Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gary Speed RIP

I'm still in utter shock, so I sincerely apologize if my choice of words are lacking in some way but I still felt I wanted to put something down.

When I saw the news via Twitter that Gary Speed had died I had to read it over a few times before I could even consider it a possibility. Not only was he a fit 42 year old, but only yesterday had he appeared so vital, talking enthusiastically as ever about the game he loved on Football Focus.

As a supporter of your chosen team you are meant to be loyal to a fault, often expected, if not encouraged, to lambaste players of the rival sides. But there are some players that nutmeg this school of thought and gain the respect and admiration of all fans and players. Speed played for many teams during his lengthy playing career, but I particularly remember watching his time at Newcastle.He always appeared to be a grafter, and according to tributes from ex-colleagues and room mates he was always the guy to put in the extra hours at the gym and be doing press ups before bed.

Aside from showcasing his winning smile and impressive knowledge on the likes of A Questions Of Sport he never appeared to be someone in it for anything but the love of the game. Testament to his skill and versatility he was moved about frequently within the teams, playing positions that perhaps weren't completely natural to him. Apparently he never complained and was just grateful to be playing another game. Sadly being grateful seems to be one of those traits that a lot of the spoiled Sport-stars of the day have forgotten to have.

After achieving various records and hard to beat stats over his playing career (including second most capped player for Wales) he decided to lend his ample talent and amiable quality to coaching at Sheffield United. Although not entirely successful he then moved to management for the same side.
He has recently found greater managerial praise for his work with the Welsh International side. Things were really starting to improve for the team and looked to continue with his careful nurture of a few young talents within the team. It both confuses and saddens me further to hear that he spoke excitedly just yesterday about his aims and plans for the team in the coming months.

I don't want to speculate about why this happened or what may have contributed to this sad event, but I guess we should all be reminded that we can't/don't always know the intricate inner workings of a mind that is seemingly content on the outside...We must also take inspiration from the people that showcase such talent, poise and zest for life and grasp every opportunity that comes our way with gusto...

My thoughts go out to his Family, friends and colleagues at this tragic time xxxxx

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Minimum Menswear Press Day


Christmas at the BBC

Goodies from the BBCs very generous Christmas Goody Bag

A few weeks back I was invited to see what Xmas treats the BBC have on offer this year. 
Here is a little round up....

For Her

 I know it's not for everyone, but for Strictly Come Dancing devotees there is a wide range of products available....

If they'd love a tan to rival the slinky Ola then the Strictly Stunning Face and Body Bronzing Collection is a good choice £16.00, but if you have a bigger budget then the Strictly Fab-u-lous Illuminating Cosmetics Case has all the tools need to create a dancefloor ready face...£40.00

If she enjoys cooking up a storm then John Lewis have launched a swish Masterchef Cookware range.  The sleeky designed range, inspired by the hit TV show ranges from £30 - £135.

( for aspiring young chefs they also have a brilliant Junior Masterchef Cooking Set, £30)

I defy anyone not to be totally mesmerized by the footage capture during Frozen Planet DVD, £25.52

For Him

As well as the standard Top Gear offerings ( including the Top Gear Top Trumps £4.00) Jeremy has his very own DVD, Clarkson Powered Up, £20.42

One of my favourite TV treats of the year, showcasing the gloriously grumpy and faultlessly honest Karl Pilkington travel the word in an attempt to tick off scenarios on the Bucket List, is available in time for Xmas. An Idiot Abroad 2

He's not personally one of my fave comedians on the circuit but he seems to appeal to a lot of Dads..
John Bishops Sunshine

An option likely to make things worse for the thousands of football widows out there is Olly Murs Seven Deadly Sins football comedy DVD.

If he likes to think of himself as a bit of a star in the kitchen, get him the manliest of the Masterchef Cookware range... The All Purpose Knife ( other knives available) £20-40

For The Kiddies

I'm clearly out the loop but apparently In the Night Garden is a pretty big deal for the youngans. They have released an interactive Sing and Slide Nursery Book, which is sure to keep them entertained when you are trying to cook the Xmas feast.

The latest Cbeebies phenomenon Octonauts also has a new DVD available

I saw the following gift expertly demonstrated by some very content kids at the press day, and I must say I was tempted to remove them from the contraption so that I could have a go...but sadly it is for ages 3-6 old.. sad face
The Doctor Who Ride in Dalek isn't cheap at £199.99 but my god would it make for a fun Christmas... The 6v battery powered motor gives 360 degree steering and a maximum speed of 3km per hour and the steering wheel has 10 authentic Dalek Phrases that are button activated ( and sure to drive all parents insane). 

