I Survived My First London Fashion Week

Now playing: “New Song” by Warpaint

 

Just over a week ago, I was in Central London, frantically dashing about from one building to another, head not lifting to meet anyone’s gaze as I ogled the screen of my phone to get me to my next assignment.

I was super lucky to be selected as a contributing writer for The Upcoming and cover shows at London Fashion Week. I had never done (that’s right, one “does” Fashion Week) Fashion Week before this. I was all over the place. I was flustered, overwhelmed and clammy (TMI?). But in the end, I somehow survived. And I have the marks to prove it (in the form of my very own contributor’s page on The Upcoming’s website).

Out of the three days I was down in London, I was assigned to an average of 5-7 shows to attend each day. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Not when you immediately have to write up and send a 30-50 word sentiment to The Upcoming team summing up your initial feelings about the show. Okay, that was fine, it was finding the time to write up the full review of the shows and submit them as soon as possible, when you literally have to run to the next show elsewhere (top tip: unless you’re a big deal who gets to be driven from location to location in a Mercedes Benz, the official sponsor of LFW, avoid wearing heels if you’re reporting for more than one show in more than one place. Thank me later). And then the workload just builds up and you somehow have to find the time to properly sit down and write a few hundred words x 7.

Thankfully, after my trainwreck of a first day, I managed to implement a system on myself. Sentiment immediately after show, full write-up IF and only if I have a spare hour with Wifi to gather my thoughts. If not, as soon as I’d finish for the day, I’d sit down and whack all of them out in the quickest succession possible and have them all sent off in the evening.

It took a while to get used to the fast, intense pace of it all, but I eventually got the hang of it. For one, the shows were gloriously fleeting and were over before you knew it, and, as soon as they were over, the audience would swarm out immediately in their masses, onto their next show. If I learned one thing, Fashion Week doesn’t wait for nobody.

London Fashion Week hardly gave you enough time to catch your breath or gather your thoughts before it was a mad dash to the next show, and it was exhilarating. Probably one of the best things I’ve been lucky enough to experience. It was jam-packed with endless showcases of fresh design talent, as well as the more established designers doing the rounds with their Autumn / Winter 2017 collections.

Out of all of the shows, Eudon Choi’s show at 180 The Strand was one of the defining moments of the Autumn / Winter 2017 season and hands-down one of my favourites. A cut above the rest, his knack for tailoring was effortlessly translated into a fresh, crisp and sartorially flawless selection of sharply tailored, oversized womenswear.

Photo: Krish Nagari // The Upcoming
Photo: Krish Nagari // The Upcoming

London Fashion Week also gave me a greater appreciation for menswear. One of the finest menswear offerings was by Harry Xu. A elegant masterpiece, Xu’s collection represented an introspective social concept that was food for thought: it was about young prisoners leaving boyhood behind them as they stepped out of prison for the first time. Loose, relaxed tailoring was met with dainty, feminine touches of floral embellishment, signalling rebirth.

Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming
Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming

One of the most unforgettable shows was the spectacular David Ferreira‘s . Inspired by freak shows, Ferreira’s designs pushed the capabilities of fashion to its extremes, combining vivid colours with enormous structures of fur, feathers and ruffles, worn by towering models on precariously high wedges.

Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming
Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming

Meanwhile, Alex S. Yu’s womenswear presentation was a riotous bricolage of orange, cobalt blue, foiled silver and pink (to name a few – it was difficult to think of a colour that wasn’t used) in a brilliant assortment of textures and fabrics. Designs were flamboyant and bold but also incredibly wearable and practical.

Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming
Photo: Amy Smith // The Upcoming

Irynvigre’s combined womenswear and menswear show was another conceptual collection that was forward-thinking and thought-provoking. Inspired by the futuristic concept of artificial intelligence beings walking among us, models were exposed by raw, unfinished hems and visible seamlines. A mostly monochromatic colour palette, with the occasion splash of orange and red, further outlined the refreshingly gender neutral tone of the collection.

