Month: June 2015

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Givenchy SS16 Menswear Show with added Supers

The Menswear Collection Shows are well underway and with Paris as the current setting, today was the turn of Givenchy.  Creative Director Ricardo Tisci is a sucker for a female muse - from Donatella Versace and Kendall Jenner to Kim Kardashian and Jaimie Bechert, it’s safe to say that Tisci is an expert in dressing the female form but today we’re here for his late Menswear offering.

This evening at Parc George Brassens, Tisci unveiled his SS16 Menswear collection featuring a mostly monochrome colour palette with the addition of cool greys, steel blues and metallics and a whole load of catholic symbolism thrown in for good measure.

Models strutted down the makeshift runway in overskirts depicting Jesus Christ and simple shirts adorned with star motifs, all paired with T-bar monk strap shoes in a matching palette.

Tisci went for maximum impact with his SS16 show and it was his unexpected guests who drew the most attention on the runway.  Supers including Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, Adriana Lima and Candice Swanepoel joined the men on the maze like runway, with Campbell stealing the show in a metallic blazer, bra, thong and thigh high boots accessorised with a huge aged silver key.  Whilst it’s not uncommon for designers to use female models during the Menswear collection shows, having this many high profile models in a Menswear show is something to get excited about and not the first time for Tisci, Candice Swanepoel walked his SS15 Menswear show in a form fitting blazer dress with matching skull cap.  Kendall was the first high profile model out of the gate and the Fashion Editors on the Frow visibly sat up and started snapping on their iPhones, with some people in the audience doing a double take as she strutted passed.

The arrival of the Supers saw a social media frenzy sending #GivenchyMenswear stratospheric within minutes which was doubtless Tisci’s plan all along.  With the urban backdrop of a park in Paris, the industrial styling and the labyrinth styled runway, the whole show was a slick and stylish affair before we even get to the garments which were heavy on the religious symbolism (think early McQueen).  Campbell and her school of Supers proved to be the icing on the cake and don’t even get me started on the womenswear, gothic victoriana, delicate widows lace, metallic pinstriping and hella crucifixes, it’s just a taste of what’s to come.

…… And that folks, is how you deliver a Menswear show.

Pixie x

To watch the entire Givenchy Menswear Runway Show click here.

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Minion Madness Hits Selfridges!

As the long awaited Minions movie opens in the UK today, it seems the denim wearing, banana loving critters are taking over the fashion world too.  With designers such as Giles Deacon and Rupert Sanderson taking their cue from Gru’s faithful goggle wearing Minions, it looks like minion yellow (now officially a pantone shade), is most definitely in…

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In a collection exclusive to Selfridges, a collective of designers have come together to collaborate on Bello Yellow.  Inspired by and featuring the minions themselves, the collection is every bit as fun as you’d expect, and yes, there are even dungarees.  From the Rupert Sanderson on point Minion courts to the cute Piers Atkinson headbands, this is a collection which will please Street Stylers and Bloggers (myself included, natch) aplenty.

“The Minions have been a big part of my life with my family, in keeping with the unexpected and rebellious nature of the Minions, the idea of combining one of my shoes with their highly distinctive personalities makes perfect sense.” - Rupert Sanderson

With urban cool designers Criminal Damage and Steve J & Yoni P on board, the collection is sure to appeal to da yoof.  There’s a cool range of sweaters and sweatpants with a minion motif, as well as some super cute leggings with a matching cropped top (yes, I already own these). Criminal damage did a similar collaboration with Peanuts recently which was a huge success and with everyone going Minion Mad, there’s no doubt this one is sure to be too.  Steve J & Yoni P have kept things simple and concentrated on denim, including two pairs of Minions inspired dungarees, and fun slogan tees which will doubtless appeal to the masses.

In a nod to the storyline of the Minions movie set in sixties New York and ultimately, London, Giles Deacon has created a six piece mini collection for Bello Yellow including minidresses and tee’s which are actually, pretty damn cool.  Using a monochrome palette and official Minion Yellow (obvs.) it’s a pretty wearable collection that will be all over the streets of London (for the next month or so at least).

“It’s been a lot of fun - I’ve long been a fan of Illumination’s delightfully flawed characters. The resulting collection is a capsule very much inspired by London in the swinging 60’s and pays homage to their enduring style.” - Giles Deacon

Cult jewellery designers Tatty Devine are on board for the project and it’s right up their street with their quirky laser cut pieces taking centre stage.  From their iconic T-Rex bones necklace to a simple keychain, there’s something for Minion lovers everywhere and before you jump in and criticise, remember, it’s just for fun, it’s not like anyone’s plotting to take over the world or anything…..

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Pixie x

The Minions Movie opens nationwide today (26th June)

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Instagram Model Search with Sapphires Models & FMS Magazine

The days of scouting and casting models via Instagram and other social media platforms are well and truly upon us.  With a huge Fashion Community out there and some dedicated sharing hashtags (#OOTD anyone?), it’s no wonder model agencies have turned their attentions to these platforms to source talent.  There are now dedicated apps such as Feels and InstaModel where wannabe models can submit their home-styled looks to be approved by a casting director and even tag in brands for their seal of approval too, now Sapphires Model Management in London are getting in on the act by launching a model competition with the first round of entries conducted purely via Instagram and Twitter.

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Want To Know More?

