Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Falling Star.....

.....coming soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

That Dannii Minogue dress, his design other half and how to pull off a show stopping collection... ...When Matt met Philip Armstrong.

It had been a long day, but baring in mind the Makeup artist failed to show for the 9am start and several of the dresses were still being finished by the time our replacement had turned up, the shoot, of over forty new dresses for Philip Armstrongs first Harrods destined lookbook went unbelievable, unstoppably well.

This isn't the first time I've worked with a Philip Armstrong dress, however It's the first time I've worked with him and for a creative who knows exactly what they want, someone who won't take no for an answer or change his mind, the guy somehow remains a breeze to work for.

The creative decision has already been made, but with Phil, chances are, it's a good one....

So with the gloating pre warning text from the P.A. H.Q. That they are never late, living up to their word the shoot didn't finish late either. So to get to my point, I managed to squeeze in a informal interview before the 42 lace, sequin and leather embellished dresses along with the team vacated the studio.

Matt Ford. The first thing I need to clear up is about you and your design parter Toni Burke, what roles do you each take charge of? 

Philip Armstong. More or less both the same really, we each have our own clients, I predomantly cut everything but we equally design absolutely everything together.

Toni Burke. Yes we're both all rounders. As we've grown though we have got out sources. For example, a team that finish our embroidery and beaders from London.

M.F. How did you both start working in fashion? 

P.A. We met on the same fashion corse, then I went to London to work with Vivienne Westwood.

T.B. I went to Ibiza and started working for a designer, but realising I was too young I headed back to Liverpool and set up on my own.

P.A. Then we bumped into each other in a fabric shop, started dating and then started working with each other. Twenty one years ago. The rest is history.

M.F. How do you start a collection? Where do you get the inspiration from and do you have a way of bringing a collection together?

P.A. With out a doubt travel is one of our biggest inspirations, if we travel the world, we meet people, go to markets, you can see anything from a stone or a flower or even a conversation your having and it goes from there.

T.B. We are both really interested in fashion history, so different periods can inspire us. But then sometimes when we go to see the fabric designers we think of ideas that come from what we see.

M.F. So is each collection it's own or a progression from the last?

P.A. Sometimes collections can move on from each other, and evolve in to another, it's not always about a dramatic change, but about progressing from the last.

T.B. Sometimes we can design something in mind within twenty minutes, but sometimes a design as well as the collection becomes almost organic, you start it, change it and then perfect it.

M.F.What are these collections about? (we shot the SS11, below and the AW11 which will be made public in October)

T. We started the SS11 collection with people who we would love to dress in mind. The likes of Thandie Newton, or Blake Lively, the AW11 collection we took nude fabrics and used that as a canvas then played on and added to variations of that.
M.F. Every designer has their trademark style and design strengths. Calvin Kline is all about the cut, Vivienne Westwood is famous for her draping and deconstruction. What is your stamp on fashion?

P.A. Fit, cut and shape. We do phenomenal beading. Our look is glamourous but understated...

T.B. But we strive for an edgy glamour. It's not commercial glamour, more cutting edge. So let's say edgy, cool glamour.

M.F. Is it important that celebrities wear your dresses? 

P. Absolutely, we live in such a celebritified world, not just fashion but any industry.
We always know are most improtant clients aren't always the celebrities, but they set the trends, so it inspires our core clients.

T.B. One of our most publicised dresses last year was the dress worn by Danni on one of the X Factor finals. We didn't even see it coming, we were just sat watching the program, then we realised that's our dress! So to see your work credited by someone so high profile makes you realise your work is up there.

M.F.Who would you most like to see in one of your dresses?

T.B. Emma Watson.

P.A. Blake Lively.

M.F. What does the future hold for the brand?

T.B. Hopefully a store and we want to develop our online presence.
P.A. Yes a bouteque might be instore, It's gonna go sky rocket for us. We're the next big thing. 
SS11. To preview the AW11 collection click here. In my eyes the best collection so far! 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Style confessions of a Drag Queen.

I've dragged these pictures kicking and screaming from the archives. They were taken way back when I started doing photography. However the interview was done earlier this week. The drag queen in question is the fabulous Cherry Lane...


10 thing that inspire you outlandish outfits.
Grace Jones, Marylin Manson, a car crash on crack, punk Burlesque,
scrapheap challenge, haters, lovers, plastic, hot glue. Myself.

How do you deal with copycats?
Copy cats serve their purpose. They make you more creative in the sence that they make me change my style again in order to be as unique as possable. 

