Saturday, 27 February 2010

Debenhams ticks all the boxes

Debenhams has become the first British retailer to feature a disabled model in its latest ad campaign. This move follows the decision to replace the size 10 mannequins in its Oxford Circus store with size 16s. Wheelchair bound Shannon Murray, is joined by Kate Fullman (a size 16 model), Tokumbo Daniel (a size 10) and Tess Montgomery (petite). 

"This isn't just a one-off... We're committed to using disabled models in other photography with a second photo shoot already organised" - Jenny, Debenhams Blog Editor.

"I think this is a fabulous step forward by Debenhams and I'm proud to be part of such a big move towards positive representation of disability in high street fashion" Shannon Murray (in Debenhams Blog).

Will other retailers follow this positive step by embracing women of all shapes, sizes and disabilities? I would like to think so but I'm not entirely confident - we are living in a shallow world of stereotypes - tall, skinny and beautiful is usually the way forward...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland

I can't wait to crack out my super cool 3D specs to see Tim Burton's 
Alice in Wonderland! 

Great cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, 
Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Barbara Windsor, Alan Rickman and 
Timothy Spall, as well as Alice played by Australian Mia Wasikowska. 
I'm even looking forward to seeing Crispin Gloves- 'Creepy-thin man' 
from Charlies Angels!

Unfortunately, Odeon Cinemas are refusing to screen the movie 
(apart from the premier) in protest to Disney's decision to release the 
film on DVD after 3 months rather than the usual 17 weeks.

“Odeon/UCI has invested considerable sums of money, especially in
 the UK, over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in its cinemas to enable customers to enjoy 3D. The popularity of 3D titles meant that last year these films played in Odeon/UCI cinemas for an average of 18 weeks from initial release.” - Odeon & UCI Cinema Group.

Watch the trailer here:

Good excuse to shell out the extra cash on an Imax ticket!

No more lies: airbrushing exposed

Super skinny models are soon to be exposed! Whilst we all wish we looked more like the perfect looking women (or men) we see in magazines and on billboards - we sometimes forget that they also have flaws. Lumps, bumps, spots, wrinkles and bags.. They are taken away easily through the use of editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. 

New rules are being called for, insiting that all edited images are complete with a warning label. This will hopefully show young girls and boys that there is no such thing as 'perfect' and that their idols are actually 'normal' people with flaws...

Photoshop, which has become a vital tool for editing photographs, celebrated 20 years last week.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ahead of the game: Burberry Prorsum

Last season, Burberry was one of the first to stream the LFW show live online, alongside a handful of other designers including Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton. It was obvious that the Fashion Week set up would significantly change this season, with the British Fashion Council announcing a digital schedule, showcasing over 40 shows and allowing the outside-in.

Christopher Bailey has been trying hard to make Burberry appeal to the digital age - streaming live and launching social networking site 'Art of the Trench'. This season he has succeeded to outdo other designers by streaming the Burberry Prorsum A/W 2010 Womenswear show live - and in 3D! Parties were held in New York, Paris, LA, Tokyo and Dubai where visitors were given 3D glasses to watch the show. Not one to take the easy route - Anna Wintour flew to London exclusively for this show, rather than attending the NY viewing.

At the Sketchbook offices, we turned the lights off, closed the curtains, turned the volume up and tuned in to watch the show (in regular 2D) online at 4pm today. There were a few technical hitches (especially at the beginning) and we thought it was going to crash but through 2 laptops and 3 websites, we managed to watch it!

As usual, the collection was full of "I wan't that one" pieces and we all "ooh-d" and "aah-d" in all the right places. We were very exited about the zip concept that allows the wearer to adapt a long jacked to a cropped jacket etc. I also loved the leather buckle details, brass buttons and high neck shirts.  The silhouettes are equally as flattering as always and I loved the earthy/military/navy inspired colour palette.

Missed the show? Watch the playback at:

Monday, 22 February 2010

Ella's Pop-up Bakehouse & other Topshop treats

After a meeting in Carnaby Street, I popped over to Topshop to pick up some delicious looking cupcakes from the Ella's Bakehouse pop-up store (located on the upper ground floor opposite the information desk). 

I picked 2 vanilla cupcakes (complete with dresses and shoes), 1 vanilla with maltesers and 1 lemon with poppyseeds. All scrumptious - Please note: I shared them with 4 others, didn't scoff the lot. They open from 12 and if you visit at 3pm, Lorraine Pascale (the model-turned-baker who founded Ella's Bakehouse) will be giving icing demonstrations. Yum!