One lucky male and female have the chance to win big in modelling with Sapphires Model Management and FMS Magazine. UK based entrants are welcome to enter the competition to win a one-year contract with top London boutique modelling agency, Sapphires Model Management (clients including Topshop, Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham and Urban Outfitters) and a fashion shoot with one of the coolest publications out there: FMS Magazine - an international platform that weaves together the best of fashion and music, showcasing both up-and-coming and established talent from around the globe. FMS Magazine’s predecessor, FASHION.MUSIC.STYLE was one of the first places to feature artists such as Ellie Goulding, Anna Calvi and Tribes.

The photo shoot will be filmed and aired on FMS-mag.com and Sapphires Model Management and shared across all social media channels.

How Do I Enter?
1. Entrants should send a recent clear photograph of themselves (the photograph can be no more than 6 months old) and submit it via Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FMSxSapphires.
2. Entrants should be a minimum of 5’9 for gals, 5’11 for guys.
3. Entrants under 18 years of age need to have prior parental or legal guardian consent.
4. Entrants must not be currently signed with a modelling agency.
5. Sapphires will then contact you to get your email address if you’re lucky enough to move on to round two. For the full lowdown on the competition, visit the online terms and conditions page.

Neely Reyes, founder of Sapphires and also a blogger for Huffington Post and a judge of the WGSN Global Fashion Awards says, “We’re excited to launch a model competition with FMS Magazine. We’re always on the search for amazing new faces and to be able to offer the winners a photo shoot and the added exposure will be great.”

Sarah Hardy, publisher of FMS Magazine adds, “FMS is very happy to be collaborating with Sapphires on a model competition, and looking forward to working with the winners on their first shoot!”

So, what are you waiting for?! Get snapping, fame and fortune awaits!

Pixie x

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Swimwear: One-Piece Heroes

As we’re now officially in holiday season, I’m turning my attention to beachwear.  Swimsuits in particular, bikinis are all over the high street and even in the local supermarket but this year like countless celebrities, I’m loving the sporty one piece.  Sleek, athletic and dual purpose when teamed with Daisy Dukes, the one piece swimsuit is seriously stylish and there are some great ones available on the great British high street.

When I’m packing for my holidays I like to take a whole load of bikinis and swimsuits and switch them out each day, or wear them as part of a daywear outfit if I’m feeling particularly lazy.  I don’t like anything that’s run of the mill, boring, or anything that you’re likely to bump into again and again on the beach so I’ve rounded up my ultimate favourites.  My top styles of one-piece are either sporty or cutaway and I love to experiment with bold colours, these ones are top of the polls for me at the moment (and I own all of them and a whole load more, so I’m speaking from personal experience):

1. My favourite swimsuit at the moment is this one from New Look £19.99, it’s cheap and cheerful and it looks just as good on the beach as it does when you’re out for a stroll wearing Daisy Dukes and a kimono.  At a shade under £20 it’s a great way to inject a little fun into your holiday wardrobe and it’s guaranteed to turn heads on the beach or by the pool.

2. Agent Provocateur Mazzy £225.  I have this swimsuit in two different colour ways but this one is my favourite.  yes, it’s extravagant and yes, it will leave you with some pretty strange tan lines, but it’s oh so worth it because it looks uh-mazing.  Agent Provocateur make some of the best lingerie around and their swimwear is pretty awesome too, this particular one is made of pretty thick bandage style fabric and looks very ‘Herve Leger’ close up.

3. Wildfox Couture Totally Rad 80’s Zipper one piece £118.  I love this swimsuit because it’s so kitsch, I’ve worn it a few times on vacation and each time I’ve been asked where it’s from so that’s got to be a good sign, right?  it ticks all the boxes for me: sporty, not boring and bright.

4. Jaded London Neon Mesh Insert Swimsuit £45.  Easy choice for me, this swimsuit looks amazing on, it’s sporty and the panels are made of a strong, tight fishnet mesh which it’s actually possible to tan through.  This is one of those swimsuits I like to break out towards the end of my vacation as it looks so much better with a tan!

5. Next up it’s another high street wonder from New Look, £19.99.  This is a black mesh panel one piece with a halter tie at the neck.  It’s a real crowd pleaser too, it looks great on any size and it always attracts compliments.  This is another one which looks great with a pair of shorts thrown over the top as day wear.

6. ASOS Fishnet Hooded Swimsuit £35.  Let’s be honest, realistically, this swimsuit isn’t that practical - the shoulder straps are pretty wide and obviously, it has a hood.  But my oh my does it look amazing!  It’s a bit of a showstopper, everyone comments on this swimsuit.  The hood is actually sheer, it’s just fishnet without the underlay that the swimsuit has so I use it to protect my hair when lying on my front, other than that, it’s just for fun!  I often wear this with shorts or a skirt on vacation and it always makes me feel great!

7. Luxe Lane Mauritius Bandage Swimsuit ASOS £55.  I didn’t actually by mine from ASOS as they’ve only recently started stocking Luxe Lane, I bought mine in the States and it’s a real slinky, luxury swimsuit.  It’s strong, thick fabric and it takes a bit of work to get into, but once it’s on, it looks amazing.  It’s built like a bandage dress and so sucks you in in all the right places.  Available in a few different colourways but this one has a bit of shimmer, it’s almost silver when worn.  A word of warning though, although it’s fine to swim in this one piece, the material snags easily so be careful!

8. Honolua Sports Luxe One-Piece by Melissa Odabash £220.  This swimsuit comes in black or white, I have the black version currently but am seriously coveting the white version too.  It’s a real sporty piece, perfect for an active beach vacation, the shoulders are made of tough fishnet and the zip can be undone to change up the look.  This is another swimsuit that looks awesome with shorts as daywear.  The great thing about this particular swimsuit is that it keeps you feeling secure all day!

