Posts in Culture
Remembering my first fashion show
J JS Lee Spring 2014 collection

I remember the first fashion show I ever went to. It wasn’t good. In fact, it was terrible. It was in the main British Fashion Council tent, I stood at the back on my tip-toes straining to see. But I was so excited to be there and by the end of it I was fighting back tears. Despite the fact that it was horrible, I thought the whole thing was absolutely beautiful. That hectic rush before the lights are dimmed. The plastic being peeling from the catwalk. The general hushing noise of people trying to get quiet. That moment when the music starts and everyone anxiously awaits the first look.

Going to a fashion show is an experience. If you’re willing, it will move you, change you.

That night, it didn’t matter what the clothes looked like. I was being introduced to a world that would suck me in. Over the past few years my zeal has ebbed and flowed. It started with sheer enthusiasm. After each show, when asked what I thought, I’d gush that I loved it. But I was never quite sure what I loved or why. Did I want to wear the clothes? Would they look good in an editorial? Would the clothes sell well in a boutique? Were they changing the direction of fashion? Pushing the boundaries? Revolutionizing the industry? I didn’t know.

All I knew was that I felt something, experienced something.

You can appreciate a show for different reasons. There’s the art, the craft, the details, the structure. There’s the development of a designer, the way their collections change over time, the way they relate to their customer, the relevance of their brand. There’s the editorial side, the trends, the influence, the sales.

There isn’t just one way to decide when a designer has been successful.

Regardless of that, there’s one thing I know and that’s when I like something – I mean really like something. It’s not because I’m an editor looking to put together a high fashion shoot for a magazine. I don’t own a boutique, I’m not a buyer. I’m not a writer covering the shows for any major publication. I’m really just a girl with a somewhat sick fascination with fashion, observing it from the outside. I’m wondering what to wear and how to wear it. For this reason – the J JS Lee Spring 2014 show really spoke to me.

It blew my mind a little and it’s not because it’s anything revolutionary. Quite the contrary, it’ssimple and uncomplicated. It looks good. It’s wearable. Oh baby, is it wearable. The trousers are the perfect shape (slight kick at the bottom) and hit at just the right spot on the leg. The colours are (wait for it…) a mix of black and white (yeah! yeah! yeah!), slightly faded aqua blue and pale pink. THAT pink. I know, okay, I know. It’s EVERYWHERE. I’m actually kind of sick of it already but somehow Jackie’s version doesn’t piss me off. Maybe because, let’s face it, pale pink isn’t the most practical colour fora cocoon coat. It makes much more sense in separates and a little basic dress. The geometric print, the contrasting collar on that white shirt, the curved hem, the sleeve that hits just above the elbow – it’s these little details that make the collection so strong. They aren’t in your face. They don’t scream ‘look at me!’ They’re just there. It’s their subtlety that lends them strength. Plus, these pieces are classic. They’re staples. Yet despite that, they aren’t boring and they feel totally fresh. That, ladies and gentleman, is what fashion is all about. I can honestly say, I love it.

p.s. I want every pair of sandals… in every colour.

Photos via Vogue.

 

Here is why I can't update my wardrobe
Zara
Zara

I have a serious problem.

The problem lies within my wardrobe. Literally, everything either doesn't fit or has a hole in it. I really need to make some updates. But I'm paralyzed, I just can't do it. I can't shop. This inability to buy something (anything) has left me wearing the exact same thing every day... over and over again. It's really bad and kind of embarrassing. Here's the thing though, I just don't know where to shop. I was blinded by the wondrous possibility that was Zara's new collection... oooh, ahhhh, it just looks so good.

So, I went to the website and scrolled through every section making a mental note of all the things I wanted to get (there was a lot). Yesterday I walked into the shop and was confronted by the painful reality that everything in Zara is absolute crap. The fabrics are cheap, the knitwear makes my eyes itch, nothing is cut well or hangs properly. Everything I have ever bought from Zara has gotten a hole in it the first time I've worn it. Bah. Why do I even bother considering it as an option? It's because so many bloggers buy the stuff and post it online and it looks so good in pictures but in real life it sucks. I don't want to have nasty fabrics draped over my body all day long.

Which brings me to my major problem: I can't afford what I want to buy. I don't want Zara's ill-fitting synthetic version of Stella's pinstripes (see above). I want Stella's pinstripes.

Stella
Stella

Oh, sweet beautiful Stella and her pinstripes.

