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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Private White V.C. Manchester Launch


I don't think I've mentioned my job much on my blog. I started my new job back in June as Ecommerce Manager for a Manchester-based brand called Private White V.C.

It's a really cool brand with a fantastic story behind it. All of the clothing is made at the factory just on the outskirts of the city centre. The factory is an amazing four-floor nineteenth century building, which I get to work in!

The name Private White V.C. comes from the history of the factory. It was once owned by a Victoria Cross awarded World War One veteran. After returning from the war, Private Jack White began an apprenticeship as a trainee pattern cutter at his local factory. Over time, he rose through the ranks and eventually came to be the owner. After he passed away in 1949, the factory changed hands and has had a handful of different owners since. A few years ago, the opportunity came up for Jack White's own family to once again get involved in the factory and it is now owned and run by his great grandchildren- little could he have known! Learn more about the Private White story, here.

It's such a lovely and genuine story. A lot of 'heritage' brands claim to have a grand history but when you look past the marketing, there's not a lot of authenticity to it. Similarly, many of these brands are guilty of proclaiming their English roots but now manufacture abroad; not Private White V.C.

We recently opened a beautiful on-site store at the factory (which officially had the red ribbon cut by none other than Princess Anne- yes, I met her!) and decided to hold a party to celebrate.

Our office pooch and brand mascot, Brutus the Bulldog chilling out before the event (unlike I was)

Me wearing:
Jacket- Private White V.C.
Silk shirt- Banana Republic*

I was largely involved in the organising of the event so I'm really pleased that it was such a success. We had a great turn out, including some lovely bloggers, and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening.

We decided to hold the event partially in the shop and also on the first floor of the factory which worked out really well. In the store we served cocktails and canap├ęs by Artisan and had a brilliant acoustic singer, Josh Goddard.

Upstairs on the factory sewing floor, local DJ Pasta Paul played vintage vinyl whilst some of our skilled machinists stayed behind after hours so that our guests could see garments being made before their eyes. There were also handmade pocket squares and scarves for guests which we were personally monogramming with people's initials.

We even had a vintage bus on hand to take our guests back into town. We also managed to get a few celebrities down including Bipolar Sunshine and Darren Jeffries, probably best known for playing O.B. in Hollyoaks a few years ago (I was a bit too excited about that!!!).

The brand has just launched a small range of womenswear which we'll be expanding on next season. The prices are in line with designer brands but the clothing really will last a lifetime and well worth a look if you're serious about buying British.

If you are local to Manchester, you should definitely come and visit the factory and store. It's amazing to see something like this still in operation in the UK.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Rare London: AW14 Event

Another late post- forget that extra hour we get for daylight saving, I think I need at least an extra three everyday! So busy it's unreal.

Anyway don't feel too sorry for me because I'm about to tell you about a great event I went to a few weeks ago; the Rare London AW14 Collection Launch Blogger Event.

If you're not up to speed on Rare London (srsly?), they sell quite possibly the best reasonably-priced stand-out party dresses around. Their pieces tend to be bold, fitted and beautifully embellished.

Thankfully, the AW14 collection didn't disappoint; the party season is not a time to shy away from sequins and sparkle!

Rare showcased the collection alongside a really fun chocolate-making workshop! I'm not all that sure that chocolate and beautiful clothes really fit together but it seemed to work so well and we all had so much fun. You'd be surprised how creating curly shit-shaped piles of truffle from a piping bag breaks the ice!

I was pleased to have lovely ladies Jess from Forever Miss Vanity and Georgie from She Dreams on my chocolate making 'team'. The three of us got to the event a little late and found it hilarious just how terrible we were at making the different chocolates.

As they say though- it's not how it looks, it's how it tastes. We were able to take home the chocolates we made and they were indeed delicious if I do say so myself!

Throughout the chocolate workshop, it was hard not to get distracted by the beaut clothes on display behind us. In particular, I had my eye on a stunning monochrome shaggy faux fur coat that I couldn't stop looking at!

After a thorough hand-washing, we all had a proper look at the pieces on the rails and they really were jaw-dropping.

This black cut-out grid shirt dress was one of my favourite pieces 

Rare also showcased a new range of perfect party accessories and jewellery

I particularly liked the dresses and jumpsuits from Rare's 'Opulence' range- a premium collection of hand-embellished, luxurious styles made from high quality fabrics and trims. This range is a little pricier than the regular collections but perfect for that special piece for a festive occasion. I fell in love with a multi-coloured jewel number that I just thought was incredible- whether or not I could ever pull it off is another question!

Choker- eBay + DIY
90s style button-through dress- Pop Boutique
Fluffy clutch bag- Topshop

Has anything caught your eye from the collection?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Banana Republic AW14 and a Birthday Night Out


This post, like many others it seems at the moment, has been horrendously delayed. A few weeks ago, I was invited down to Banana Republic's store at Manchester's Trafford Centre for an introduction to the brand and their Autumn/Winter (or Fall/Winter as they might say across the pond) 2014 collections.

