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LFW Spring 2018

London is nothing if not unpredictable. 

It has been a few weeks since the spring 2018 shows ended but I want to take a moment to look back at London. Why London instead of New York, Milan or Paris? It's where I first experienced fashion week. London designers were the first to invite me to their shows. London will always be, for me, the expression of fashion in the way I understand it best. London champions underdogs. I'm grateful for that. It's experimental. It doesn't conform. 

utility |yo͞oˈtilədē|: the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial

Utility isn't something I ever really associated with London Fashion Week. Sure, LFW is of course profitable. Of course, it's beneficial and useful to some degree. But the designs themselves? If I had to pick one word to describe them as a whole? It wouldn't be utility. For me, the trademark of fashion in London has always sort of been it's lack of practicality. It is wild and avänt gärde. Sometimes, it's offensive. It can be difficult to digest. But it pushes the envelop. It inspires. It breathes youth and creativity and beauty into a world that can sometimes feel rigid and dark. And the amazing thing? People in London actually embrace it. 

Tina Leung & Susie Lau, both in Molly Goddard - shot by Phil Oh for Vogue.com

Tina Leung & Susie Lau, both in Molly Goddard - shot by Phil Oh for Vogue.com

This season though, the thing that stood out to me about London Fashion Week (as I watched it from afar) was that it felt decidedly more utilitarian.

Some of my favorite designers were the ones that were really wearable. I've always loved Eudon Choi but this season his collection was one of my favorites. It was packed full of separates perfectly suited for a day at the office or a stroll down the promenade. Whether you're fashion-forward or style-delayed, his collection is understandable - especially when you break apart each look and consider the pieces for what they are alone. Anybody could wear it. You. Me. Your grandma. I literally want to wear everything from the collection. Right. Now. Especially the pink suit (gasp!). 

EudonChoi_SS18
EudonChoi_SS18

So many designers presented collections that felt useful, essential and easy-to-wear. Does this represent a shift in the industry? It's not minimalist or normcore. It's something else. It's looking at a catwalk and thinking you could actually wear what you see. You could wear it to walk your dog or pick up the groceries. You could wear it to class or to pick up your kids after school. There is beauty and attention-to-detail and a magic sparkle that emanates from the clothes but there is something else. There is a use. And you don't have to squint or work hard to figure out the use. It's glaringly obvious. The clothes are wearable.

To see what other people thought of the collections, I reached out to a few of my favorite people and asked them for their favorite look from London. Their responses reinforced what I had been thinking. London fashion is embracing practicality but there will always be an element of unexpected surprise that leaves you starry eyed and dreaming of another world. So yes, it seems London is embracing utility but there are still wild cards. ✨

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Joseph

"I loved this super clean look inspired by girl-scout uniforms, which was given a luxurious twist with Alighieri's giant silver hoops."

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J.W.Anderson

"Underwhelming but the devil's in the details, as it usually is with this designer."

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Gareth Pugh

"Architectural full tower outfits reminiscent of dark sci-fi. Particularly the opera scene from The 5th Element."

Runway photos from Vogue.com

Hayley Menzies

Simplicity and order are where my heart lies. I like routine. I don't like feeling confused in the morning when I'm getting dressed. I think that's why I have come to rely so heavily on pieces that work hard and that I know I can count on. I'm all about an elevated essential. Timeless pieces that are understated enough to work season-after-season and don't scream a particular designer's name. 

But, that's not always the case. 

If it were, I never would have bought this Issey Miyake Pleats Please skirt or worn this Natar Georgiou multi-color rainbow knit dress to fashion week. Yes, I like a good basic but I love a bright bold off-the-wall unexpected piece that makes a grand statement. The reason? Sometimes it's nice (and important) to inject a little carefree fun into our lives. An easy way to do that is with our clothing.

The desire for a relaxed freedom is exactly why Hayley Menzie's AW17 collection caught my eye. 

