Showing posts with label We Covet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label We Covet. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Be Adored (By Everybody)

Last summer I wrote about a Barbara Hulanicki for Topshop dress that had very nearly been ruined by its ubiquity but managed to be saved from the never-wearing-again heap by its prettiness. That dress for autumn/winter ’09 was my tba (or To Be Adored) smock. I bought it back in September and saw it on a couple of other girls at fashion week that same month. Then it popped up on a few blogs and I spied it on a friend or two. Next thing you know some TV presenter called Caroline Flack is wearing it. Oh well, whatevs. Everybody shops in Urban Outfitters and if you buy a dress there you have got to be prepared to bump into it on somebody else. And my little mustard smock is so pretty that I don’t really care if it gets around. I still love it. Binbin McNiven, the woman behind the tba label, has done it again with her Mia Farrow-inspired spring/summer collection. Dresses come in baby doll shapes and there are lots of girlish details like Peter Pan collars. It’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice, however, as there are also tougher-looking leather skirts and loose-fitting shirt-dresses. Basically I want it all. Along with everybody else, presumably. LE

My mustard tba smock

A dress from the new collection (available at Urban Outfitters)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Colouring-in the January Blues

It’s a depressing time of year. Obviously. Dealing with work-related emails that didn’t magically disappear over Christmas, facing up to the fact that the resolutions haven’t even lasted a week and battling the freezing cold weather all takes their toll on a person. Not to mention arguments over deposits with ex-landlords and rows with current landlords about having no running water. Early January is horrible and I plan to spend it tucked up in bed with the electric blanket turned up all the way (mainly because I squandered all of last month’s salary in a devil-may-care Christmas spending extravaganza and can no longer afford to venture outside).

At least I have my lovely Christmas presents to keep me company. I can pore over my beautiful Stylist The Interpreters of Fashion book, a present from the boyfriend. Or look forward to my mini-break at Bellinter House thanks to my mum. Most therapeutic of all though is my Colour Me Good colouring book that comes courtesy of my other The Portmanteau half. Colour Me Good – Kate is a lovely little colouring book full of pictures of Kate in various magazine poses that I can colour-in carefully, thereby forgetting about the larger problems in life. The terrifying bank statement is left unopened as I endeavour to not go outside the lines of Kate’s lovely hair or the fancy crown that she wore on the cover of December 2001's Vogue. Colour Me Good comes from the talented Mel Elliott, a London-based artist who is almost as obsessed with magazines and celebrities as we are. She has created colouring books and paper dolls based on all of our favorites – Kate, Aggy, Cheryl, Grazia, etc, etc. She is stocked in Artwords in London (there are more outlets in the pipeline) or you can buy from her directly through her blog.

Picture from Mel Elliott (because I am not nearly as good at colouring-in).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rue the Day

Times are tight at The Portmanteau. First came the recession, then the pickpocketing incident and now Christmas. What little money we do have is being spent on presents and there is none left for party dresses or any other luxuries. We are still expert window shoppers though and did our fair share in Paris; ogling the wares at Colette, Lanvin and Chanel.

But even when window shopping, I like to aim for something that is semi-affordable, i.e. out of my reach now but attainable when there’s a sale on and I’ve just been paid. And so I hit three of my favourite streets in Paris – Rue des Martyrs in the 9th, Rue du Jour in the 1st and Rue Beaurepaire in the 10th.

Rue des Martyrs is primarily a street for food lovers and we most definitely fit into that category. There are lots of little cheesemongers and greengrocers at the bottom and as you walk up towards Montmartre, you will come across Rose Bakery, my favourite breakfast destination. Further up the street lies the No Good Store, a great shop that stocks both menswear and womenswear, vintage and new. The staff are really helpful and have been known to knock a few euro off vintage stuff if you ask nicely.

Le Mont St Michel is one of my favourite labels and Rue du Jour is home to their little flagship store. Big knits jostle for rail space with delicate silk dresses while simple leather boots and bags perch on shelves. A few doors down you’ll find the cutest haberdashery in the world – La Droguerie. It’s filled to capacity with spools of colourful yarn and jars of buttons and beads. Rue du Jour also boasts branches of agnès b., Zadig & Voltaire and Manoush. Oh and there’s an Irish pub called Quigley’s Point!

