Monday, 27 September 2010

Chic&Seek - be on trend for less

Chic and Seek is an online shop for high quality second hand clothes.  The web business was created by Tara Nash-King who acts as a broker between sellers and buyers. Tara selects,  sets the prices, photographs and stores the clothes, shoes and accessories presented on the website. The designers she features include Anya Hindmarch, Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloe, Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Mulberry and YSL.
My friend Estelle organised the meeting and we went to see Tara to better understand her venture. Whilst the business is online, Tara's showroom is located in her Notting Hill house where she hosts open days (the next one is Wednesday 28th October) and receives clients by appointment. Fresh faced and personable, Tara exudes enthusiasm for her business and professionalism. The clothes or accessories might be second hand, but service is first class, down to sleek pouches and personalised carrier bags.

 Tara explained that she had long resisted her family's all-consuming entrepreneurial passion. After university, she started working for other people, an accessories company then handbag queen Anya Hindmarch, but soon realised that she too is an entrepreneur at heart. Having sadly lost both her parents at a young age, she took up their mantle, bought a house where she knew that she would some day set up a business. Starting with friends and family, she sourced designer clothes that could have a second life.  Through trial and error, she developed her ability to assess what sells and at what price, and Chic & Seek was born!
Whether they are looking for a bargain or wish to make a return on good clothes they no longer wear, Chic & Seek appeals to women with a taste for high fashion.  Buyers might be time-poor and appreciate Tara's ability to select pieces for them, especially if they make use of the online "chic list" where customers can select items they like.  Others might have a bit too much time on their hands at work and enjoy browsing her website for favourite designers.  Another category of customers is mums who don't want to spend too much on clothes but still look smart and up-to-date. From what I saw on the rails and on the shelves, I think 40+ women could find very good pieces - as long as they can fit a 10, as clothes tend to come in the smaller sizes. Shoes mostly come in size 39-40.  
Louboutin, £260

 Chanel, £1095
In memory of her mother who supported many good causes, Tara organises charity events where customers can combine the fun of shopping with doing good. The next event (focused on breast cancer awareness) takes place on 14th October at Doyle Devere gallery at 30 Ledbury road, London W11 2AB, where hungry shoppers will be able to cross the road to enjoy a 50% discount at Beach Blanket Babylon.
Balenciaga, £1500

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fur-lined boots

In typical fashion manner where seasons are determined a year in advance, on a balmy September week, we are presented with THE supposed trend for boots this winter: shearling lining. My source on that bit of news is How To Spend It, the FT's weekend aspirational magazine.  Its name is so well-chosen, so crude in its assessment of what should still make us dream despite the credit crunch and the collapse of the economy - a world of excess, redolent of bored men and women desperate to spend their way into happiness, that it has to be admired.  With prices hovering around the £600 mark, those trendy boots need to be taken with a pinch of salt and require translation into affordable versions!
I must confess that I like Rupert Sanderson's leather and shearling bootie (£765):
New Look's high street version don't have quite the same look or quality but might do the trick and actually be wearable in the snow.
Browse through their collection on the web for affordable interpretations of the same ideas:

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Fabulous style!

Who ever thought that women over 40 ought to look boring and conservative should follow the lead of Judy, snapped on Portobello road. She gracefully accepted my request for a picture. Not only does she look fabulous but she pulls off colours that younger women might shy away from. She successfully pairs up vibrant oranges with a patterned top in greens and browns. The bag worn across her chest and statement sun glasses complete the outfit.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ray Harris - looking ahead!

Days are getting shorter, August is giving way to September, children are going back to school and we will soon take woolens and coats out of storage.  For those who still want to cling to summer and look ahead at what desigers have in store for us for Spring/Summer 2011, here is a glimpse at Ray Harris ' collection. The mood is nostalgic and reflective and Arno's beautiful pictures convey the bittersweet reality of a world coming to terms with reality after decades of wild growth.

Ray's words to describe his collection, Dreams and Sorrows, with my highlights in large print:

- a changing world
- facing new realities and harder times
- funerals and circuses – beauty and wonder face-to-face with sadness
- simplicity of the child-mind embracing both the spirit and joy of the dressing up box and the cruelty of “the lord of the flies”
- mixing feathers and pyjamas, broken dolls and wounded animals
- distressed sophistication
- appropriateness – our world is sick from excess of choice -stimulation, information, accessibility etc, whilst another world struggles to survive
- our clothes reflect our search for balance
- fashion so integral to our culture, is evolving through a transition from a basis of hype and disposability, to a new integrity
- we search for vintage, or the spirit of vintage to add meaning and resonance to our garments, lest they feel empty after purchase
- the child like ecstasy of being alive alongside the pain of living to adorn ourselves to ease our lives
- the inseparable and the irreconcilable, held together by ritual and ceremony

Serious words for real clothes, enlightened by a few flowers here and a few feathers there!

To see more of Ray Harris' clothes:
To see more of Arno's pictures: