Sunday, 29 April 2012

Being a social media intern

pic from
So, I am a social media intern. I love saying that as it sounds really cool, don't you think? But not only am I a social media intern, I am a social media intern who works in the very interesting area of social TV analytics (and doesn't that sound snazzy!?) AND not only that, but I am also a paid social media intern, because unpaid internships are just unfair on so many levels. Have I said social media intern too many times?

Anyhoo, in the aforementioned role, I get to do lots of interesting stuff such as analysing what people are saying on Twitter about TV shows. The very clever guys at the company I work for, SecondSync, do lots of techy things that I can't understand and create fascinating graphs and stats that reflect how people are reacting online to what they're watching on their tellyboxes. It's all about the second screen these days isn't it? How many of you sit on your sofa in front of the TV whilst also tapping away on an iPad or smartphone? Yeah... I thought so.

I also get to write little blogs for them when I find out interesting things, the first of which has just gone up here: it's about when Twitter hashtags that originally referred to a TV show end up going viral worldwide - a more common occurrence than you might think. Have a lookie and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Hair dying: from blonde to brunette

Leighton Meester certainly pulls of both - which do you prefer? (pic from 
Throughout my teenage years I've had long golden hair - I first got highlights on top of my light brown locks when I was 13, and it has gradually gone lighter and lighter to the point that I was full on blonde (with, yes alright, the tell-tale darker roots - unlike Jennifer Aniston, I can't afford touch-ups every two weeks!) However,  last week I took the plunge and decided to dye it darker, which is a big deal for me. I'd decided it was time for a change, but am just too chicken to go for a chop (my hair is very long!)

I was hoping to go a sort of Millie Mackintosh (from Made In Chelsea, if you didn't know) light brown colour, but it has in fact come out more the colour of Emily Blunt in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (which, by the way, is a magnificent film.) I suppose this is the risk you take when you go for a junior stylist (she was a reduced price, you see). But all the same, I am loving my new hair! I feel it makes my eyes look bluer, and have received lots of compliments. Some have gone so far as to say it suits me better than my previous hair colour. The slight problem is that each time I wash it, my hair gets lighter, so I could potentially be back where I started in no time. I suppose only time will tell.

So for now I'm going to find out whether it's true that blondes do have more fun. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

RECIPE: plum, almond and marzipan cake

Afternoon tea!

I initially made this cake for the madre to take to a luncheon at her tennis club as there was a charity event going on and she'd agreed to take a pudding (and I obvs jumped at the chance to bake something... quelle surprise). But we both ended up loving it so much that we kept rather a lot for ourselves. Whoops! Needless to say I'll be making it again. There's something about a cake that's both fruity and nutty that my fellow cake connoisseur mother and I adore. Deliciously moist, this baby makes for a scrumptious afternoon tea treat, but would also be divine warmed up with a hefty scoop of ice cream for a dinner party (or anyday!) pudding. The recipe is one I found on, then tweaked a bit here and there. Don't forget to take your butter and eggs out of the fridge well in advance, and as ever, let me know how you get on!


200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
100g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
130g ground almonds
50g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
120g golden marzipan, chopped
500g (about 7) ripe plums, stoned and cut into quarters
20g flaked almonds
60g icing sugar 


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Lightly grease a 23cm square tin that’s 5cm deep and line the base with baking paper.
2. In a big bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand-held electric whisk until pale, light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, whisking between each addition (add a little flour if the mix starts to curdle). Sift over the flour and baking powder, add the ground almonds and fold in gently with a big spoon.

What my mixture looked like.

3. Fold in the hazelnuts and marzipan. What size pieces you chop the marzipan and hazelnuts is up to you... I kept them relatively big as I adore marzipan (naturally I ate a fair amount while baking) and the crunch of the hazelnuts makes a really nice contrast with the squishy plums and moist cake texture. Here's mine:

Chopped plums. This caption is somewhat unnecessary.


3. Pour the mix into the tin and scatter the plum quarters over, pushing them down a little into the mixture. Scatter with the flaked almonds. Bake for about 50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
4. Cool a little in the tin for about 15 minutes or so (I recommend going round the sides of the cake with a spatula to make it easier to remove from the tin) and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely, having taken off the greaseproof paper.
5. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add about a tablespoon of water and stir to a single-cream consistency. You might need to add a bit more so that it's runny enough to drizzle (and if you add too much water just add a bit more icing sugar... although if you keep doing this you'll just have LOADS of icing, but as far as I'm concerned that's no bad thing!) Use a teaspoon or piping bag to drizzle the icing over the cake, and wait for it to set for a few hours, then cut into squares and you're good to go!