Photo: Erol Birsen // The Upcoming
Photo: Erol Birsen // The Upcoming

The non-stop, hectic and buzzing atmosphere of London Fashion Week is exhausting for any first-timer to say the least, but the prospect of witnessing local and international designers showcase their work is enough to want to be thrown in the deep end all over again. If I survived Fashion Week, anyone can.

P.S. I didn’t even think to get any pictures of myself at LFW. And I call myself a blogger. My bad.

The Style Banks x

 

OOTD: Shades of Grey

Now playing: “Adorn” by Miguel

 

My goal this year is to post an OOTD to my blog once a month (although I may have already done one this month, I just wanted to post this one too). I’m also aiming to actually schedule my posts and publish something every Sunday, rather than hovering between weekends and the occasional Monday.

With that update out of the way, I thought I’d show you one of my outfits from this week. I stepped out in my new Public Desire over-the-knee boots and carefully pulled my new precarious ASOS fishnet tights over my legs (top tip: actually allocate time to put these on – if you’re the slightest bit rough with them or they get caught in a zipper, you’re screwed).

I went for a (unsurprisingly) monochromatic combination of black and grey. It was absolutely freezing, so I wore an H&M turtleneck jumper with my Zara jacket on top. Matching my jumper was my River Island faux suede A-line skirt, which is one of those ride-up skirts you have to yank down every three minutes in public. Not the most practical outfit I’ve worn all week.

The finishing touches were my usual Topshop holdall tote for uni, some silver hoops from ASOS, and a devil-may-care ponytail. To keep my outfit from draining the life out of me, I counteracted those shades with a warm daytime smokey eye using my new NYX palette and MAC’s satin lipstick in Paramount.

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What have you been wearing this month? Send me your links in the comments!

The Style Banks x

My Dream Wardrobe Design

Now playing: “Signal” by SOHN

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There are some lucky (and often very wealthy) people whose dreamy (not to mention, huge) wardrobe spaces are the envy of us mere mortals. ‘Wardrobe’ would in fact be an understatement – they’re more like actual rooms dedicated to showing off someone’s endless sartorial belongings. They are shrines, a place to essentially show off what many can only dream of.

I’ve dreamt many times of what my ideal wardrobe space would be. A standard walk-in, but spacious enough to have room for a sofa and give it lounge vibes. The decorative theme would reflect my minimalist style: white or soft, pale grey walls; white installations with chrome features.

Each corner would be customised to suit my dress behaviour (for instance: trying to find a specific piece of black clothing in a pile of black clothing), and I’d try and sort each section by type of clothing – knowing myself, things can sometimes get a little hectic if I’m in a rush or in the classic “I have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear” mindset.

I’d arrange the contents of each section of my wardrobe, as I have currently, in order of colour – black, navy / darks, nudes and white are my go-to shades. Being quite minimal, I’d love to have stand-alone racks to show off and access some of my key pieces.

There’ll be one tall section for my dresses and coats, because I hate when my longer pieces drag and bunch up on the floor.

I’ve always wanted my wardrobe space to have shelves installed to include my shoe collection, so I can have them all lined up in rows according to style and then colour.

If you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe space and are based in the US, check out personalised storage comapany MakeSpace and their locations.

OOTD: Winter Blues

Now playing: “Weaker Girl” by BANKS

 

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you the best of luck and may you successfully achieve your goals. I admit that it’s been a while since I last posted, but as any fellow students may know, the December / January period is crammed full of assignment deadlines  😦 But here’s my very first blog post of the year!

One of the few things I like about winter is the endless opportunities to layer, layer, and layer more. I threw my navy ASOS jumper (find similar here) over my striped Weekday shirt and tied a knot in the middle to show off both layers (and also to hide the fact that my shirt is creased, because I don’t have an iron). Sticking with the navy theme, I wrapped up warm with my matching ASOS coat and tapered trousers (this looks like a really unsubtle promotion for ASOS, but I promise you, it’s not).

