Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable fashion’

Bamford AW12 Styled By Me.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I love that Bamford support British manufacturing and use the best quality fabrics.

We shot at one of the Bamford family estates and that in itself was a magical few days, utterly gorgeous 360 views and the kindest of hosts. These images were shot by George Bamford, who took us to his favourite parts of the estate: from subterranean Austrian style bars in an empty mansion, to a Edenic view of the park, it was simply idyllic.

It’s All Just A Question Of Time.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

When Britain really did rule the waves, the high-point of her Britannia arrogance and verve was the 1851 exhibition.  A huge house of glass – a ‘crystal palace’ –  was constructed in Hyde Park.  Queen Victoria, her handsome consort Albert and their 9 children were resplendent in matching costumes: a visual hit of majesterial alchemy.  Exhibits from the Empire wowed crowds who had never left seen Dover’s white cliffs, as well as foreign guests and exhibitors who wanted to display the latest designs, inventions and innovations. 100 years later, to cheer ourselves up after WW2, Britain decided to hold another exhibition based on those same national pride principles, albeit now in a world where not only was the Empire and our certainty shrinking, those participating and attending had survived a war beyond all wars and still six years later wanted some fun and optimism after nearly a decade of post-war rationing.

70s Styling - Vol Au vent anyone?


The 1951 Exhibition saw the building of The Southbank: a concrete modernist Ark of artistic endeavour cutting a sharp swathe across the recently bombed southern side of the Thames: from Royal Festival Hall, to National Theatre, art lived on here in its mid-century absolutism.  The glass house which had encased the original exhibition was bombed and destroyed in its South London suburban location; what people needed was a boost, a sense of hope, yet like all British institutions, one founded upon a memory, an old idea made good, a sense of the past, of continuity into new ideas.

Which leads me to vintage: when I started buying old clothes, they were that, old clothes, secondhand was the name used and they were: 60s cocktail dresses bought from charity shops, deco bags at jumble sales, Victoriana from Portobello, as a teenager my penchant for silk velvet grew unabated as I would forego supper to buy something which I believed enchanted.  I can’t quite remember when secondhand morphed into vintage: perhaps when the prices went up? Perhaps when others en masse showed how they too shared my love affair with the old, with the stories, the craftsmenship and the unique beauty these clothes hold in their seams and darts.

Last Friday, my mother, my god daughter Zoe, my old friend Sukie and my 3 month old baby all went to Vintage at Southbank.  An homage to all things nostalgic curated by the Hemingways of Red or Dead infamy, to celebrate 60 years since the 1951 with a party/shopathon/fete/festival celebration of Twentieth Century modes in music, art, design and fashion.  Transgenerational, we moved from Abigail’s Party installation, to retro Art School printing class.  But it was the shopping, oh my friends the shopping, where my girls of all ages swooped on pieces of beauty, while my baby snoozed on magnificently.  You see he was already wearing the best in vintage: for I had prized onto him that morning a wondrous 1950s playsuit, baby shower gift from the lovely Mica, offset with a red and black check pair of M&S Vans.  I am sure if he could speak he would say ‘Mummy vintage rocks’.  Somehow too vintage has become a noun and for that I applaud last weekend, as a celebration of the best in past memories reshaped into something tantalising and hopeful.

The next day we went to Kew Gardens: both for Jeremy and Dukey their Palm House debuts.  For a still-standing glass palace and a relic of Victorian splendour in a cozy corner of South West London, I can recommend no greater way to spend a sun-kissed day.

That was a load off my chest! My article for Volt Cafe: Whatever Happened to Counter-Culture?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Whatever Happened to Counterculture


Posted: April 15th, 2011 ? Filled under: Features ?  No Comments

The Sex Pistols were cited as the voice of the underground: daring to swear on national TV, wearing safety pins and gobbing at the audience, they were the 70’s merry pranksters, hell-bent on pogo-ing their anger into our expletive-shocked consciousness: a reaction to the death of hippie free love and the shell-shocked dawn of Thatcherism. But look again, weren’t they styled to within an inch of their Westwood tees and Malcolm McLaren graphics; the World’s End refrain to punk’s politically angry throes: more boy band hype than voice of a generation?  Perhaps their svengali, Malcolm McLaren was a precursor of Simon Cowell; perhaps the Pistols were nothing more than a manufactured by-product of a maestro on the make.

