Apr 10

London’s luxury lady: Charlotte Semler of Charlotte & Co

Charlotte.JPGLast week we were invited to attend the preview for the Charlotte & Co Autumn Winter 2010 Collection. Anyone who loves comfort, cashmere and the country would consider this a golden ticket as company founder Charlotte Semler is a legend in luxury!

Envious of her talent in creating luxury goods that every woman wants, we wanted to dig a little deeper with Charlotte.

So here’s a little biographical information to start with:

After reading PPE at Oxford, Charlotte’s first job was a two-year stint as a corporate finance analyst in the City. In 1994 she joined Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising as a strategic planner and three years later she moved to Lowe Howard Spink as strategic planning director on the Tesco account. 
In 2000 she co-founded Myla and spent the next five years as creative director and joint CEO. During this time Myla grew to produce an annual turnover of £4 milion with 12 outlets in three countries. 

Charlotte left Myla and London in 2005 to spend time with her twins and turn a run-down stone house in the Cotswolds into a family home. A year later she set up Charlotte & Co and she now combines designing homewear and running a business with her passion for cooking for her family.

Now with the facts out of the way, let’s take time to get to know her on a more personal level…

Charlotte Sempler.jpg

So let’s start with the basics, Charlotte. How did you find yourself in a business that allows you to surround yourself with cashmere and silks at every turn?
When I left Myla I had a six-month break and moved to Gloucestershire full-time. I was really supposed to be ‘retiring’ to the country to spend time with my toddler twins but I was just rubbish at not working. I ended up spending far too much time designing silk and cashmere curtains for our house! So I decided to set up Charlotte & Co. The idea was really simple: I wanted to carry on designing clothes but I also wanted to do something different to Myla, something more in tune with the life I am now living. So designing ‘luxury home clothes’ was a natural progression. I am working with luxury natural silk, cashmere and cotton fabrics that have always inspired me and creating the kind of clothes that you need to live a home-based life in style. Three years on, the Charlotte & Co range has grown from mainly nighties and pyjamas to include outerwear like stylish cashmere tracksuits, fur-trimmed gilets and even the occasional dress. It’s all about being comfortable but with the luxury of the best natural fabrics and a sprinkling of style.

Were you stuck in a world of stilettos and ready to get out and into cashmere pjs and slippers?

YES! Completely – I just craved a change of pace, you know… life needs to keep moving on to be interesting. I’d done the whole ‘London/NY queen of the sexy knickers’ thing and was ready for kids, comfort, cooking and herbaceous borders. And I really believe that there is a large chunk of personal truth in all design: in the end you are really designing for yourself and your worldview. Charlotte & Co is a reflection of my current life and how I feel about it. I’m really happy in my own skin and loving the life I’m living. I’d like to think that the collection shows that comfort and joy.

What was your very first piece for Charlotte & Co?
Classic silk satin PJs and the cashmere dressing gown.

Besides the Charlotte & Co pieces in your closet, what are your other designer favourites?
I love Nicole Farhi because she is so grounded in nature and natural fibres. I love Ralph Lauren because I’m just a sucker for that whole preppy East Coast thing. I love the imaginary world that is RL, the fusion of country style and Upper East Side chic. I love John Galliano, he has such a fabulous feel for cut and drape.
Your underwear – is it designed with the thoughts of appearing underneath a Ralph Lauren Sheath or a Dolce & Gabbana corset dress?
No, the inspiration is more about luxury and wearability. Lots of my underwear is about adding comfort to your outerwear. For instance: in winter I do silk/wool mix jersey ‘innermost layers’ – so camisoles, polo necks, long johns and t-shirts. These elegant pieces slip comfortably under your favourite designer clothes but keep you warm (so even in the Cotswolds I can wear my daily uniform of Joseph/DKNY slip dresses and still be perfectly warm and comfy). Similarly in summer we do pure silk slips and camis that are ideal under slightly-too-sheer dresses and tops. You know… those garments that you buy and then realise that you are not actually sure how to wear because they are too see-through.

As your line is all about relaxation and comfort, what are your everyday comforts? And when you need to break away to relax, where do you go or what do you do outside your everyday living?
When I need a break I head to our family place in the heart of Majorca. It’s in the middle of mountains and olive groves. The light and the air is unbelievable and the local markets are a real source of inspiration.
We had a look at the Charlotte & Co website and picked out a few pieces we felt would appeal to Hellomagazine.com readers best. When the Autumn Winter 2010 line is up and live we’ll have a quick run through and report back to you all!
Charlotteco.JPGFor more fashion news visit www.fashionfoiegras.com

Mar 10

Presenting The Sketchbook Pop-Up Shop

sketchbook invite.jpgFor the past 48 hours I’ve have followed the building of new Sketchbook Pop-up Shop with great enthusiasm. I wasn’t the only one either. Thousands of followers on Twitter and via the Sketchbook blog were able to view pictures of artists at work  painting, creating and generally turning a boring old shop into a design mecca.  What a fabulous way to celebrate 50 years of fashion and music in the Newburgh Quarter of Carnaby and truly no other group of individuals could have done it better.

For those that aren’t familiar with the magazine, Sketchbook, is a quarterly publication with a print run of 10,000. They aren’t about making money. They are about making magic. They offer so much to young readers in the form of inspiration and guidance. They send a message that says, “we have a voice too, so let’s use it.” Sketchbook, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I love you guys!

ffg love for sketchbook.jpgSo why a Pop-Up shop? Well Sketchbook is choosing to channel its own success in the world of fashion onto young creatives who are just starting out in this rather competitve marketplace. From the 31st of March through to the 19th of April Sketchbook will provide workshops and lectures aimed at youngsters who want advice from some of the best in the business. And here’s the truly awesome part…
As you know, Sketchbook is what it is today because of the fabulous internet fashionistas.  They realize the importance of reaching out and they’ve clearly demonstrated their grasp on social media. So what’s the awesome part? If you can’t attend the workshops and lectures in person, you can view them all live online. 

Guest speakers will include Susie Bubble (seen on the cover of the first issue of Sketchbook to the left), bloggers Leon Bailey Green and Style Salvage Steve, fashion designers Maria Francesca Pepe, Yan To and Ara Jo, editor of TWIN Magazine Becky Smith, founder of luxury e-commerce site Dia Boutique, Rasha Khouri and many more.
Discussion Panels include:
Explore the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of print and online publications. Confirmed guests include blogger Susie Bubble.
Come in and learn what sets online-only stores apart from the
in-store.  Confirmed guests include Founder of online store Dia Boutique, Rasha Khouri.
How can bloggers build a relationship with brands, while maintaining their integrity and credibility as a blogger. Confirmed guests include blogger Leon Bailey Green.

sketchbook2.JPGSince the shop is actually a shop, there will also be limited edition prints, illustrations and one-off art pieces on sale throughout the three week time period. There are some absolute gems available. I’ve featured pictures of a few of the initial prints displayed herewith. And for all you young artists who dream of one day designing the cover of a magazine…it’s time to make your dream a reality. Sketchbook will run a competition throughout the three weeks looking for the next front cover of their magazine. So get in there, show them your goods and make us proud! I love spotting new talent and I’d love to see some young gun on a future cover.

Oh and there will also be live bands playing every Sunday in the shop!

Shop Details:
10 Newburgh Street, Carnaby, London W1F 7RN.
Wednesday 31st March – Monday 19th April 2010
Monday to Saturday: 10am-7pm, Sundays: 12noon-6pm

To reserve seats or request more information please contact: rsvp@sketchbookmagazine.com

sketchbook party after.jpg

Mar 10

Lulu Guinness Autumn Winter 2010 Press Day

I was invited today to attend the Press Day for the Lulu Guinness Autumn
Winter 2010 Collection in London. The launch took place in the Savile
Club in London and as I climbed the grand staircase and entered the
grand ballroom I knew I would not be leaving with anything less than a
new found respect for Lulu!
Lulu Guinness Invite.JPGThis season features the “Kiss and Makeup Collection” which was inspired
by the iconic 1960’s model Peggy Moffit. Most people remember Peggy for
her outrageous makeup and clothing. And who could ever forget her
absolutely gorgeous enormous brown eyes which she would accentuate with
excessive amounts of eyeliner and mascara?
Lulu Guinness Inspiration.JPGIt’s a wonder that it has taken this
long for a collection to be inspired directly by such a fabulous
historical figure in fashion! If there was anyone that could honour this
iconic woman in the way in which she deserves it would be Lulu
Guinness. The bags, purses and pouches which were presented today are
all instantly recognizable as Lulu Guinness items but they have new
details which make them stand out from anything she has done before.
Lulu has translated the Peggy Moffit look into “bags
embroidered with make-up grids and dressing tables, a bag that features a
‘Make-up Shop,’ with eye-shadow and lipstick palette embroidery setting
the tone for the season.”As always, her pieces are of superior quality
and show extreme attention to detail. We can’t help but feel we are
holding something so special whenever we step out with a Lulu on our

Here’s a look at some of our
favourite pieces from the launch today:
lulu guinness.jpg
lulu guinnesss.jpg
Thumbnail image for lulu guinness makeup bags.jpg

For more images please visit www.fashionfoiegras.com

Mar 10

Anthropologie Kings Road Opens…a Mecca of tranquillity in Chelsea!

anthro invite.JPGWell this morning I, Emily Johnston,
am thirty years of age. I feel I have fallen into my thirties
gracefully, I hope…but we will see how the next ten years pan out. I
have to say that I can’t think of a better way to trip into the new
decade of life than with an opening of a store in London that I have
adored for years in America. You might remember several months ago the
report I did on the Anthropologie
opening on Regents Street
. I thought I had found heaven in London
and have been into the store at least two dozen times since it opened.
It is my zen spot. It’s better than yoga and healthier than indulging in
a bottle of wine. I come out feeling light as air. Unfortunately it is
quickly swept away by the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest
streets in London but none of that matters while inside the doors of Anthropologie
So when I received the invitation to the opening of the second store in
London, on the Kings Road, I jumped at the chance to attend. How could I
even dream of missing it?!  Anyone that has been in an Anthropologie
store knows that every location is different. We aren’t walking into a
Gap here people. In fact we aren’t walking into a clothing store at all
if you really think about it. You are walking into a lifestyle.

anthropologie 4.jpgThis new location actually used to be a
gentleman’s club on the Kings Road and is divided into two wide open
spaces by stairs and a lovely waterfall/fountain. Apparently the front
hall is where the gentleman would play their billiards and the back hall
is where they would park their Astons (so said one of the lovely PR
girls I spoke to last night). This particular Anthropologie is
incredibly airy, which has a lot to do with the massively high ceilings.
Glass and steel roofs allow for an incredible amount of natural light
to flood through onto the items for sale. I could of course go on for
days about the incredible plantlife in the store. This, in particular,
has always fascinated me particularly as I don’t have a green bone in my
body – I manage to kill every plant I have ever attempted to own! I
could talk about the “found objects” that are used to display the
wears…which I would kill to have in my own house one day. I could even
wax lyrical about the fact that this is the first Anthropologie store
to ever offer its very own wallpaper for sale! But I know you are
picture people, so here is a selection of some shots from the night.

anthropologie 3.jpg
The store is open to the public
today and trust me, it is worth the visit for an afternoon of
131-141 King’s Road,
Anthropologie 10.JPGFor more images check out www.fashionfoiegras.com

Mar 10

Embracing new trends part 1: The nautical theme

As I travel between New York, London, Milan and Paris for the Autumn/Winter 2010 fashion weeks, I find myself getting lost in a world of luxury that is still nine months away from mass production. Already thinking of fur and leather that will need to be incorporated into my wardrobe, I’m skipping over a very important fact, however: that we have to make it through Spring/Summer 2010 before we can get to Autumn again! And here I am, not having thought at all about a wardrobe that is needed in a few weeks’ time (or perhaps longer if you live in the UK).  

At this time of year most women are looking for a quick way to update a dusty wardrobe. Thankfully, the season ahead will be one of the easiest we’ve had yet as far as trends are concerned. Not only are we seeing a lot of fashions returning, but many will also involve basics that we already have in our closets. So I have taken on the task of searching out some killer bargains with which we can update our wardrobe instantly, one piece at a time if need be. Keep checking back as I am going to try to cover as many great options for updating your wardrobe as possible.  

My favourite trend for this Spring/Summer season is the nautical theme. So let’s start there. If you’ve walked down any high street in the past ten days, you’ll have noticed that the whole world seems to be expecting to be sitting on yachts in warm weather this year. Breton stripes are in every store window, lovely gold sailor buttons adorn beautiful navy blue jackets and nautical ropes hold up shorts and cinch in waists. To wear the nautical look is to be in the now for fashion! 
Now anyone can pull the sailor chic off in an instant with a few key pieces added here or there. I asked the lovely people at ASOS to help me pick out a few items from its current offerings and have featured the pieces below. A word of warning, however. This morning I was scrolling through the pages of clothing that ASOS has online and I ended up spending a month’s paycheck on bits and bobs. Be careful! This stuff is addictive and you’ll be tempting to buy in bulk.
nautical at asos.jpg
2. White Rope Belted Shorts, check website for price and availability

All clothing images courtesy of www.asos.com

Feb 10

London Fashion Week’s top looks for Autumn/Winter 2010

What a week! The first of this year’s London Fashion Weeks was the best we’ve had yet. It was almost too much to witness. There is so much talent in this city and it is wonderful to see London’s seven days in the spotlight commanding so much respect from the fashion community. It’s worked over 25 years to get where it is today and it’s been worth every minute of effort. You will never find a more creative bunch than the designers who showcase their work at London Fashion Week every February and September. I am honoured and humbled to be invited to such prestigious presentations of art every season. Below, please find what I believe to be some of the best of the best for Autumn/Winter 2010.