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Skinny love: My addiction to bright skinny trousers.

Love! Skinny jeans: £14.99 from
Mum has always told me that my legs are my best asset, and for a long time I didn't believe her, as I swanned around in baggy boyfriend jeans, taken in by passing trends as I was. A word of advice, dear readers: listen to your mothers. She was right. And I realised skinny trousers are my best friends. But I don't just love them because they highlight the slim legs I'm fortunate to have (and I got them from my Papa, much to Mama's dismay!)... skinny trousers are fun! Well, my many many pairs are anyway, as most of them are bold colours or crazy prints.

Needless to say, I am enjoying the current trends. The high street is awash with bright skinny jeans and I am loving it! My dark purple velvetty high waisters (which have prompted the nickname Willy Wonker on numerous occasions) and rich Christmassy red cords have been cast to the back of my wardrobe, ready to be replaced by floral prints and delightfully sweet pastel shades. There's something about a funky trouser that just lifts my mood. I suppose they also distract from my less-than-underwear-model-like top half.

My latest purchase was rather bargainous at just £14.99 and I am getting a lot of joy out of these H&M babies (especially as they're stretchy so fit like a glove):

Before that I also purchased this fun floral pair from Primark (I can't even remember how little they cost but I think it was a mere £9. Student win right there.):

Another relatively recent addition to my ridiculous collection was these beauties from River Island - they were a treat from the generous mother so I can't tell you the price, but I CAN tell you that I spotted them in the sale a week or so ago so act fast, bargain hunters! Oh, and they're also available in pink and white, which, let's face it, is awesome.

Does anyone else have strange clothing obsessions? There was a day when I thought this was a passing phase and I was going to become a skirt kinda gal. But no. I'm all about the skinny trouser. And proud.

Friday, 13 April 2012

RECIPE: White Chocolate and Raspberry Victoria Sponge Cake

This deliciously indulgent cake is a twist on a classic vanilla and strawberry Victoria sponge, but one could say that white chocolate and raspberry is a somewhat classic combo in itself. Either way, it's delicious! I like this because the colours look like a normal Victoria sponge, so it's a bit of a trick. Mwah ha ha! This cake is so easy and quick to make, and of course, decorating however you wish is tons of fun.  As I made this cake for my friend, Chris's birthday (hence the final design) I had to suppress my desire to make it all girlie and pretty, and I have realised that boyish cakes are difficult to make! Anyone can do this, and the feeling you get when giving someone a home-made cake is actually even better than the joy you get from eating it *gasp*. No, really. So go forth and bake!

The basic cake recipe I've used is from trusty ole, but I sort of invented the filling myself. I personally like rather a lot of icing (damn you, sweet tooth), but if you're less keen, by all means use less. The more traditional finish would be to sprinkle icing sugar on top. If you're a super duper icing fan (or just make too much) you could put icing all round the sides too. Make sure you take your butter and eggs out of the fridge well in advance so they're at room temperature. Trust me, you don't want to try and whisk rock hard butter. It's a nightmare. Please do leave any comments or suggestions as I'd love to know how you get on or any other ideas you may have. Enjoy!


For the cake:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g softened butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
For the icing:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar,
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam (or however jammy you like!)

  1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Grease two round 20cm sandwich tins and line with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
  2. Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface as best you can with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  3. To make the filling: melt the chocolate either in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water), and leave it aside to cool slightly. While this is happening, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar. Then pour in the melted chocolate and, you guessed it, beat it in some more! I recommend doing this for a good five minutes - the longer you beat your icing, the fluffier it will be. Spread around two thirds of the butter cream over the top of one of the sponges, spread the jam over the bottom of the other and sandwich the two together. Spread the rest of the buttercream and decorate however you wish (I used Dr Oetker writing icing pens, red M&Ms and white chocolate chips). Keep in an airtight container and eat within 2 days... as IF it'll last that long though!

My halves pre-sandwiching together.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

TOWIE's back! Here's how to get the reem look.