However, the vital difference is that they celebrated their teenage angst: a half-arsed career, spiralled by bad management and indolence, where shock was the common denominator, they didn’t care who realised how disgusted with the state of the nation they were, indeed I’d argue it’s this for which they are remembered more than their music; while the country waved Union Jacks to celebrate the Silver Jubilee, they dared to ask whether this really was a load of old bollocks…

A generation ago, in 1981, while the world was brimming with excitement over the romance of a Royal Wedding, in a parallel to today: Diana, a teenage virginal shy bride, who blushed into her fringe, the fascinating innocent, was held aloft with our expectations and collective gasps of adoration. We all bought into the myth, millions watched the spectacle and believed in the fairy tale. Sadly, like all fairy tales it had its dark flip side. Perhaps if we had been a little less naïve and more astute, we might have woken up from the fantasy earlier, to realise, that like all mythologised stories, there is always a rite of passage, a big bad wolf, a witch and a sacrifice.  A virgin bride, an older, diffident man who loved another, the innocent, yet aristocratic nursery worker who was bound to grow up and ask questions, the institution of royalty; it is only now with hindsight perhaps that we can see what a recipe for disaster this truly was.

While most of us were fluttering flags at street parties, or watching fireworks explode in red, white and blue celebration, there were already the hints of the anger at Thatcherism’s divisiveness to come. That summer saw the Brixton riots: London literally was burning, people who had lived and worked in this country for over a generation, were no longer simply happy to bow down to institutionalised racism, they took to the streets and dared to answer back.

To come were the Miners’ Strike, the Poll Tax Riots, the St Pauls, Toxteth, Hansworth and Tottenham Riots. While it was the era of yuppy, meritocratic materialism: a glossy sense of grab-it-now excess, where we were told that we too could work hard and reap the benefits, that if our prime minister was a shop keeper’s daughter, we too could rise to the top of the pile through hard work and endurance and even buy our own council house at a heavy discount to gain entrance into the exalted realm of the home owning middle classes. There was the insistent drum beat of the angered anti-voice, those who questioned Tebbit and Thatcher’s political framework, the dawn of a time when Britain morphed from manufacturing global force to banking pleasure isle and dared to fight back.

So what has changed in the past 30 years?

Well, again we are about to celebrate the flag flutterings of another royal wedding: this time not to Diana the hunted, but to Kate the middle class, a proto-icon of discreet taste and astute acceptance, who, let’s hope, is more protected, loved and aware of precisely what the contract she has entered into is.

Again, too, we have a Conservative (albeit in coalition) government, again we are in recession and again we really ought to be angry.  Ought to be…

But are we really? Personally I am furious! I am appalled that the cabinet is made up of the over-privileged and under-qualified; I am disgusted that they are closing schools, libraries, crèches, charities, hospitals and public sector jobs; I am shocked that they propose university fees which will prohibit the majority of students from leaving without a debt so epic they will never be able to pay it back. When Winston Churchill was asked to make cuts in the arts after WWII, his response was that the arts were what they fought for and if you cut these, what you had fought for was worthless.

I never thought that there would be a government worse than Thatcher. I loathed her with the venom of my youth: despising her glib, controlled platitudes. Where I too woke up from the seductive dream of the Blairite New Labour’s Cool Britannia, horrified at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least I felt that my sense of Britain was echoed back in the Labour government’s Thatcherism-lite appropriation of social conscience socialism. One where the state of the nation was tied into a world order of equality and democracy, however hard that might be to implement in reality.

Perhaps as one of the last of the meritocratic generations: a product of a grammar school and the first in my family to go to a university, I was a Thatcher’s child. Certainly I grew up believing that I too could and would do whatever I wanted, if I worked hard, possibly doubly hard than those from a more privileged background, who maintained their sense of collar-up entitlement, but against whom I knew I could play career poker and win the game.

The fashion industry I entered as an assistant stylist was a fascinating secret world and I was intoxicated by its perfume. I worked for the Fashion Editor Anna Cockburn, doyenne of a style called ‘grunge’ (but so much more), who challenged the style status quo, with work which allowed the raw, the beautiful and the damned their place; a fragile voice made strong, which meant fresh air, ruffling the feathers of fashion’s establishment (who else would call in Ann Summers which was then mistaken for Helmut Lang by colleagues at a Vogue shoot?), while we partied to Nirvana and rave and believed love was the way to break down the class barrier.

So here we are 30 years on from 1981 in 2011: another Royal Wedding about to entrance us with the dream of a good girl made good princess; another Tory government telling us they are in this too, while George Osborne, the trust fund tax exile, pushes through a budget so draconian, a generation of children will be tied into debt.