I finished the look with some classic Gucci loafers (just kidding, they’re *eye roll* ASOS as well, but they’re a dead ringer for the real deal!), my holdall Topshop tote bag (similar ones here and here), and a messy half-up half-down bun.


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What have you been wearing this winter?
The Style Banks x

 

 

Be Back Soon

I’ve a little update for anyone who follows my blog…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog – but with good reason! As any fellow student will know, the December-January period can be a nightmare – I’ve been bogged down with deadlines and I just haven’t been able to find the time to spend on my blog! As a perfectionist, I’d hate to publish something half-hearted or simply for the sake of it, so I’m going to wait until the New Year to get back on my blogging game.

I’m hoping that I’ll have lots of new content for you all (most definitely a birthday haul / Christmas present unwrapping) and I’m also hoping to be following a lot more fashion and beauty bloggers next year.

2016’s been a bit poop, so here’s to 2017!

The Style Banks x

OOTD: Cotton Candy

Now playing: “All Over You” by LEISURE

 

It’s recently struck me that I’ve never introduced my trusty cotton candy faux fur jacket to my blog. It was magic hour and the lighting was just about right to get a couple of outfit shots, even if that does result in severe squinting face. Seriously, it was so hard to relax my face and look relatively normal.

But, I digress. What I’m getting at is: every girl needs a faux fur jacket. It spruces up even the dullest of outfits, and it’s an instant mood-lifter. I mean, who wouldn’t want to feel like a glamorous yeti?


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Faux fur jacket: Topshop

Crop top (making one fleeting appearance): ASOS

Jeans: ASOS

Boots: Zara

Bag: Topshop

With winter well on its way, what have you been wearing to keep warm? Show me your outfits in the comments!

The Style Banks x

Dubai Beauty Haul

Now playing: “Lovesick” by BANKS

 

Whilst on my internship in Dubai last month I took the full liberty of doing an outlandish beauty haul, because, well, yano, treat yoself.

Not being one to beat around the bush, I took advantage of Duty Free prices and made my first purchases there at Heathrow Airport. I’ve always wanted to try Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray, and the travel-sized version was only £7, so there was certainly no harm in trying one.

I also had my eye one of their Vice Lipsticks and a desire for a deep, rich vampy purple shade, so I bought one in the shade Disturbed – a stunning blackened burgundy-raisin. The finish is Comfort Matte, and I’m so impressed with the formula because whilst drying down to a matte finish, the formula is incredibly creamy,  but intensely pigmented at the same time, which in my experience is a balance a lot of makeup companies struggle to achieve. I’ve previously been a devotee to MAC lipsticks, but the formulas and shade range of UD’s Vice Lipsticks are hands-down unbeatable.

Disturbed is the kind of shade that needs a lip liner, so I found one to match in the form of MAC’s NightmothFinally, I decided to try out Benefit’s Browvo! Conditioning Primerbecause I’m constantly (and also desperately, if you will) looking for products that make my eyebrows fuller and thicker.

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As some of you may know from experience, the Sephoras in our neighbouring Europe tend to be a little disappointing. I was super excited when I found out there was a Sephora in Milan but when I finally made my pilgrimage there it was full of the same brands I’d encounter in the UK. No Anastasia Beverly Hills. No Kat von D. No holy grail US brands.

That all changed when I came to Dubai. The Emirate is renowned for its multitude of mega-malls, including the world’s biggest. There are a handful of Sephoras across the city, but you have to correlate the size of the mall it inhabits with the size of the store itself. On my first week in Dubai, I went to Mall of the Emirates, which was overwhelmingly massive and disorientating (and it’s not even the biggest one), and when I set my eyes on the distant glow of black and white stripes it felt like love.

