven years. The combination of that city and fashion is particularly unique and powerful.
What are your favourite Parisian destinations?
Maison Mere, fantastic cosy restaurant near my apartment in the ninth arrondissement.
Azzedine Alaia's outlet shop in the Marais.
The view from the top of Sacre Coeur will always make you catch your breath.
And there are not enough parks in Paris! A downfall actually for an avid runner like me.
And I just have to ask about Parisiennes... Could you share some of their secrets for looking so effortlessly chic and beautiful?
The ability to age gracefully. In fact I am convinced that French women manage to become more gorgeous, sexy and sophisticated with age. They don't follow fads but seem to know themselves very well, what suits them and what doesn't. They all have a very good dermatologist too.
And your won style… Can you describe it in five words?
Simple, elegant, lean, effortless, bold
Are there any unfashionable things you do?
Gosh so many things I'm afraid. But if I had to choose one - you should see the horrendous slippers that my boyfriend hates but I love because they keep my feet warm... my feet are always, always cold.
Lets talk about modelling as I am sure many girls would love to hear your thoughts on that...
It takes an awful lot of character and courage to succeed as a model. To be spotted just means a girl has the physical requisites. But a really successful career requires intelligence and ambition and a lot of hard work on her part. And she will have to love the industry because in the end the top photographers, stylists and designers like to work with people who inspire them too… especially their muses! When they work with models who have something to add to the equation it sets them apart. What is quite interesting is a trend at the moment towards using older girls. Saskia and Kati are two of our most recent success stories at the ages of 31 and 29 respectively. They are women with interests and opinions. I believe that models should keep up their education for as long as they can. Edie Campbell is currently in her final year at the Courthauld Institute studying for a degree in Art History for example.
What qualities make a top model? Apart, of course, the physical appearance... How do you choose the girls who become a part of Viva?
Aside from what I said earlier about personality of course...
People often say that they can recognise a 'Viva' girl but it is difficult to put the aesthetic into words. The best I can do is to say that we always look for true beauty but with a slight quirk - something that sets the girl apart and makes her unique. Often this is enhanced by intelligence, personality, ambition and personal style. You always know it when you see it.
What should a young girl do to get into the industry?
Make sure never to have test shots done by anyone in the hope of being taken on by an agency. The best agencies know what they are looking for - and personal snapshots and digital Polaroids will most definitely suffice to start with. You can of course also actually going in person on an open call so the agents can meet you.
My advice, to reiterate what I said before, is to continue education for as long as possible. If your career is well managed then modelling and education can definitely work in tandem with each other. There will be periods when you cannot work very much of course and others (such as holiday times) when you can. But the most important thing is to find an agency you trust and communicate well with and then you should find this works smoothly.
And what do you think should a young model do to succeed?
After making sure that you are being looked after by a great agency that you respect and like... Try to learn as much as you can about the business and watch and learn from the best. Listen to good advice from people you trust and work hard. Most importantly, enjoy it! Modelling can give you so many incredible opportunities and experiences. Grab them and enjoy them! Your zest and enthusiasm will make you even more attractive to clients.
And what qualities make up a top model?
Ambition, determination, charm, intelligence, hard-work - as well as beauty.
How do you feel when you see Viva models on a catwalk or in fashion magazines?
Incredibly proud always. From the New Face who has just walked in her first show to seeing Edie grab her first i-D cover for example to Natalia shooting another cover of British Vogue… as an agent you always feel proud. You have seen the girls grow and develop, often after overcoming setbacks. You help them on their way, try to give them the guidance and tools to grow... but in the end it is up to them to blossom.
7 things about Natalie:
Favourite dessert: fondant au chocolat (best in Paris)
Best way to relax: meditation (should do more really), reading. Or occasionally a great massage.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you find yourself? In Santa Monica, staying at Shutters on the Beach.
Most favourite item in your wardrobe? At the moment it is my Kinder Aggugini cowboy print jumper.
Shoes or bags? Can I say jackets?! If not then it would be Churches penny loafers..