No-one can deny that the TOWIE girls are, like, the undisputed queens of the “more is more” look. However, it isn’t as easy as you might think to fit in with the totes exclusive Essex crowd… but never fear! With TOWIE back on our screens this Sunday (10pm, ITV2) for the start of series five, I’ve got the definitive guide to looking reem: all your mates will be well jel and you’ll be able to pass for a regular down Sugar Hut before you know it. (If confused... see my Essex Dictionary and Glossary below)

  •       Fake tan – to really master the Essex look, you’ll need to cover yourself from head to toe in the slimy, biscuity-smelling stuff, and when you think you’re sufficiently orange, that’s exactly the cue to put on some more. “Burnt terracotta” is the desired shade – the aim is to cause as many reactions along the lines of “Sha’aaaap!” as possible. (Estimated time: Two hours, plus time to sink in)
  •       Fake eyelashes – falsies are, like, totes a must. After all, you wouldn't want to look like a natural human being now, would you, babes? And just the one pair won’t cut it – think like Katie Price and layer those babies up until they’re weighing down your eye lids so much that you can barely keep your peepers open. Sexy, yeah? (30 mins)
  •       Fake nails (are you sensing a trend along the lines of fake?) – any Essex girl worth her leopard print knows that acrylic nails are the way to go, preferably so long that you can’t actually do anything with your hands. The ability to do up buttons? No thanks, I’d totes rather leave them undone but be able to, like, scratch my head easily. (One hour)
  •        Make-up – cake it on with a shovel (if you accidentally scratched your cheek, you should be able to scrape off a good inch under those nails). And obvs all that fake tan isn’t going to be enough, so it’s time to pile on the bronzer, preferably with really obvious flecks of glitter in. Then add some more glitter for good measure. If you can’t afford lip fillers, a plumping gloss is, like, a necessity to master the permanent pout. Reem. (One and a half hours)
  •        Hair– the bigger the better, yeah babes? Hair is, like, a major priority for any Essex girl, so it’s worthwhile investing in rollers, extensions and hair dye (oh my gawwwd you totes wouldn’t just stick with what you have naturally!) (Three to six hours)
  •        Clothes – throw away everything you own, and replace it all with items two sizes too small. Obvs you gotta show off the result of your “no carbs before Marbs” hard work! Anything Swarovski encrusted, animal print or neon is a yes, or just, like, hit up Minnie’s Boutique to be safe. Miniskirts and stupidly high heels are totes obligatory (who would want to walk when you could awkwardly totter around in pain?), along with push-up bras forcing your boobs into your face. So hot, yeah? (However long you’ve got…)
  •        And finally, the vajazzle – what is there to say? Why wouldn’t you want a blinged-up nether region? And girls, you’re not the only ones who get to enjoy this accessory – seriously, on my life, the pejazzle is upon us. (However long you can hack it)

Well there you have it. Now that you’ve got the look, all you need to do is perfect your attitude and you’re sorted. The simple way to do that: start every sentence with “Oh my gawwwd, yeah”, and you’re good to go! Excessive? Sha’ap, babes! Sugar Hut had totes better watch out…

Essex Dictionary:
Sha’ap = oh my goodness (expression of disbelief)
Reem = attractive (a term of endearment)
Oh my gawwd = golly gosh
Well jel = feeling envious resentment
Totes = absolutely, completely (an intensifier, derived from “totally”)
Obvs = lacking in subtlety (derived from “obviously”)

Essex Glossary:
Sugar Hut – The favourite nightclub, bar and restaurant of the TOWIE gang.
Minnie’s Boutique – The fashion store run by TOWIE stars and sisters, Billie and Sam Faiers, regularly frequented by the Essex girls.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

New blog name: Bye StellarStudentStyle, Hello HandbagsandCupcakes!

Nom! (pic from
I have decided to change the name of my blog, so just thought I'd let you all know. The main reason for this is that, well, I'm not going to be a student forever (if I can actually get a job after graduating in a few years, that is), so I thought I needed a name that would stand the test of time. I can tell you now, the day where I do not love handbags and/or cupcakes will never come. And who doesn't love bags and cakes? Well, if that's you, you probs won't be majorly interested in what I'm blogging about, as bags and cakes are a major part of my life. Soz. Do invite your bag/cake-loving friends to shimmy on over and have a read though. I'm not saying I'm only going to talking about bags and cakes, by the way. I'll be blogging about exactly the same fashiony, studenty, happy stuff as usual. I've never changed  a blog name before though, so let me know if you think this is the kiss of death or it's just a stupid name... It's always lovely to know what readers are thinking.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Designer profile: Chanel