Antonio Berardi.jpg

Burberry Prorsum.jpg


Jaeger London.jpg

Julien Macdonald.jpg

Marios Schwab.jpg

Mark Fast.jpg

Peter Pilotto.jpg
Richard Nicoll .jpg
Todd Lynn.jpg
Vivienne Westwood Red Label.jpg

Feb 10

The makeup artist behind Nicole Richie’s stunning Winter Kate launch look


I hope some of you had a chance to see Nicole Richie when she launched her Winter Kate line at Selfridges in London on Friday. The clothing line was quite stunning and I’ll be posting images of the full collection lookbook as soon as we get them. 

However, I was even more stunned by how absolutely fantastic Nicole looked in person! In fact, I was so wowed that I pulled in lots of favours in order to track down the talent behind it all.

The lady responsible for the magical look was famed makeup artist Emma Day. If you have ever picked up a magazine in your life, you will have seen Emma’s work. This girl has worked with everyone, and I mean everyone! Sienna Miller, Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Juliette Lewis, Vanessa Redgrave, Daniel Craig (yes, 007… we nearly died when we heard this)… and the list goes on and on.

Emma gave me a quick walkthrough of the makeup she used to create the look:

“I was inspired by Nicole’s line which has a very hippy-like, luxiourious and easy vibe to it. Nicole has a natural glow so I used Chanel Teint Innocence for her base to enhance her natural beauty. She has very delicate features with gorgeous huge eyes which she likes to accentuate. I used Mac cream highlighter around her eyes and cheekbones, and then created a classic dark smokey eye which I softened with brown around the socket line as I wanted to avoid a gothy hard look. I wanted to bring out her natural prettiness which is actually quite soft. I used a bronze Shu Uemura eyeshadow in the corners of the eyes to give them a dreamy look and finished off with individual lashes and lots of blended black kohl and mascara. On her cheeks I used a hot pink Mac blusher that I can’t live without and used Mac’s nude “Hue” lipstick to complete  the look.”

You can check out Emma Day’s portfolio, showcasing more of her outstanding work, at the Frank Agency.

Feb 10

Trends from New York Fashion Week – stock up now!

New York Fashion Week, the last in Bryant Park, has finished and I’m truly stuck in at London Fashion Week. I’ve barely had a moment to think, but I wanted to give you a full report of what we saw on the catwalks in NYC. It was an amazing presentation for fashion and a triumphant end to the many years spent in Bryant Park. New York Fashion Week is one of my favourites, as the designs showcased are both traditional and edgy.  There were dozens of clear trends laid out for the Fall 2010 season, but the following are the ones I felt you could stock up on now to prepare yourself for the future. There are still some great sale items to be had in shops that you can put away for the season ahead. So knock yourself out in stocking up on the following:

Asymmetrical Dresses.jpg

Chunky Scarves.jpg


Knotted Belts.jpg
Metallic Dresses.jpg
Red Carpet Ready.jpg
Thigh High Boots.jpg
Thigh high stockings.jpg
Twisted Sister.jpg
Wide Leg Trousers.jpg
To follow my daily movements at London, Paris and Milan Fashion Week make sure to follow me on www.fashionfoiegras.com

Feb 10

The launch of my wedding temptation

So it’s almost Valentine’s Day, a two day countdown is playing on my mind. I have special plans for the loved one in my life…and this year it’s very unconventional. I’ll take pictures and share after the event. Don’t worry, I’m not popping the question in reverse style or anything. I think you’ll be shocked when you find out what I am actually doing on the big love day.  I digress.
netaporter wedding1.JPGI was invited last night to the launch of Net-a-porter’s new wedding boutique, which will be online and ready to sift through on the 16th of February 2010.  I went into the event thinking it was just another promotional event that I would sit through, write up and come away from the same woman as when I went in. Oh how naive I was!  I knew I was in trouble the moment I entered the sweet smelling French Salon at Claridge’s. They had me at hello with the sweet smelling room full of flowers, lit candles, golden chairs, cupcake trees and flutes of bubbly.  But I am used to atmosphere seduction so this only phased me a bit. 