Books or magazines? Both at different times. But I really do love books. I wish I had an entire Library room like in Downton Abbey!
One of your guilty pleasures: 70s disco music. I am a gay man trapped in a woman's body when it comes to music taste...
“Vive Paris” is one of my favourite editorials of all times and, as I am preparing to add it to the blog, I wonder why I haven’t shared it before. The story is about everything I adore – it’s Christy Turlington wearing head-to-toe Chanel in Paris photographed by Steven Meisel, mostly in black in white. So here is some visual perfection for your Monday morning.
Photo source: Vogue Italia February 1992
It’s time for another shopping-related post. Since many of you liked the idea, I decided to continue and do it every other week.
Today I’ve got a few little delights for you.
For special designer finds, head off to TheOutnet and receive additional 30% off when you check out. Ends Monday.
The mid-season sales you simply have to check are Whistles, Karen Millen and Reiss. There are so many gorgeous things - you will definitely find something special, just for you. I was tempted by a pair of classic cigarette trousers - they were pure wool (with a little lycra for extra comfort), pleats, hems (love hems!) and £40 (seriously!) I have been looking for this exact style made of wool and 0% poly and finally found Mia that I fell in love with. I tried to share my joy with Mr and pupster, but Oscar was asleep dreaming of his morning toast (he gets a little one in weekends) and Mr looked at me and said “Darling, I am sure they are wonderful, but, honestly, all I could hear is “blah-blah-blah”” So here I am, sharing the news with you – I know you’ll understand the excitement.
Reiss also invited me to a sample sale and if you are in London next Tuesday (13:00 – 20:00), Wednesday – Friday (8:00- 20:00) or Saturday (9:00 – 19:00), feel free to come to The Music Room and have a good browse.
See you on Monday – next week I have interviews, stories and plenty of beautiful photos to share with you.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Photo source: Vogue Italia February 1992
I trust you enjoyed yesterday’s treat video. I certainly did. Being true to myself I then went through my files to find the couture editorial mentioned in the story. I had to – it was too beautiful not to publish. That photo of Kate in dreamy white Chanel Haute Couture gown that made her look like an Angel has always been a favourite of mine, while the black and white portrait featuring beautiful head piece / earrings created by Galliano for Dior Couture make me think of a very similar piece designed by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy Spring/Summer 2012 Haute Couture collection (and then used in Dalhia Noir campaign). But enough talking – enjoy the photos.
Photo source: Vogue US October 1999
Last night I found a documentary I was absolutely unaware of. Seconds later the tiredness was forgotten and my bed time postponed. I had to watch it immediately.
If you saw The September Issue, you will enjoy this story directed by Christine Hall for BBC1 as a part of Boss Women series. The camera follows Anna Wintour as she works on the February issue of Vogue, travels to Paris and shares her memories and thoughts about fashion and life.
To me, this documentary felt more frank, more sincere – there was definitely less hype and more depth in it compared to the latest one. It made me like Anna even more. I found her, yet again, absolutely fascinating.
Photo source: Noa Griffel
A brilliant and very unique Italian-born London-based designer, Kinder Aggugini studied at Saint Martins, worked with John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Donatella Versace as well as Costume National, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith.
Until his debut in February 2009, he was fashion editors’ best kept secret. The orders for redingotes, Chanel-inspired tweed jackets (Kinder once referred to his work as an unholy marriage of Coco Chanel and Sid Vicious), silk dresses and evening pea coats were placed privately and admired by the selected few.
Autumn / Winter 2008
Spring / Summer 2009
And then he came out bringing mix of romantic prints and structured garments to the London Fashion Week giving it an absolutely new and fresh dimension.
Spring / Summer 2011
His mind, just like a beautiful kaleidoscope made of rainbow pieces, creates dreams of a wearable kind. His collections, influenced by memories from his punk rock past and Italian heritage, love of books, music and art and his deep knowledge of fabrics and techniques, are for those women who love ageless style, impeccable quality, have a sense of humour and enjoy of being a little bit unpredictable.