Coco Chanel (pic from

Chanel is undoubtedly the most typically French of France’s fashion houses. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel opened her first store in 1909 with a desire to create a brand based on effortless elegance, and few people would argue that she didn’t achieve this. No longer did women have to wear tight, restrictive corsets, but simple man-like suits and clean, long dresses instead.
The 2.55 bag (pic from
When most people think of Chanel today, they think of the iconic 2.55 bag – for anyone who doesn’t know the name (coined after the date it was created, February 1955), you’d definitely recognise the bag: quilted leather with chain straps and the interlocking CC clasp, which has spawned innumerable copies on the high street. Chanel grew up in an orphanage, and the chain on the 2.55 bag was inspired by the chain that her carers there used to carry their keys on. Having shoulder straps was revolutionary, as previously bags were only made to be carried by hand. The burgundy lining was also inspired by Chanel's childhood, as this was the colour of the uniforms she had to wear at the orphanage. Then there's the classic quilted leather. This idea came from the quilted coats that jockeys and stable boys used to wear, and was something that had rarely been seen anywhere else (but seems ubiquitous now in Barbour jackets and their copycats). There is also a secret little zip pocket inside the main flap that was apparently made to store Chanel's illicit love letters, and the outer pocket was for keeping money. Chanel clearly wanted her fashion to be practical and useful in a woman’s everyday life as well as stylish. The well-known interlocking CC clasp was only introduced in 1983, when Karl Lagerfeld became the driving force behind Chanel. Previously the clasp had been simpler, and is now known as the "Mademoiselle" clasp. The interlocking CC is now so celèbre around the world and in all walks of life that for most women it's très difficult to resist.

Monroe for Chanel (pic from
Chanel nowadays is a fashion fave of the A-list around the world, and is known for its high profile spokesmodels, from Marilyn Monroe (Chanel No. 5 perfume in the 1950s) to Blake Lively (the current face of the Mademoiselle handbags). However, Chanel makes sure to remain a proudly French brand, with its flagship store on the Rue Cambon in Paris. Having been lucky enough to spend a few hours there getting lost in the world of Chanel, I can safely say that it is the most beautiful shop I have ever been in. Chanel remains an exclusive luxury brand throughout the world (how often do you actually see a Chanel shop?), aided by the fact that the rights to Chanel cosmetics and fragrances are held by Chanel only. There are 310 Chanel boutiques around the world, mainly in up-market department stores.

Lively for Chanel (pic from
The Chanel ready-to-wear collection for Spring Summer 2012 was unveiled last autumn in the Grand Palais in Paris, excitedly drawing in everyone in the fashion world to discover Karl Lagerfeld’s newest creations, from American Vogue Editor-In-Chief, Anna Wintour, to Birdsong actress, Clémence Poésy. Never one to hold back on a spectacle, Lagerfeld’s show was a production like few others. The theme was “under the sea”, with curtains covered in seahorses and iridescent seaweed draping the Palais and setting the scene. As Florence Welch sang live from a giant shell, the show began, and models walked the runway dripping in pearls, shimmering in sequins and holding silvery shell-like clutches. No detail was overlooked, with little pearls dotted in the models’ wet-look slicked-back hair.
The Chanel S/S12 show (pic from
You could argue that this show demonstrates just why Chanel is such a timeless brand, continually coming up with new ideas and creations to keep us interested. Lagerfeld (despite being nearly 80 years old!) knows what women want, and has made sure not to isolate younger women, with his more youthful Coco Mademoiselle collection. It would seem that Chanel has stood the test of time, and fortunately, is here to stay.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ssshhh! The Best-Kept Budget Beauty Secrets

K-Middy = hair envy. (pic from

  1. .      Super shiny hair. The trick all beauty-industry insiders swear by for fabulously glossy locks is remarkably simple: after rinsing out your shampoo, turn the shower cold for a quick blast (or as long as you can bear it!) The cold water seals the follicles and smoothes the hair, resulting in instantly sleeker locks. In fancy spas it’s known as hydrotherapy, but is so easy to do at home. Kate Middleton, eat your heart out.
  2. .      Instant blusher. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather or are caught out without your trusty make-up bag, the simplest thing you can do for an immediate healthy glow is to give your cheeks a gentle pinch. The blood will rush there, creating that “just-been-walking-in-the-countryside” flush.
  3. .      Long lasting mascara. Increase the life-expectancy of your mascara by avoiding pumping the brush in the tube, as this dries it out. Instead, swirl the brush – this is much more effective at coating it too. 
  4. .      Quick skin fix. This trick is hard to beat for cleaning your skin: heat some water in a pan, and when it’s boiling, carefully bend your face over the steam. Stay there for a few moments, and then quickly splash your face with cold water. The steam opens up your pores and the cold water flushes out any dirt and seals them again. Do this regularly and your skin will be as soft as a baby’s bottom in no time!
  5. .      Fast-drying nail varnish. Let’s face it, how often do you smudge your newly painted nails when you were so certain they were dry? Apparently for nail varnish to be fully set, it takes 24 hours. But who has time to sit still for that long? A handy trick is to give your nails a blast under the cold water tap when they seem dry, which helps to seal them. 
  6. .      Soft hands. Wrinkly, dry skin on your hands can be very ageing, so it’s essential to keep those babies moisturised! Make your hand cream work harder by doing the washing up (with rubber gloves on!) straight after moisturising. The heat intensifies the impact of the cream. Simples! 
  7. .      DIY unique lipstick. If you’re bored of your current lipstick shades, this is a great student-friendly way of acquiring a new one: simply melt together the remaining stubs of your old lipsticks in a little pot using the microwave, and voilà: Your own one-of-a-kind lipstick, which can be rubbed on like a lip balm. If you don’t trust yourself to make you own lipstick, who better to instil your faith in than Kate Moss herself? The supermodel has developed a range of lipsticks for British high street fave, Rimmel, specially designed to reflect light for an irresistible pout. £5.49 at Superdrug.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Impact of Swinging Sixties Style