How high are you heals?
 7-8 inch boots and I have had one or two falls. One serious one in Russia when I was working as a backing dancer for Nikki Bell at a music awards, I slipped on a bottle at the after party and had to go the ozzy the next day before flying back. Hung over like I'd never felt before, ugh. Liver oh mercy. 

What are your best and worst Drag Queen fashion moments?
Always good moments. Don't ever leave the house unless I'm more than happy in the mirror. I'v workd it in a bin bag before now and I looked AMAZING. Best drag moment.....working on the bedlam boat party after garlands at Eden ,Ibiza. 
It was soooo hot but then again so was I.
  My burberry hot pants and a gun in hand, Yeah!

Do your wigs have names? 
 No wig names. I call everything She.

Tell me something surprising about your self.
Im a bad soap land geek.Hooked by the lot of them. Im training to do nail sculptures for photo shoots ann for people in music videos. Nail art 3D style!! Opening my own buisness called Cherry Bomb. Nail design and features. Watch this space.....

Best Drag Queen Catch Phrase?
Iya love.......... aya gurrrrl...........back off...........JD 'N' COKE, not much coke.

Tarar, mwa.
 Cherry. xxxx

Photos of Cherry and Kelvin. 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

He's in fashion. When Matt met David.

David Leavens contemporary and worldly career in fashion has seen him dress everyone from  Princess Diana to the Beckham's. Chatting fashion with him was bound to be a intriguing insight for any fashionista.

Forget Miranda in The Devil wears Prada. Forget the cut throat reputation promoted by the likes of Julian McDonald in Project Runway. 'Fashion people' can make it big, can be respected, while showing a lot more than an ounce of humility.

David arrived fashionably early at the port side Ibiza cafe in his signature black leather jacket and crisp white shirt. Before I could start firing questions the conversation was geared more to David sharing his contacts and career advice before even a sniff of him showing off about his outstanding achievements.

...but with just less than two hours before my flight back to subzero, post Christmas Liverpool, the interview must press on.

Tell me a brief history of your career in fashion?  

After a five year stint in a gentlemen's' outfitters, where I originally worked at thanks to my dad not wanting me to sit on my arse, I slowly realised I really wanted to pursue a career in fashion. Then I moved to London and worked my way up from sales representative to managing director of Nicole Farhi and carried on working there for 22 years, finishing in 2008.

A lot of my time was spent looking after the business, the sales people and my own team of 15. I also helped making creative decisions about fabrics and making sure the collections were commercial enough yet exciting enough to keep the brand on top of trends. Then after the commercial line started, 12 years ago, I helped take the brand international.

What is it about the fashion industry that lured you in?

It's so fast moving, four seasons a year with the added high summer and Christmas party collections your always chasing your tale and running out of time. It's a really quick turn around and I think that's always exciting. The risk element as well, you buy in new fabrics and stock and you never know wether the general public are going to like it or not. Always working with new talent keeps it fresh too and defiantly keeps me young. You always have to be on your toes. It's fun!

What's the Nicole Farhi design ethos.  

We kept 30% of the collections high fashion and the rest geared to be more wearable. So without sticking to a particular look it was about women being able to build on their wardrobe and being able to add to the existing Nicole Farhi pieces they had bought 2 or 3 years previous. The mens main line was the same, it was about creating a classic look that complemented the fashions of the time. 

Nicole's creations were born of her own personal style, yet we added extra elements like patterned dresses and prints that she wouldn't have worn but they made the collections into a whole offering of style. 

Have you traveled a lot with your career?

Hugely, mainly New York, due to the two stores we had there plus the client's wholesale showroom that I set up. I traveled to Milan every three weeks to look after the other showroom there. Then Paris, other places in Italy like Florence twice a year for the mens wear trade fair. After the business grew I traveled as far a Dubai and Kuwait where we opened two franchise stores.

Who do you most respecting the industry?

Nicole, she has such high standards. But also fashion wise Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren because they have such a distinct style. You walk into any of their stores around the world and you walk into their world. However you can't ignore some of the young designers, without them you wouldn't have that much needed inspiration. London especially, It's full of new talent.

Is there anyone you disrespect?

Unfortunately yes. The brands that copy, but that's part of the business and that's never going to change and I suppose on the other side it's bringing fashion to the people that could never afford to buy into the actual designers.
There are also a lot of people who don't take the industry seriously and think they can just come and play with fashion, be a designer, set up brands and they think that it's just going to happen. It doesn't work like that. You really have to work at it. It's the same with retail. There are an awful lot of good retailers that have worked at it and have took big risks, then there are a lot that just think it's just going to happen just because they have money to back it, so they fall flat on their face.