It was a very bold move for me to ask Kinder for an interview – he agreed (and made me feel incredible). Having his answers is like receiving a precious gift and I cannot thank him enough for sharing his time and thoughts with me.
Autumn / Winter 2012
When did fashion become a part of your life?
As far as I can remember I was always obsessed with fashion. In my teens I learned to make my own clothes and experimented with a number of looks. When my peers started asking to have what I was wearing I decided to figure how to do this forever.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
The Designers I worked for. I chose them because I found them inspiring and ultimately they shaped the way I design today.
What was working with Donatella like?
I had a great time. She’s one of the most generous kind and funny people I know. When I met her she said ”I didn’t formally train as a designer but I worked for 25 years with one of the best in the world, I must have learned something”. She was absolutely right.
What was the best lesson you’ve learned from working with Galliano?
I learned that cutting on the bias is not a standard rule, it can be done in multiple ways and each can have a distinctively different effect.
What do you think of first thing in the morning?
Since I started my own collection I always wake up with a mixture of concerns for all the things I haven’t done and the excitement for all I’m about to do.
What is the most fascinating thing about creating a collection?
It’s such a thrill to bring something into existence. From a simple thought to a three-dimensional object it truly gives me the greatest pleasure.
Do you still design with the music in your head playing like a sound track?
Always! I find music extremely stimulating. In the absence of anything playing in the room my head switches on.
You do come across as a music connoisseur – what are your favourite bands /artists?
Really hard to narrow it down I have such a varied love of music. This morning I thought of Bach - Double Violin Concerto in D Minor and a moment ago I had Skrillex – Breakn’a Sweat ringing in my head. I think my brain also functions as an iPod.
What are the top 3 things on your “Million things to-do list” right now?
Research. Fabric Selection. Accounts.
What is your fashion philosophy?
Bold fabrics in chic shapes. Bold shapes in chic fabrics. Always have a look.
5 things about Kinder:
Favourite dessert: Eaton Mess.
Best way to relax: Meditate or videogames.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you find yourself? Walking on Zabriskie Point.
Books or magazines? Books.
One of your guilty pleasures: I love Disco.
Very young Natasha photographed for Elle Denmark in 2000. I loved the words Elle team used to describe the story: “Allure. Spirit. Elegance”. Such a perfect way to sum up everything French style is all about.
Photo source: Elle Denmark September 2000
I often wonder how a certain design turns into a must-have fashion item. While the whimsical reindeer sweaters only saw the light of day at Christmas, the growling Givenchy and, later, adorable Burberry motifs suddenly made us want to fall back into innocence and really embrace the trend. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the inner child or a stylish effort for not taking yourself too seriously…
I chose some of the sweetest ones today – their soft cuteness instantly puts a smile on your face and allows you to express love to a certain creature. Whatever reason you have for wearing one of those jumpers – embrace it: combine with a pencil skirt or smart trousers and structured coat or, just like Burberry did, peplum jacket for work, full skirt, lady-like bag, platform laced ankle boots and trench (again, very Burberry) for lunch or jeans and duffle coat for weekends and walks in a country. Just don’t leave them in a draw until Christmas day.
Click to buy: 1. Portland fox intarsia merino wool sweater by Aubin & Wills (£125) + similar one by Peter Jensen, 2. Owl intarsia cashmere sweater by Burberry Prorsum (£895), 3. Horse angora mix jumper by Warehouse (£45), 4. French hen sweater by J.Crew (£80), 5. Swan jumper by Miss Selfridge (£39), 6. Doe embellished jumper by Monsoon (£49), Sequined puppy sweater by Muveil (£382.12), 7. Badger jumper by Dorothy Perkins (£30), 8. Fox print jumper by Marsha at Joules (£69.95), 9. Ivory poodle jumper by Dorothy Perkins (£30), 10. Sequined puppy sweater by Muveil (£382.12), 11. Scottie dog angora-blend jumper by Wallis (£20), 12. Horse intarsia cashmere wool sweater by Jaeger (£120) + similar ones by Joie, C Wonder and Wildfox
Not every sweater made it to the post, but you can find them on-line. The list includes squirrels, zebras, baby leopards, mummy leopard, blue birds, peacocks, bunny, rabbit, giraffe, elephant, owls (1 and 2), cats (1 – 2 – 3 – 4 - 5) and more dogs (1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5) Did I miss anything?