Hayley Menzies AW17

It's young. It's bold. It's colorful. It doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a bit kooky. It has a slight throwback seventies vibe. But it's elevated and something you'd still want to wear next season (or even in five years time). It represents exactly what I want to be wearing. The pieces are luxurious and refined but with a dose of something you'd never expect. 

Read on to get to know Hayley a bit better and be sure to check out her new fall knitwear collection. I'm particularly taken by the charcoal arm warmers. Enter STYLECRUSADER10 at checkout to receive 10% off your order. 

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Hayley Menzies

 

Bold. Luxurious. Accessible. 

Tell me a secret.

My next collection - SS18 is my favourite thing I’ve ever done. Blushing as I say this ;-)

Favorite thing about autumn?

Wrapping up in my Portobello Blanket… and not having to think about wearing a bikini for a few months so indulging in naughties!!

iPhone X. Hot or not?

I've not even caught up with hype yet...

Coffee or tea.

Thankfully not a caffeine addict, much more inclined to whiz up a smoothie. 

Biggest fashion mistake in your youth. 

I went through serious grunge stage and dyed my blonde hair red and wore patchwork trousers with DM boots. But i love all the different styles I experimented with in my youth and look back at them in fondness rather than horror!

Biggest fashion mistake recently.

I honestly don't make them anymore. My taste and style is established and Im considerate when making a purchase. 

Fashion is for everyone. What does that mean to you?

Go forth and experiment and express yourself!

Get on my Instagram

My relationship with Instagram has long been a tumultuous one. To start, I refused vehemently to get the app. Then, of course, I developed major FOMO and caved. Then, year after year, I saw how Instagram came to increasingly control everyone's life. Everything revolved around Instagram. How to get more followers, how to get someone to tag you in their post, how to become Insta-FAMOUS and thereby live a life of luxury on a yacht with P-Diddy throwing dolla-bills into the ocean.

I am on Instagram. Yes. But I haven't always enjoyed it. And, I'm guessing you haven't either. 

Jennifer Inglis Johnson's Shut Ins State Park

Wow. Look how pretty.

How transparent do you want to be?

Anxiety. Self-doubt. Severe, crippling fear that you are on the OUTSIDE... looking in at strangers/brands/friends who have something wonderful that you do not have, that you NEVER will have. Magic. Sparkles. Heart eyes. It isn't real. 

Often I have wondered (and continue to wonder) why I am even on Instagram. Why do I have it on my phone? Why do I look through my feed? Why do I take time out of my day to post a photo or a story? Is it worthwhile? Is it productive? Is this setting a good example for my daughter and/or my friends? Am I fueling the fire that holds the hearts of people who feel inadequate?

But a part of me likes it. And it isn't even necessarily because of the likes or followers or the warm fuzzy feeling I get when someone (my friend who I haven't seen in 3 years) leaves a comment saying "BEAUT".

There is something therapeutic about sharing a part of who you are and making a connection with someone else. 

In the past I have unfollowed every account (down to zero) and started from scratch. The people whose photos you see in your feed are a reflection of who you are and what you want your mind to be filled with. Do you want to see women/girls/brands every day showing bikini bods? Do you want a feed full of #blessed freebies that leave you wondering why you aren't getting those? Do you want art and history and culture? Do you want to see your friend's kids? I don't know. What I want changes and that is why the people I follow are always evolving. 

Just like five years ago, when I was fighting the temptation to get an iPhone AND Instagram, today I am fighting the temptation to follow accounts that make me (ultimately) feel bad about myself. And that changes. Sometimes I can handle following my friends who I haven't seen in a few years who are doing amazing things in amazing places. Sometimes I feel happy when I see their photos and excited for them and the life they have created. But sometimes it makes me feel like I'm missing out. Sometimes it makes me flirt with feelings of regret. And that isn't something I want for myself. 

All this to say, be conscious of who you follow on Instagram (or any social channel). The images and words have an impact (whether you realize it at the moment of consumption or not). You have a choice about what you consume. Input goodness and hopefully, then, output goodness too.

See below for a few accounts that offer me a bit of fresh air.