This is just a  mere taster of some of the BBC gifts on offer...but maybe I've given you some ideas!


Interview with Polar at Cheer Up HQ

I thought it about time I got up some footage of Polars visit to the Cheer Up Clothing T-Room for all to see- our chat revealed some very interesting things, particularly about certain members of the band ( you know who you are)....
As it was filmed in February it is a bit out of a date but good for a few giggles nonetheless, and the fact remains that Polar are a pretty awesome UK band....

Check out their new single 'Smile You Son Of A Bitch' and be sure to check them out supporting the Young Guns next year.... what a combo!!

Friday, 25 November 2011

News From Topshop HQ

Ashish for Topshop Ski-wear

If I am honest, despite my other adrenalin-filled endeavors , the mere thought of setting ski on piste makes me feel a little bit off- colour. My one attempt at becoming the new Kate Middleton/Kate Moss on the slopes of Italy ended up in severe humiliation... and almost a very gruesome death. Not only did I end up lodged in one of those bright orange warning fences, having to removed by some foxy Italians,  I also found myself dangling over a mountain edge on the strength of a piece of string when my ski pass decided to wrap itself round the ski lift when I attempted disembark. The final straw was managing to get sun stroke and being made to attempt a red run when I could barely see and  yet to fully master the art of stopping....
That said, my abandonment of the slopes should not stop me from enjoying Ashishs' wonderful ski collection.... After-all, I have previously enjoyed Equestrian chic without mounting a horse!
Affectionately known by fashionistas as the ‘King of Sequins’, Ashish Gupta and the high street brand first crossed paths in 2004 when he won New Generation sponsorship.His collections excuberantly mix sportswear and high octane glamour, often using bright colours, sequins and prints. Ashish made  a welcome return to Topshop on November 10th, this time bringing his sense of fun to the slopes with a capsule collection of ski and snowboarding clothes and accessories. Inspired by technical skiwear, mixed with Ashish’s trademark comic twist, the range is both stylish and functional.
A leopard print ski jacket, with matching sweatshirt and salopettes will ensure you cut a dash in the snow whilst offering you full protection from the elements. Made from wind/waterproof fabric and with a cosy fleece interior, they offer warmth and comfort, and zipped interior pockets will keep all your essential skiing equipment safe. A waterproof rucksack and bumbag in the same leopard print can be mix-matched or worn together for the ultimate unique and playful ski suit.
Ashish comments: ‘I love leopard print, and I thought it would be really fun to do matchy matchy leopard print ski pants and puffer jackets and backpacks. I wanted it to be fun but also functional.’
As fun as it always looks I am yet to successfully pull off an animal print, so I'm doubting a full top and button combo will do me any favours, but I am completely in love with the other offerings. The selection of over-sized tees and sweatshirts with tongue-in-cheek slogans referencing snow-sports such as ‘Piste Off’ or ‘Snow bored’ are ridiculously cute.

‘Topshop Says Donate’ with Limited Edition Bracelets
Christmas is the time for giving, but if you are able to gain a lovely bit of fashion in the process then that can only be a wonderful thing. This November Topshop launches its new charity initiative ‘Topshop Says Donate’. Working with the Centrepoint charity, Topshop will be offering customers the chance to buy a limited edition bracelet and make a donation direct to the charity that helps support some of the UK’s 80,000 homeless young people.
The bracelets feature three different charms: a wishbone (my personal favourite) , a semi precious heart and a squirrel; and cost £2. For every bracelet sold Topshop will donate £1 direct to Centrepoint, a charity dedicated to helping the young people who have no permanent home in the North-East and London. Their work is about more than just providing a safe bed for the night, offering essential life skills via education and training.
Seyi Obakin, Chief Executive of Centrepoint, commented:  “Thousands of young people face homelessness every day in the UK, with many sleeping on the streets, living on a friends' sofa or in temporary bed and breakfast facilities. But by buying a charm bracelet Topshop customers can help change that this Christmas.”