9. Double Scallop Trim Swimsuit Topshop £36.  I’m breaking one of my rules with this swimsuit as it’s not at all sporty, more pretty and vintage inspired but I love it so it’s on my list!  I re-buy this swimsuit each year from Topshop and have had it in gingham, Yellow and mink and now this version, it’s a great high street piece and it looks super cute on the beach or by the pool.  The strap is detachable too so no additional tanlines.

10. South beach Maisie Black Mesh Swimsuit ASOS £22.  This is a great example of a high street buy, from the front the neck to underarm detailing is square, this picture doesn’t show that quite so well but it just gives the piece a real sports luxe feel.  The mesh section on the waist is double layered too so it’s not so easy to snag and there’s an exposed zip at the back too which looks pretty cool. I have this in neon pink too from last season but this year it looks as though it’s only available in black. This is very similar to a Seafolly swimsuit but it’s £100 cheaper.  Bonus!

So, if you’re heading off on vacation this year and you’ve got your itsy bitsy bikinis ready, why not stop and try a one piece?  trust me, all the cool kids are doing it…

Pixie x

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Show Me Some Skin….

The Fall Winter 2015 runways were awash with lavish suede and leather.  From fringed suede at Burberry to patchwork suede and leather at Tom Ford and everything in-between, it was clear to see that skin is most definitely in.

I’ve always been a huge fan of heavy luxury fabrics - velvet, crepe and now leather and suede, they have a way of upping the glam factor of any outfit and have the weight behind them to hang amazingly.  I couldn’t wait to write about how to jump ahead of the pack and get in on the trend early by working it into your Summer wardrobe too.  Both fabrics can be surprisingly versatile and easier to wear than you might imagine, coloured pieces can add drama; leather separates in bold primary colours can look rich and vibrant and soft, pastel coloured suede can be toughened up to create a great juxtaposition of textures.

There are some simple pieces you can pick up on the high street to update your wardrobe and they’re all hard working and not at all scary!  Not just for play, both fabrics are smart enough to be worn as workwear and with some clever dressing and accessorising, can take you from day to night in a flash.  Consider this my guide to the simplest way to get in on this trend, I’ve done the hard work and found you your dream pieces which will take you through Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter…..

First of all, dress to your usual style, you need to be comfortable, think of this as simply substituting textures rather than a complete style overhaul.  Personally, I like to play with textures and finishes and often like to mix a soft tailored piece with something that has more of a ‘rock’ vibe for a street style look, but there’s no reason why you can’t wear a suede jacket and a suede skirt, hey, it’s 2015 - anything goes!

I love wearing a structured pencil skirt with an oversized tank so let’s start with a suede skirt; this particular one is from ASOS, at £70 it’s a great way to get in on the trend without shelling out too much initially.  This one is a wrap over style so it’s real flattering and it has a D-ring fastener which gives it a high end finish.  I like to juxtapose this skirt with a tank and recently wore it to a fashion event with a Givenchy tee (minus the original sleeves).

Tempted by that gorgeous tan suede skirt from Marks and Spencer, you know, the one that’s been featured in Vogue, Elle, Look, Grazia, Marie Claire etc.?  Stop right there!  There are two reasons to proceed with caution: 1. You’re very unlikely to find it anywhere as it’s the most coveted suede piece around, and,  2.  If you are lucky enough to find it, you’re going to bump into at least four carbon copies of yourself the first time you wear it making you wish you’d kept the £200 in your purse.

So, in light of this, for really great unique leather and suede fashion pieces, my top tip is to try vintage and thrift stores first (make sure you check each piece thoroughly before buying).  We’ve all got at least one leather biker jacket in our wardrobes but I’ve picket up some amazing ones in thrift stores, and the great thing is, you won’t bump into another version of yourself on the high street.  Every time I go to the states, I come back with at least one great vintage leather or suede piece and last time was this super cute suede Pocahontas style fringed skirt.  It cost me $60 (a snip at around £30) and it attracts compliments every time I wear it, plus it makes me feel like Carrie Bradshaw and who doesn’t want that, right?!

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A black leather skirt is a really hard working, versatile option.  If you haven’t got one of these in your wardrobe then you need one, pronto!  Smart enough to be worn for the office but rock chick enough to be worn for a night out this is one item you’ll pull out of your wardrobe time and time again.  This one is from Year One Collective, priced at £120, it’s great quality leather and if you’re patriotic you’ll like this one as it’s made by a British designer.  Things to look for when shopping for a leather skirt: 1. A good strong zip - the last thing you want is your zip failing on you after a heavy dinner, and, 2. A split. Front or back it doesn’t matter as long as there’s a split. We’ve all seen that YouTube clip of the super glamorous girl who can’t traverse the staircase because of her unfeasibly tight skirt right?  Don’t let that be you.  River Island do a great leather skirt, it’s a repeat style which usually comes in to store around September and there are new colour ways added each year, this is last years red one and I’d highly recommend it, at £90 it’s a great buy but the downside is you’ll have to wait until later in the year to get it.

On the high street there are a gazillion options for a black leather pencil skirt, choose wisely.  On the investment end of the scale ASOS with a wide variety of shapes, styles and finishes.  From real leather to PU they’ve got you covered and if you head on over there now you’ll find that a lot of these styles are in the sale just waiting to be snapped up.