But a single jumper will set you back nearly £900 and sadly we all know I'm not a Clarins heiress so that is out. of. the. question. So while I try to figure out this dilemma which has me wedged between glancing back-and-forth between style.com and Zara I'll just continue to wear my same old American Apparel t-shirts and jeans. Because the reality is, I would rather wear that then a nasty knockoff.

photos from zara.com and style.com

2012 in Review
2012
2012

Wh-whaat? Where did 2012 go?

Lying in my bed on the eve of 2013, I'm scrolling through a years worth of blog posts. Nostalgia is setting in. Pass the tissues. Highlights definitely include fashion week and twirling in the teacups at EuroDisney with Shini. A trip to Jamaica also ranks high on the best moments from the year. My favourite post I did this past year has got to be 'A letter to my fellow bloggers', wherein I write a letter addressing the misconceptions and lies that surround being a blogger. I loved reading everyone's comments and thoughts in response to the post. Thanks so much for sticking with me through 2012. I can't wait to see what's in store for the year ahead.

Happy New Year. Here's to it being a great one. *clinks glass*

xx

Blogging on the-go for Company Magazine
Company Magazine photos
Company Magazine photos
Company Magazine
Company Magazine

A couple of months ago I took some photos for a feature in Company magazine. The article was about where you blog from and my position was blogging on the go. Since I travel quite a lot it's super important to be mobile. I was featured alongside Isabelle, Charlie and Ivania. Along with the photos I also answered a few questions for the article:

Tell us a bit about yourself: I'm a digital and fashion consultant. I live in Zurich but work mostly in London. I started The Style Crusader almost three years ago- it started out as just a bit of fun but quickly turned into something I loved. I blog about all my adventures - from fashion week to coffee dates.

What are your essential blogging companions? My camera and laptop. I use a Canon 550D and a MacBook Air; both are perfect because their super convenient when traveling.

Explain a little about your space: My space is pretty minimal - I don't like having lots of clutter around me.

What makes your location good for blogging? My location changes constantly. I travel a lot for work, which means I always have new locations to capture and I find them all really inspiring.

Why do you blog on the go? I'm constantly on the move so have t blog from random places - trains, stations, cafes, hotels rooms. I blog from wherever I happen to be.

Name three things you can't blog without: Photoshop, coffee and an idea.

Recent inspirations? I'm addicted to Pinterest and Tumblr. I also find daily life pretty inspirational - there's beauty everywhere, you just have to slow down to see it.

Three tracks you're blogging to: Meet Me Halfway by the Futureheads, Ayo Technology by Milow and Doo Wop by Lauryn Hill.

Wearing: Laura Ashley dress, Paul & Joe Sister jacket and Converse.

Is street style dead?

There's an argument that says street style has become increasingly contrived. It's no longer about authentic individual style but rather has become a parade of famous faces and it items. No where is this more evident than during fashion week. People flock to the shows with the hope that they'll get photographed. They strut their stuff, pose while looking at their phone and wait for the desperate lenses to descend. The only problem is this has all become a bit fake. It's no longer about a person's style but more about whether they have the right mix of designer items.

Outside the Chanel show in Paris this season the madness of street style reached an all time low. Behold, the mini studio that was erected outside the venue. Complete with a massive reflector and a wall of photographers all getting the exact same shot. Authenticity and originality are lacking. It's one step further in the direction of making street style obsolete and uninspiring. Fingers crossed we never see this sort of set up again.

Please note: This studio setting was put up by French Elle but other people were snapping the same photos from behind their photographer.


Is fashion week dead to bloggers?
OUTFIT
OUTFIT
YMC Backpack
YMC Backpack

Fashion week felt different this season. Something wasn't quite the same - I didn't feel that same spark of excitement that I normally have. Maybe I was just having an off week but I kept getting the impression from other people that they felt the same way. I can't tell you the amount of times I heard people grumble, 'I'm so over it'.

So why the sudden disenchantment towards fashion week?

 It seemed like people didn't get the same amount of show tickets as in past seasons. My bundle was noticeably smaller than usual. What made it most confusing was that it didn't seem to matter whether I'd attended a specific designers show before. You'd think that including a link to past coverage would increase your chances of getting invited back again but it doesn't seem to work that way. Sadly this means there is little motivation to snap good photos at a show and write a solid report. Why bother if your readers don't care (catwalk shows get the least positive response from my readers) and neither do the PRs? Or, maybe it was the growing circus of fashion week attendees that was putting people off the whole event? Crazy costumes seemed to be at an all time high this season. But it might just be that we are all just growing up a little bit. After attending London Fashion Week for a hand full of seasons the glamour and glitz has started to wear off. With shows being live streamed there's arguably no reason that a blogger, or anyone, needs to be at the actual venue. Why bother getting dressed when you can watch it from the comfort of your own sofa? Whatever the reason, there seems to be an undeniable shift in the way bloggers feel about fashion week. Personally, I'll be applying for less shows and trying to find the new designers that are just getting off the ground. It's not about the FROW (cringe) or being snapped by Tommy Ton... although, let's be honest, I wouldn't turn down either.