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Insider Access

PAUL SMITH head of marketing & digital

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Unpretentious Luxury

Sarcastic. Beautiful. Plus, a killer tattoo.

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Abstract Obsessions

Unexpected and oh-so-covetable. 

 

 

Trend Watch: Yellow

Finally.

Big bird is having a moment...

It was bound to happen. Minimalism. Normcore. Stripped-back, no-fuss, grey-white-and-black fashion. It couldn't last forever. Of course, color was never truly dead (even if it might have felt that way). There were always people, designers and brands that continued to embrace it. And now, it looks like a burst of light is about to make its way to the masses thanks to a selection of designers at New York Fashion Week who are embracing the color with full force.

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Christian Siriano

Bigger. Bolder. Better.

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Sophisticated and timeless, Siriano takes yellow and transports it to an entirely different dimension. Who wouldn't feel like a modern day Cinderalla shooting on a star in a floor sweeping golden gown? It is what dreams are made of. The straight necklines feel a bit nineties, the fitted bodies and delicate tied shoulder straps remind me of Cher's Calvin Klein dress, and yet it all maintains a very modern sensibility thanks to the touch of unexpected proportion play. It's yellow. It's bold. It's big. And yet, it feels doable.

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Tibi

Youthful. Feminine. Unexpected.

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Tibi, by contrast, presents yellow in an entirely wearable way. Yes, it is still YELLOW (and a lot of it) but it's yellow that you, or I, or even our moms might wear. Why not wear yellow denim shorts that reach towards your knee next summer? Why not swap your black slacks for a yellow pair at the office? The subtle variation in hue makes it easier to digest and the best thing is these separates work just as well together as they would paired with a denim jean or a white tee. Tibi is for the modern woman. Sometimes she wants to make a big statement and sometimes she doesn't. But either way, she wants to look (and feel) effortless. She will in these clothes.


If you're a bit skeptical, take your cue from the fashion elite. Pops of yellow are already visible on the streets of NYC this fashion week. And, we all know, if it's happening in street style then it's going to be happening in a store-near-you soon.

How long though until head-to-toe makes an appearance?

I, for one, can hardly wait.

Street style photos by Phil Oh for Vogue.com

Sam Fox School of Design

Creativity undeniably feeds off creativity. When I have motivated determined people around me I can't help but also feel a sense of drive.

No one captures the essence of optimistic ambition quite like a student who is about to graduate. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Sam Fox School at Washington University to meet the graduating class of fashion design students. They were in the process of making the finishing touches to the collections that they have been working on for the past year. The mix of ideas and materials was so interesting to see - there was everything from hard wearing practical denim to a dress made out of glittering confetti. Inspiration came from peeling subway signs, the solitary nature of desert landscapes and often mixed everyday apparel with a thoughtful restructuring. 

Sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected spark to reignite a waning interest. Thank you Claire for inviting me over and thanks to the students for reminding me that there is beauty and opportunity all around.

Ella Young Collection
The Fashion Entrepeneur Competition

Whenever you can, try to support new talent and young brands. Getting a label off the ground is tricky. There is so much competition and people are more discerning than ever about how and where they spend their money.

Locally made. Sustainable. Cruelty-free. 

These aren't just terms that apply to our food but also, now, to our clothes. Fauxgerty, a little shop nestled down a side street in the ultra chic Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis, is determined to fight the wastefulness that runs rampant in the fashion industry. There's recycled polyester in their faux suede jackets and upcycled plastic bottles in their lining. The brand's founder, Chrissy Fogerty, is proving that sleek edgy designs and a mindfulness for the environment can go hand-in-hand. This is something that discerning customers are tapping into and truly want to support. Not only are Fauxgerty's buttery soft biker jackets and slouchy worn-in tees something you'll truly want to wear they also represent a greater shift in consumption and production - a visible reminder to buy less and shop smart.

Fauxgerty has been selected as a contestant in the Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur Competition. Five fashion makers will face off in a shark tank (or dragon's den if your in the UK) style competition where a $10,000 prize will be given to one winner and a $5,000 prize to a runner-up. The winner will also receive mentorship and guidance from industry experts. Establishing a new brand is a trying endeavor and I'm excited that St. Louis is taking steps to help nourish the talent that's present in the city.