Not a fan of skirts?  Then maybe culottes are your thing.  Since Spring Summer 2014 the trend for culottes has grown exponentially and now they’re everywhere.  From New Look to Margiela, culottes are more than just a trend, they’re here to stay and with new leather and suede styles hitting the high street it’s easier than ever to tap road test this look.

My favourite leather culottes are from Topshop Boutique, buttery soft and smokey grey coloured, these culottes add a little luxury to any outfit, there’s just one rule with culottes: Always. Wear. Heels.  On top anything goes, I like to pair mine with a floaty black camisole, again, to juxtapose the textures but you could pair these with anything from a band tee to a cropped tee and duster coat - as long as you remember the golden rule and always wear heels.  These particular ones are pricey at £250 but River Island has some great PU alternatives for around £30.

This suede pair from this pair which are currently in the sale at Topshop for £65.

A great way to nail the trend in one piece is to try a dress.  Leather dresses have been around for ages, you may even already have one in your wardrobe, if you haven’t then your Mum is bound to so try her first.  Suede dresses however, are a relatively new concept on the high street and with so many of them sent down the runways during Fashion Month, you’d be wise to jump on this trend now.  My favourite leather dress is by Raoul, it was an investment piece at £695 but it’s my old faithful and something I come back to time and time again as it always makes me feel ‘dressed’.

There are a huge variety on the high street depending on which style you favour, ASOS has skater style, slip, pinafore, A-line and shift dresses available in leather and this one is my favourite, I’m awaiting my delivery but I know it will see me through the seasons and it’s a change from black.  At £120 I’d say it’s pretty reasonable.

In suede the style is more seventies in feel, think dropped waists and huge pockets and you’re on the right track, exposed zips also work really well with this look.  Mango does a great suede shirt dress but my best buy is this little beauty from Warehouse and at £110 it’s a complete outfit which isn’t too bad right? (It also comes in pink).

For Winter I’m a big fan of leather trousers and have two top picks:  Marks and Spencer does a great recurring style and new colourways are stocked each season.  The great thing thing about this pair is that the leather is super soft and the back section is ponte fabric meaning you don’t get the dreaded sag in the butt area and at £99 these are a steal.

Another of my favourites are the Paloma by PU) if you prefer for £290.

We all know that good quality leather and suede can be expensive and that it needs to be maintained, if you can’t stretch to either of these fabrics then alcantara makes a pretty good substitute for suede and there are some decent vegan / PU options out there instead of leather.  If you are opting for PU, bear in mind that it can, and will make you sweat so choose where you wear it and always try it first - if you can’t take the heat in a store dressing room then you’re probably not going to wear it out to dinner in the Summer.

In terms of jackets it’s simple - if you’re opting for suede then fringing is your best friend.  The high street is full of fringed and tassled suede jackets in a variety of colours - If they’re wearing it in Nashville then it’s definitely ‘in’.  For leather jackets, you can’t go wrong with a leather biker and that goes for any season.  If you want to mix it up a little then try a different colour for Summer, the SS15 runways were a parade of bold colours with cobalt blue being a standout.

So, now you’re armed and ready to hit the high street with bells on.  And probably fringing.  But most definitely a leather biker…..

Pixie x

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Hard Hat Builders Lunch at the Crowne Plaza Newcastle

I was recently invited to take a VIP hard hat tour of the brand new, as yet unfinished, Crowne Plaza Hotel on Forth Street Newcastle.  The upmarket hotel is set to open its doors to the public later this year and is completely different to anything else currently available in the City.  A product of years of market research, the Crowne Plaza Newcastle is geared up for corporate clients, city breakers, day spa members and casual diners and has incorporated the needs of each type of client into its intensive planning and two year build project.

“We’re pushing all the time, trying to move the standards in the city forwards and matching the strengths in terms of location and brand.”

In the last few months the development has really started to take shape, no longer just a shell, the glass fronted hotel is a real showstopper and the planned landscaping for the front area will really highlight the trendy Stephenson Quarter as a destination.  I donned my work boots, hard hat and hi-vis jacket for a behind the scenes tour of the huge project.

The people behind the Crowne Plaza were adamant that during the design phase, they weren’t going to use a hotel designer for the interior planning.  They’re remained resolute and together with Simon Spiteri (Carluccio’s) onboard as interior designer,  they’ve created a real boutique hotel feel, despite the enormity of the towering Crowne Plaza - something very different for the corporate client.  Sourcing sustainable materials, and using modern finishing techniques, they’ve come up with a cool colour palette of steel blues and greys for the hotels 260+ bedrooms and suites using glass and exposed polished concrete pillars to up the fashion ante.  Room furniture will be walnut coloured with chrome accents bringing a modern vibe to the hotel.

The hotel will feature a huge glass atrium with an enormous crystal chandelier taking centre stage and each communal floor area will have a glass balcony overlooking this area adding a dimension of light and space.  Walking into the space as it is now, and seeing the projected images of the finished area, there’s no doubt that the Crowne Plaza will have the Wow Factor, and it’s less hotel-like than you might imagine, which is exactly what they’ve gone for.

The hotel is treating its main functional areas almost as separate businesses, meaning that they aren’t bound to keeping the same decor and theme in each zone of the hotel.  Breaking the mould, The Crowne Plaza Newcastle will have its very own Gin Bar at street level where residents and customers alike can choose from an initial selection of over 30 varieties of gin.  The Gin Bar will strip back cocktail drinking to its very core and focus on the Martini, a traditional cocktail of pure alcohol which requires great skill to get right, Food and Beverage Manager Paul Walker told me that a huge amount of research and planning has gone into getting The Gin Bar on point; from the distilling of their very own craft gin, right through to the New York paperboy style uniforms.  Even the furniture has been changed at the last-minute because it was felt the vibe wasn’t quite right.  The mood boards for The Gin Bar show a darker, slinkier, more relaxed lounge environment and just looking at the sumptuous colour schemes is getting me excited…..