‘Topshop Says Donate’ is Topshop’s charity initiative supporting a variety of projects that resonate with the customer. Centrepoint is the latest charitable trust to join the initiative and is in the company of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, Age UK and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Arcadia suffer a setback
On Wednesday I gave into the temptation and dropped by Oxford Street Topshop while on route to yet another press day. After a very naughty splurge on some Carvela wedge boots I have been eying up for months ( they were reduced by £90, I had to really didn't I?), I attempted to escape before my bank balance took a further bashing. However, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw the Billionnaire clothing tycoon Sir Philip Green talking to a camera crew in the shoe department. I tried to take a sneaky picture on my phone but the Topshop staff were on their A-game and promptly informed me that no pictures were allowed. I wondered what important matter Sir Philip could be wanting to get out to the masses.... the next morning all became clear!
Green's Arcadia group - who own Topshop, BHS, Dorothy Perkins, Selfridges and Burton - are to slim down their operation as shop leases come up for renewal (We have got 450 or 460 stores where leases expire in the next three years), planning to close up to 260 stores in the UK - despite making profits of £133million. He blamed the mild winter weather for a 38 per cent fall in Arcadia's profits, now down to £133million. Green said he had not passed losses on to cash-strapped customers and had taken a £53million hit to absorb rising costs - well he has got money to spare with an estimated fortune of £4.2 billion! Reasons behind he reduction in profits is up for debate. Some have suggested it could be down to the  extremely mild October and November, meaning that sales of winter goods have been slower than expected. Others put it down to the fact that people are curbing their spending due to the fact that they are more financially aware than ever before.
The Arcadia group are one of the biggest private employers in Britain - with more than 44,000 staff in their 2500 UK stores. Total sales at their 3100 outlets worldwide were down by 3.4 per cent and sales fell by 4.4 per cent from the start of the new financial year.
Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, said: "Arcadia reminds everyone that the British consumer is still generally AWOL, with no likelihood of a quick return."


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Interview with Sam Biddle

A Global ambassador and Educator, Sam Biddle is well and truly standing strong at the helm of the Nail Art Industry. Not only has her incredible work graced 5 front covers, over here and the US, this beauty jet-setter has generously shared her ample skills with aspiring nail technicians the world over. This Summer also saw her vast talents showcased in a gallery setting via the much applauded Nailphilia exhibition. While finding out more about her successful career, our Stylebible Interviewer Sophie Eggleton wanted to ensure all our readers were up to date on the latest trends for talons....

You are based in Dorset, how does your location affect your work. Have you not been tempted to move to the big smoke?

Living in Dorset is fantastic, I love the peace of the country but it does mean a lot of hours on the train traveling.  We live on the main rail line to London so it is just a 2 hour commute, and it gives me an opportunity to work.  Would I move?  It is funny you should say this, as my husband keeps bringing the subject up. Yes I would move to the big smoke but only to a Mews in Kensington.

You started in the industry in 2000. What was it about nails over any other area of beauty or artistic release?

The fact that they are so small, the detailed work and perfection required suited my inner OCD! I also liked the fact I could sit anywhere with a few items and be creative.

How long did you work as a mobile technician before it got to the point where you were in the position you could open the salon and academy?

I was mobile for about 1 year, and then rented space in two salons.  It was 4 years after I qualified before I opened my own salon.

What have been the highs and lows about setting up a business, what tips would you give to others?

When you’re setting up a business you need 100% commitment and passion.  You have to maintain a positive ‘can do’ attitude, because you will be faced with some major ups and downs.  Be prepared, educate yourself regularly, and set up a good marketing campaign for your business over the coming 12 months and stick to it. You will live, eat and breathe your business, not to mention dream about it, but patience means you will reap the rewards you’re working towards. Another great tip to remember is that any failure is ultimately a success, let nothing hold you back because you cannot fail.

Would you say it is necessary to be a sociable person to do the work you do?

I think this is true; you need to enjoy people and be ready to listen.  You become a therapist when you’re sat holding someone’s hands during a treatment.  You hear all sorts and of course you build relationships with these clients.

Do you have any nerves when talking to large crowds when educating?

Yes! I always say yes whenever I am asked and ignore any anxieties about talking at a seminar, then the moments before, my stomach starts to churn.  I generally have a moment about 5 mins in when my brain asks me in a load voice ‘what are you doing here’, once I pass this moment I can continue without a problem and rather enjoy it.  However in a classroom I never have a problem.

Would you say you have always been a driven and ambitious person?

Yes I have always been driven, I have made sure I do well in anything I set out to do. I am motivated to do well and achieve the best possible results in a creative way.