It was when the models came marching out of the huge white paneled doors that my life changed. Why had I always thought I was a bride that could get married in a t-shirt and jeans in Vegas? How wrong I am, and I know my father will read this and wish I had never developed an interest in fashion. After attending wedding after wedding where the bride was wearing a dress that cost a gazzilion dollars I had reassured my father that I wasn’t the type of girl that needed a big fancy dress for the day. I’d rather use the money on good champagne for a crazy party! But all that has changes now.  I’ve fallen in love with a dress. It’s not just any dress…it’s my dress. I thought it was just a myth that when you see the dress you know…now I know!!!!
netaporter wedding.JPGThe dress is a silky dream…nude in colour…floor length with a modest slit up the side…strapless but loose around the bodice, not dissimilar to a beachy maxi dress. It has a small flower corsage detail on the top left breast and the rest is simple and straight and beautiful and the best thing I have ever seen! Even the label in the back of the dress gave me goosebumps. It’s a Lanvin creation. Anyone familiar with the brand will know immediately I have put myself in the “bridezilla” category for spending on my wedding dress now.  Or have I?
Lanvin Dress.JPGThe wonderful thing that Net-a-porter has done here is find dresses that aren’t “typical” wedding dresses. They haven’t limited themselves to the dresses that designers designate as wedding apparel.  Rather they have examined countless collections and selected dresses that could work walking down the aisle. So you get funky dresses like the Lanvin Love t-shirt dress or the Herve Leger famed bodycon dress in all white.  And the wonderful thing here is that you can wear these dresses again! It doesn’t get much better. They even give you ideas for dresses based on the theme of your wedding, and suggest dresses and accessories for bridesmaids and mother of the bride!

So as the night continued I was seduced by dress after dress. The accessories table had me drooling. I’m not kidding. I had to keep myself from logging into the website then and there and ordering half of the accessories. Thank God they aren’t online just yet or I would have been in trouble! Net-a-porter may just fall in love with me after their boutique goes live on the 16th.  I will order one of everything regardless of whether a wedding is planned or not!
netaporter wedding2.JPGOk I will stop this little love affair post now because it is clear I am obsessed and could write all day. I will just say this in closing. If you are familiar with the site www.net-a-porter.com you will know that they have revolutionized the way in which we shop as you can order pret-a-porter and have it delivered straight to your door. If it doesn’t work, you can just return it. Last night they mentioned an absolutely fabulous idea for the dresses. Everyone loves the experience of trying on wedding dresses with their girlfriends. Well why not have that experience in the comfort of your own home and make a whole night of it with champagne and cupcakes of your own?  Order as much as your credit card will allow and try on all the dresses so your friends can ooooo and ahhhhh at you right there and then. 



Feb 10

Valentine’s Day: Last-minute gift ideas

vday hello.jpg
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that can drive fear into the hearts of men around the world. What do you buy the woman you love to show her how much you care? What is too little? What is too much? Is this the year you buy a ring? Is this the year you sweep her off to Barbados?

All of those, of course, require extensive planning. So if you aren’t the type to have been preparing for the big V-day (no, men I don’t mean V for Vendetta) then I have a few suggestions for you. Above are fool-proof gifts that any woman would absolutely love to receive on the day we all know was created by greeting card companies to make more money.

But who cares why the day is celebrated? The bottom line is to tell the one you’re with that you love them with all your heart. Embrace it – though don’t forget to whip out your credit card at the same time!

All ten gifts are easily available, so rush out and pick one up before it’s too late and the shops are closed. And for the ultimate, buy the lot, get a hotel room for the night and create a giant gift bed for her to fall into!

1. Van Cleef & Arpels ring
2. Lulu Guinness bracelet
3. Ormonde Jayne large candle
4. The Sleekster Love Collection from Hotel Chocolat
5. Fortnum & Mason’s “The Lover’s Dozen” red roses
6. Christian Louboutin Pigalle 120 patent pumps
7. Judith Leiber Heart ‘n’ soul Clutch
8. La Perla Opportunity tulle underwired bra from Net-a-porter
9. Dom Perignon Vintage Rose 
10. “Has Hope That Is Indestructible” Wooden Key by artist Rob Ryan, available at Liberty

Featuring WPMU Bloglist Widget by YD WordPress Developer