Did you always take risks when getting in new design talent?

Not so much, I mean they have to have a good portfolio to start with, but at the end of the day every design had to be geared to the brand and signed off by either Nicole or Stephen (Stephen Marks, along with Nicole, was the founder of French Connection). You have to have that young influence in what your doing. Over the years numerous people in the design team have managed to go off and set up their own labels and another now designs for Balmain.

What's you experience with celebrities?

Quite varied, some clients were all about being discreet and others keep things high profile. When I dressed the Blair's I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, though I'm sure you're ok to print this now. I even got invited to lunch at Downing street. Other clients included the Beckhams, mainly David he loved all our linen lines so when he spent time in the far East he stocked up on a lot of that. I've dressed Clive Owen, Colin Firth and way back when, Lady Diana. She used to turn up at our Sloane Street store in the morning before it had opened and just knock on the door. She was quite lovely even down to the fact, she actually paid. We would have been more than happy to oblige though. A lot of celebrities expect clothes for free from designers. In general Diana was probably our least fussy celebrity client. None of the drama of security and body guards or an unnecessary entourage. Diana used to just turn up or go around Harvey Nichols and just do her own thing.

How has the industry changed since you started in fashion?

Well there are many more people doing it now including lots of great talent but also a lot of people who just want to get into it for the glamour. I don't think they realise it's not always glamourous or realise how much work actually goes into the runway shows and collections.

When I started at Nicole Farhi there were fewer big name designers and people used to be more likely to wear just a hand full of names. Even simply the way people dress now has evolved, now it's more about being experimental with young or unheard of designers. Women will now mix a skirt from Topshop with a Gucci top and a designer pair of shoes. Twenty or so years ago people would of just build their whole look from Armani or whole look from Nicole Farhi. The customer is now a lot more savvy.

The department stores and small Boutiques have to supply a much bigger range now and of corse the Internet is changing everything too. The shops are struggling to keep up with the ease of buying on line, it's eventually going to make fewer successful high street shops. 

What's in store for you now?

I'm currently helping a new and very talented designer who isn't established at all. She specialises in cashmere knitwear. I'm helping her beef up the collection by adding things like woven pants to go along side the knit wear. She will also now be progressing from just kids wear to women's wear. I'm also doing a lot of freelance work with bigger names helping them improve on what they have got. Like working with a multi brand wholesalers, whose business is going really well but I'm helping to take them to the next level. By using my contacts like the head buyers from Harvey Nicole's, wer'e really going to expand their brands. So there are exciting things ahead,  I have lots in store. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Get your kit off!

River Island Kicks Off First Ever Jeans Swap

Liverpool locals change into brand new jeans in the street - and give their old pair to charity

Tuesday 8th March 2011 River Island has encouraged the people of Liverpool to drop their trousers in the street, and take part in the first ever Jeans Swap campaign.

Over 150 locals were willing to drop their old jeans or trousers in the street and walked away wearing a fantastic, brand new pair of River Island jeans. This cheeky experiment run by the high-street fashion brand was to celebrate River Island’s Denim Week which launches 11th March.

Fans of the fashion brand on Facebook and Twitter were encouraged to come to the city centre store in Liverpool on Friday 4th March. Brand new pairs of jeans were offered free of charge to those willing to drop their old jeans in the street.

Those who took part in the swap were encouraged to donate their old jeans to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, and over 112 items were collected for the charity on the day.

Check out the video here:

“Denim is both fashionable and on-trend this spring – as well as being a little bit renegade – and we wanted an event that would echo that!” Says Emma Bridgeman, River Island. “We wanted to tap into the swishing trend over recent years where you donate your old clothes and get new ones in return. Everyone who walked away in their new jeans looked fabulous – it really shows just how versatile denim can be!”


“This is a genius idea...Well done River Island! It's just what the city needs”

To find out more about Fashion targets breast cancer click here.

Matt x

Your never far from a local Hooka!

You've probably already heard there's a new Hooka in town.. and you thought this city wasn't big enough for two of 'em.

Hooka Wood Street has had five successful years as Liverpool city centres edgiest, up and coming salon brand.

But if that's too far to trek across town for a curly blow by recent American Crew award winner Daniele Barr or have a state of the art face peel by Hooka Newbie Daniel Matthews, you can now visit your local Hooka on Button street, be treated to a short back and sides by British hairdresser of the year nominee phill Gallagher, while having the city lights literally on your doorstep. 