Hawthorns, the in-house restaurant, will serve “good, wholesome, healthy food” to residents and diners alike.  The dining area has been well thought out and aims to integrate large corporate groups, single diners, couples and mobile office workers with a variety of different height seating areas, booths and benches maximising space and light.  It’s a more responsive environment which shuns the traditions of other restaurants allowing customers to select their own table and seats based on their needs.

The corporate and conferencing facilities in the Crowne Plaza are second to none, with a huge central conference room acting as a hub, it’s been planned with serious attention to detail.  from the acoustic ceiling and targeted lighting, to the coloured wash lighting which can be altered to fit a specific company’s requirements, every little detail has been considered at the planning stage.  The Crowne Plaza is banking on corporate business and it shows, in a big way.  With a number of function rooms, conference suites and break-out areas available, it’s clear that they’ve set their sights on being the best in their field.

Hotel car parking will be designated in the multi-storey carpark currently in development just behind the hotel, although the carpark operator is as yet unknown, the Crowne Plaza have reserved bays for the use of hotel and spa guests only.  The hotel will also benefit from super fast free WiFi Boost meaning that no matter where you are in the hotel there will be no black spots, in addition, each bedroom will also have infinity charging points which charge your gadgets fast and continue to do so after your key card is removed from its dock.  neat, huh?!  Rooms have been kitted out with the best quality bedding and there will designated Quiet Zones throughout the hotel for light sleepers, the Crowne Plaza have really gone all out to make sure your stay is a comfortable one.

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The Crowne Plaza suites, although currently just bare shells, look set to be a real draw for the hotel.  Situated on a corner of the structure looking out over Newcastle Central Station and beyond, the rooms are fully soundproof and feature floor to ceiling glass windows allowing undisturbed views of the city.  Our tour guide told us that since taking over the operation of the station, Network Rail have announced plans to landscape the area of the train station overlooked by the hotel and there are plans underway to build either a bridge or a tunnel to link hotel residents to the train station directly, fancy right?!

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Down in the basement area, like many hotels, The Crowne Plaza Newcastle will house a spa area, named The Mineral Room in homage to the site’s heritage, equipped with a 10 metre pool, whirlpool, steamroom and sauna, as well as three large treatment rooms equipped to provide the latest state of the art beauty treatments.  There will also be a gym with the usual standard machines and free weights, but with the added benefit of 1:1 personal training for guests giving a far more bespoke service.

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The pool area feels very upmarket; it’s dark and decadent and benefits from super high windows at street level which act as a source of natural light without giving pedestrians a view into the spa.  The spa is a welcome addition to the hotel, and something the City has been clamouring for as it’s been starved of an upmarket hotel with really great spa facilities for so long.  For non hotel residents, there will be a membership programme for the hotel gym and pool with an as yet unknown monthly rate, which will also give members access to exclusive discounts across the hotel, Hawthorns and The Gin Bar.

There are some real nice touches in the Crowne Plaza Newcastle, the green credentials for example, there are two seed grass roof areas which provide a pretty view to guests on the Northern side of the hotel with South facing windows.  Also, the hotel have tried to stay true to North East heritage when planning the development, the menu will be Northern with food sourced in the North and the house gin will also be distilled in the North.

As the prospective opening date of September 2015 draws closer, it’s easy to see, even at this early stage, that the hotel is going to be a crowd pleaser.  With the Stephenson Quarter development gathering pace and new phases unveiled it could be that this becomes the new area to see and be seen, there’s talk of a micro-brewery popping up in the old JT Dove building and with the Royal Mail building now up for development who knows what could crop up next on this über trendy site.  A new residential development of executive apartments is in the pipeline further down Forth Banks which will bring a whole new clientele into the mix for the brand new Stephenson Quarter.

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I don’t know about you but I’m excited about this, it brings jobs to our glorious city and adds another pillar to our amazing skyline as well as opening up a whole new zone of the city which was relatively unexplored……….until now.  So if you’re around the Forth Street area on the Quayside approach, stop, take a look at the new Crowne Plaza building, it’s well on the way to looking like it does in the plans and you might just be looking at the next big thing in Newcastle when The Gin Bar opens its doors in August.

There’s just one thing I’m a little disappointed about….. I didn’t get to keep the hard hat.

Pixie x

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Hooker & Young Darlington’s 5th Birthday!

It’s hard to believe that Hooker and Young have been coiffing the hair of the trendy folk in the North East and further afield for nineteen years together as a brand.  With five hair salons across the breadth of the North East region, one of which also offers beauty treatments, this dedicated duo have you covered for all your hair and beauty needs.  Between them, they’ve racked up a fair few awards and continue to do so as they push their brand into new territory, with a Schwarzkopf collaboration on the cards it seems there’s no stopping the force that is Hooker and Young.

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The great thing about the pair is that they’ve stayed true to their roots.  Despite having five salons and a management team, the pair still show up to work everyday, they still cut and colour hair and are involved in the day to day running of the salon, both still take on new clients and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and remember where it all began.

The reason for this particular post is to celebrate the Hooker and Young Darlington Salon’s fifth birthday.  I absolutely love a good get together with Gary and Michael and so threw on a Maison Margiela oversized denim shirt, Victoria’s Secret camouflage socks and a pair of Chanel boots and made the trip to Darlington to catch up with my favourite Northern Hair Pair.