Wearing: DAGMAR knit and skirt, Maria Nilsdotter ring and Steve Mono bag exclusively for YMC.

Why I finally got Instagram
INSTAGRAM
INSTAGRAM by Jennifer Inglis
INSTAGRAM by Jennifer Inglis

Shhhhh... 

I know what you're thinking ('I told you so'). Let's just call this one a draw and pretend like my feeble attempt to stick it to the Instagram gods never actually took place. I'm on it now, okay? Are you happy now? Follow me: @stylecrusader K? Alright. Let's all get back to our day now.

Love you all. Kissy kiss. xx

p.s. OBSESSED with a buttery brown leather Paul & Joe Sister leather jacket at the moment. #swoon

What is "blogger style"?

It's no secret that I love a good blogger debate. This morning I was up unnaturally early (6am?! I blame it on the McDonalds at midnight) and saw that a post had gone up on Fashion Editor at Large entitled, Will You Wear the 'Blogger' Trend?What the freak-a-stink is the 'blogger' trend, I wondered. Thirty minutes later and I had left a semi-monumental comment roughly outlining my thoughts and reaction. For the rest of the day I couldn't quite get the topic out of my head. Something about the concept just doesn't well with me. The 'blogger look' is described as: 'piled high with as many designer pieces -  preferably borrowed from the catwalk collection - as is physically possible.'

'...now it's all about being high maintenance, blatant and unashamedly fashion mad.'

 

As I understand it, the idea presented in Melanie's post is that being a blogger isn't trendy enough in itself anymore. After all, just about everyone has a blog these days. Now if you want to be trendy you need to snatch up that 'blogger' look. This is all described alongside photos of Susie and Bryan. Anna dello Russo is referenced in relation to her upcoming collaboration with H&M. It's the more-is-more mentality. As far as I'm concerned though this isn't down to bloggers per say, rather, it's the result of a few key individuals and street style photography.

Take the 'arm party' megalopolis trend for example. As you likely already know, Man Repeller coined the term and it quickly became one of the trendiest looks to rock the blogosphere. Why shoot an empty vessel of a wrist when you can snap one covered in multicolored friendship bracelets, bright jewels, ropes and metal galore? Simply put, it's more visually appealing. Offset that wrist with some double clutch goodness (double clutching – that’s right), throw in some clashing prints, a Prada flaming heel, something furry and a stark geometric print and your good to go baby.

But, I'm not sure why this look is being coined 'blogger'. Street style photographers shoot show goers (editors, buyers, fashion personalities and yes - increasingly bloggers). The real meat of the blogging world aren't those people though. They can't afford designer clothes and statements pieces. By far most bloggers are real people who have normal lives and average budgets. I'm all for being unashamedly fashion mad but that needn't mean subscribing to a set look or copying what other bloggers are wearing. The beauty and worth in a 'blogger' look is in its individuality not in replicating the same thing on hundreds of blogs - that is already becoming too prevalent and it makes the content, and in effect the blogger, null and void.

Anything that exalts senseless excess and, at the same time, claims it to be 'blogger' in nature is missing the point of what blogging is about.

p.s. the story of these Versace sunglasses is now lost in the length of this post. They belong to Charlie and I love them. I love them on her, I love them on myself and I love them on Frances too. Three bloggers in the same sunglasses... oops, wasn't I preaching the merits of individuality?


The function of fashion
Matthew-2

You might already be familiar with my Matthew Zorpas obsession, it began over two years ago...

During the SS11 shows it developed into a full-fledged love affair. Okay, that's a lie. It wasn't a love affair at all... but I did realize I wanted Matthew to be in my life forever. He's the kind of person you just can't get enough of. Charismatic and endearing, he makes you want to be a better person. The Liria Pristine & Jillian Carrozza neckpiece he wore that season still gives me goosebumps whenever I see it. Matthew loves supporting new designers and for the AW11 shows he stepped the experimentation level up a notch. My favorite look from that season though was definitely the simplest: a MariosAlexander jacket and waistcoat combination worn with a pair of black skinny jeans. Swoon. For SS12 I didn't have the chance to shoot all of Matthew's looks but one very incredible cloud print suit made it into my roundup of favorite boys from the streets of LFW.