Up and coming salon brand no more.
There's another Hooka in town.
She's arrived!

To book your appointment at the new shiny new Button Street Hooka click here.

Pic montage of some of the winning hair comp entries and images off Hookas website. (all shot by myself.)

Keep your eye out for the new issue of Seen magazine due out 21st March for Matt Fishers party pics from the Button Street Hooka launch last week.  I don't think I've ever seen so many celebs in such a small place in Liverpool before! If half of the X factor tour, two the only way is Essex'ers, last years big brother contestants and a girl from Hollyoaks wasn't enough to get the paps going I don't know what would. Oh and did I mention the fabulous tranny knocking about? 
Seen magazine logo modeled by Matt Fisher in a rather fetching pair of white tights.

Matt. x

Springs most wanted menswear.

Photography Matt Ford.
Fashion Kathryn Robinson.
Model Jonny Kearns.

Thanks to the Met Quarter and Topman
Hat and Jacket Topman. Shirt Levis.
Shirt Diesel, Pants and braces Levis, Trainers Topman.   
Watch Firetrap and T-shirt, Glasses and Jeans Diesel
Jacket, string vest and boots Topman, Jeans Diesel.
T-shirt Levis, hat Firetrap
Vest Topman

This shoot was taken from The latest issue of His and Hers Magazine

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cait Jewellery. A/W11/12 Look-book and Interview by Hannah Ramsay.

When I spied these new images by Matt Ford for Cait Jewellery, I got more than a little bit excited by the fabulous statement necklace I spotted first. I caught up with Kate, the talented lady behind the brand to talk Sex and the City, stand out women, and find out her plans for the future…

Picture of Kate taken behind the scenes at the shoot. 

Sat at her desk doodling  unique statement jewellery that she wanted to wear, but couldn’t find, Kate saw an opportunity to use her creativity and fill that gap in the market. “I ordered some beads and started to make my designs and it happened from there” she says. “Making jewellery is now my passion.”
Completely unique, Cait Jewellery offers handmade, statement costume jewellery to make you stand out from the crowd, but Kate assures me it’s not just limited to red carpet looks, “You can wear one of our statement necklaces with a vest, skinny jeans and pumps in the day and look effortlessly cool or glam it up for a night out with killer heels and an LBD.” So who are Kate’s personal style icons? “I don’t particularly have a style icon but there are lots of people that I draw inspiration from. I love the chic city style of Blake Lively, Whitney Port and especially Sarah Jessica Parker.” I get the impression Kate herself prefers to be individual and I think it’s safe to say she admires anyone is isn’t scared to try new looks and stand out from the crowd. “At the moment I’m loving Rihanna and her bold fashion statement” she adds.
After a SS10 collection inspired by the South beach in vivid fuschias and warm golds, it’s her AW11 collection that she recently shot with top Liverpool fashion photographer, Matt Ford.  “My inspiration for this collection came  from Midnight city skylines, the twinkling lights and colours, especially those of New York” she explained. But is there any link to the independent women she admires? “Yes, defintely” she says, “I was very inspired by strong city women and their fearless fashion.” I’m interested then as to which stylish celeb Kate would love to see her jewellery on… RhiRhi perhaps? Mybe SJP? Or the stylish ladies of Gossip Girl?
The answer? All of the above. “I’d love to see my jewellery on an episode of Gossip Girl or in a Sex and the City  movie. I love the mixture of downtown city girl and high glamour and I think Cait Jewellery would be right at home.
If that mixture is transferrable to Liverpool, it’s already at home. Cait bracelets can regularly be seen stacked on the arms of the famous Cricket boutique’s stylish staff and featured in the city’s design festival last year. The icing on the cake was a mention in Elle magazine in January of this year.
For a young company, it sounds like Cait Jewellery is well on it’s way to fame and stardom. And with all this under her belt already, what are Kate’s plans for the future? “Our aim is to be stocked in some of the larger UK luxury retailers, having Cait Jewellery sat next to respected designers like Lanvin and Stella McCartney would be amazing.” Eventually  Kate wants the brand to go international, “and get the word out there that Cait Jewellery rocks!”
From what I’ve seen that doesn’t appear to be too much to ask. If else fails, she’ll definitely have one cult follower in me, being the statement necklace lover I am. So Liverpool ladies, grab a piece of Cait now and say you were a lover right from the beginning.

Hair and Make-up Hannah Ellen.