I pretty much lost my cool from thereon out. They had all the coveted brands I was looking for – Kat von D, ABH, Becca, Huda Beauty et al. I’d spent months lusting after a selection of liquid lipsticks from the first two, so I went ahead and picked up Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Crush and Heathers. Going for a similar contrasting colour scheme with Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick – a natural hue and a vampy shade, I went for Bow n Arrow and Exorcism, respectively.

To buy only four things from Sephora was a record demonstration of self-control for me. I’ve been back multiple times and hovered in the same areas, but I came, I saw, I conquered and got what I wanted.

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My next big feat was at Makeup Forever in Dubai Mall, where I met celebrity makeup artist Hrush Acheyeman, aka Styled By Hrush, and Dubai-based Hindash. It would’ve been rude not to buy something as a token of appreciation and a souvenir to remember the special moment by; inevitably, I picked up Makeup Forever’s Brow Sculpting Pro and their exclusive Brow Liner. I’m not too convinced by the Brow Sculpting Pro – the angled nib has already become blunt and ideally you want a super fine nib – but I’m sure I can still make do with it.

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My final beauty purchases were Inglot’s AMC Pure Pigment Powders, because I swatched about half of the collection and they were absolutely insane. I picked up shade 264 – a brilliant cranberry rust, and 120 – mauve with blue iridescent reflects.

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Have you been on a Sephora haul recently? Let me know what you’ve been buying in the comments!

The Style Banks x

A Week In Milan

I’d meant to publish this when I returned from Milan at the beginning of last week but I was frantically faffing about and running errands in preparation for Reading Festival last weekend!

Last week I returned from a week with the family in Milan. I had never been to Italy before then, so I was excited to soak up the unfamiliar Italian culture.

We stayed in an apartment near the Naviglio Grande, a attractive canal in the Ticinise, just south of the city centre. On the first of many humid but cooler summer nights, we walked the surrounding promenades, which are littered with endless bars, restaurants and gelateria. The Navigli became our regular go-to for evening meals, what with the buzzing atmosphere, vast choice and not one eatery quiet.

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Amongst the numerous, pricier Italian gelato chains, a refreshing alternative I’d recommend for gelato is Gelacrepia; situated at the busier end of the Navigli, it offers a great range of gelato flavours and freshly-made crepes at seriously inexpensive prices. With 2 generous scoops of your choice for only €2.50, you can’t afford to not make daily trips to this gem.

Before our trip, I had presumptions about Italian food, and my presumptions were correct – every ‘authentic’ Italian restaurant I visited, the cuisine literally consisted of the three stereotypical foods of Italy: pizza, pasta and risotto. That is LITERALLY their cuisine. So be prepared for that.

On the second day, we took a short journey on the Metro to the centre of Milan. As soon as we emerged from the Metro, we were faced by the Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Easily Milan’s primary attraction, it’s a must-see, even if, like me, you don’t go inside.

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Adjacent to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. An absolutely beautiful, grand arcade with domed glass roofs and marbled, patterned floors, it primarily houses luxury retail stores and restaurants, and is also the place where Prada’s first store was establishes and remains the flagship store. I went in there and saw my absolute dream bag there. Sadly, I couldn’t take a picture 😦

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Residing in the Galleria is Annex La Rinascente, a department store full of hidden treasures and a mish-mash of trendy brands. It’s the sister store of La Rinascente, the department store opposite the Duomo, which could be compared to Selfridges.

If you carry on along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which runs past the Duomo towards San Babila, you’ll encounter a whole calibre of shops. Think of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II as the Oxford Street of Milan, only it has a Sephora. And I found a NYX store tucked away on Galleria Passerella just off of it! I think the NYX had only recently opened as most of the stock was sold out 😦

On the third day, we took the hour-long train journey from Cadorna station to Lake Como, resting at the very north of Italy, just below the Swiss border. After taking a tram up the mountain to a small villagey-residential area full of big, fancy, gated mansions, we came back down to realise how unbelievably hot it was. To cool down, we went for a boat cruise around the lake, and I got that nice lakey breeze. Then when we returned to land it was bloody hot again.

