Wednesday, 26 September 2012 a city girl’s guide to believing ... by Nikki Allen

It’s a courageous, scary and possibly bonkers thing to do, writing a blog that other people are probably going to read, when it’s about personal things. I’m talking really personal things too – feelings, emotions, beliefs, values, about everything from getting a parking ticket to having my heart broken.
 My blog started out a bit more like a journal than anything else, I suppose. A diary about my experiences on the journey of life, as naff as it sounds, as I continue to valiantly tackle the challenge of being a “believer” in things of a spiritual and positive psychology kind, while living a noisy, busy, sometimes chaotic, often very un-spiritual late-twenties London life.
This combination has proved testing on many occasions. 
For example, how do we remain Zen-like, serene and full of loving-kindness for our fellows, when our fellows happen to be angry, stressed out commuters shoving each other to the point of almost-suffocation on the Central Line at 8am? How does Facebook fit into the positive philosophy of not comparing my insides to other people’s outsides? How do I include the traffic warden who fined me £80 for returning to my car 30 seconds after my ticket expired on my evening gratitude list? And how, dear God, do I learn to “forgive and let go” of all those goddamn ex-boyfriends and terrible dates? 
To these, and similar questions, I have attempted to figure out my own, slightly quirky answers. And after I had written a few such musings, I thought I would share them with a couple of girlfriends who might find them entertaining. They did – they found them entertaining and also funny and inspiring and hopeful. This was nice to hear and made me think that perhaps a few more people might enjoy them, and then a few more, and then maybe all my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and so it goes on.
Sometimes, the inspiration for my posts comes from a thought, a feeling or a perspective I’ve had about what’s going on in my life that I like or feel proud of – a new moment of awareness or an evolution in my understanding of myself and my growth. Other times, I feel inspired by uplifting or moving quotes that I come across within my ever-expanding reading list, and want to write about how this author’s thought ties into my own, current experience. And still other times, it’s after something hugely irritating, sad or funny has happened in my world that I feel the urge to sit down and write about it with a positive, spiritual slant.
What’s most important for me is that, while there is undoubtedly a spiritual undertone to the ideas in my blog, it doesn’t come across as too “worthy” or preachy. I, personally, find spirituality, growth and self-development immensely joyful and fun, and I this is what I am hoping to communicate in my blog. I also, purposefully, don’t feel the need to ever go into detail about what my beliefs actually are or what denomination they belong to. For me, that’s not what spirituality is about anyway – to me it’s just a desire to or interest in growing ourselves to be the most loving, happy human beings we can be, and whether we believe in the power of God or a nice cup of tea is really no one else’s business.
One thing that’s for sure is I love writing this blog. It helps me to feel grounded, focused and peaceful , and gives me a greater perspective on the small things that sometimes feel overwhelming. And perhaps in this age of information overload, especially for those of us living a hectic city life, that’s exactly what we need a little more of.

Nikki Allen is a writer, editor, trainee psychotherapist, amateur pianist and enthusiastic Yogi. She studied languages at university before becoming a food and drink journalist and eventually taking the leap to go freelance in 2010, a decision she has (almost) never regretted as it has allowed her to pursue her dreams of becoming a therapist and writing her blog, Nikki writes for a variety of print and online magazines on topics ranging from shopping to spirituality, and examples of her work can be seen at

Monday, 10 September 2012

Gearing up for London Fashion Week - the 'Style Street Stalker' explains...

Two weeks ago the first invitations for fashion week started to arrive and with them so did the excitement! For 7 days, twice a year, the London fashion world goes crazy. My escapades last season included an intimate talk with Anna Dello Russo (editor of Japan Vogue) at Shoreditch House, with only enough time to knock back a cucumber martini before jumping on the tube across town to the Alice Temperley show.  Dashing from show to show with no taxi budget, believe me, there’s nothing less glamorous, but for me as soon I hear the opening show music and first model glide down the runway, all my stresses fly out of the window. This is my heaven!

With only three days to go until it all kicks off, London is already getting its visitors and residents in the mood for some stylish days ahead; starting with an evening dedicated to shopping hosted by Vogue. 

Traffic was diverted as fashion lovers descended on Bond and New Bond Street, as designers such as Alexander McQueen, Tods, Ralph Lauren and many more hosted parties and entertainment until late into the night. In the words of Henry Holland "I love Fashion's Night Out because I can shop and drink at the same time", this was certainly the general consensus throughout the evening as champagne and cocktails flowed. Tods always holds fantastic parties, this year we sipped cocktails created by the legendary members club Annabel’s.

Fashion's Night Out began in 2009 as a means to encourage consumers to shop and support the fashion industry during the challenging economic climate. The event has expanded to 16 countries in 2010 and will occur over the span of eight days to maximize traffic into the retail stores. Every year Vogue commissions a designer to create the special t-shirt for the event, proceeds of the sales go to a charitable cause, this year it was ‘Refuge’. With events like these happening in the run up to London Fashion Week, us fashion folk can’t help but get excited. 