Never ones to shy away from a fabulous event, the dashing duo together with their PR maestro, Houndgate Townhouse, pulled together an amazing birthday bash to help them celebrate in style.

Bloggers, local celebrities, press and Hooker and Young clients were invited along to the salon after hours where staff from Houndgate Townhouse served bespoke cocktails created especially for the event and Angela Metcalfe, La Di Da magazine’s resident gin expert was on hand to facilitate gin tasting with a rather exotic selection for party-goers to try.

Stella and Dot provided a pop up shop for the evening showcasing a variety of covetable costume jewellery and there were beauty demonstrations including HD Brows by resident beauty expert Kelly Covell from Hooker and Young’s Ponteland salon.

Downstairs in the salon there were quick hair makeovers available for clients, all done by a GHD representative using the latest tools offered by the brand including the GHD Curve and the soon to be released GHD Platinum flatiron (it’s awesome, trust me!) and there were exclusive discounts available for shoppers on the night.

I caught up with vineyard owner and Man-About-Town Krispian Lloyd who told me that the event was a great way for Hooker and Young to bring clients into their world and thank them for their custom over the years and he’s absolutely right, it’s a great way for a brand to connect with people in a relaxed environment.

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At the end of the evening, all clients left with a goodie bag containing mini Kerastase hair products and samples of a new Schwarzkopf hair oil, and some may even have left with a fuzzy head after loading up on cocktails and gin, all I know is that I had a great night, (man, these guys know how to throw a party).  So here’s to the next five years guys, chin chin!

Pixie x

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Blo Me Dry

I’ve been spending a lot of time in London recently for Graduate Fashion Week and LCM and the show schedule has been hectic (just the way I like it).  The last few weeks have seen me running around all over London with barely time to stop to rest my weary feet.  So, to save me time and effort, I’ve been visiting Blo Blow Dry Bar in Covent Garden to be primped and preened and ready to take my place on the FROW.

The blow dry bar is a relatively new concept to the UK and the last few years has seen them popping up in major cities all over the country, however Blo is a little different.  There’s no dyeing, no cutting, in fact no scissors of any kind; this is a salon dedicated to the art of the blow dry and other artistic finishing techniques.  Hugely successful in the States and endorsed by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow, Blo prides itself on making clients look and feel great, their ethos is simple: Wash, Blow & Go.

The salon offers a set menu of blow dry options, from the smooth straight lines of the Executive Sweet to the plumped up curls of the Holly Would, there’s something here to suit every face shape and every hair type.  Located in the basement area of Covent Garden’s Market Piazza, just minutes from the tube station the salon is cool and contemporary in feel, operating a simple but effective colour pallete of fuchsia and white which runs across all of their branding.  When I arrive at the salon I’m greeted by a gorgeous girl covering front of house with an uber wide smile and amazing hair (natch).

The reason I’m here is to check out the newly introduced Braid Menu, perfect for Festival Season there are a range of styles to choose from, each incorporating different braiding techniques and each dramatically different, from the Russian Princess styling of the Crowning Glory halo braid to the fashionable Fishtail braid.

For Graduate Fashion Week I opt for a Crowning Glory Halo Braid, it’s pretty hot out and I have a lot of running around to do so I figure this will keep me cool and looking slightly less frazzled.

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My Creative Stylist Michaela gets to work telling me that braiding is her favourite thing to do, particularly the Crowning Glory braid because it looks different on everyone”.  She tells me that typically a clients hair is washed and dried in the salon before being styled however because my hair can be slippy when freshly washed, I opt for my braid to be put in from dry.  Literally within minutes Michaela has worked her magic to create a gorgeous halo braid perfect for Graduate Fashion Week.  She pulls at the braid to “fatten” it up and give it more of a messy, undone look and then uses a tail comb to pull some tendrils out from the front which she gently waves using a GHD Curve.  In no time at all I have a completed style in less time than it would have taken me to wash and dry my own hair, perfect!

A week later, I’m still in London and my schedule is off the chain as LCM is now underway so I decide to pay Blo another visit for another amazing plaited creation - It’s another red hot day and the last thing I need is my hair sticking to my face!  I arrive at the salon and am instantly recognised by the girl at front of house and am seated straight away.  With Tasha, my Creative Stylist today, I decide on a French Fishtail braid with a brushed back front, think Elsa from Frozen and you’re on the right track.  That’s one of the great things about Blo; if there’s something you have in mind the Stylists will work with you to create an amazing and unique look tailored specifically to your hair.

Tasha preps my hair and pins the top section of my hair up before starting to fishtail braid the lower section.  Again, within minutes she’s created an intricate French Fishtail braid, with the top section she backcombs and sets it into place before pulling out some thin sections at the front and waving them with the GHD Curve.

If you’re planning a trip London to catch a show, go shopping or just for a City break, I’d highly recommend booking an appointment at Blo, you’ll be pampered whilst you’re there and you’ll leave with a fashion forward style that’ll turn heads during your visit and make you the envy of your friends back home when you share your selfies.  If you live and work here in London then check out the Blo Breakfast Club, you need never have a flustered morning again!

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The salon can also be booked for Batchelorette Parties and Pamper Parties and pretty much anything else you might want to do with a group of your best girlfriends, owner Irina is big on girl power and loves seeing the transformations in clients from when they arrive to when they leave.  With gift cards available, you’re able to gift a blow dry or an up do and speaking from experience, the last thing you want to do when you’re out of town is have the added hassle of doing your hair so it’s a win all round for me!  Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there….