pic from

The 1960s was a time of liberation and transition, and nowhere is this reflected better than in fashion. Stiff corsets, strict suits and seamed tights were things of the past, as women embraced their newfound freedom and society’s new permissive attitude. As far as fashion was concerned, anything went!

In Britain of the early 60s, a new Mod culture emerged. Fashion had previously been aimed solely at the wealthy and mature, but times were changing, with a shift towards targeting younger generations. Carnaby Street and the Kings Road in London became hotspots for new, trendy boutiques catering to the Mod look. For the Mods, fashion and music went hand in hand, and they pioneered the new 60s fashion scene. For example, trousers were now deemed acceptable for women, and lounge-wear became much more desirable. Boots – from knee-high to ankle-length – were very much the footwear du jour, and cropped, high-waisted, capri trousers along with loose, boxy shift dresses were also in vogue. It was actually Emilio Pucci who made the latter as popular as they became.

Of course, the one key fashion item of the 60s was the mini-skirt. Initially promoted by designer Mary Quant in 1964, by the end of the decade, every stylish woman in the western world was wearing them. The 60s was a decade of sexual freedom (aided by the development of the contraceptive pill) and as women’s position in society rose, so did their hemlines.  For Quant, it was all about having fun and doing something different. Referring to the knee-length dress, she said ‘It is now a classic and therefore boring’, which was an attitude many people had to various areas of life in the 60s.

Jean Shrimpton (pic from
Perhaps the most famous wearer of the mini-skirt was Jean “The Shrimp” Shrimpton, one of the original British supermodels. For the first time, models became celebrities, a feature of society that is evident today more than ever. Shrimpton (alongside others such as Twiggy) inspired everyday women with her skinny look and big Bambi eyes. Anyone who watched the BBC4 film We’ll Take Manhattan, will know how photographer David Bailey (with Shrimpton as his muse) transformed the fashion scene. The stiff, posed pictures of models in fashion magazines were replaced by informal ones in natural, relaxed positions.
Barnard and Gillan in "We'll Take Manhattan" (pic from
In the BBC4 version, Bailey was played by Aneurin Barnard, and Shrimpton by Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame. The film is a stylish, chirpy retelling of the early careers of two of the most influential people in the fashion world, and tells the story of Bailey’s fashion shoot in New York (with his muse/lover Shrimpton as the model), battling against the old-fashioned resistance from British Vogue fashion editor Lady Clare Rendlesham. Whilst Bailey’s vision was fresh, exciting and new, Rendlesham (and most of her generation) wanted the same stuffy, boring fashion shots that the world was used to. Shots like Bailey’s had never been seen before, and it could be said that they defined the decade. According to Robin Muir, the Vogue historian, ‘It's hard to over-estimate their impact on fashion in that decade.’ Shrimpton ushered in a new wave of female sexiness.

In the BBC film, Bailey appears quite blasé about being asked to shoot for Vogue, and refused to do so if he wasn't allowed to shoot Shrimpton. In reality, however, he was apparently honoured and knew how much of a big deal it was. Shrimpton was originally a country girl, but with legs like hers in the era of the miniskirt, she became the model of the moment at the mere age of 19 after her Manhattan shoot was published. We’ll Take Manhattan has been well received, mainly due to its attention to detail – the New York scene and the clothes look authentically 60s, and Gillan’s costumes are practically identical to those of the actual shoot.

Vidal Sassoon (pic from
Beauty-wise, Shrimpton’s look is typical of the 60s – they focussed on large doll-eyes (false eyelashes were a must), and women increasingly had cropped, pixie-style haircuts, or left it long and straight, a look created by the hairdresser of the moment, Vidal Sassoon. All you have to do is take a stroll down the British high street or sneak a peak in the beauty pages of any women’s fashion magazine to know that these styles are still very much loved by all sorts of women today, from Emma Watson’s pixie-cut to TOWIE style false lashes.
However, if you’ve seen the musical and film Hairspray, you will know that the same Mod style was not adopted in America, where bouffant hair reigned the style pages. Similarly, the American hippy-look crossed the Atlantic later in the decade, bringing flared trousers, peace-sign medallions, moccasins, chain belts and psychedelic prints.