Photo source: Elle France August 2012
Last weekend I discovered two things. Whistles, one of the best high street (if I dare to put it in this category at all) brands opened a new shop just a few minute drive from where I live, so no longer it will require a long journey to go and see all the beautiful things they have on their website.
Seeing the shop being prepared for opening made me want to check the newest additions on-line and this is when I saw the cashmere line made of cosy-shaped sweaters and jumpers that you would never want to take off.
In addition to that, Whistles published a cashmere care guide, which I found very useful and beautifully presented, so I took liberty to add it to the blog.
* Clean out the sink to ensure there are no other products that can damage your cashmere.
* Fill your sink or basin with cool water and add the recommended amount of fine-garment detergent to the basin.
* Briskly run your hand through the water to distribute the detergent and generate suds.
* Turn your garment inside out, submerge it and gently squeeze the suds through it.
* You can spot clean any dirty areas with a squirt of neat detergent and massage gently with fingertips. Rinse and repeat where necessary.
* Let it soak for 10 minutes.
* Drain the sink and rinse your sweater with cool water until the water rinses clear.
* Gently press water out of the sweater and place it lengthwise on a clean, dry bath towel.
* Roll up the towel, press with your palms to squeeze out excess water. Do not wring or twist.
* Remove the sweater from the towel and smooth it out so it is back to its original shape.
* Lay the sweater flat on a dry towel and let it air-dry, or use a drying rack if you have one. Button up cardigans, pull pockets straight and ensure that sleeves and hems are laid flat to avoid unsightly wrinkles.
* Pilling on cashmere is not a sign of poor quality or a fault. The pilling is a natural characteristic of the long fibers. Pills can be easily removed using a cashmere comb, electric depiller or a sweater stone. Cashmere should not be depilled very often as this will result in holes.
* For the storage fold your cashmere with tissue paper to absorb any moisture. Do not hang cashmere as it will de-shape your garment.
* As a precaution hang cedar balls, keep clothes clean and store garments in cotton bags. You can also use the Moss box from the Total Wardrobe Care. (Additional note from me: you can buy large plastic sealable freezer bags and use them for your cashmere sweaters)
Photo source: Io Donna Italy September 2012
“There are clothes which keep rejuvenating themselves instead of getting worn out.”
Happy to report – being there, got a poster.
On a serious note, I have been really looking forward to the Little black jacket exhibition and as soon as it was opened jumped on a train to London.
It was truly special to see moody dim silent rooms filled with gorgeous images of fashion and music royalty dressed in Chanel, styled by Carine Roitfeld and photographed by Karl Lagerfeld who made one the early 20s century classic piece look modern and incredibly versatile. I snapped some of my favourites with an iphone – I wasn’t at all prepared to be allowed to photograph, so the proper camera was left behind, a mistake that I will never ever make again.
Luckily, the style of the photography somewhat compensated the quality of the iphone images, so here are a few to share.
If you are in London, do visit Saatchi gallery. The entry is free and you also get a poster to keep as a memory. The exhibition is open until 28th October.
Photo source: personal
… Laura of Anicajames blog. Congratulation! Please e-mail me your address, so I can arrange the scarf to be posted to you presto.
Thanks to everyone who entered – I always feel sorry that I cannot send a present to every single one of you. Please stay in touch for more giveaways in the future as this was definitely just one of many that are still to come.
And just in case you fancy a little treat from Reiss here and now, they just launched a secret sale, so you can find something beautiful for less.
Photo source: Vogue Italia 1992
This is just a half of the Friends for Life editorial shot by Craig McDean for the August issue of US Vogue in 2003. The story was dedicated to the timeless buys that you keep forever – each styled for madame and mademoiselle. Natalia was, of course, the mademoiselle (Amber Valetta was given the other part), in her Chanel tweed suit, pearls (faux and flirty), show stopping evening dress (Balenciaga chiffon in her case), fur, or holding a classic crocodile bag (leather Miu Miu rather than the real thing).