Also visit Topshop for a range of additional LFW treats - Live DJ sets, TOMS shoe customising, a Wah Nails pop-up salon and a video wall showing various live shows fresh from the catwalk.

Tomorrow from 12-7 you can also visit a blogging masterclass - run by the girls behind Disneyrollergirl, Oh Elle and Coco's Tea Party.

Tomorrow is the last day to catch the LFW events and workshops at Topshop so you better get yourselves down there fast. 


For more info on all the events I mentioned above visit 

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Plus - Size - Zero

Last season, Mark Fast caused a media frenzy by sending plus size models down the catwalk to showcase his collection. Despite this, he stuck to his guns and used curvy models again yesterday, during his A/W 2010 show. Alongside these models were the usual (or un-usual!) size zero types...

I'm not sure why he mixed things up - maybe he wasn't confident enough to rely on the curvier models? In my opinion, he should've stuck to the curvy models - because adding the size zeros made them look much bigger in comparison, whereas on their own they look healthy and normal. 

I don't see why more designers haven't embraced curvier women - even just size 10s at least? Slim but with a bit of curve and no bones sticking out...

Friday, 19 February 2010

French Connection's new look

Quite impressed with the re-branding of French Connection.. Their latest S/S 10 campaign has caught my attention..

'His love for his beard is fierce and raw. He knows that a beard is a poem. Do not touch his beard. If you do not know so much about the beard, the man can help you.' - French Connection Manifesto

'Men have lost the ungentle art of manliness. The man in the street doesn't know what to bring to a knife fight. He gets nervous around large fish. He can't tie a full Windsor. Men have forgotten how to snap a bra open with a click of their fingers - women are undoing their own bras to save time! Meanwhile guys are eating little portions of leaves and putting too much gel in their hair... It's time to man up.' - French Connection Manifesto

I don't understand the bunny ears? Can anyone explain? - Marc Jacobs reference? Or Playboy?!

I don't completely understand this concept but it's definitely made me remember the brand. I even stopped in the street to take photographs... Usually I don't pay any attention to French Connection!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Skylon Restaurant

On Saturday night I was taken to Skylon, a restaurant located within the Royal Festival Hall. The restaurant includes a floor to ceiling glass window that overlooks the South Bank and River Thames. Being afraid of heights, I made sure Paul reserved a table in the middle of the restaurant rather than near the edge!

The service was very good - our coats were taken to the cloakroom as soon as we arrived, our waiter answered all our questions about the menu and helped advise us about the best desserts. Our wine was topped up (cleverly) as soon as the contents in our glass started to get low but we weren't pushed to buy another bottle.

The food was delicious. 

To start I had the Pumpkin Soup although I'd never tried pumpkin before. It was served in a very small bowl with a very wide rim but it was just enough to go with the complimentary bread. Paul had the Chicken Broth with Ricotta Tortellini which was also good (although I don't like chicken).

For the main course I had the Caramelised Lamb Shoulder with Spiced Couscous and Red Onions. The portion of lamb was massive, although the couscous was pretty scarce. The meat was very tender and cooked beautifully. Paul had the Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Parmesan Polenta and Cider Sauce. He thought it was a little under-cooked but ate most of it happily despite this - I should note here that Paul is a bit paranoid about meat being under-cooked so likes everything well done. I think it was fine! We also had green beans on the side (nice but you can't really go wrong with beans).

Choosing the dessert was more difficult because we wanted most of them! We finally chose the dessert of the day - Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream - and Catalan Rice Pudding with Orange Zest, Vanilla, Fennel and Mandarin Sorbet. Both equally scrumptious!

The atmosphere was relaxed but chic - with a mixture of valentines couples, bankers and city types, middle aged men and women and young proffessionals. The bill was reasonable for the food and wine and I'd happily go back there (although only for a special occasion).

NB: Images from Skylon wesbite

Monday, 15 February 2010

Wicked: The Musical

It's been a busy week what with all this commercial Valentines nonsense which I admit I seem to get caught up in (and my boyfriend too) every year.  We went for dinner and to the theatre on Thursday night, to dinner again on Saturday night (more about that in another post) and stayed in and cooked dinner on Sunday night.