No-one can deny that the 1960s was one of the most important decades for fashion, evident in the current obsession with all things deemed ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’ from said era. From Mad Men to Made In Dagenham, we just can’t get enough of the swinging sixties. However, as well as inspiring television and films, 60s influences are very much evident in current fashion collections. For example, head-to-toe prints are ubiquitous in the Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collections, from Miu Miu to Mary Katrantzou. Equally, A-line boxy shapes feature in the Preen collection for Autumn/Winter 2012/2013. Pussy-bow blouses, flares and short, flirty dresses seem to be trends that have stood the test of time since the 60s. And it’s not only women’s fashion that is still being influenced by sixties fashion – what may seem as a new trend for skinny ties on men, is in fact a rather old one, initially popular half a decade ago. Beauty brands are also making the most of the desire for the 60s look, bombarding the public with new mascaras to help achieve the wide-eyed look that Shrimpton and co. pioneered.

The 1960s was an era of increased freedom in many aspects of life for women, and designers such as Barbara Hulanicki and Mary Quant helped them express this through style. Not content with just shaking things up for a few years, it’s safe to say that sixties’ fashion is still very much swinging today.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Designer profile: Burberry

pic from

“Trench coats”, “checked patterns”, “fit models” and “chavs”. These were just a few of the most common answers when asking a random selection of people what sprung to mind when thinking about the British designer brand, Burberry. Loved by the world’s A-list, from Victoria Beckham to Jennifer Aniston, and with 473 stores in 48 countries, Burberry is undoubtedly one of British fashion’s success stories.

For those that don’t know much about Burberry, “chavs” might seem somewhat out of place for a luxury fashion house. However, it was during the 1970s that the designer label became associated with casualwear, which was lapped up by footballers (and their WAGs). This led to those who couldn’t afford Burberry (but still wanted to resemble their footballing heroes) developing a trend of wearing cheaper fake Burberry knock-offs – dominated by the classic check pattern – and thus the chav association was born.

However, since then, Burberry has completely rebranded itself, largely through high fashion advertising campaigns, featuring top models such as Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Kate Moss and Emma Watson. But Burberry was a popular British brand far before its changing image of the late 90s. Established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry (at the mere age of 21), the original focus was on sturdy outdoor wear. What’s more, the name of the fashion house actually changed to Burberry’s not long after it was founded, becoming known as “Burberry’s of London”.

Most people would agree that the trench coat is one of Burberry’s most iconic items, but not many are aware of its origin. In 1914, Burberry was commissioned by the British war office to make sturdier coats that would resist the constant drizzle (something we’re all far too familiar with here) for its officers during World War One - hence “trench” coat. Since then, this classic mac has been snapped up by fashionistas the world over, immortalised as a sign of timeless elegance by Audrey Hepburn in that iconic scene at the end of the film, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. However, what really secures the trench’s status as a must-have wardrobe staple is that it can be worn by both genders, as demonstrated by Humphrey Bogart in another classic, Casablanca. On the Burberry website it’s now possible to customise your own bespoke trench, choosing the colour, length, fabric, belt, buttons and more (although it could set you back a cool £2,795!)

The latest offerings from Burberry feature all the classic pieces this iconic brand is known and loved for, but also keeps things fresh with a distinctly tribal feel: for example, chunky necklaces, stripey hats, zig-zag prints and beaded embellishment (on everything from shoulders to shoes) feature.

As CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts is currently at the helm of the company, with Christopher Bailey as Chief Creative Officer. One might think that such a long-established company would be keen to hold on to the past, but such is not the case for Burberry, which has demonstrated itself to be one of the most innovative companies in the fashion industry. (In 2011, the brand was named the most digitally competent luxury brand by New York University.) For example, what had long been the reserve of fashion editors and It-girls is no more, as Burberry have started live-streaming their twice-yearly catwalk shows at London Fashion Week, and added the ability for customers to buy straight from the runway for delivery in seven weeks (the collections aren’t usually available for months). The Burberry show is always one of the most highly anticipated, and never fails to attract a star-studded Frow (fashion speak for “front row) or surprise audiences – the snow falling on to the runway during the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection springs to mind. What’s more, as of January 2012, Burberry is officially the most popular luxury brand on Facebook and Twitter, with an astounding ten million fans and 701,617 followers respectively.

When asked what she thought of Burberry, a top London fashion buyer responded with “true, British style”, and that just about sums it up.

