… a word from the Editor

Welcome to another instalment of Amanda Zips It Up. This week has all been about London Fashion Week, showcasing everything for S/S ’19.

I went along to the grandiose Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden to see a bunch of catwalk shows, produced by new independent men’s and womenswear designers.

With huge thanks to my friend and fellow fashionista Nicole Ivison Hatch for getting us VIP FROW (that’s front row) seats at Sunday’s hottest show in town.

Whilst sipping glasses of wine costing £10 appropriately slowly, we viewed collections by designers such as Louise Clark Design, John Hererra, Maddy Stringer, Rose Red Couture, Geo Mac, No Fixed Abodeand House of Ra, amongst others.  But we were there to see the highlight of the evening – A STAR IS BORN– a fabulous label by Indian designer Sucheta Shetty Rodrigues– a close friend of Nicole’s.

Here are a few snaps from the evening.

And I also want to mention another frienda, the talented artist Davey Brown,who recently painted a cool black & white portrait of my husband Jules. Davey has ventured into fashion, producing these very cool Acid House smiley tees, featuring superstar DJs from the past 20 years.

They’re available in all sizes and cost £19.99 plus postage, via PayPal. Please contact me if you need more details.

Onto this week, and of course we delve deeper into the designers at LFW, including Alexa Chung,plus a deeper look at the diversity of the catwalk models I witnessed at the shows.

A STAR IS BORN at LFW

This was the show I had come to see. A STAR IS BORN– not the movie, the fashion label. All 10 catwalk minutes were sheer excitement, colour and-in-your face sequins and sparkles. Incredible eveningwear to make everyone present stand still in awe.

The creators of this exclusive brand Sheetal and Suchi were both born in India, home to lavish and opulent design, surrounded by the beauty of their nation’s culture, architecture, history and elegance.

They were raised in Mumbai, which cultivated their vast knowledge of textiles and embroidery, under the watchful eye of their mother and mentor, who was well known in India for embellishing intricate work on silk fabrics for Oscar De La Rentaand many other prestigious brands.

As children, Sheetal and Suchi were mesmerised by the handwork, colour and cutting produced in their workshops. They always knew they wanted to be part of this intensely visual medium.

Suchi moved to the UK, where she absorbed the modern ethos of “design restraint” plus the closely guarded secrets of draping, cutting and embellishing fabric to create clean, elegant and timeless silhouettes for women who understand fashion and get what they want.

Between the equally opulent but aesthetically opposite worlds of India and the UK, their style was born.

Check out A STAR IS BORN for an original, jaw dropping collection of dresses and jackets via their website or at Topshop.com and ASOS.com

Alexa Chung At London Fashion Week 2018

She’s one of my and the UK’s foremost style icons. I didn’t get to catch the AC show at London Fashion Week, but my good friend Katie did, and reported back.

Alexa Chung featured ‘airport style’ for her first LFW show as a designer. Breaking with the public perception of what Alexa Chung is “has been a challenge”, she comments.  But that doesn’t mean necessarily breaking with the perception of what Alexa Chung wears. Chung’s ability to identify product that will sell – remember THAT M&S collection – plus Superga, AG Jeans – have all been commercial successes.

Pardon the pun, but if those previous collaborations were “dress rehearsals”, then this was the opening night. Chung hasn’t tried to erase what came before – like the black PVC coat, seen in the previous M&S collaboration and in this latest collection too – but she’s fine-tuned her offering. I could imagine Alexa herself wearing these clothes – her ability to influence trends is what gave Chung fashion credibility in the first place.

Against a wood panelled maze of airport corridors, there were slim fitting jumpsuits, pyjamas for outdoor wear (in case there was any doubt that Alexa’s women were turning left once on the plane), stretch-knit sundresses worn with jelly shoes and brown suede coats.

A trip to Margate trawling vintage shops for inspiration generated styles that dipped between decades- a 1930s mustard silk evening dress one moment, a 1990s black silk slip dress and multiple references to the 1970s, like a safari suit inspired by a found reference of Bianca Jagger in her PJs.

This new addition to the London Fashion Week schedule is a natural one, especially given that there is a Britishness that underlies all of Alexa’s designs. The appearance of so many coats in a spring summer collection- many featuring hoods – might seem odd to some, but not to anyone familiar with (the usually non-existent) British summertime. The ‘destination’ scarf print looks, at first glance, to be printed with little Eiffel towers, a nod to her previous presentations held in Paris – but actually, it nods to Brighton Pier and Bognor Regis – hurrah!

It seems Alexa is glad to be home

Model Inclusivity At LFW

My experience of London Fashion Week 2018 wasn’t just dominated by the amazing clothes, pumping tunes and iconic locations. It was also dominated by diversity, including disabled and plus–sized models.

From wheelchairs to size 20, everyone looked beautiful and confident. It was heart-warming to see.

I recently picked up last month’s issue of Cosmo, featuring cover star and plus-size model Tess Holliday. I have retained it as keepsake, to remember the year when the fashion industry got “real”. Yes, there was a backlash on social media, hailing this as a seriously unhealthy message. I guess I agree with that to an extent too. But, arguably, more unhealthy are the size zero models who still dominate the majority of catwalks. “Average” women like me are still in the catwalk minority.

For years, the industry has come under fire for its lack of representation of the full spectrum of race, size and age — and substantive improvements are only just starting to be seen in 2018. Nevertheless, I still feel that someone like me – of average height and build, size 10 on a good day, 12 on a bad day and 5 foot 6 if I stand up straight – are not really represented or “fashionable”.

I am not skinny but I’m not obese. I’m average. Yet it feels as though you have to be at either end of the spectrum to get catwalk representation. The fashion brands need to represent us ‘in the middle’ as well. Because we are the majority, and therefore have the most disposable income to spend on the latest trends.