Were you always artistic/creative. Do you have hobbies that use your artistic tendencies too?

I did art A levels at school and then opened my own pottery business, and always made my own Christmas gifts from homemade aromatherapy shampoos to truffles and sloe gin. I’m not sure how much my family enjoyed these gifts, but I loved making them.

Sometimes creative people finding business/maths a bit difficult. How do you cope with the business side of your career?

I do enjoy business, especially the marketing side and anything which involves copy writing.  However, correct maths and accounting produces a faint film of sweat on my brow.  This is the only time I procrastinate - when I have to deal with the figures.  I now use a great program from Kash flow which helps keep my involvement in the book keeping to a minimum.  I also love technology and use it to help my business.

Your work has taken you across the globe. Which destinations lap it up the most or have the biggest nail scene ( or furthest ahead in techniques)?

I would say the USA, they seem to be the first with all the new developments. A close second is Russia, their creativity and use of these new developments leads the way in the artistic market. There is an attention to detail which is admirable.  

Through your company ‘Be Inspired’ you help other technicians develop their craft. Do you not worry that you will end up helping to create fierce rivals in the industry ?  

I hope they do become rivals in the industry, as this will make sure I never become complacent. Always remember I was there first, I taught them and showed them another way to work outside the box.  Regardless of who gets the recognition for the job, ultimately I win because it means I have done my job properly.  My motto is to give everything I have in order to help others grow. This can only mean I am open to growth too.

In 2004,your world was rocked by news that you had Cancer. What affects did this have on the way you decided to live your life after your recovery?
I didn’t instantly give cancer the respect it was due and tried to carry on regardless, this meant  my recovery was long and drawn out.  It is a cliché to say this but if I am honest, it is one of the best things that has happened to me. Mindful of the delicacy of life I now don’t take things so seriously and can appreciate other people and their outlook on life.  I remind myself daily of the things I am grateful for and actively look for opportunities to grow spiritually and mentally.  Cancer was a wake-up call but by no means am I fully recovered. I still find it hard around others in the same situation as it is a reminder of the pain and emotional strength it took. This is something I am working on.

What are the best products on the market should one want to experiment with nail art at home?

This year nail art became the must-have accessory for women everywhere!
The fashion industry is obsessed with nail art and designers see nails as an integral part of their collections.  It is now easy for women to adorn their nails with gems and create works of art on these miniature canvases.  The trick is to keep it simple, using the sugar styler is a solution everyone who struggles to get their near perfect lines thin and crisp, it is also a great tool to tidy up around the nail beds and add textured effects to your design. It is very new onto the Market available from which offers plenty of other solutions for your nail art needs.  Another must have for me is Orly’s matt finish top coat, I can’t tell you how much I love this, it produces some simply wonderful effects on the nails.

At the end of the summer you featured in the amazing Nailphilia exhibition. How does it feel to have your work displayed in a gallery setting?

I loved the whole concept of combining art and nails together, because within each of us there is an artist.  I used to say the nails where my mini canvases and to have the industry and the wealth of talent within it, celebrated in this way, was a huge honor.

What would be the next step in cementing Nail Art as an art-form alongside paintings, sculpture etc?

The obvious answer to this would be to include nail art within the painting and sculptures.  Right now the fashion industry are doing a great job of bringing nail art to the forefront using it on the catwalk.  It is subjective, some people see the nail art for what it is (intricate miniature works of art),  but others just see the nails and their limitations.  I am saddened as they are missing the point, the nails are just small canvases, either through wearable nail art or the more extreme fantastical designs.  A little bit of common sense should be applied when nails adorned with roses, leaves and fairies are displayed; this is obviously not to be worn shopping.

Your Rose design was extremely intricate, how long did they take to create? I’m guessing patience is key!  

I have been making roses for a while now so it doesn’t take too long.  I think collectively the whole set takes around 8 hours.

You’ve just done a shoot with Erin O’ Connor, can you tell me about the shoot day and what you created?

The shoot was for Because London magazine, and I had the honor of working alongside Kay Montano a fabulous makeup artist. We covered 4 looks with Erin based on some of her favorite spring/summer 2012 makeup looks.  I created nails to enhance these looks, from a grungy sponge effect to the ring finger manicure.  Erin was a true professional, and a great person to work with. I enjoy doing these type of shoots, with a creative element to it.

How does a design start. Do you get inspired by a photo, film, song.... Do you sketch or create mood boards?