I'm partnering with St. Louis Fashion Week to give away two tickets to the event taking place on November 10th at 6:30pm. If you'd like to come (and hang out with me) please leave a comment on this post indicating that you'd like to attend. Travel and accommodation costs are not included in this giveaway so please only enter if you are able to make it to St. Louis for the event. 

If you'd like to purchase tickets please head here.

In collaboration with St. Louis Fashion Week.

KONZUK

The last year has left me feeling uninspired by clothes. Being pregnant created a body that still feels foreign and I find it difficult to dress. My shape has been in constant flux and, as a result, it's hard to know what to wear or buy.

A beautiful piece of jewelry always looks good though and when you aren't feeling at your best it's a simple way to elevate a basic look.

Simple clothes in neutral colors have been my go-to over the last few months. I've always been drawn to basics but, when you spend much of the day changing diapers and wiping spit-up off the chest of a newborn, they don't leave you feeling very chic or sophisticated. That's why I was instantly drawn to KONZUK. The brand's jewelry is elegant and invokes a degree of calm in the wearer. The stellar collection is made from stainless steel and concrete that is sprinkled with diamond dust. This unlikely pairing references the night sky - bright stars scattered across an infinite black. It's impossible to wear the jewelry without feeling somewhat grounded. The symmetry lends a degree of balance that life with a 3 month old, or perhaps anyone's life, can benefit from. For that reason, and because they garner a lot of compliments, they've been a steadfast feature in my post-pregnancy wardrobe.

KONZUK jewelry & Celtic & Co. sweater on The Style Crusader
KONZUK jewelry & Celtic & Co. sweater on The Style Crusader
Firecracker Press

By happenstance I found myself at a print fair back in June put on by The Firecracker Press. While I was there I realized a few things: Pyro makes the best pizza in St Louis (seriously), exploring areas that appear to be out of your comfort zone is a completely worthwhile endeavor and the print world is a mysterious creature which I want to know more about.

A few weeks later I headed back for a tour of the company's design and print studio. My knowledge of print is extremely limited but I'm pretty mesmerized by it. It's one of those magical things that is all around but often goes unnoticed. I'm really interested in the way fonts are put together and used to form a brand's identity. I always thought those sorts of things were done (and dreamt up) in far away places atop towering skyscrapers set within big city skylines.

Not so.

The Firecracker Press is based on the outskirts of downtown St Louis in a completely inconspicuous neighborhood. Walking by you would never guess that within its discreet walls sits a collection of antique printers used to bring together modern design with techniques long forgotten. 

 

Eric Woods founded The Firecracker Press back in 2002 to bring together his love for graphic design and traditional forms of craftsmanship. The enterprise truly does exactly what he set out to accomplish. At a time when cheap design is available in abundance it's refreshing to see an organization creating in a way that is more time consuming, thoughtful and labour intensive. The invention of print was revolutionary but nowadays printers are often reserved to offices and university libraries. With so much moving online it's easy to overlook the importance and significance of printers. To see antique ones being brought back to life and serving their original purpose through restoration is inspiring. 

The Firecracker Press create completely bespoke materials using old printing techniques that have been cast aside by most others in their field. Equipment that would normally be viewed as out-of-date is restored and brought back to life. The studio is like a working museum that fuses functionality and commerce with history. 

The company is big on humor. Many of their pieces touch on the everyday idiosyncrasies of life. Dirty diapers. Dutch ovens. Dancing naked in the summer with the fan on. These are all topics referenced in their most recent collection of greeting cards. They are simple yet sweet and capture the imagination of any onlooker that is open to having a cheeky laugh.

They also do a great selection of items that focus on St Louis.

If you're passing through the city, or even if you're a local resident, visit one of their two locations on Cherokee or North 14th Street. There are tons of quirky cards and notebooks to be purchased and prints to make a statement on your wall. 

