Friday, 31 January 2014

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

Last Sunday, my friend Rachel and I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Smith...

Rachel & I hanging with Sir Paul!
We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at the Design Museum, taking a journey through the mind and personal archive of the creative force that is Paul Smith.

It was inspiring to learn that coming from humble beginnings in Nottingham, Paul fell into fashion by accident and his global fashion empire took off in a tiny 3 x 3 metres square shop that was only open two days a week.  I didn't know that Paul has been taking photographs since he was eleven, and even though it's his hobby, Paul shoots all the photographs for his campaigns and promotional work. More than that though - Paul is always snapping photos wherever he is in the world - it's his visual diary.

I loved the central part of the exhibition, which was two huge gallery walls full of framed prints and photographs, all carefully and lovingly collected by Paul over the years.  There were illustrations, vintage movie posters, famous art works (by Andy Warhol, Hockney and Banksy), and mail sent in from Paul's fans, friends and family.  This was a a very small part of Paul's collection from his office in Covent Garden! Immediately I thought of the prints, postcards, letters and cuttings that I keep in boxes around my home - so inspiring to have them out on the walls all the time - kind of like a live scrapbook!

The Gallery Walls
Paul's collection up close
Meandering through the exhibit, highlights included seeing all the collaborations Paul has done - like the stripe Evian bottles, the stripe Mini car and Roberts radios; the photographs of Paul Smith boutiques across the world - which were all different and featured unique interiors; an entire wall of buttons (!), a parade of selected fashion looks from the archives, and specially commissioned footage showing behind the scenes of a recent fashion show and how it's all put together.

Inspiring quote from the start of the exhibition; s snapshot of the gallery walls:
showing Sir Paul our appreciation; the famous stripe Mini
Women's Country House Print Dress, AW 2006
- Love this, so chic!
Women's Sari Silk Embroidered Dress, SS 2002
A replica of the design studio; the stripe Evian bottle collaboration; a wall
of buttons; Paul's creatively cluttered Covent Garden office
I loved seeing the replicas of Paul's design studio and Paul's Covent Garden office. Both were full of items - books, magazines, fabric swatches, colour charts, random objects - in a myriad of colours and textures, which really demonstrated and echoed Paul's philosophy that ideas can come from anywhere - you can take inspiration from anything.  

A closer look at one of the design studio desks - I spy mood
boards, colour charts, fabric swatches, magazine cuttings...
My favourite part of the exhibition was 'Inside Paul's Head', a section drawing on Paul's extensive photographic archive depicting how he finds inspiring from observing - "people look, but so often they don't see".  Paul takes his camera everywhere and keeps track of the countless ideas and images that come into his head by keeping a sketchbook and filling it with sketches, words and musings. Street markets all around the world are Paul's favourite place to go.  He maintains his belief that ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere, and advises us to "be your own person, to not spend a lot of time looking at what others are looking at, and visiting the places they go to, instead to take a unique view and make some discoveries of your own.  If you go abroad - take inspiration from people watching and seeing what the locals wear."  Sage and simple advice for living a more creative life!

In this section, there were hundreds of images fading in and out of anything and everything - and Paul spoke about what he saw and how those visions and thoughts could be channelled creatively into a piece of clothing or form the inspiration to one of his collections.  For instance, printing the unexpected onto fabric is Paul's signature - such as pictures of flowers or a photo he has taken on holiday.

Rachel and I left the exhibition, our minds buzzing with excitement and creativity...

Then came the icing on the cake - we bumped into the man himself in the foyer and took a selfie with him!!!!

Sir Paul Smith - officially the nicest man in fashion! Still can't believe we met him!!!

Selfie with Sir Paul Smith - this is getting framed!
Hello, My Name is Paul Smith - extended until 22nd June 2014, Design Museum London. Don't miss it!


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Spotlight on: Accessories

More is more, at least when it comes to accessories I say! I truly believe that accessories can make or lift any look, instantly making you look and feel more put together.

As a starter for ten, get inspired by the stylish Hong Kongers in the video below (from H&M Life), and see how they make the most of their outfits by weaving unique and unusual accessories into their daily looks. Watching this really inspired me to think about how I like to accessorise, and many favourite accessories.

Statement Jewellery | Adding a piece of statement jewellery to a look is an easy and favourite way for me to accessorise.  I prefer chunky, statement jewellery over small, delicate pieces, and usually go for a statement necklace, with a cocktail ring. Or sometimes, statement earrings with a cocktail ring - for some reason I can't bring myself to wear both earrings and a necklace - it feels too done! There are some amazing statement necklaces available round the year, at all different price points, my favourite high street haunts include Forever 21, New Look, H&M, Primark and Topshop. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration for statement jewellery (and accessorising) and I like to use it to get ideas on the type of look to pair my statement jewels with. You might also like to check out my post on 7 Days of Chic: Statement Necklaces. I do have some more more delicate pieces but I prefer to layer these - like wearing three of four gold necklaces in varying lengths - I think this looks very chic!

I love to layer necklaces; pics from Pinterest
I'm also a big fan of the chunky watch - often a unisex or men's style in gold or rose gold - these are great in place of bracelets and give a different edge to your outfits. 

Follow M.S.N.S's board Jewels on Pinterest.
Check out my Jewels board on Pinterest

Bags | There are endless options to be individual with your bag choice. My preferred styles are big leather totes and cross body styles for day time.  For the evening, I love leather pouches and embellished clutches. I love looking for details like studs, fringing, unusual (but still wearable) colours and embellishment. The see through bag with gems seen in the video above is right up my street!

My current tote - an ancient studded Miu Miu number, which fits my life!
Spearheaded by Chanel, right now the bag of choice is the humble backpack. I must admit I do my my eye on a fair few and might just partake in this trend - albeit in a way that allows me to put on own spin on it - sleek and pulled together, as opposed to a sporty number! On my wishlist:

Leather rucksack, £63, & Other Stories
Leather rucksack with flap, £55, ASOS
Monki Lana Backpack, £25, ASOS
Smart Backpack, £38, Topshop
So what are your favourite ways to accessorise? Let me know by leaving a comment below! I'll be talking more other accessories including scarves, sunglasses and more in a future post...


Friday, 17 January 2014

Trend: The Statement Trainer

Meet the fashionable footwear du jour that's comfortable, on trend, reasonable in price and available in a multitude of style and colourways... Introducing the statement trainer (move over Converse!)

It's been spied on many a fashionista, including J.Crew's Jenna Lyons, Man Repeller Leandra Medine and designer Pheobe Philo.  The Celine creative director has moved on from New Balance 620s and her Nike Air Max and instead turned her efforts to resurrecting Adidas's 1971 cult trainer: the Stan Smith.

Leandra Medine of Man Repeller in Nike Air Max

Jenna Lyons in Givenchy
The best way to wear the fashion trainer is to embrace it wholeheartedly much like the fabulous fashion women mentioned above do.  Centre your look around your chosen sneaker, ensure it is the star of your outfit and is given the same treatment as your favourite pair of heels.  Look like you chose to wear them (not forgot to remove them after the commute to work!).  The fashion trainers' best friends include tailored trousers, v necks, blazers and tailored long coats, thus making them an ideal accompaniment to your work wardrobe (if your workplace isn't too corporate that is) so don't just relegate them to weekend wear! Then feel trendy and smug whilst colleagues complain about their painful feet from skyscraper heels...

I went for the New Balance 410s in burgundy and love them with an all black/black and grey ensemble...

My burgundy New Balance 410s
The look I'd like to channel!
Here's some more styling styling ideas to pair with your statement trainer...

Textured leather cross body bag, £65, & Other Stories
Navy cashmere v neck jumper, £49.90 (limited offer), Uniqlo
Coated skinny trousers, £59, COS
410s in black and red & navy and cobalt, £39.99-£54.99, New Balance

Are you a fan of the statement trainer?


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! I know we're two weeks into 2014 but having just returned from India, where I celebrated Christmas and NYE, I feel I am catching up on the new year, new me, musings!

The Retreat, Madh Island, Mumbai (where I celebrated NYE!)

2014 was seen in at a pool side party in Madh, Mumbai, and truth be told, I couldn't quite believe how fast it had come!  

2013 went by at the speed of light, but it was a great year for me. I've really been enjoying my job in the world of interiors retail marketing, I turned 30 and celebrated fabulously out in New York, I've enjoyed some cultured trips to Stockholm and Paris, attended a fun hen weekend in Marbella and ended the year on a high (not literally!) in Mumbai.  On top of that, I managed finally to find the time to resurrect Bow Street and began getting back into blogging!

Now, I'm not really into New Years Resolutions... But I have been thinking about what I'd like to achieve in 2014...

Personalised diary from Aspinal of London
  1. Be more cultured. Spend less time 'chilling' at home, and go out to immerse myself in culture via exhibitions, museums, galleries, coffee table books... Top of my list at the moment are My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum; The Hannah Hoch exhibit at the Whitechapel Gallery, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore at Somerset House and eagerly awaiting The Glamour of Italian Fashion at the V&A...
  2. Take up a new fitness hobby. Being so busy means I often forget to exercise and be healthy on the go, but this is no excuse, I must find a way! Options include a shared personal trainer, the 'Tabata' DVDs I've seen which seem intriguing or getting back into Zumba! This also means cutting out crappy foods in my diet, which in turn means planning meals and shopping for them to avoid food wastage; a great little aid for this is a dedicated shopping list - try this one from Knock Knock.
  3. Travel to some unusual or new destinations (for me). This list is under construction after consulting the weekend broadsheet travel sections! 
  4. Build a real presence and identity for Bow Street. I have some exciting ideas and I hope I can really pack a punch on the blog this year.  This means planning in advance, building up a bank of posts, more variety, brainstorming and more planning in advance!  My personalised Aspinal of London diary will come in very handy for this... 
  5. Master some new vegetarian dishes.  I love cooking and entertaining and this cookbook is the top of my list right now: Share - Vegetarian Food for Everyone...
  6. Sort out my home decor wise. The bathroom is well under way, so once that is complete, storage is the name of the game! I need to find suitable and good looking storage so all my lovely things have a home. And, I so want a bar cart, have been eyeing this one up from West Elm!  Other than that it's small touches here and there to bring some personality in...
Some creative home ideas I love from one of my Pinterest boards

Wishing everyone lots of love, laughs, health and happiness for 2014! Xx
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