The Trafford Centre store is actually only one of two in the UK which are based outside of London. Even though the store's position in the Trafford Centre is really prominent, on the upper floor more or less opposite Selfridges, I'd often walked past but never been in.
Banana Republic FW14 photo PicsArt_1414870664670_zps2f6b002b.jpg

Above: some of my favourite looks from the Banana Republic FW14 lookbook

The brand was founded  in 1978 and was bought out by Gap a few years later. Perhaps a little guilty of standing in Gap's shadow, Banana Republic has been continually growing and expanding its reach across not only America, but Europe too.

Recent developments have seen the brand gaining attention and kudos in its own right such as the recent appointment of former J.Crew designer, Marissa Webb as Creative Director back in April.

The Autumn/Winter collection is the first to have seen her influence. The result is an edgier, more fashion-led look for the brand and I'm excited to see what the future holds for SS15 which will have much more of her design input.

Back to the present, I was really surprised by what I found in-store. The clothes are exactly the sort of thing I'd wear for work; minimal, clean silhouettes in neutral shades and a range of textures like silk and faux leather.

There's lots of clever, flattering design details across the collections and the introduction of the new petites range was particularly good to see. I'm not necessarily petite myself but it was great to be talked through the garments which have been carefully chosen for inclusion in the line. My mum is petite and I know that choice can be limited if you don't want to tolerate clothes which are too long in the arm and leg.

I was invited to choose a few pieces from the store and as well as falling in love with the 100% Silk Popover Blouse so much that I bought it in two colours, I chose a beautiful black midi skirt.

I was waited for the right occasion to wear it, with its first outing being for my 25th birthday meal.

It's made from a really lovely thick fabric and is perfect for Autumn. I also love the pockets at the sides.

Vivienne Westwood orb necklace- birthday present
Black sequin mesh tee- Ragged Priest (online sample sale)
Black midi skirt- Banana Republic*
Fluffy roll top clutch bag- Topshop
Patent cleated sole chunky heels- ASOS

I teamed my skirt with this cool sequin and mesh tee from Ragged Priest. They had an online sample sale recently and I got a massive haul. A disadvantage of living up north is missing out on all the great brand sample sales in London so I was so happy to see them doing one online. I'm also wearing my new Vivienne Westwood gold orb necklace which I LOVE- a birthday present from the boy, he did good!

Have you taken a second look at any established brands recently?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

AX Paris Autumn/Winter'14 Press Day


I was recently invited to attend the AX Paris Autumn/Winter'14 press day. It was nice to see the brand host the event in their hometown of Manchester- there's so much going on here at the moment, I can't keep up!

The press day was held at Black Dog Ballroom on New Wakefield Street where I've attended a few blogger events before, though AX Paris really made the private terrace space unique. We were greeted by cocktails, cupcakes and rails and rails of stunning partywear.

Black tattoo choker- eBay
Gold moodstone chain choker- ASOS
Vintage gold chain- charity shop
Tartan duster jacket- Rare London*
Black T shirt- The Ragged Priest
Black high waist jeans- Primark
Reebok Classic trainers- Bank fashion

Above is what I wore to the event. I wore my new Reeboks as I was going into town to meet friends afterwards and these are so comfy, though kept things a bit smarter with a longline jacket. I'm loving duster jackets at the moment, they're so easy to throw on, and this checked one from Rare London is perfect for Autumn. 

Everyone loves a good photobooth and me, Irena, Martyna and Lily got stuck right in! Always great to see these girls. I was also really pleased to finally meet Gail from The Equinox Fashion who's recently moved over to Manchester from Thailand. There was a bit of a fangirl moment too chatting to Amy Valentine, who's blog I've read for ages.

After catching up with some lovely bloggers- we checked out the clothes! The AX Paris AW14 collection is full of sequins, embellishment and sparkle; perfect for those Christmas parties!

My favourites were the faux fur pieces above- a beautiful cream shaggy faux fur coat (seriously want) and a black gilet.

After a while, the team at Black Dog Ballroom started bringing out an amazing buffet with sweet potato fries, pizzas and mini burgers- my kind of food!

There was also a henna tattoo artist which unfortunately I didn't get chance to indulge in, though from the seeing the other girls who'd had it done, it looked awesome.

Keep your eye on AX Paris' New In section for these beaut new season pieces!

Have you spotted anything to add to your wishlist?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend: Hancocks Jewellers


A few weeks ago I was invited along to Hancocks jewellers in Manchester along with a handful of other bloggers as part of their 'Finest Diamonds' event.

Not knowing what to expect, I happened upon Hancocks on King Street, not having noticed it before. I was lead through the shop into the back room where an intimate group of us were treated to champagne and an introduction to the company's collection of diamond jewellery.

It was really interesting to hear the history behind the brand, who've had origins in Manchester since 1860. Still family-owned, Hancocks are internationally-recognised as a leading authority in fine diamonds and gemstones; all on our doorstep!

We were, of course, also invited to try some of the pieces. I fell in love with the beautiful art deco diamond and emerald bracelet above and couldn't resist putting the HUGE yellow diamond ring (well over £100k FYI...) on my engagement finger- had to also send the picture round my friends' Whatsapp group for a larf, totally had them fooled.