I'll start with Thursday night...


I took Paul on a surprise visit to Wicked: The Musical. I have actually seen it before (about a year and a half ago) but Paul was always jealous that I went to see it with my friends and not with him, so I decided to take him. Didn't take long for him to guess though - as soon as we stepped out of Victoria Station the whole road was glowing green! 

Once again it was a really enjoyable production with catchy songs and a great set and stage costumes. Wicked tells the 'untold' story of the love/hate relationship between the good witch and the wicked witch, pre-Wizard of Oz. 

What made it for me - both times - was Elphaba. Elphaba (the wicked witch) is played by Alexia Khadime - previously Nala from The Lion King - who has the most fantastic and powerful voice which definitely stole the show. In comparison, Dianne Pilkington who plays Glinda (the good witch) has a very screetchy voice which got on my nerves almost instantly.

I don't want to say too much as I don't want to give anything away and ruin something incase anyone decides to go... The story is fun and suitable for adults as well as children. Don't expect a deeply educational evening but I'd definitely recommend this show to someone looking for some light hearted entertainment...

Friday, 12 February 2010

A tragic Loss: Lee Alexander McQueen

I was shocked yesterday when I heard the news that Lee Alexander McQueen had killed himself. I was on the train at the time and started frantically trying to Google the news on my phone. 

It appears that he was so devastated by the death of his mother that he decided to take his own life - the day before her funeral. He had tweeted the news of her death and later admitted that he had had an awful week but his friends had been very supportive... "Now I have to somehow pull myself together".  McQueen had also previously struggled with the loss of close friend Isabella Blow in 2007.

McQueen was awarded 'British Designer of the Year' four times and also received a CBE. He was a great inspiration to British designers and will continue to influence many individuals for years to come. It is not known what will happen to the Alexander McQueen label but I am hopeful that it will continue to thrive. His latest collection was due to be shown during Paris Fashion Week in a few weeks.

I decided to take a walk down to Old Bond Street to visit the McQueen store, as I was in the area with some time to spare. The store was closed and the window display had been stripped away, leaving a blank window with a small sign announcing his death. 

"On behalf of Lee McQueen's family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand passed away.

Lee's family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media and the public will respect this."

A single candle was burning by the entrance and a few flowers had been left by the window...

I stood there for about 5 or 6 minutes and although it had been pretty quiet when I arrived, it seems many people had the same idea as me as it soon began to get busier although the atmosphere remained quiet and emotional.

To Mr Lee Alexander McQueen CBE.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

It's not just any ad... it's an M&S ad

The new M&S ad campaign will be hitting our TV screens / magazines next month. But this time there is a new line up. Joining Twiggy this season will be...

X Fator judge Dannii Minogue (4 months pregnant might I add)

Model/TV presenter/radio host Lisa Snowdon

Singer VV Brown, known for her kooky vintage style

Brazilian supermodel Ana Beatriz Barros

Dannii has been tweeting about the lovely weather in Cape Town, where they are shooting. She also admitted "I'm so excited to be a Marks & Spencer girl"!

An eclectic mix of models this time around - I wonder how they will all get on?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Kissed by Lulu Guinness

On Monday afternoon I took myself off to Carnaby Street to visit the Lulu Guinness Pop-Up shop which opened earlier that day. Unfortunately I was too busy to make the photocall at 1pm so I missed the better photo opportunity with Erin O'Connor, Lulu Guinness, Harold Tillman etc. but I still wanted to have a mooch round.

Clean, simple and girly, this store features a limited selection of products including rows of the famous Lulu Guinness Lips Clutch in loads of different colours. There was a couch in the shape of lips and Lulu's kisses all over the walls. There was even a laptop linked up to the blog where I posted a comment on behalf of Sketchbook Magazine.

My favourite thing in the shop was funnily enough not a handbag or cute necklace but a £10 mug - plain white with a red lipstick mark! 

Lulu is donating a percentage of the sales to students studying the historical and contemporary practice of fashion at London College of Fashion. She launched a scholarship for MA Accessories/Artefact Design last summer, to celebrate her 20th anniversary.

The store 'Kissed by Lulu Guinness' is open for a limited period, closing on 22nd Feb.
Catch it quick: 65-67 Broadwick Street (Off Carnaby Street).

Visit the blog for updates on events and visitors in the store and to watch a clip from the opening: