£180 – katespade.com
£510 – neimanmarcus.com
Having been promoted by worldwide fashion elites from as early as May this year, it came as no surprise that the H&M x Balmain collaboration was going to be the most popular one to date. The collection not only put fashion lovers in a spin for months on end hoping to bag a Balmain bargain, but also those that wanted the chance to feel part of the exclusive ‘Balmain Army’ living life as “#squadgoals.” There is no doubt that many shoppers took inspiration from Kim Kardashian West, who is an avid wearer of the brand, and good friend of designer, Olivier Rousteing. Along with advertisement from the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, as well as a music video and various catwalk shows, the build-up contributed to it being the fastest selling HM designer collaboration, selling out online and in-store (to many people’s dismay) within a couple of hours.
The intricate women’s collection featured 69 unique pieces, consisting of an array of heavily embellished dresses, faux fur leather jackets, beaded blouses and blazers, velvet trousers, and gold costume jewellery. Using the distinguishable Balmain black and gold colour scheme, Rousteing also sleeked up the collection with monochrome, hints of red, navy and dark green. A few products also slightly mirrored colours that were used in the 2013 Versace x H&M collaboration, including the pink beaded dress and silk blouse, as well as the neon green sequin dress. Despite minor criticism over stock volumes and technical difficulties online, Olivier deserved every success with this extraordinary, incredibly detailed women’s collection, and in the opinion of many fashion writers, has exceeded former designer partnerships by miles.
In previous years, I haven’t been totally invested in the H&M collaborations. I can appreciate the designs, and hard work that must have gone into creating such a thing, but nothing got my bones rattling unlike this batch of Balmain. So in preparation the night before the big release, I set my alarm in anticipation for 8am, giving myself plenty of time to be up, ready and raring to log on to the H&M website. My subconscious must have been working overtime as I woke up immediately at 5 in the morning, anxiously eager to get a head start, and sign on to the website early. I was able to access the page and became almost certain I’d be able to bag the black blazer and devoré scarf that I had been dreaming about for so long. But at 15 minutes to 9, the worst happened, and I was redirected to the ‘try again’ page for no reason at all, which according to various Twitter posts was happening to many customers. From there on, it started my long and extremely agonising wait to try and get back in (much to my neighbours annoyance, there was a lot of screaming). I ended up with four tabs open on my laptop, one on my home computer, and the H&M app on my phone. It is safe to say that if I had earned a penny for every click I made on ‘try again’, I could’ve purchased the whole collection. After an hour solid of refreshing, I accepted that there would be none left for me, so I decided to move on with my life, and went to watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, dreaming of the day where I could afford official Balmain.
At around 11am, I thought I would try my luck one last time, this time around checking the H&M website on my phone. Through nothing other than sheer luck, I was directed straight through to the Balmain page. I had excitement in the pit of my stomach like a child searching the Argos catalogue at Christmas, especially when I saw the products I wanted were still available! Unfortunately, by the time I got through to the checkout my blazer and scarf had sold out, which is no surprise considering their great value, but at this point I had accepted it was unlikely on getting the blazer. Nevertheless, I was lucky enough to purchase my other favourites, consisting of the black and white ribbed skirt, black velvet T-shirt, and bottle green suede clutch.
Fast-forward to this week and my products arrived, and I couldn’t have opened the box quick enough! The skirt is insanely gorgeous; any dream of getting a Kimmy K hourglass shape and booty has become a reality. It fits me like a glove, pulling in at the waist and ending at a flattering length just on the knee. The fabric is high quality, and in all, is of great value at £39.99. The clutch, priced at £24.99, is exceptionally reasonable for real leather/suede. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, but I guess it would be the perfect size for Christmas parties, with more than enough space to fit money and makeup in. The top is also a great purchase, and again, very reasonable at £24.99. From what I could tell by the website, this product and the white T-shirt were extremely popular and sold like wildfire, especially to those that didn’t want to spend too much on the colab, but wanted a piece of the collection. It’s simple with just the brand embossed across the front in velvet, but it can easily be dressed up or down, depending on how you feel. I love love love them!
One thing that should be mentioned is how truly disgusting it is that many were able to purchase products, only to get them straight onto eBay within minutes, and selling for triple the price. Those kinds of people are awful, greedy human beings, and it is so unfair for those than genuinely wanted something from the collection. I really do not understand how some sellers managed to get an array of products, and in each and every size going – it should be against the law of fashion! For those that didn’t get their hands on any, my heart goes out to you, #firstworldproblems right? I will thoroughly enjoy my items, and can confirm I will not be wasting them by putting them up for sale on eBay. They are classic pieces that I can keep and enjoy for a long time.
It’ll be extremely interesting to see what designer will be in the line up for next year’s partnership with H&M. So far rumours are flying around that it could potentially be Moschino, Saint Laurent, Chloé or Marc Jacobs. My money would be on a Jeremy Scott takeover, but it would be amazing to see a Saint Laurent stint in stores, we will just have to wait and see once the hype of this has died down. But for now a round of applause, and huge congratulations to Olivier Rousteing for such an amazing, and beautifully designed collection. Here’s looking forward to next year’s collaboration!
Leather bodycon skirts, studded high heels and padded lingerie are all products you would expect to see hanging in a women’s high street store, not something you’d stumble across whilst in the children’s section. Nevertheless in the last five years, there has been a sharp increase in products marketed in large retail stores that are deemed highly inappropriate for young girls to wear.
Four years ago, to try and bypass the issue, the Department for Education released the Bailey Review – Letting Children Be Children. The government believed that children of the United Kingdom were living in a pressurised environment, conditioning them to ‘grow up too quickly,’ and requested guidance from the Chief Executive of Mother’s Union, Reg Bailey, on how to address the sexualisation of childhood and the ways in which it could be resolved. In total he came up with fourteen various recommendations that included the introduction of age restrictions on music videos and Internet censorship of adult online material.
The sixth recommendation was to develop a specific code of good practice when retailing to children. This meant restrictions on all products for girls including clothing, accessories, underwear, bikinis, high heels, slogans and even certain fabrics used to make them, such as lace. Bailey stated that ‘parents want age appropriate clothes, not scaled down versions of adult fashion.’
But in the time that has passed not a great deal has changed, and retailers are still selling clothing that many people feel are too ‘explicit’ for children. Searching through racks of clothes for her kids, Ruth Lopardo realised that clothing made for girls these days were one of two things; either highly gender-stereotyped or extremely over-sexualised.
“Most of the clothes that are marketed on the high street towards girls are so stereotypical, they are pink with ‘little princess slogans’ or are highly sexualised, and that really concerns me. From about eight or nine, up to when a child is fully grown and can wear normal clothes, there’s a real scarcity and a lot of what there is, is just scaled down adult clothes.”
Fed up with being offered minimal choice, Ruth decided that she would fill a gap in the market with the creation of her Newcastle based children’s brand – ‘Love it Love it Love it.’ Knowing this wasn’t enough to make a substantial impact on the issue, Ruth and her business partner Francesca Aitkin initiated their first campaign ‘Let Clothes Be Clothes,’ which aimed to create a movement here in the UK.
One of the most recent shops to feel the wrath of Ruth’s campaign was retail giant John Lewis. Just before Christmas 2014 during the hype of ‘Monty the penguin,’ the company sent tongues wagging when they began advertising bras for girls as young as two on their website. Parents and various campaigners like Ruth from around the country complained, and when contacted the store stated that there had been ‘an error in loading the item onto our site, which meant it was labelled incorrectly by age and not by size.’ Nevertheless, the product description remained the same for some time, until they eventually altered the name of the product from bra, to crop top.
Other leading fashion brands have also come under scrutiny in recent months. Ruth believes that Next and River Island are also in the long list of culprits that aren’t adhering to retail codes of practice.
“In terms of sexualisation of clothes in the high-street, we see Next as a company that keeps continually being pointed out for over-sexualising girls, and also some of the more fashionable stores like River Island that are aimed at adolescents and young adults and then expand into kids wear. It may be due to a lack of experience in dealing with children.”
An aspect that concerns many, especially child psychologists, is the long-term lasting effect that exposure to over-sexualisation has on children. Recent evidence has concluded that there is a direct correlation between clothing and media content, which could cause mental health risks, particularly in adolescent girls.
Ruth was not the only mother to be concerned about the psychological effects that clothing may have on young girls. In October last year, Huffington Post journalist Stephanie Giese wrote an article about how retailers are ‘normalising sexy before children even understand what sex is’. Like Ruth, she also had young girls to clothe, so using her position of power as a journalist; Stephanie made the issue a matter of public interest.
“We need to take responsibility as a culture for the messages that we present to our girls and show them that we value their bodies as well as their minds. We need to remember that we are not raising girls, we are raising women.”
Back in 2010, Mumsnet, one of the largest UK websites for parents, developed a similar campaign to Ruth and Stephanie’s called Let Girls Be Girls. It stemmed from users of the website who were concerned that increasingly sexualised products were affecting the minds of children. Their aim was to challenge retailers and ask them to not sell products that exploit children at a young age.
Five years on and spokeswoman Jane Gentle has said that ‘since the main thrust of support, numerous large retailers continue to back the campaign, and along with the support and endorsement by the government’s Bailey Review, change can and will certainly be achieved’.
“We continue to talk and highlight key issues as and when users ask them to. The aim of the campaign isn’t to demonise any particular person or retailer; it’s about joining forces for a change.”
Ruth believes that parents will eventually boycott large retailers, and turn to independent clothing makers that can be found online on social media or on websites such as Etsy – but she has her concerns over the pricing of unique products.
At the start of this year, I took on the challenging task of researching a topic that is not debated near enough as it should be in our society, and that is the over-sexualisation of children’s clothing within the UK fashion industry. The project was initially posted through my University’s news website; however, due to the upgrade of my blog, I thought it was time to upload it to here!
Admittedly as a young girl, I would always think about growing older. I would put on my Mother’s clothes and makeup, and pretend to be a grownup way before my time – let’s face it, all girls do it. But luckily my mum saved me from myself and always dressed me in appropriate clothing. However, when walking around high street stores nowadays, with family members of a young age (without trying to sound too old!) I always think to myself that the clothing for children is far too explicit, some you could describe as ‘scaled-down adult clothes.’
Using this observation I chose to develop it into a university project and whilst talking to peers and parents, I realised that this wasn’t just an issue that parents believe to be of high importance, but also the younger generation. Let Them Be Young explores the past, the psychological issues and the resolution to the problem to help raise awareness.
N.B. Results as of January 2015
A couple of weeks back I was emailed by the Triumph Lingerie’s Press Office inviting me to the launch of their new Magic Wire bra in Bournemouth. They offered me an opportunity that I could not possibly turn down. It consisted of a personal bra fitting with a lingerie expert, followed by sending me a free sample of the new bra.
For a girl with a large bust, to be asked this is a dream come true. I am a 32F so it is definitely hard to find a bra that fits me well without breaking the bank. Long gone are the days where I can wonder into Primark and pick up a £5 bra – my lingerie shopping trips now consist of travelling far and wide just to spend £25 on one single bra that just doesn’t even fit that well anyway. So I am definitely grateful to Triumph for both bringing my attention to the brand and for treating me with a truly amazing bra.
About the Magic Wire Bra
Triumph describes the bra as ‘providing women with the utmost comfort and support that is designed to feel like a second skin’. They believe that after extensive research, they have finally resolved the problem of uncomfortable bras, as the Magic Wire creates the ultimate fit due to integrated silicone strips fitted into the moulded cup, which contours the bust perfectly without causing discomfort like a normal wire bra.
I had heard of Triumph lingerie prior to this, however; I never actually knew that there was a concession so close to home in Beales, Bournemouth – despite me working there for nearly a year!
So one Friday, I headed down to Beales to have my fitting. Unfortunately they did not have my size in store, and had sold out online, so I had to wait in anticipation for a few weeks awaiting my new wonder. All I can say is that the wait was 100%, most definitely worth it.
When I received the bra through the post, it was packaged nicely, came with a lovely personal handwritten note, and to my surprise, three little lingerie pillows to make my drawers smell nice! These little touches are what I love and definitely add to the whole consumer experience.
It’s normally assumed that women with big boobs have to wear ugly bras, but Triumph sent me the Contouring Sensation bra in black and beige, and this completely diminishes my opinion on this. There are little lacy panels along the bust line, and a decorative bow at the front, and the simplicity of the design is perfect to wear under anything. It can be worn anytime, day or night, and is the perfect T-shirt bra. Also due to the plunge it is great for wearing low cut tops – there is nothing worse than seeing bras peeping through!
When I first put on the bra it felt like it had been specifically made for my boobs, unlike any other bra I’ve had before. The straps weren’t painful; the cups fitted snug and the bust line sat perfectly around my chest. The silicone strips literally made me feel that someone was just holding my boobs up, yet I could not feel a thing at the same time.
The best way I can describe it is say goodbye to the days where you come home and immediately want to take off your bra, adios to wires stabbing into your chest and ciao to just wanting to give up and never wear a bra again in your life. Some may think I’m over-exaggerating, but the bra is simply magic in every shape and form.
I do have big boobs. Sometimes I really do not like how large they are, I feel uncomfortable getting them out as some may know. But my goodness, never in any other bra has my boobs looked so amazing. And many people would pay a lot of money for boobs my size, so I have been blessed and should be grateful (cheers Nanna).
I would love to get the Contouring Sensation Highwaist pants to match the bra, so hopefully I can save up some money and get them soon.
For girls with big boobies: this bra makes them look better, girls with small boobs: it will give you boobs, and for girls that are fed up with having crappy old bras, just join in on the fun and grab yourselves one of these bad boys.
They are totally worth every penny – just think of it as a long term investment, none of us want tata’s down at our knees by the time were 30, so look after your lady lumps and get yourself a good bra!
Check out the whole Magic Wire collection here.
As dawn approached in England this morning, pictures started to emerge of the red carpet fashion from this years Golden Globe awards. I was awake all night as I kept dreaming about buying furniture after a day of hell at IKEA, so I decided to use my time wisely and have a long look at some amazing and not so amazing dresses. No, I may not have an extensive knowledge about the fashion world, and I don’t really have any place in saying what isn’t great, but I have devised my top five favourite and top five least favourite looks from the night. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues I am unable to publish pictures alongside, but if you are unaware of who I am talking about, then give it a quick Google and you will soon see.
1) To begin with, despite what most people seem to be thinking, my absolute favourite outfit of the night was Emma Watson strutting her stuff in Christian Dior. I think she looked totally incredible, and I loved the quirkiness of the outfit with the backless bright red gown, the black trousers and navy heel. By the sounds of it, Emma seems to have hit the bottom of the best-dressed list over in the States, whilst fashion worshippers over the pond love her unique style, and I agree. This would be a prime example of an outfit that I’d personally want to wear if I was to ever hit the red carpet, although I would never look half as good!
2) My second favourite outfit was the stunning Sofia Vergara in an equally stunning Zac Posen floor length, black ball gown. It accentuated all her best features, including some ridiculously toned arms! Despite changing for a GG after-party, (I don’t know why she did, if I ever wore that dress I’d never take it off… ever), Sofia looked just as amazing in a revealing Zuhair Murad metallic fishtail dress.
3) In third place is the gorgeous Maria Menounos in Max Azria Atelier. Opposite to Emma Watson, it seems that the reaction to Maria’s dress over here is not as great as it is in America, however; I completely beg to differ with us Brits. The cheeky cutouts on this beautifully shaped dress creates the perfect ratio of daring to darling in this look. The colour suits her so well and the simple ponytail does not take anything away from the dress, keeping the whole look elegant. I just think she looks completely gorgeous and I need this dress in my life.