A Twitter-fueled One Direction obsession...

Hi everyone. I’m Rachel, and I’m a One Direction-aholic. It all started back in 2010 on The X Factor: their five cherub-like little faces popped up on my TV screen, and I knew in that moment… it was love, and there was no point trying to deny it. The trouble is that not everyone so understands my unrequited and unconditional love. Believe me, I’ve tried to explain myself when people say “I don’t get what’s so great about them”, and “They’re just little boys”, but sometimes, love can’t be explained, can it? For the record, Louis is actually older than me, so I’m not a complete paedo. The same cannot be said for Cougarline Flack though. What a perv. And Harry’s mine so she should just stay away. Alright, Cazza? His curls along with my freckles are going to make for one cute baby someday.

Oh, sorry… I may have started daydreaming there. What was I saying? Right. Yes: my obsession. So after realising that other people just don’t understand, I decided to keep my love slightly under wraps. That is, I took down my second calendar, only kept up half the 20 posters I’d brought to uni, started dancing round my room listening to their songs through headphones as opposed to out loud, and restrained my fandom (definitely NOT stalking) to the confines of my laptop. Should anyone be interested, I can without a doubt tell you that (yes, the website for pre-teen girls) is hands down the best place to go for your hourly fix of 1D goss. But you didn’t hear it from me. Because my One Direction love is top-secret.

Sure, I know all their birthdays off the top of my head, could tell you where each member is most of the time, and know all the lyrics to every song on their album, but compared to some of the One Direction fangirls (we call ourselves ‘Directioners’), I’m nothing. No, seriously. These girls are really quite scary: they camp outside the boys’ houses, chase down the tour bus, and engage in fierce Twitter battles with Beliebers (Justin Bieber’s fangirls, don’t’cha know) defending One Direction. Quite frankly, if I was a member of One Direction I’d be bloody terrified. And as you may have gathered, I’m not Caroline Flack’s biggest fan (for anyone who’s been living under a rock for the past few months, she’s the 32 year old TV presenter who went out with 18 year old Harry Styles… don’t get me started on that level of wrongness), but she got death threats from Directioners, and that is definitely too extreme, even in my mind.

One Direction always say they love their fans (I’m sure they mean me in particular, obvs), but I wonder if they do ever get scared by the extremes some of their Directioners go to… evidence of which can often be found on Twitter: not a day goes by where a One Direction related topic isn’t among the top trends. Boybands have always had hoards of teenage girl fans (think about your mum and Take That), but it’s interesting to see how a new generation boyband has unleashed a new style of fangirls. Any time Harry, Niall, Louis, Liam or Zayn tweets anything; they are immediately bombarded with replies, retweets and spam messages from girls just begging to be noticed. Naturally I am above this sort of nonsense and never take part in such activities. Alright, you got me. Maybe I have done on the odd occasion. But who are you to judge? Twitter feeds our celeb worshipping culture, giving us glimpses into their seemingly glamorous, exclusive lives. A fellow uni student with a vast Twitter following has actually been tweeted and is followed by none other than Lady Gaga, the most followed person on Twitter at the moment, which makes him something of a celebrity in himself. Gaga’s 19,978,258 followers (at my time of writing, although every time you refresh her page it changes) makes my 500 or so seem a little feeble.

But how much should we know about these celebs? The more they tweet, the more we love them, and thus the more obsessed we become. It’s from Twitter that I know that Niall loves Nando’s almost more than life itself, Liam is afraid of spoons, Louis loves carrots, Zayn has three sisters and Harry’s favourite pizza toppings are chicken and sweetcorn (I’m not even making this up when I say they are mine too.  He also speaks French and German, which just happens to be the degree I am currently studying. Convenient, huh? Seriously Harry, if you’re reading this, get in touch.) I went to see their first tour, and I’ve already got tickets to see them in 2013. Boom. I shall no longer keep my love a secret (this article has pretty much outed me), so yes: I’m Rachel, and I’m a proud Directioner.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Memories of a 90s Kid

Ah the 90s. The good old days. Back when we had videos that needed rewinding and Capri-Suns that didn’t have screw lids (and we all inevitably punched our straw all the way through to the other side). According to Wikipedia (where else?), this was the decade in which ‘the mass mobilization of capital markets through neoliberalism, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a realignment and reconsolidation of economic and political power across the world, and within countries’. Erm, right. I can’t say that’s initially what pops into my head when casting my mind back to said decade.
Nope, any true 90s kid will know that it was an awesome decade to grow up in. Join me as we stroll down memory lane and reminisce about why:

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  • ·      The toys: it was all about the virtual pet, namely the Tamagotchi. Oh the joy we got from connecting ours with a friend’s to mate them (but never getting past the third generation before it inevitably died from its own poo while you were at school during the day.) Not to forget the Furby, of course. The creepy furry little things we were all obsessed with. And of course, the weird jelly aliens in plastic egg shapes that supposedly mated together to create babies… I was so disappointed when mine didn’t work (what was our preoccupation with mating!? This was probably an omen for our generation’s teen pregnancies to come in the 2000s.) Game Boy Pockets were the height of technology, and we were convinced their fuzzy graphics couldn’t get any better. And then they got cameras that printed pictures so blurry they could’ve been anything. But we loved them all the same.