Rue Beaurepaire is a little street off Place de la Republique. There are several plumbing supplies stores but in amongst these, you will find a brilliant boutique called Renhsen. Renhsen stocks well-known labels Junk de Luxe for men and Sessun and Nümph for women and their own range of jeans. The Kooples is a new French label with 12 stores in Paris, one of which is located on Rue Beaurepaire. Based on the idea of couples and sharing clothes, The Kooples has lots of unisex cardigans and blazers but still stocks quite a few dresses. The Cobra Snake-style photos of ridiculously too-cool-for-school twosomes adorn the walls and the shop assistants are suitably stylish.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mulling Things Over

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us – shops have started staying open late, the Brown Thomas Christmas window has been unveiled and Christmas party invites have been popping into the mailbox. Along with the mulled wine and mince pies, comes the inevitable what-will-I-wear conundrum. In this Facebook age, it’s hard to get away with wearing the same dress to different parties because although there might be a diverse crowd at each bash, chances are they are all on Facebook and have seen the photos of you in the black dress with the red shoes already. Maybe I’m just being stupid and nobody notices what I wear in my various Facebook photos but I still feel the pressure to pull a few different OFs out of the bag for the festive season.

The high street is heaving with party dresses at this time of year but the thing is they all look kind of the same – satin or sparkly, above-the-knee, tight and a bit blah. I’ve seen lots of ladies in trousers on The Sartorialist recently and have got to thinking that perhaps that’s the way to go this Christmas. I did try trousers earlier in the year but abandoned the idea when the two pairs I tried on in Topshop just didn’t fit properly. That was during London Fashion Week and the canapés and free drink had combined to make me a bit too porky for the Tuxedo trousers I was desperately trying to stuff myself into. Disheartened, I returned to my smock dresses, tail between my legs. Three months on, I feel that perhaps it’s time to try the trousers again. I’m never going to abandon my wardrobe of dresses completely but it would be nice to seem nonchalantly sexy, like the chic Parisians below, in amidst the crowds of trussed up Christmas party goers.

Images from The Sartorialist

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Shopping with all the Trimmings

In these dark, depressing days of credit crunch chic and the recessionista, shops are doing all they can to get us through their doors, especially in the run up to jingle bell time. And if they’re offering free wine and burlesque dancing to entice us inside, we’re more than happy to oblige. This week sees Paper Dress on Curtain Rd throwing a soiree to celebrate its new late night openings. Paper Dress is one of my favourite vintage stores – simply on account of its close proximity to the office; I am lazy in the extreme when it comes to shopping. This Thursday from 7pm you can browse the party frocks and furs to rockabilly tunes, have a drink and get 20% off.

London also loves pop-up shopping experiences at this time of year – basically, these establishments want you to feel the pressure to get there before they're gone forever – the “BUY THESE SHOES NOW OR YOU MIGHT JUST HAVE TO KILL YOURSELF” kind of vibe that Grazia specializes in. My favourite this season is Swanfield Inn. This group of designers are setting up shop near Brick Lane in the weeks leading up to Christmas and providing a delightful shopping experience, with silent films projected on the walls and the designers themselves on hand to offer advice, as well as tea and cake. I paid a visit last Sunday and am glad to report that I did not feel panicked, pressured, hot or bothered once - my usual reactions to shopping. My favourite discovery was jewellery designer Karin Andreasson's nautical themed necklaces and bracelets. Yes - I think we have established that I'm not the best shopper. So basically, if a store isn't offering alcohol and/or baked goods along with my purchases this festive season, I think I'll be doing my shopping online.

Jewellery by Karin Andreasson

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

LA Luxury

While in LA, I've been enjoying the finer things in life - lunch at Asia de Cuba at The Mondrian, cocktails at The Peninsula and some of the best cakes ever at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills and Joan's on Third. All of this luxury is a far cry from the Spar sandwiches and cheesy beans on toast dinners that I enjoy in Dublin and I feel the need to adjust my wardrobe accordingly. The beautifully crafted Cloud Cake (an amazing creation consisting of a cupcake topped with marshmallow and coated with chocolate) at celebrity haunt Joan's on Third deserves a special outfit but in keeping with my new penchant for luxury, I don't want to just hit H&M or Urban Outfitters and pick the first cute dress I see.