4) Zoe Saldana takes forth place in my ranks out of last night’s looks. With everything going on, this fitted Prabal Gurung dress should technically be wrong, but it is so incredibly right. The highly detailed embellishments, the contrasting pink off-the-shoulder silk straps, and the transparent skirt all add to the uniqueness of the outfit, which has been paired with Louboutin heels and Lorraine Schwartz jewels. For some strange reason, I could just imagine Carrie Bradshaw/Sarah-Jessica Parker wearing this dress in an episode of Sex and the City.
5) My final favourite look was from 12 Years a Slave star, Lupita Nyong’o, wearing a totally unique caped, red Ralph Lauren dress. Personally, I would never wear this dress because I wouldn’t have the gonads to do so, and it is made for Lupita so perfectly; but I appreciate how extremely well designed this dress is. (I know Ralph Lauren would be so pleased to have my approval). Matched with her short hair and simple gold jewellery, this girl looks so effortlessly beautiful.
Now for the bad bit – my not so favourite looks. I hate to say negative things about the outfits because I’d never even be able to afford one of these dresses – but I’m speaking as if I had to go to a red carpet event, and these would not be any of the dresses I’d wear. Sorry!
1) I haven’t heard of Girls until recently, but even so Lena Dunham’s bright yellow Zac Posen dress is pretty heavy on the eyes. She admitted to not exactly dieting in the run up to the big show, stating that she actually ate a thick patty of hamburger meat like a cavewoman, which probably isn’t the greatest idea before putting on a tight bodice. For someone that is supposed to be BFF-ing with Victoria Beckham at the moment, she clearly hasn’t picked up any style tips. If you want to do yellow justice, then wear a gown like Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch’s dress made by Romona Keveza.
2) I really do hate to say it because it’s Dior, one of my all-time favourite designers, and also Jennifer Lawrence, one of the best actresses on the planet right now; but this really does not work in anyway whatsoever. It looks like someone attempted to kidnap her with Gaffer tape mid-wedding, but failed to do so, leaving a very unflattering wedding dress. Unfortunately, social networkers are already mocking her internationally, taking pictures of themselves in a rolled-up duvet. For someone like Jennifer with a lovely figure, it seems a shame to hide it behind a frumpy, shapeless dress, but I suppose she does like to bend the norm, so if she likes it, then kudos to her!
3) My third choice is utter bullocks, (sorry I couldn’t help myself). Sandra Bullock has done extremely well so far in the ranks of awards, and is set to win many more, but this Prabal Gurung dress is not going to win in my charts anytime soon. It’s a bit too ‘try hard’ different, so much so, that it doesn’t work in any shape or form – probably because the dress has neither. Also, the poor design and colouring of this dress looks like something that could have been made in my A-Level Textiles class, but then again that would be an insult to us. Despite this, I do love her hair and makeup, and admittedly, she looks incredible for her age.
4) Paula Patton comes forth in her white Stephane Rolland dress with ruffled draping. It’s not the worse dress in the world, but for someone with such an amazing body, she could wear so much better. The dress would look miles nicer if it didn’t have that draping down the right-hand side. Her jewellery is gorgeous and she genuinely looks stunning, however; this dress is a no.
5) In fifth place is Drew Barrymore with her Monique Lhuillier gown, which to me, alongside the baby bump, flowers and long trail, slightly resembled Kim Kardashian’s Givenchy’s dress at the Met Ball last year… no comment. But hey she’s pregnant. If I ever look that pretty whilst up the duff then I’d be extremely happy.
Overall, my views on some particular designers like Christian Dior, Zac Posen and Prabal Gurung seemed to vary. Nevertheless, there were hundreds of lovely outfits seen last night and were very few terrible outfits – even some of the dresses mentioned above aren’t hideous, but just not up there with the standards of some other gowns. This is only an opinion and I guess everyone will think differently, as everyone has their own unique style.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with anything in this post!