  • ·       The crazes: 90s kids love a craze more than anything else… surely you remember these: Yoyos, smelly gel pens, Pokémon cards (“I’ll trade you Charizard for Pikachu!” was commonly heard in break-time), lava lamps that took so long to get going that you’d already left the room, and of course Beanie Babies. It is a well-known fact that the more of these you had, the cooler you were.

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  • ·         The TV: It was all about Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network (none of this Disney Channel new-fangled nonsense the yoof of today harp on about). From Johnny Bravo to Ed, Edd and Eddy, Sabrina The Teenage Witch to Arthur, Pinky and the Brain to Art Attack… we had it all. Any child of the 90s knows that Neighbours always came on after CBBC finished on a weekday afternoon, it was worth getting up at the weekends for SMTV, and Friday evening at 7:30 meant one thing: Top of the Pops. And that brings me nicely on to my next point…

  • ·         The music: Whether you were an N*Sync or Backstreet Boys fan, everyone had their fave. And then there’s The Spice Girls. (If the words ‘zig-a-zig-ahhh’ mean nothing to you, then please, just leave.)

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  • ·       The look: where do I start? Slap bracelets, scrunchies, stretchy chokers, Baby G watches, jelly sandals and shag bands were all par for the course (did we really know what ‘shag’ even meant? I didn’t. But maybe that was just the innocence of my youth…). Anyone whose trainers didn’t light up had no hope in the social arena, and I know I was an outcast because I never had a hairband with my name written on it in glitter. Not sure I’ll ever live that one down. The item du jour for a girl was a pair of trousers with a skirt attached. Because sometime you just can’t choose, can you? Skirt or trousers!? If only they were still in fashion today life would be a lot easier. We didn’t even know how good we had it back then. Sigh… For boys it was all about the quiff. Awkwardly sticking up with lots of hair gel, but the real art was keeping the hair behind it flat. Yes, not every boy mastered the quiff, but you could see the smugness on the faces of those who did. Oh yes.

  • ·         The chat: I think it’s safe to say that we had some incredible comebacks in the 90s. Forget the unimaginative ‘your mum’ of later years, and feast your eyes on these gems:  ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ ‘That was so funny I forgot to laugh.’ ‘Then why don’t you marry it?’ Nuff said.

  • So now that we’ve established what life in the 90s was really all about, I think it’s time that Wikipedia page was updated.

    Designer profile: Frida Giannini

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    Many women think they know what looks good on men – it is not unheard of for a girl to be put off a guy she could potentially be attracted to because of his choice of footwear, for example. But most men don’t like being told what to wear by women, and as a general rule, appear less interested in fashion than their female counterparts. Could this explain why the majority of menswear designers in the fashion world today are male? After all, this isn’t the case for womenswear, with Chanel, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana (to name but a few of fashion’s big hitters) all with men at the helm.
                    However, an exception to the trend is found with Gucci (Italy’s biggest-selling brand), where Frida Giannini has been the creative director in charge of both the women’s and men’s lines since 2006. Gucci was established in 1920 by Guccio Gucci and his three sons so could be considered to be an originally male-led brand. Nevertheless, in 2002 Giannini (at the age of 30) joined the brand to oversee handbags, before being promoted to creative director of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories in 2005, and finally taking the menswear reins from John Ray thus becoming overall creative director. When Ray resigned, he claimed that it was too difficult to form a consistent image for Gucci, but can a woman really design clothes that men want as well as a male could?
                    Well, Giannini perhaps isn’t your typical female: she grew up the only girl surrounded by lots of male cousins, spending her time playing football and motorcross. As we all know from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s antics, it’s particularly rare for women to hold powerful positions in Italy today, but Giannini is definitely an exception as the head of design for a company with over 280 stores worldwide.
                    Perhaps Giannini’s position is so unique because she designs both the women’s and men’s lines, and says she imagines them together: “To me, they are really a couple. They live together. They grew up in Italy together. It's very important for me to create a connection between them,” she tells Interview Magazine.
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