Photo source: Vogue US August 2003
P.S. Remember that you can still enter the giveaway – the winner will be announced tomorrow at 8am.
I am thinking about writing a few posts on wardrobe basics covering pretty much every item from head to toe, but instead of sticking with the usual list of wardrobe essentials, I am planning to divide everything into groups, i.e. dresses, tops, bottoms (still marinating this one), footwear etc. etc. etc. I’ve already written about the bags and lingerie in the past, so those two categories may not be included this time unless I change my mind or you tell me that you would want to read about those in addition to everything else.
Dresses we should all have. Why start with those? Because we are women and, as Diane von Furstenberg said, if you want to “feel like a woman – wear a dress”. I’ll get back to Diane later, but right now we are focusing on the holy grail of all dresses – the little black dress.
The LBD was introduced to us by the only and only Coco Chanel in the 1920s when, after tragically losing Boy Capel, she vowed to put the entire world in mourning for him and make every woman wear a black dress whatever the occasion. As always, she succeeded – in 1926 Vogue published a picture of a simple black dress designed by Chanel naming it “Chanel’s Ford”.
Although the story may not be totally familiar to everyone, we seem to be born with an idée fixe that we must, simply must, have an LBD.
Why? Because we secretly want to look like a Parisienne or channel our inner Audrey in one of her Givenchy designs. And because the LBD works on so many levels. The dress can be worn day to night, particularly when you have nothing to wear. The right cut gives comfort. It makes you look chic and gives people the right impression. Unlike many other styles, men find it easy to understand the LBD and subsequently dream about a woman who wears it.
The little black dress is a keeper, thus the only rule that applies for getting one is that you are in love with it – otherwise, just like an unhappy marriage, the story will be tragic.
Ideally, look for classic shapes and natural fibers – the fabric adds a touch of luxury and must caress the skin, not prick, scratch or irritate. And remember that black comes in several shades (it can have warm or cool undertones and grey, brown or blue’ish shades), so if one doesn’t suit you, move on and try another one until the puzzle comes together.
I found my LBD (the only black dress I own) back in 2003 and still wear it – admittedly, I am not a huge fan of black colour, but I do adore the dress because its classic hourglass shape and boat neckline that shows off the collarbones makes me feel beautiful and, after all, who am I to argue with Coco?
Where to buy: 1. Yarra dress by Diane von Furstenberg (£535), 2. Sleeveless Inverted Pleat dress by T by Alexander Wang (£263), 3. Black mesh insert skater dress by Dorothy Perkins (£36), 4. Organsa Prom dress by Miss Selfridge (£55), 5. Satin trimmed dress by Givenchy (£1368), 6. Wool and mesh dress by Azzedine Alaia (£2760), 7. Leather detail dress by Proenza Schouler (£1152), Fluted hem ribbed dress by Yves Saint Laurent (£1525)
Where to buy: 9. Draped satin dress by Carven (£244), 10. Shift dress by Cacharel (£329), 11. Pixel leather detail dress by Helmut Lang (£415), 12. Christa Embellished dress by Bastyan (£175 Was £295), 13. Structured pencil dress by Warehouse (£75) STYLE STEAL, 14. Ruffled dress by Lanvin (£584), 15. Kent stretch silk dress by Azzaro (£414 Was £920), 16. Belted stretch crepe dress by Marni (£482 Was £965)
Where to buy: 17. Mae Black Shift dress by Great Plains (£85), 18. Jesse dress by Roland Mouret (£1229), 19. Wool & silk dress by Alberta Ferretti (£325.50 Was £1085), 20. Bow dress by Vivienne Westwood Red Label (£700), 21. Origami dress by TopShop (£150), 22. Applique dress by Moschino Cheap & Chic (£325), 23. Origami dress by Plein Sud (£849), 24. Parigi dress by MaxMara ‘S Max (£260)
Photo source: Vogue China April 2006, Vogue UK September 2010