Pixie x

Click Here to book a blow dry or braid at Blo and get 10% off your first visit.

Blo is at:

34 The Market (Covent Garden – lower courtyard)
The Piazza, London
United Kingdom WC2E 8RE

To book a blo out or just chat about
your fringe, call +44 (0) 207 836 5115
or email blocoventgarden@blomedry.com

Monday to Wednesday 7am to 8pm
Thursday to Saturday 7am to 9pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm

*Open as early as 7am by appointment.

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MM6 Maison Margiela Fashion Event

When I was invited by Grazia magazine to attend a fashion event hosted by MM6 Maison Margiela and the chance to get an exclusive preview of the new collection, I just couldn’t say no, after all the MM6 leisure wear is legendary and I have so much of it in my wardrobe it made sense to snap up an opportunity to top up my collection…

I hot footed it from my Bayswater apartment to Bond Street to get to the store hosting the event.  Not in my intended outfit I might add (long story), but still feeling pretty collected in distressed Paige jeans and a Deathly Hallows tee with grey suede Prada shoes.

The MM6 London store is located on Conduit Street, a busy shopping street off Regent Street bursting at the seams with stylish boutiques and designer stores.  Once inside I’m greeted with champagne, cocktails and various delicious looking canapés, even better, I’m told that tonight not only do we get an exclusive preview of the Fall Winter 15/16 collection but we can also shop it ahead of everyone else with 30% off.  Bonus.

Each guest is given a look book from the FW15/16 collection with each runway look shown individually and the store is stocking some of the show collection for us this evening so I’m already uber excited to get my hands on it.  I spot a supersized heavy denim shirt dress that looks amazing and that’s my first purchase sorted, I haven’t even been here five minutes…..

The Spring Summer 15 collection is also available in store and there are some great leisure wear pieces including a long line split side sweater, and a hooded zip through which will slot nicely in to my gym wardrobe.  On the leisure wear theme, there are also an amazing pair of shearling trimmed sneakers perfect for pounding the pavements during Fashion Month, I adore fashion sneakers and these will give my trust Chanel sneaks a well deserved break.

The rest of the collection is as diverse as you would expect from Margiela, relaxed separates and oversized soft lines juxtaposed with luxurious heavy fabrics such as tan suede, alcantara and leather used for trousers, dresses and waistcoats. The shoe collection is strong, block heeled boots, espadrilles (everyone is doing them) and flatform sandals stand out across the range and there are a pair of cute black d’Orsay style shoes that catch my eye.  Interestingly heels are sparse across the collection with only a few block heels across the entire range.

Bold Pucci-esque prints adorn the standard shapes throughout the Spring Simmer collection with shirt dresses, palazzo pants and relaxed jumpsuits leading the pack, the great thing about these particular pieces is the variety of ways in which they can be worn.

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The tailoring section is made up of pleated shirts and dresses and the oversize theme runs into this part of the collection too, with stiff shirts challenging proportions and cape backed swing dresses being the stand out pieces.  Fall Winter sees a palette of plums and purples standing out against monochrome staple pieces, with more bold print making its way into the collection.  I caught up with Charlie Miller, Executive Fashion Director at Grazia magazine, who told me that “the MM6 Margiela collection has a number of great dresses at that magic price point of £300 - not so low that it looks poorly made and not ridiculously expensive either, it’s accessible and with 30% off it makes it that bit more affordable”.  Charlie told me that having had a chance to browse before the event began, she had a head start on picking out her favourite pieces including an asymmetric pleated shirt in crisp white.

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The Mikita Maison Margiela sunglasses collection is both stylish and innovative, these super lightweight beauties are slick in design using only tiny slivers of stainless steel to bind the frame and no screws at all, instead the arms pivot on a looped hinge design.  They’re so thin and light that it literally feels as if you aren’t wearing glasses, they’re virtually indestructible too as I’m invited to test, and true to the claims, they behave elastically when bent.

The collections are rounded off with fragrance and accessories, from mega bright woolly bobble hats to silver fishnet effect clutch bags, the whole sideline collection is futuristic; think flashes of silver with luminous yellow and cobalt blue as the accent colours and you’re on the right track.  Jewellery offset with rope cord designed to look like parachute rip cords gives the collection a street spin.

So, if you’re thinking of upgrading your leisure wear I can highly recommend MM6 Margiela as a starting point but also for some great relaxed oversized pieced.  If you’re bored of the norm and you want to push the boundaries and challenge proportion a little then Margiela is an excellent place to start, with wide legged heavy denim jeans (yes, these came home with me too) and loose relaxed fit shirts you’ll be in with the Fash Pack in no time and the tailoring is an easy way to upgrade your workwear wardrobe without breaking the bank.  It’s a great stepping stone between high street and designer and with MM6 Maison Margiela in your wardrobe you’ll have Fall Winter 15 all sewn up.

Pixie x

MM6 Maison Margiela is at 6 Conduit Street, London.

With thanks to Grazia magazine for inviting me.

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World Gin Day 2015

As it’s World Gin Day and I’m partial to a little Mother’s Ruin, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite Gin Joints.  As you know, blogging and writing takes me all over the world so I have a little collection in my widespread list of ‘Favourite Haunts’ and one of the criteria in order to make the grade, is a decent selection of gin and also bar staff who know how to handle them…..

Some of these places are outside of the UK but because they’re so amazing they’ve made the cut, I tend to find that France, London and New York have some of the most amazing Ginsmiths around but feel free to comment with recommendations, I’m always up for trying out new places, especially if they know their way around a Sipsmith and elderflower.  of course there a gazillion more gin joints in the world but these are just a few of my ultimate favourites:

1.  Barrio Central, 6 Poland Street, London.

Let’s start with London, Soho is a hotbed of trendy bars and nightspots who all want you to step inside and stay all night.  Just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus on Poland Street, you’ll find Barrio Central; a basement bar / restaurant / club that takes it’s cue from New York and channels a hispanic street vibe.  The first thing that hits you is the  amazing use of colour…

Barrio Central’s neighbourhood is inclusive of anyone with a similar mindset rather than geographic locality. A love of music in all its worldly genres, an appreciation of upcoming musicians, artists and urban poets, combined with an appetite for food and drink sourced from all corners and served how they should be.  With a huge variety of gins, the Barrio Central Bar Wizards will be happy to whip you up a Barrio Club cocktail - a smooth concoction of gin, gin liqueur and fresh raspberries.  Definitely worth a visit next time you’re in the capital.

2. Pleased To Meet You (PTMY), High Bridge, Newcastle.

Marketed specifically as a gin bar, PTMY is nestled in uber cool High Bridge, a cobbled street tucked away from the main shopping area of Newcastle and home to numerous retro and vintage shops.  With a distinct deco-cool feel, the bar has exposed sandblasted brick walls and floor to ceiling bi-fold doors which open out on to the street extending the bar’s capacity during Summer.

With a selection of over 80 gins from around the world, the bar staff at PTMY will be happy to guide you towards something based on your tastes, in fact, there’s a whole menu dedicated to gin so left to your own devices, you could be there a while before you finally settle on something.

3. The Portobello Star, 171 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London.

The Portobello Star is a real gem, with it’s own ‘Ginstitute’ this bar’s dedication to gin knows no bounds.  With the aesthetics of a typical urban London bar, it’s set up for dining too and is rumoured to serve the best brownies in town.

The Gin Menu, crafted by Jake Burger, is based on barkeeps bible; The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas and encourages customers to look at different ways to drink gin, rather than just with plain old tonic and ice.  This place is known as a bartender’s hang out (yes, it’s that good), it’s a little off the beaten track if you’re a tourist in London but well worth a visit.

4. PDT (Please Don’t Tell), Crif Hotdogs, Manhattan, New York.

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A good old fashioned speakeasy in the heart of the East Village, I was told about this place a long time ago and assumed it was an urban legend but sought it out during my downtime at New York Fashion Week last year.

Only accessible via a fake phone booth in Crif Hotdogs, PDT is very much a secret that all the cool kids are in on.  Once inside, the lounge is small and cosy with one of the most liqueur heavy drinks menu I’ve ever seen.  The added bonus here is that you can still order from the hotdog menu once you’ve made it through the secret entrance.

5. Mai Tai, Son Bou, Menorca.

The Mai Tai is a typical Spanish bar located in the heart of Son Bou, Menorca.  There’s a sign above the bar which claims that the worlds best gin and tonic is served here and when you see owner Leo in action, you’ll understand why it might just be true.

Order a gin and tonic here and you get table service from the Mai Tai Gin Cart, Leo makes each one himself and it’s like watching an artisan at work.  The resulting gin and tonic is served in a gigantic fishbowl glass (probably the equivalent of four gin and tonics in the UK) and is garnished with fruit and herbs.  A real spectacle and the hospitality here is amazing, if you find yourself on the island then it’s an absolute must visit.

6. Waynes Bar, Rue Prefecture, Ville Vieux, Nice, France.

Not strictly a gin bar, but the staff there know their way around the spirit.  Nestled in the busy Old Town of Nice you’ll find this amazing London themed bar, dedicated to music and entertainment, all the greats have performed here, including The Rolling Stones.  Think of it as the French Riviera’s answer to Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe.  definitely one of my favourite bars in the world, there’s live music here every night and some of the bands who play here regularly have a real cult following meaning that Waynes bar is without a doubt, the busiest bar in Nice and probably the Cote d’Azur.  In fact, regular performer David Zincke is one of my best discoveries since we started visiting Nice, his music is definitely worth checking out.

Come Happy Hour it’s gin cocktails all round at Waynes, with a concise menu of gin based cocktails people flock to the bar to order two and three of these at a time and they’re all awesome, trust me I’ve lapped the menu around 40 times now…

7. Nightjar, 129 City Road, London.

Quite possibly one of my favourite destination bars in London and consistently voted as one of the best bars in the world.  Nightjar is always busy however it seems that it’s still a bit of a cult secret in London.  Situated in the uber cool East End between Shoreditch and Old Street, Nightjar is a little slice of traditional old school glamour.  Set up as a speakeasy, every inch of detail pays tribute to the prohibition era from the styling to the uniforms and even the live swing music.

The cocktail list is endless and gin is the house specialty (obvs) with a huge selection on offer.  Drinks menus are divided in to ‘eras’ including Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition and Post War as well as having a dedicated menu for Nightjar Signatures.  Out in the far end of zone 2, if you live in London or have a few days there then make the visit, you can thank me later.

That’s my list (for now anyway), who knows I might just update it as I’m on my travels and I’m always happy to take recommendations, particularly on any amazing speakeasy style bars.  I’m off to pay tribute to World Gin Day with an invite to C.O.L.D London to not only drink gin but to distill my very own bottle, so whatever you get up to today, enjoy it and feel free to sink a gin on my behalf, I know I will….

Pixie x