Instead, I want something whimsical and unique to match my frothy cocktails and fancy confectionery and I've found the answer in Miss KK's amazing feather necklaces. Miss KK is an LA-based designer whose handmade creations instantly transform a plain black dress into something infinitely more exciting. She doesn't have any European stockists yet but is in talks with people in London and Paris. In the meantime, you can buy the necklaces from Miss KK directly on her website and she ships worldwide.

Cupcakes at Joan's on Third

Miss KK's Feather Necklaces

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blame Chuck Bass

Usually I feel quite lucky to be a girl - we get to wear dresses, high heels and make-up - but recently I've been becoming increasingly obsessed with menswear. I suppose my fascination with menswear began around the same time as my love affair with GG's Chuck Bass. Never has the word dapper been so appropriate and I would choose his outfits over Serena's or Blair's any day. The boys here in LA are generally not quite as well-dressed as Chuck - there are a lot of flip-flops and Ed Hardy (don't get me started) accessories - but the menswear in Fred Segal and Opening Ceremony is absolutely beautiful. I haven't quite figured out who buys these amazing clothes (besides the shop assistants and maybe some out-of-towners) but I know if I had the money I would snap them up.

Thom Browne
is one of the menswear designers stocked at Fred Segal and I have completely fallen in love with his cardigans. They are made of beautiful grey cashmere and have a blue, white and red trim. At over $1800, they are three times the cost of my flight and therefore a little too expensive to bring home to the boy but maybe I could try to justify it by saying that we would both wear it! Browne's tiny blazers and ankle-skimming trousers are also on my if-I-were-a-boy wish list. Opening Ceremony has gorgeous Raf Simons for Fred Perry t-shirts and the Opening Ceremony own label jackets in hues of grey and beige are perfectly autumnal.

Luckily, both stores also stock Boy, Band of Outsiders' sister line. Boy is for girls who want to dress like dapper boys and I want everything in the autumn/winter collection. The shrunken blazers, the crisp shirts, the corduroy trousers, the lot!

Michelle Williams in Boy

Thom Browne

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wrapping Up

It’s late October, which means it’s time to wrap up warm and what better way to do that than with a nice cozy cardigan. But cardigans are useful not only as a means of keeping us warm in wintry weather, but also as a way of dressing down a Topshop tea dress or making an outfit less “obvious”. There is nothing I hate more than an ensemble derived from only one shop because even though it might look quite on-trend, it smacks of a lack of imagination and can appear embarrassingly new. A cardigan is a simple solution, its comforting, battered woolliness an ideal antidote to satins, polyesters and all the other man-made fabrics that our dresses are made of.

I usually buy my simple black or grey cardigans from Marks and Spencer and aim for the plainest knits I can find. I think that when teamed with more colourful and interesting pieces, they create a nice contrast, counteracting any hint of shiny high street-ness. Replacing the plain plastic buttons with brass, leather or wooden ones can brighten things up and also helps to ensure that you’re not wearing exactly the same cardigan as your granny.

There are lots of big chunky knits and colourful Fair Isle cardis around this winter and you have a couple of choices with these. You can team them with plainer partners, but that may mean that you end up looking a little like a German exchange student who’s picked up their cardigan in a craft shop. Instead, embrace their propensity to clash, layering them over check shirts, floral dresses and stripy t-shirts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It’s winter time so that means delving into my heaving tights drawer and in amongst my many pairs of black and grey tights I spot the odd flash of colour. The bright pinks, turquoises and reds that I bought early last winter but was never quite sure about and stopped wearing completely when coloured tights appeared on the going down list in The Guardian with the caption “Too Kate Nash for words”.

However, recent photos on Facehunter and glimpses of coloured legs in the street have made me realise that I may have been too hasty. The girls in the Facehunter pictures were wearing tomato red tights and they did seem to lose their embarrassing garishness when teamed with muted beige or grey. Tartan, patterned and white tights are another conundrum because although they often look good in photo shoots, they veer dangerously close to novelty fancy dress items in the cold harsh light of day.