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The next day, it was time to get our art fix. Fondazione Prada, the arts centre funded by the fashion house itself, is a bit of a trek out of the city centre – a 20 minute journey from Duomo to Lodi Tibb on the M3 metro line, then another 15 minute walk from the station to the Fondazione in the August heat – but I was interested to see the kinds of contemporary art Prada has invested itself in.

For €8 (I got the reduced ticket price for being a student), I was given access to a vast compound of several buildings, each containing their own installation. Steely, minimal and spacious, with granite floors, I found the flow of the separate buildings and their exhibitions to be a little confusing and slightly incoherent. I also found the numerous works of art a little difficult to comprehend; whilst I was expecting “contemporary art” (for some reason, I feel the need to air quote that), I hadn’t heard of any of the artists before and I found their concepts to be a little obscure. To my slight disappointment and surprise, there was no gift shop, meaning the only souvenirs I had to take away were my personal photos and the information brochures from each of the installations. Still, I think it was a worthwhile experience that differentiated itself from many of the other, more traditional, art museums in Milan.

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We also visited the Pannacoteca di Brera (nearest metro station: Lanza / Montenapoleone), a grand palazzo north of the Duomo, home to a collection of medieval and Renaissance art especially from Northern Italy. The majority of the art is Madonna and Child and other highly biblical paintings, so if you know that isn’t to your taste, perhaps give this one a miss. This applied to myself, but hey, it was something to pass the time and create some dank Medieval memes.

The last couple of days of our stay consisted of walking the city streets, lazily flitting between Milan’s galleries and museums. One thing I notice about Milan is that surprisingly, despite being one of the big fashion capitals, there are hardly any fashion-related museums in the city. You might hit the jackpot with the Armani Silos museum; no longer than a 10 minute walk from where I was staying, and not far from Porta Genova station, it houses the past forty years of Giorgio Armani’s work. I was so excited to go, but was absolutely gutted to discover that the museum was closed for the entire duration of my stay. Prior to our visit, we weren’t aware that many Italians leave for their holidays in August, leaving some local shops and attractions closed for that period of time, so bear this in mind if you ever decide to visit the city in August!

Hoping to substitute this grave loss, I paid a visit to the Palazzo Morando, which apparently houses a costume exhibition. A short walking distance from San Babila station, you could compare the street it resides on, Via Sant’Andrea, as the Bond Street of Milan (what is it with me and comparing streets in Milan to streets in London?), lying in the heart of Milan’s fashion district. I had previously gathered online a constant link between Palazzo Morando and costume moda, which translated to me as fashion/costumes. However, I was disappointed to discover that the palazzo was more a collection of antique sculptures, objects and paintings, with only a small handful of period costumes, which is not what I had envisioned. Still, I emerged from the palazzo to be greeted by Givenchy, Chanel, Maison Margiela and the crew, so at least I got a vague fashion fix in that sense.

On our final full day in Milan, we got the metro on the M2 line from Porta Genova to Milan’s Centrale station, which recalls the architectural grandness of Grand Central Station (I’ve now moved on from London to compare Milanese attractions to NYC, despite not having been there before). A decent spot for shopping, I wouldn’t necessarily deem it as an essential must-see in Milan, but if you’re running out of things to see it might be worth having a gander there. Call me shallow, but the personal highlight for me was the NYX store, which, unlike the one off of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, was almost fully stocked. It was exciting for me as I’ve always sought after NYX products, unimpressed by the fact that they’re only stocked in a random handful of Boots stores across the UK. I bought their Lip Lingerie in Lace Detail, their Liquid Suede cream lipstick in Soft-Spoken (which I later discovered was a slight dupe for my Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita), and their Matte Lip Creams in Abu Dhabi and Transylvania

Late afternoon, we returned to the Navigli for one last stroll and dinner along the canal. If I have to recommend one place to visit in Milan, it would have to be the Navigli as it’s just the perfect place to go for some dinner; it’s always busy during the evening, but not in a stressful way at all – being surrounded by people relaxing and enjoying themselves amongst family and friends (corny, I know), is guaranteed to have you in a great mood too.