I started Style StreetStalker a year ago, for the sole reason to document and share my journey within the fashion world, it is the perfect excuse to work with new designers, stores, as well as meet some fabulous fashionista’s along the way. When I first started I realized how important it was to stand out from the crowd and to have a ‘brand identity’. I love street style photography but sadly unlike 5 years ago when Scott Schulman broke onto the blogger scene, everyone does this now. So in order to be slightly different I needed a unique spin on my street style posts, therefore, I decided to take photos of what people inside one of the biggest fashion houses, wore to work. This soon got popular and now I am exploring new adventures within the fashion world.
With my SLR at the ready, this weekend, I will be dashing around style stalking what the fashionable folk are rocking this season, as well as checking out what the new designers on the block are doing.  Come and join me for a spot of Style Stalking!

In my spare time I am an addicted fashion and restaurant blogger but from 9-5 I work for one of the biggest British fashion houses. Obsessed with fashion the blog is a great excuse to be able to delve deeper into this fascinating industry.

Follow Alice at:

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ahead of Fashion Week Janina Joffe of 'East of Mayfair' discusses the marriage of art and fashion...

I was first introduced to the world of fashion illustration as a child when my mother wrote a feature about the celebrated fashion artist René Gruau. One of the images I remember clearly was of a red velvet stage curtain being pulled back ever so slightly to reveal the long leg of a dancer with a bow at the top of her thigh.

René Grau - Red Curtain
© The Estate of René Gruau, courtesy East of Mayfair

What struck me about the image was not just its expert and tasteful portrayal of a risqué theatrical pose that could easily have slid into cliché, but also how the image felt both familiar and memorable at the same time. This illustrator had somehow reduced a moment and feeling to its absolute essence and made it iconic through his own signature style. Most people have seen and loved Gruau’s work before, they just don’t necessarily know who made it.
Similarly, most people don’t really know that prior to the advent of modern fashion photography, fashion designers and magazines relied solely on illustrators to display the current styles and products featured in their pages. The most famous names among them were Erté, George Lepape and Christian Bérard in the first half of the last century and the aforementioned René Gruau and Antonio Lopez in the latter half. These artists didn't simply draw fabric on mannequins, they created the flair, glamour and desire surrounding each trend with the each brushstroke and line.

Rene Grau, Smoke & Diamonds
© The Estate of René Gruau, courtesy East of Mayfair
In the run up to the global fashion week marathon, Rizzoli is releasing its first major monograph on one of the undisputed stars of this small world of artists. Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco is in stores as of yesterday and will be accompanied by a special exhibition of the artist’s hugely diverse oeuvre at the Suzanne Geiss Company in New York, opening September 6th (Vogue Fashion Night Out). MAC cosmetics will also be creating a line of products inspired by the late artist and his muses.
Born in Puerto Rico, Antonio moved to New York City with his family when he was only 7 years old. He later dropped out of the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a position at Women’s Wear Daily and subsequently moved on to The New York Times. His drawings soon came to dominate the pages of magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Interview.
Antonio Lopez - Grace Jones
© The Estate of Antonio Lopez, courtesy East of Mayfair
His studio in New York was also a creative and eccentric meeting place for the eclectic group of friends surrounding him. Among them were icons like Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Bill Cunningham, Jerry Hall, Karl Lagerfeld, Norman Parkinson and Jessica Lange. More than just an artist, he was at the centre of a scene of flamboyant characters who lived for the moment and wanted to be anything but conventional.

Antonio Lopez - Fashion of the Times Bikers
© The Estate of Antonio Lopez, courtesy East of Mayfair
Antonio was not just a virtuoso at portraying the women and clothing of his time, but at conveying the entire spirit of that era. Unlike Gruau, whose style stayed very similar, and subsequently more recognisable throughout his career, the shapes, textures, colours and technique of Antonio’s work evolved remarkably from the 60s up until his untimely death of AIDS in 1987, aged 44.
Fashion illustration has been making a comeback in recent years, with major exhibitions like “Drawing Fashion” taking place at the Design Museum and Somerset House hosting “Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty”. Antonio Lopez may not be as well known in Europe as he was in New York, but the new Antonio monograph aims to change that by revealing what kind of a charismatic icon and talent he was. Much like the documentary “Bill Cunningham - New York” was a huge success in the fashion world in 2010, I hope this outing for Antonio makes him just as well known as those around him who all became household names.
Janina Joffe is the co-founder and director of East of Mayfair.
East of Mayfair sells contemporary art, design and photographs priced up to £10,000 through its unique platform The site has been conceived as an artwork in itself and created in collaboration with renowned illustrators Pierre Le-Tan and Thibaud Hérem. It takes the form of a virtual house with six rooms and is regularly curated with new artworks chosen by director Janina Joffe.
In addition, East of Mayfair offers bespoke advisory services to assist with collection building, installation and curation of artworks at home.