I think it ultimately depends on personal style and anyway at around €9 a pop you can’t go too far wrong so you may as well give coloured or patterned tights a try and dump them sans guilt if things don’t work out.

Image from Facehunter

Gossip Girls do tights

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Celeb Clothing Line

Bryan Ferry is the latest celebrity to express an interest in launching a clothing line, claiming that if Diddy can do it, then so can he. I’ve long been a fan of Ferry – his cameo appearance as Mr. Silky String in Breakfast on Pluto was perfectly creepy and I heart his floppy hair. There was a little hiccup when he got dropped by Marks and Spencer for making some inappropriately enthusiastic comments about the Nazi aesthetic. And he did get so drunk at a recent awards ceremony that he had to be escorted offstage. And his son is currently embroiled in a perverting the course of justice scandal. But I can forget about all that because Byan Ferry has style. And I fancy him. I don’t know why I fancy him – he seems quite arrogant and I’m not the biggest Roxy Music fan – but I really do. I think it’s the way Jerry Hall left him so publicly for Mick Jagger, thereby exposing a more vulnerable side to Ferry. I know that was back in the ‘70s and he’s probably over it by now but it’s still endearing.

Anyway, if and when Bryan Ferry does launch a clothing line, I’ll be the first in line. My dad and boyfriend had better get used to the white shirts, skinny ties and sports jackets that are sure to appear in a Bryan Ferry collection, because that’s what they’ll be getting for every Christmas and birthday to come.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just Peachy

I know we’re entering winter and that black is the new black or whatever but I’ve become obsessed with peach. Peach featured strongly in the Spring/Summer ’09 collections but I just can’t wait until then. Instead, I plan to team my floaty peach dresses and blouses with the dark greys and blacks that are peach’s best friends. Too much peach can be a little saccharine and summery so thick woollen tights and chunky cardigans are a great way to toughen things up, whilst keeping out the winter cold. The leather trousers and PVC leggings that are everywhere this season are also a great accompaniment to peach – a chiffon peach blouse over skinny black leather trousers with lots of gold jewellery and really high shoes is my perfect winter outfit.

Unfortunately there just isn’t that much peach in the shops right now so vintage is the way to go. Peach blouses, dresses and slips that can be worn as outerwear abound in vintage shops and there are lots of lovely finds on eBay. So get ahead of the Spring trend and get into peach.

Peach at Marc Jacobs

Peach at Lanvin

Peach at Chloe

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Reminder

Just in case I was in any doubt, Paris Fashion Week has reminded me of my love for the work of Olivier Theyskens. If I had to choose any designer in the world to create my ultimate dream dress, my answer would be Theyskens - and Theyskens during his reign at Rochas to be exact. For seven seasons at Rochas, he produced the most beautiful, romantic collections with a dark edge - the very essence of a gothic fairytale - using elements that I would definitely look for if I was spending thousands on a dress - Chantilly lace, Edwardian silhouettes, couture techniques - I could go on. I loved it all - every single collection. Since his move to Nina Ricci, my love affair has cooled somewhat - none of his collections have blown me away - too many slip dresses and wispy feathered details for my liking. I have been waiting for something really special and after his dance-inspired S/S 09 show in Paris, I think I'm still waiting - but there were definitely hints of the Theyskens trademarks of old that I so admired at Rochas - Edwardiana, dresses cut to reveal the structure underneath, muted colours - and the results were often beautiful. The love affair continues.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

High Street Update

The good people at Space NK have heard our prayers and are opening a branch in Harvey Nichols at Dundrum Town Centre in the coming weeks. And while I’m very happy to hear that Dublin is finally getting a Space NK, I’m a little disappointed that it’s in Dundrum. I guess it’s a convenient place to go shopping if you’re after something specific and just want to nip in and out quickly or if you have a hangover which necessitates that you are never more than 100 metres from a fast foot outlet and the toilets. And it is quite fancy what with the little Harvey Nichols and the fountain and the theatre. But it’s still a shopping centre and I don’t like shopping centres. They’re filled with teenagers and prams and harassed dads. And you can’t trick yourself into thinking that you’re popping into town to grab some lunch or meet a friend and then just happen to stumble across that pair of shoes in Topshop. Shopping centres tend to rob shopping of any spontaneity and Dundrum especially gives the impression that they’re trying to brainwash their customers (I think it’s the way they play that piece of Manu Chao music over and over again). But I guess I’ll just have to get over my shopping centre prejudices and jump aboard that Luas because I am not missing out on all the lovely beauty stuff that Space NK has to offer.

Cult brand By Terry available at
Space NK

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The High Street

So American Apparel is apparently coming to Dublin. The store is set to open on Grafton Street some time before Christmas, which is a huge relief to those that have been buying their lamé leggings online or stocking up whenever they go abroad. Shopping for basics like well cut t-shirts and nice vests can be difficult in Dublin, so American Apparel is a very welcome addition to our retail landscape.

And while we are against globalisation and the homogenisation of our high streets there are a few more shops that our fair city could do with.

Krispy Kreme Donuts – Yes, it means that due to weight gain we would look a bit obscene in our lamé leggings but they are just so deliciously sweet and soft and moist and amazing.

Space NK – Belfast has one so why don’t we? Ok, we couldn’t afford to shop there on a regular basis but it would still be nice to know that there is somewhere to buy Dr. Hauschka rose day cream and Kiehls blue astringent and lots of other lovely stuff for those days when Boots own brand just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Whole Foods – Yes, we are obsessed with food but at least Whole Foods is kind of healthy. Whole Foods is way posher than Marks and Spencer could ever hope to be with little rooms dedicated to cheese and the best salad bars ever. It’s an American chain but there’s one in London now. When will it be our turn?

Monday, September 15, 2008

London Fashion Week

So London Fashion Week kicked off yesterday with shows from Charles Anastase, Peter Jensen and Topshop Unique among others. There were nods to the ‘80s from all three so we’re in for pastels and stone-washed denim apparently, which sounds horrible, but really looks rather nice. It just means that we’re going to have to lose some weight – pale denim is totally unforgiving.
Charles Anastase sent models down the catwalk with long wavy hair, big glasses and incredibly high shoes that perfectly juxtaposed the floaty pretty dresses and delicate cardigans. (Note to self – cancel all hairdressers’ appointments so as to grow long girlish locks and make a date with the optician.)
Peter Jensen and Topshop Unique offered some alternatives to the patterned headscarf that has threatened to become the accessory du jour but seems to be going down the route of the turban. Jensen’s models sported black chiffon headscarves which added mystery and intrigue to otherwise simple ensembles while over at Topshop Unique there were lots of jaunty bows set atop scraped-back ponytails.

Charles Anastase

Peter Jensen

Topshop Unique

Saturday, September 13, 2008

People whose lives we covet

Ok so I know that our mothers would warn us not to wish for anybody else’s life because we don’t know what is truly going on for these people, blah, blah, which actually is a very valid point Mum, but we can’t help but be totally jealous of some people’s seemingly perfect lives.

So this is an obvious one. She has really long legs, perfect skin, great style, a famous boyfriend and a successful presenting career. Ugh.

Sally Singer
Singer is a fashion editor at American Vogue who still manages to look kind of messy and bohemian. Totally smart (she is a Yale graduate) and yet absolutely devoted to fashion, she embodies the kind of glamorous New Yorker we aspire to be. And her husband’s book is really good. And her children are pretty cute.

Bay Garnett
There are loads of reasons to be jealous of Bay Garnett. She has made a living out of doing what she loves - thrifting. She is at the centre of fashion but still eschews the consumerist mainstream. She sometimes collaborates with her talented photographer husband Tom Craig and their baby tags along too. Her mum seems really nice.

Phoebe Philo
Another person that makes us jalouse is Phoebe Philo. Along with Stella McCartney, she turned Chloe’s fortunes around and we’re sure that Celine is in for the same ride. But she’s not just some crazy career woman. She resigned her post at Chloe so that she could concentrate on being there for her small children. Yeah, we’re obsessed with stylish people who have babies.

Valentine Fillol-Cordier
We know that it’s really stupid to envy models because you can never compete. They’re obviously going to be way prettier and thinner than you. That’s their job. But Valentine is more than just a model. She has amazing style and is something of a muse for designers such as Charles Anastase. How does one become a muse? We want to go to muse school.