I’m looking forward to returning to Italy, this time another city. Where in Italy would you recommend going?

The Style Banks x

Review: Model’s Own Colour Chrome Eyeshadow Kits

Now playing: “iT” by Christine And The Queens

 

Working over summer at Model’s Own means I’ve been witness to their exciting new launches; whereas they were previously all about nails (fun fact: they have over 200 nail polishes to choose from in their bottleshops), they’ve redirected their focus to expanding their makeup range on a massive scale, launching unique products that I haven’t really seen anywhere else in the market.

One of those products is their new Colour Chrome Eyeshadow Kit. The kit, consisting of a metallic cream eyeshadow, liquid primer and tin tray, comes in 10 stunning shades; ranging from a universally flattering pale gold, to an ever-popular rose gold, to intensely deep night sky, emerald and jet black – I think there’s something for everyone.

Considering I’ve never seen a product like this anywhere else before (have you? Let me know if you’ve seen something similar in the comments!), I was really excited to try these out, but at the same, I was slightly sceptical, as cream shadows tend to crease in my eyelids after a few hours of wear. I picked up the shades Copper Lustre, a vivid copper (it’s in the name, really), and Platinum, a pale silver (again, in the name) and decided to give them a whirl.

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Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to take pictures with the Colour Chrome Eyeshadows on myself, but I will upload them as soon as I have! In the meantime, you can still gather the overall effect of the product in the swatches (it was my first attempt at that whole using-tape-to-achieve-swatch-goals thing).

The resulting effect of applying the product to the lids is a super-pigmented, super-intense metallic foil finish. Once it’s been applied, it sort of reminds me of the appearance of loose pigment enhanced with a fixing spray, except perhaps even more opaque and WOW-factor. I quite like the idea of using Platinum to highlight the inner corner of my eyes; with Copper Lustre, I’ll create a warm-toned canvas with powder eyeshadows, then pop the gilded bronze in the centre of the lid. 

In terms of the formula, I found it really satisfying just to pack the product all over my lid; the colour payoff is fucking incredible, and one of the perks of the firm-ish, slightly mousse-like cream formula is that you don’t get any pesky fallout, as you would with the majority of powder shadows.

Whilst I found that the shadow was in fact fairly long-lasting, however, as I suspected, the shadow did gather a little in my crease and become slightly flaky, say, after 4 or 5 hours of wear. Perhaps a little annoying, but this doesn’t really deter me from the overall awesomeness of the kit. Bare in mind, however, that I didn’t use anything to set the shadow; dusting a little transparent setting powder over the Colour Chrome might help prevent any creasing.

In regards to the effectiveness of the liquid primer, which claims to “intensify” the eyeshadow, I found that combining it with the shadow in the tray provided made the product softer and more malleable; I’m not entirely sure if it changed the overall visual effect, but perhaps it helps improve the staying power. I couldn’t really tell.

Overall, I’m quite in love with the Colour Chrome Eyeshadow Kits. They’re dramatic, high-impact and really pack a punch on the lid. There’s nothing soft and subtle about them; whilst you can use a teeny bit of product and sweep it across the lids for a more subtle shimmer, the point of this product seems to be to wear them boldly, for an intense, out-of-this-world look. I mean, you should want to be seen from space with this stuff on and nothing less. My God, they are simply poppin’.

I hope you’re tempted to get your hands on these babies – for £14.99 each, they’re pretty decent value for money, and I think they’re one-of-a-kind products!

The Style Banks x

(N.B. this isn’t a sponsored post: I paid for these products myself and this review is entirely honest and as unbiased as possible)