While the 1980’s had the Falkland’s War: a battle for a place which sounded Scottish, but which was actually closer to the South Pole; we have wars of so many fronts, that the war on terror seems an endless, expensive sacrifice.

While the 80’s had the poll tax riots, now they are about to make squatting illegal; while students then lost the right to claim benefits, now they are tied into a £60,000+ debt per BA degree; while then we had Section 28, last month Philip Sallon was seriously attacked while walking in Piccadilly, yet curiously there is no CCTV of the event; while then we saw the closure of mines and factories, of any possibility of Britain maintaining an industrial autonomy, now we sit back while the bankers foreclose on our debt, yet issue themselves with bonuses akin to Third World economies.

Am I alone in thinking the world has turned topsy-turvy???

Am I alone in thinking the world needs to wake up??

Am I alone in wondering why people aren’t taking to the streets?

Am I alone in wondering where is the voice of the counter-culture?

Am I alone in thinking that Lady Gaga and her glossy, veneered ilk are not enough of a reaction and wondering where fashion’s politically expletive voice is in all this?

Am I alone in disbelieving that what we have now is worse than what we had?

Am I alone?

Words by Tamara Cincik


Musings on Maximal Interiors: from Hampton Court Palace to House of Hackney…

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The Hackney Empire Interior at the House of Hackney Pop-Up Shop.

Some people see an empty white room and feel a sense of peace, order and tranquility.  There are others for whom this is a blank canvas onto which they can lavish layers of love, adding a treasured piece of texture from their travels here, a handmedown from the family, or a cherished much coveted heirloom-to-be sourced from hours spent carousing car boot sales, markets, or auction houses.  I fall firmly into the latter category: what I described to M. Christian Lacroix as ‘too much is just enough'; I rest most happily in a world of more is more completeness.  While I can and do appreciate the clear charm of minimalism, there is for me an innate comfort in the creation of collections: the sheer enjoyment in the knowledge that my world is filled with pretty things.

This love of maximality started young: obsessed with history, I would try to recreate the past in my imagination – via the portals of time-travel, jumble sales and wardrobe.  Aged 7, I was quite the young fogey: partial to a puff sleeve in the style of Holly Hobby and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Fast track a few years and I was at my happiest collecting again while living out of a rucksack: from traditional Indian fabrics, to handicrafts my Turkish aunties made in our village (my Aunty Meryem was shocked when I coveted an old deeply gorgeous slightly frayed patchwork quilt over a brand new one) and vintage kimonos in Japan from the Tokyo Salvation Army sales.  What might start filled with base essentials, would on each trip mushroom into a Mary Poppins universe in a bag, filled with new treasures, as I explored ideas of  colour, fabric, texture and taste through travel-happy folkloric ritualised design (part of my aunts’ dowries were 100 piece of embroidered bedding), thus to a sense of the timeless root  of beautified utilitarian design.

Last week we went on a day out adventure to the mothership of my childhood time travel fantasies: Hampton Court Palace.  It was one of those alchemically divine early Spring days, the light was bright and the day filled with hope of sunshine days to come.

Entrance to another world: where magic happens through the arched doorway.

Taking in the Tudor Kitchens.

Like a tourist... In William and Mary's garden.

Stuart Maximal Neo-Classical Order

Tudor Chimneys resting in a beautiful blue sky.

What is quite amazing about Hampton Court Palace is how each epoch danced time on her surface: from Cardinal Wolsey’s Thames-side retreat, gifted to Henry viii and Anne Boleyn when The King’s Matter (his divorce from Catherine of Aragon) seemed out of reach and his own future doomed, to Tudor pleasure palace, through to the renovations undertaken by William and Mary, who had hoped to totally rebuild it, as a response to Versailles’ stylistic dictate of royal living.  As they ran out of money, they had to accept this hotch-potch half Tudor, half Neo-Classical patchwork of a palace: eras grafted onto each other.  Somehow to me this is more poetic, more English as we constantly edit and reapply our design motifs onto the past – how many Victorian London terraces have been gutted and remodelled in the last decade to display a new opened out kitchen, defying the rectangular narrow design of the original?

Admiring Charles 1st's portrait - hung directly opposite William of Orange's throne: defiance or humility?

The sheer luxury of William of Orange's velvet privy was not lost on me!

Admiration for Anne...