I used to create mood boards all the time, but sometimes it is not possible;  if I am creating something for a shoot or a  magazine feature then mood boards are important, collating these references together so all parties are on the same page will help with the overall look, I think this is the closest to reading each other’s minds.  Most of the time for me now, my designing comes from an inner inspiration. I just ask and an idea pops into my head. I trust these little messages and go with them, especially if I am put on the spot and need to come up with something quick - this method works very well. To start a design more often you need a ‘heading’, a subject, like The Circus for instance. Then you build up your references through images, which should inspire you some more. You then start work, and generally the flow of creativity happens and you can build on this.

Can you tell us what the big nail trends are for S/S?

There are all sorts of emerging nail trends and shapes, which I am delighted to see, but it is leaning back to the classic oval.  For next year I think nail artistry will be taken to a new level.  It’s all about design, from abstract, checked or striped.  The strongest trends are the two tone effect nails, from the luna manicure originally created in the 50’s my a manicurist at MGM studios.  In 2012 nails might have a contrasting colour wiped vertically or horizontally across them or introducing an additional twist of applying a matt finish and using the metallic metal effect films from the likes of Minx and Trendy Wraps across the free edge. Texture will become a big part of nail design, flowers and flicks are just not trendy enough. Having a texture or an effect on the nails which could enhance the illusion of length, and create a better shape, will be more desirable.
The water marbling effect  harks back to a childhood art project, and isn’t for the faint hearted,  perhaps suited more for a Sunday afternoon nail project and not  last minute application.  This effect produces the most interesting and hypnotic look which can be worn over the whole nail or just on the tips.

Who are your personal style icons?

I love Edie Sedgwick. I recently worked with Erin O’Connor and Caroline Issa and have a phenomenal sense of style.

Who is your favourite designer?

I love Isabel Marant and Vivienne Westwood.


What is on your ipod right now?

Foo fighters, Kasabian, Jessie J & Ed Sheeran.

What is your favourite city overall? 



What is your best kept secret in your little black book?

Play the glad game and K.I.S.S  (keep it simple stupid)

What can’t you travel without?

T Bags,  ipad and phone


What is your favourite hotel?



What is your favourite restaurant?

Jamie Oliver’s Italian


What has been your most extravagant purchase?

Probably my camera. Its extra special so I’m sure to get great photos when working.

What products can’t you live without?

My Sugar Styler and 508 brush from Ez Flow.
Where is next on your list of places to visit?


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Share and give freely to others and you will grow with them.

What is on your shopping list right now?

A new car

Do you social network?

For sure…. Face book, Twitter, Instagram the lot!

Aims for 2012... more TV perhaps?

TV!  Ha, I think I have a face for radio.  I love to write and create nail solutions and designs to support magazines. I recently did a couture shoot for Twill magazine and loved it.  The nails where awesome, and I loved the freedom I had creating them, I would like some more projects like this. 


Cheer Up Clothing - BEHIND THE SCENES - PART 2

Another cheeky glimpse into the A/W shoot via a nice group shot at the end of the second day x


Wolverine Press Day

During yet another manic day of press days and interviews I escaped to Shoreditch house to visit a couple of my fave PR ladies, Marika and Jenna of 10PR. The first collection I had a butchers at was Wolverine - lovely selection of shoes that I am going to be recommending to a lot of my style conscious male friends. They are all perfect to complete that chic yet cuddly layered up aesthetic this Winter. As well as their trademark, extremely comfortable lace up boots they had some cracking two tone brogues and an extremely wearable dark brown chelsea boot.

You always see a fair few familiar faces when visiting Shoreditch House, so one tries to emanate a certain amount of 'cool'. Sadly once I left the 'garden' area of the 6th floor, passed the pool to head through the restaurant to the lift, any chance of this swiftly vanished. Someone had unhelpfully closed to sliding door and I couldn't find the handle, or work out the direction to I was meant to be sliding the door. After an embarrassing amount of time smearing my hand prints on the glass in front of Plan B, who was sitting having lunch in direct eye view, I admitted defeat and asked the foxy lifeguard for help. Inevitably he strutted over and opened it with ease... immediately. To avoid further blushes I tried not to gain eye contact with those enjoying their foodie delights, getting my blackberry out and quickly pressing buttons to give the appearance of an extremely busy and important person!

Another Sophie fail in the cool stakes.....

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