All the items serve as a great reminder of the diversity and talent that can be found in the most unexpected places of our city.

Massive thank you to Missy at The Firecracker Press for inviting me down. 

Overcoming the obsession to shop

Sunday morning trips to car boot sales were what I grew up on. My clothes were hand me downs or were found in charity shops. I felt like I stood out in all the wrong ways and all I wanted was to blend in.

Under stimulated by my clothes and thanking God daily for the invention of the school uniform, hope came in the form of a part-time job when I turned 16. No more 'I can take this in a little and it’ll be perfect' and no more awkward hemlines. I was finally free of second-hand clothing and had the independence to make my own sartorial choices. I became known as 'that girl who shops a lot'.

 

 

I’d hold my friends hostage for hours while I tried on garment after garment... 

 

 

Every afternoon was spent in Forever21/Miss Selfridge, taking up temporary residence in the changing rooms. I’d hold my friends hostage for hours while I tried on garment after garment. Checking the “new in” section of Topshop’s website became routine practice over breakfast. The staff at my favorite stores and the UPS delivery guys became my acquaintances.

I was addicted.

Often I would read about the horrors of sweatshops. The awful hardships workers would have to endure. Hours on end bent over a sewing machine. They’d often be tired and hungry but still were committed to making our cheap clothing. My thoughts never stayed with them very long. Soon I would be opening another tab, gloating over a new chiffon dress and wondering if it would go with the black strappy shoes I had bought a week earlier.

It was the Rana Plaza tragedy that really helped put things into focus. The garment factory crumbled and crashed, killing over one thousand people. Most of them were women. It took this event to make people aware of the extent that some suffer for our disposable fashion addiction.

 

 

I inspected my wardrobe and it overflowed with greed. Half of the items were hardly worn and some still had price tags intact.  

 

 

I inspected my wardrobe and it overflowed with greed. Half of the items were hardly worn; some still had price tags intact. It forced me to consider my spending. I had played a part in all this. People’s lives were being lost as a result of my purchases. But it wasn’t just that, I realised I didn’t appreciate clothes anymore. I just wanted something new and as soon as that new item had been worn and banished to the back of my wardrobe, I was out there, clawing at the rails in search of my new fix. I had become a magpie, only interested in the shiny. 

It was then that I became more thoughtful about what I spent money on, researching brands before committing to buy. The silly assumption I made was that the fancy high-street shops that sell better quality clothes have decent working conditions. But that's not necessarily the case.

Burdened by the unsafe working environments for workers in poorer countries and the guilt I had from not appreciating my clothes, I put an end to my fast-fashion habit. This choice led to a renewed love for my existing wardrobe. Sometimes I still scan eBay and pop into a charity shop but now my wardrobe is my favourite place to look for clothes because I challenge myself to get new experiences from the clothes I already have.

My mind-set towards fashion and clothing has changed. I no longer associate 'new' with shopping. Plus, those hand me downs and charity shop finds I disliked so much as a kid have taken on a whole new appeal.

 

Written by Lola Byatt

Essentials

Bright and bold accessories are fun but simple pieces in classic color-ways are what we love the most.

Take this TRIWA watch, for example. It will never go out of style. The face is large without being overbearing and the gold accents make a statement but don't look obnoxious. It works just as well on a man as it does a woman. It's the perfect, wear anytime/anywhere, watch. 

These glasses by Hardy Amies are also a keeper. I've had them for years and keep coming back to them season after season. They have a retro old-school glamor about them but not in an obvious played out sort of way. They have little details that make them feel special (the brand's signature square monogram sits along each arm) but they are incredibly discreet. 

Quality craftsmanship and attention to detail are what make a brand compelling. Much like this USA greeting card, it might not look like anything special at first but when you dig a little deeper there is a whole history and process behind its creation. That is exactly what we are looking for in our essentials.

Sunglasses by Hardy Amies via Task PR, watch by TRIWA via Sane Communications and USA postcard from I AM HERE found at the Firecracker Press print fair.

Words & photos by Jennifer Inglis