From Hampton Court, we went to visit Lesley Silwood, from Buba London at her idyllic island Thames house.  Jeremy was quite entranced with the idea of us relocating to this magical place: resting on the riverbank, it is amazing, very Swallows and Amazons.  Lesley and Euan similarly embrace the maximal approach to living: with Euan’s zingy poptastic artworks, Lesley’s partiality for sparkly treasure updates, which given her mother is a vintage clothes dealer, means she knows (!) it did translate into a sunset slice of paradise.  Recently branching into homeware from their  gorgeous bag collections, Buba London have designed the most gorgeous pouffes, a white one of which sat rather comfortably in their bright expanse of kitchen, as we looked out at their cat tormenting their rabbit rather mercilessly in his front garden hutch.

Buba London Pouffe.

As we are about to have a baby, but waiting to move from our let’s call it compact one bedroom apartment until after the birth (translation: until we know what we’re doing!), Jeremy has been actively modifying the space: from creating a shoe cupboard, to repackaging my Victorian owls.  As we aren’t moving yet, rather than install the new kitchen we bought a few months ago (still in boxes in the garage until we move), we have restyled it on a budget thanks to wallpaper and willpower.  Adhering to the maximal codes of overlaid design, I feel rather proud of the results.

Taxidermitastic for Tamara.

After butterflies and gnomes, came owls - an ode to collecting..!

Kitchen refurbishment rather than Kitchen overhaul, thanks to a spot of wallpapering.

The original cabinets are rather revolting and if we were planning on staying much longer then the spanking brand new ones we have chosen, bought and paid for, would now be shining in all their boxfresh glory.  But as we are aiming to move, this then is a Spring-hopeful transformation.

Last night we popped over the launch party of the East End’s ode to maximalism: The House of Hackney, a pop-up shop on the strip of road where Dalston meets Stoke Newington.  Their delightful hostess Madeleine guided us on a tour of the space: three themed spaces, with sustainably locally sourced interiors, where fun and OTT embrace the more is more prerequisites of layering, redesigning and making you think.  I loved the Hackney Empire room, with its Mad Hatter sense of psychedelic Victorianism.

Walls have been stripped back to reveal their Georgian past, while mirrors have been over printed with floral designs and updated with graffitti.  I was totally charmed: perhaps I was old before my time, my little girl well-being was as rooted in how a space feels; and as such I have always felt the pangs of lust of a luscious interior, as much as for a snazzy pair of shoes.  What is charming here is to see how this world order has been translated into something at once layered with an homage to the building’s many pasts, with current stylistic solutions and humorous analogies: Colefax and Fowler on acid indeed!

Have you ever imagine what happened if we dared to step through the looking glass and saw the world through topsy-turvy spectacles for an afternoon?  Well I think it might be rather fun: a place where our eccentricities sense order in their madcap escapades and where good design is shown it’s ultimate OTT overhauled conclusion.

If you do go down to Dalston this weekend, take a trip to the basement where cult baker Lily Vanili’s subterranean tea room will complete your tour.  Jeremy reported that the espresso martini was rather delicious.  As Lily had fed us at Amelia’s 123 Bethnal Green Road book launch, it felt like a full stop to the circle to enjoy them here too at another of London’s charmingly creative responses to duller than ditchwater corporate uniformity.




69b Broadway Market.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Merryn and I at her new store.

Shop Window at 69b.

Merryn Leslie is an old friend of mine: we first met when she was my Fashion Editor point of contact at i-D magazine; swiftly we became close and have been ever since, through the many incarnations of the next decade +: motherhood for her, marriage for me and now poetically we are both expecting baby boys within days of each other next month.  Throughout her latest pregnancy, Merryn has gutted, designed and set up her beautiful new store 69b ( on Broadway Market in Hackney, filled with a fantastic edit of the best in sustainable fashion.

Having last week, styled a shoot using ethical fashion and finding that a lot of what is on offer is sadly sometimes lacking in the design department, looking at her tightly edited rails of beautiful pieces, I can confirm that Merryn’s skill as a fashion stylist has translated superbly into her new role as sustainable fashion buyer and merchandiser.

All for sale!

Merryn talking me through the collections.

The orange cupboard displays beautiful one-off vintage and modern sourced jewellery.


69b covers two floors: including jeans and changing room downstairs

Merryn and I at 69b.

I feel very proud of Merryn: to create a shop like 69b is fantastically fore-sighted: to do so through the tribulations of pregnancy and motherhood combined, I think is genius.  The collections are comprehensively edited, combined with the odd vintage-luxe find, creating a store which feels light and spacious, yet actually contains a myriad of fashion choices, underlaid with the added bonus of their sustainable credentials: ie perfect for a spot of guilt-free shopping!

HRH Dukey’s Baby Shower at 123 Bethnal Green Road

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

A list of deliciousness available at Dukey's Baby Shower

Last Sunday I hosted Dukey’s Baby Shower at the newly opened Bunker Cafe, at 123 Bethnal Green Road ( a shop whose products are all sustainably sourced from within the boundaries of the M25.  What I loved about the store, when I came to Amelia’s book launch there last month, is the way it combines a simple use of space with quirky eccentricities.  Plus designers sold there include some old friends, such as JJ aka Noki, which adds another layer of familiar cuteness to the equation.

The Bunker Cafe pre-celebrations: prepped for the baby shower

My lovely god daughter Zoe came down for the weekend on an exeat from her school in Taunton to take up the mantle of face painting artistry; while Mark commuted between shows at Covent Garden for balloon animal-making duty (plus a rather ‘creative’ balloon neopolitan ice cream, as well as randomly sized swords, which was perhaps more than a sleight of hand!..).

Zoe, brush in hand.

Mark displaying his skills.

Face Painting Art Direction: note how the result matches the outfit - genius!

The staff at The Bunker Cafe were lovely: providing a carb-fest high tea of scones and victoria sponge, combined with Siam’s super-duper triple layered home-made carrot cake. The result: a relaxed soporific haze of smiles and contented stomachs; while mini-munchkins compared their face painted results, enjoyed a spot of colouring book wizardry and fought each other with balloon-shaped swords.

Eddie and Rocco as Spidermen.

Jeremy arrived for the last hour; displaying if ever we needed reminding our divergent tastes in wardrobe!

All smiles from Dukey's Glamour Aunties!

Mum aka Grandma!

As the countdown to motherhood rushes on unabated: part exciting, part scary; this was a really special afternoon, filled with kindness and smiles. Pregnancy can be isolating and I am sure so can early motherhood, it was then, all the more lovely to spend time with friends, basking in a golden glow of love and kindness.  We were bought some fantastically gorgeous gifts, Dukey (our nickname for the bump) will clearly be the best-dressed baby in town!

Mentoring at The Centre for Sustainable Fashion.

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Last week I was invited to be the first stylist to come in and host a mentoring session at London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion.  Woo-hoo!

Alex McIntosh, who works there, agreed with me in our chats beforehand, that my take on sustainable fashion: ie that it needs to be as good as its unethical competitors, while maintaining it’s credentials, is the right way to see sustainable fashion’s future and this then was the starting block for my lecture.  Our opinion was endorsed coincidentally (great minds think alike!), by New Gen winner, designer Christopher Raeburn, at the Esthetica talk hosted the day before at Somerset House.  ( )

Where compared to last season it was a much stronger selection of pieces from eco-fashion designers, on the whole much more likely to sell and get shot by stylists – which after all it surely what it’s all about!..  Was great to see old friends, such as Noki’s JJ, there with his NHS collection, as well as my girl Jessie Brinton take part in the talk.  For me the gold star goes to  Nina Dolcetti.  Her taupe boots were glorious and this season’s ‘little sweets’ collection of shoes, really show how good design and ethical business can be viable.

So the next day, daunted by the prospect of quickfire students and nervous to the core, I entered the pleasure dome LCF lecture hall and hosted the best morning of work I have enjoyed in a long time (goes to show that it is worth facing one’s nerves sometimes!).  There had been a phenomenal response, something like 30 designers came to the event.  So after a quick breakdown of my own career – which I tried to glide past(!), I discussed celebrity endorsement and the importance of visual imagery and consistent iconography for brand identity: breaking this down from the highest of high end, such as Chanel and Dior, how it has worked with my celebrity clients and then how this translates to these designers own developing labels.  Fascinating, when you break down marketing a strategy and see how this effects each of us: from me the stylist, through to designer, advertising exec, art director, consumer et al, it is really simply fascinating.  Especially when you translate that to the power of good, creating innovative sustainable fashion: ie guilt-free consumerism, which doesn’t rest on it’s eco-credentials, but really is a product of good design.

I worked through the designer’s own collections: their lookbook imagery and concepts; spending time with quick-fire responses to their individual strategy and vision for their company, mentoring each of them with different questions, answers and responses to their work, as each is a different designer, with a different style/collection/aim/idea of who their brand is aimed at.  I came back to them with game-plans, ideas and I hope some good advice!  I loved it, I really realised how much I enjoyed mentoring them, when I realised 4 hours had gone by and I would happily have stayed for 4 more!

For links to some of these designers’ work, please check out:-

Mark Giusti

Michelle Lowe-Holder.