It's hard to do the jewellery justice in the photos, being difficult to truly pick up just how sparkly the diamonds are.

I had an absolutely lovely afternoon at Hancocks and was well looked after. We were even sent home with a lovely gift bag and a yummy cupcake!

Are you a fan of diamond jewellery?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Last Day's of Summer: Coral Tones


Summer is swiftly leaving us behind (where did it go this year?) as Autumn approaches. I'm actually not sad about that. Autumn is my time.

Autumn/Winter is undoubtedly my favourite season in the fashion calendar. I have friends who are all about the bronzed legs, cut-off shorts and strappy tops of the summer but seriously, give me fluffy knits, rich velvet and chunky boots over that every time.

That said, I am partial to a bit if sunshine, even though my complexion might suggest otherwise.

A few weekends ago, the sun seemingly came out of no where so me and the boy made the most of the nice weather by going out for a Sunday lunch at a pub down the road.

Whenever the weather's not grim (and it usually is in Manchester) and I have a bit of spare time, I always try and get an outfit post shot outside.

Black felt fedora hat- Primark
Sheer floral kimono- DivaDames*
Wu-tang Clan halter crop top- Forever 21
Riding Pants- American Apparel
Religion coral spike clutch bag- Psyche*
Cleated sole patent heels- ASOS

Kimonos have been my saviour for the past few months; they're so easy to just throw on over a summery top to keep the chill out when the sun goes behind the clouds. This one's from a new site I discovered called DivaDames who do lots of trend-led clothing at really good prices.

I found myself wearing lots of coral in this outfit. From the coral tones in the print of my kimono to the gorgeous colour of this Religion box clutch from Psyche. It's the perfect size for a night out for a bit of makeup, some money and your phone. Psyche stock lots of accessories including Michael Kors bags and watches, Olia jewellery and Ted Baker purses. I was pleased to see Religion in the lineup which has been one of my favourite brand's since I was about 13.

This clutch isn't really a colour I would usually choose but I'm glad I did as it adds a nice pop of colour to my typically all-black outfits. It also perfectly matches my new Loreal Colour Riche Intense lipstick that I picked up on a three-for-two offer a few weeks ago. It says that it's for blondes but who I am to be told what does and doesn't suit me!

Are you enjoying these infrequent bursts of nice weather?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Best of British


This post starts out a little differently. I've decided to include more lifestyle-type posts on my blog because I often get the chance to go to some great events with more of a food, drink and various other random things focus and it would be a shame to miss out on sharing those. I also seem to have less time on my hands nowadays (take me back to being a student when all I had to worry about was whether I could get up in time to watch the Jeremy Kyle repeat at 1:30pm) which means I don't get as many opportunities to do dedicated outfit posts.

Waitrose British Dish Challenge

I was recently thrilled to take up a challenge from Waitrose to recreate a classic British dish. I was more than happy to accept as I love cooking, though this presented a bit of a problem; British cuisine! I actually don't tend to eat many traditional British dishes, I tend to be into more exotic flavours found in Indian, Moroccan and Mediterranean cooking.

I thought about the typically British stuff and the ways I might be able to put my own spin on things. I came to the conclusion that actually, the British dishes I like the most are dead simple; steak pie, a Sunday roast and fish and chips.

It was the latter that I decided to go with. A fish and chip shop conjures up memories of visiting seaside towns when I was younger, or scraping together change with friends to buy a cone of chips to share smothered in salt and vinegar when we were teenagers.

As much as I wanted to reinvent traditional fish and chips, I figured that it's one not to be messed with. Instead I altered the concept slightly and made fish goujons rather than a large fillet so I could have a posh version of one of my favourite variations- a fish finger butty!

Beer Battered Cod Goujons with Crusty Bread and Hand-cut Chips
Ingredients from Waitrose:

Maris Piper Potatoes
Cod Fillets
Crusty Sandwich Loaf
Plain Flour
Sparkling Water

Maris Piper potatoes make the best chips. I washed and peeled a handful and cut them into thick, chunky chips. I then parboiled them, then coated them in olive oil and seasoned. I baked my chips so that they were a bit healthier.

I must say that the quality of the cod I got was amazing. I cut the fillets into thick strips, coated in plain flour and then dipped into my homemade batter before frying. I followed this recipe for the batter.

This crusty bread was divine with loads of thickly spread butter.

To add to the English theme, I decided to try some of Waitrose's own brand gin, paired with Fever Tree ginger beer and a generous wedge of lemon. Amazing.

An awesome meal. The man agreed too.

Checked shirt- vintage

Stylefruits Brilliantly British Fashion Blogger Card Game

This post seemed like a good opportunity to share another recent British-themed venture. I was asked by Stylefruits to take part in their annual fashion blogger card deck. This year's pack is titled 'Brilliantly British' and features a set of British-themed statistics for 32 fashion bloggers.

They're so cool and a great way to discover new bloggers. You can nominate bloggers for next year's pack, here.

I'm going to give a pack away to a lucky reader who comments on this post so don't forget to leave me a comment to let me know that you'd like to win the pack!