Nowadays Matthew's teaching 'The Business of Luxury' module at Instituto Marangoni, preparing the wardrobe for a British film, and is working on a product design that's going to be launched by London Collections: Men in June. Not only that, he seems to have found his fashion stride. He's still wearing incredible pieces from new designers but now in a more understated way. Look quickly and it appears as though he's wearing something regular but on closer inspection it's clear that Matthew's outfits are anything but ordinary.

Matthew Zorpas

These are my two favorite looks that Matthew wore during LFW SS12. Yes, the colour combination probably has something to do with it. Literally, make anything in grey and I will fall head-over-heels for it. But I also love that both looks are tailored but still manage pack an unexpected fashion punch. Too often it's expected that in supporting new designers one must adhere to a certain type of aesthetic - to embrace the designs almost necessitates losing one's own personal sense of style. To wear bold pieces in an effortless way that's practical is really difficult to pull off.

Matthew manages to achieve this balance. He also wears pieces that challenge traditional conceptions of function. On the left, for example, he wears a cropped knit layered over a suit jacket - an unheard of sartorial choice (when was the last time you saw a businessman running for a taxi with a jumper worn over his suit?!). It looks incredible though and is actually really functional. With an overcoat you'd completely lose the suit but this knit offers a really awesome alternative to 'normal' outerwear. I need. one. in. my. life. Matthew's second outfit includes a pair of trousers with wide panels that hang vertically from the waist. Whenever he stood still it looked as though he was wearing a floor skimming skirt. In reality though it's way more practical - I'm thinking removable panels would make for the ultimate in multi-purpose dressing. Bizarrely that day we saw a look at Daks that had similar panels attached to the sides of a dress... holla, this is one silhouette watch.

Matthew in Kay Kwok

Never one to shy away from making an entrance, Matthew also embraced a few bolder looks during the week as well. This head-to-toe printed suit with matching shirt was one of my favourites. The pattern channels a comic book kapow sort of electric vibe which I love. Embracing the light and fun side of fashion is what getting dressed should be about. Any item that makes you question how you view the clothes you wear, or that simply makes you happy, is definitely the sort of piece that should be embraced and celebrated.

Kay Kwok suit

Matthew's outfits in order of appearance: Reiss AW12 limited edition suit and Six Lee knit/shoes, all pieces by Six Lee, all pieces by Kay Kwok.

A letter to my fellow bloggers

Hi bloggers,

How's it going? I thought it might be a good idea for us to clear some things up. As I'm sure you already know, we have a bit of a bad rap in some circles - what, with all the front row stealing and endless piles of free stuff we get sent (cough). Since London Fashion Week, I've thought a lot about what it means to be a blogger. There's an increasing amount of shame associated with having a blog, especially at industry events where there are real press and other people who actually deserve their invitations. I'd like to share my thoughts on this and find out how you feel.

First, I just want to point out how dear I find the whole platform of blogging. As you know, I started this blog almost three years ago. It was a little shocking to start off with (wait, you still might find it shocking... but go on, click here, the original posts are even scarier) but I stuck with it. So delirious was I with my new-found platform of self-expression that I posted frequently and regularly despite the fact that no one was reading. Never in one-hundred-gazillion years did I ever think the blog would lead to anything. I didn't expect anyone to be interested and I didn't care if my Site Meter read '5'. The point was that I had a place where I could say what I thought and post what I wanted in whatever way I saw fit. Shoddy photos, who cares? Poor grammar, so what? No one was grading what I did and I didn't have to impress anyone.

Somewhere down the line that changed.

When I met other bloggers I felt a growing pressure: 'What camera do you use? Where are your jeans from? Are you going to that press day tomorrow?'

The further you fall into something the less you are able to see it for what it truly is. When you collaborate with a brand or get invited to an event you start to feel a degree of obligation. After all, you're just a blogger. You should be thankful to have even been contacted.

The crux of the problem between fashion bloggers and the industry is the disconnect between expectations. There is an anger and a judgement directed at the poor journalistic standards. But, most bloggers don't claim to be journalists. There are hard feelings when a blogger is seated in the front row (if she wears a big hat that blocks the view of those behind her - even worse). But, surely, if the PR seats that blogger in the front row then only they are the ones to blame? When at a show, it's a simple courtesy to try to be as unobtrusive to the people around you as possible. It isn't rocket science to politely ask someone if they wouldn't mind taking their hat off. If they refuse, spit in your face, and declare, 'It's fashion, darling', then you probably have a reason to be pissed off. But there's no point sitting around disgruntled and bitter if you didn't even attempt to amend the situation yourself.

There should be no shame in admitting to be a blogger. We shouldn't feel the need to pretend to be something we're not or be too embarrassed/angry to apply for a Blogger Pass at LFW. I really think that if we're honest with ourselves and with others the entire blogger/industry relationship would benefit greatly. Below are my thoughts/tips on how best to deal with the industry side of things:

1. Be honest about who you are and what you have to offer. Don't ever lie about this. People listen, they remember, and they talk. Don't ever say anything in an e-mail or to someone's face that you wouldn't happily have them repeat on Twitter for the entire world to hear. There is nothing wrong with giving information out about your blog stats. If it's helpful for a brand to know which countries most of your traffic comes from, then tell them. Whether you have 100,000 hits a day or ten, there shouldn't be any shame.

2. Consider which brands/PRs/designers you really want to work with. When I say 'work' I don't necessarily mean paid work - I mean a general working relationship. Your blog is precious. Only you get to decide what goes on it. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not inserting the links they want in a post. If it feels wrong to you then it's wrong. There are people out there that will want to support you and collaborate with you on your conditions. Take the time to look for them and don't expect it to happen overnight.

3. Be informed when signing up to networks or placing ads on your site. You can tell when a link is an affiliate one - even if the URL name tries to hide it. I can honestly say that I have never received any compensation that was worthwhile from doing a sponsored post or slotting in a cheeky affiliate link. This is why, currently, my blog is entirely ad free. If you decide to enter into a 'cost per action' scheme then make sure you have a freaking butt load of traffic going through your site. Otherwise you'll be left wondering why you agreed to do it in the first place. Brands moved from pay-per-click to pay-per-buy for a reason... it's because they get a lot of exposure without having to pay you very much (or often anything).

4. Don't get bitter. Try not to compare yourself to other bloggers. Obviously, this can be difficult - we always see what people around us are doing and wonder how we measure up. You can't help but notice when a blogger has 1 million comments on every post, the newest Proenza Schouler bag and a Jag to pick them up at the airport when they arrive in Cannes. Stop it though. Stop comparing yourself. Trust me, it's not worth it.

5. Think about what you're doing and why. I really can't stress this enough. A lot of people are starting blogs because they want to work in the fashion industry. That's fine. Whether you're eleven, eighteen, or eighty-five you can use a blog to showcase your talent and present what you're passionate about. Do not start, or keep up, a blog because you think it will get you free stuff or get you into fashion shows. The reality is, these things are often not free and having a blog (no matter how 'big' it might be) doesn't guarantee that a designer or PR will want you at their show.

6. Be grateful for what you are given. Whether it's an e-mail with a look book attached, an invitation to a launch, a thank you for reviewing a product or a free stay at a luxury hotel. Remember to say 'thank you' and be kind. If you aren't interested in, say, what Rihanna wore to that party last night just respond and explain why it isn't relevant to your blog and ask to be taken off the mailing list.

7. Don't seek fame. I don't believe that having a blog should be, on any level, a quest for stardom.

8. Hold onto the magic. Blogging requires passion, motivation, inspiration and a lot of time. It is, at its core, intended to be personal. That's the only thing that distinguishes it from an online magazine and that's exactly what makes it a vital piece of media. You aren't getting paid to have a blog. Why should you be? It's your little slice of the web. So, if you aren't having fun with it, why bother?

These are just my thoughts and my take on blogging, if you disagree please let me know.

Hope you're well. xx

p.s. these photos were taken by Kit- they're nice, right?

p.s.s. so, do you like my outfit? It's my 'relaxed and chilled-out but at the same time hotttt' look. Umm, yes it is hot. I'm wearing a short black leather skirt - that's as sexy as I get - but with a long silk coat, a canvas bag, and manky Converse (not seen, but I promise they are there). It looks more disgruntled mess than hooker... which I like to think is a good thing. Incase you're interested: TBA coat, Maison Scotch jumper, 2nd Day skirt, Lucy Folk bracelets, Maria Nilsdotter ring, Bottletop Luciana clutch, and Versace sunglasses (stolen from Charlie).