As a fashion lover, I adore those elite catwalks, with the likes of Kendal Jenner or Bella Hadid. But as an artistic event, rather than a representation of real life.

Fashion brands have to consider the effect that their model castings can have on women. A recent report shows that 32.5 per cent of model castings went to women of colour in September’s fashion month — a commendable 2.3 per cent increase from the season before.

But only 0.2 per cent were aged 50 or above and just 0.4 per cent were plus-size — in fashion talk, that is a UK size 12 or above.

On Instagram there are the plus-size bloggers, such as Callie Thorpe, 30, with 201,000 followers. I admire these inspirational, curvy women who fly the flag for the stylish, larger lady. Also, there are the “mum bloggers”, showing motherhood in all its honesty. One example is dresslikeamum (aka Zoe de Pass, 37) who uses her platform to prove to her 119,000 followers that mums needn’t lose their fashion identity. But, that’s on Instagram – not the pages of Vogue or the catwalks of Milan.

There is a lack of interest for women like me in fashion, and that is a little sad. The sooner brands recognise the appetite for “average”, the better.

… a word from the Editor & Blogger

Hola Zipsters. I have been in Ibiza this week and spent half the time hanging around airports. I noticed a new must have accessory on at least five different girls all travelling to and from the white isle. I have fallen in love with it too. Move over Hermès Birkins and Céline luggage totes, there’s a new it bag in town, and for once it isn’t “designer”.

Make way for the rainbow-hued Kurt Geiger Kensington handbag,which has been in and out of stock online since launching earlier this year. I went online to order one and there are currently none left at the inn.

I noticed the in-demand bag being adorned by Love Island winner Dani Dyer and model Abbey Clancey whilst flicking through my gossip mags.

It costs a cool £199. But it is 100% leather so it actually represents good value, at a fraction of the price of designer equivalents.

If anyone else is on the hunt for the rainbow-coloured Kensington, get your skates on as this gorgeous bag is bound to end up out of stock in shops very soon. However, it does also come in standard black or red, if you’re looking for something lower key.

Let me know if you find one.

Onto this week’s blog and we check out Vegan Stan Smiths, cream to banish your bingo wings and the cheapest and most on trend tracksuit in existence right now.

Stella McCartney Vegan Stan Smiths

Have you noticed how popular Veganism is in 2018? Well, it has spread from food to fashion. Sportwear giant Adidas have teamed up with British designer Stella McCartneyto create a vegan-friendly version of their iconic Stan Smith trainer.

Who doesn’t love a pair of the cult cool Stan Smiths? The new footwear – which looks very similar to the originals – features a portrait of McCartney on the tongue, a row of three stars along the side and striped pattern detailing on the heel.

They’re completely leather free, meaning vegans everywhere can sport the classic trainer without guilt. But at £235(three times the price of normal Stan Smiths) the absurd price tag may make even the most ardent vegans think twice.

The shoe is the first of its kind for Adidas and is also bang on point for Stella McCartney. McCartney has long championed eco-friendly, vegetarian alternatives in her designs – her collections have always been leather and fur free.

The new shoes, for both men and women, are available to order online at www.stellamccartney.com or buy in stores now.

The Best Selling £25 Tracksuit

I’m a Gemini and apparently, we are couch potatoes. This could well be true, as I love to lounge around in a cosy tracky at weekends. So, you can imagine my joy at this news: a £25 tracksuit set has emerged as this season’s unlikely fashionmust-have.

The polyester two-piece, comprising baggy t-shirt and high-waisted trousers, is sweeping social media after being snapped up by high-profile Instagrammers.

Championed for its ultra-comfy details, the coveted casual ensemble from MissPapis so adored by bloggers it has now emerged as the brand’s number-one bestselling item.

The lounge suit comes in two styles – the Gina(V-neck) and the Sara (round-neck), both available in grey, wine, khaki, black and camel.

Comprising a t-shirt and straight leg trouser jogger bottoms with an elasticated waistband, they are currently on sale at just £20 per set in the sale.

A spokesperson for MissPap, whose celebrity fans include the drop-dead Ferne McCann, described the cut-price casuals as ‘Instagram’s most spotted items this season’.

They are billed as ‘one of our most versatile sets’, perfect for either a casual look or an ‘evening vibe’.

The budget brand’s mission statement is ‘offering the biggest fashion trends at affordable prices’.

And the brand is certainly living up to its promise, with its coveted two-piece costing just a fraction of the price of similar styles from the likes of Armani and Hugo Boss, which can stand you upwards of £200.

Based in West Lancashire, MissPap currently has 993k followers on Instagram and counting. Plus a dedicated celebrity following, thanks to lucrative collaborations with high-profile influencers and reality stars.

Miracle Bingo Wing Cream

Summer maybe over and it’s seasonal time to cover up, but some of us are still nervous about exposing certain parts of the body. Let’s say you wanted to wear a vest top but are a tad embarrassed about “bingo wings”?

Well, there’s a new cream that has just hit the market, which claims to be a miracle in a pot for those concerned about sagging skin.

While it’s far from cheap NECTFIRM, priced at around £80 ish, has been formulated to medical-grade quality and it claims to restore and revitalise the skin around tummy, neck, arms and knees.

The formulation was originally designed to help revive skin on the neck which had lost its elasticity.

However, broader testing has revealed the cream to be just as effective on other areas of the body where the skin has lost firmness.

A trial was conducted over a period of eight to 12 weeks. Significant improvement was seen after 12 weeks, although changes were reported after eight weeks.

Nectifirm is made using a blend of plant extracts, antioxidants and peptides to reduce the appearance of sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles. It also comes packed with Vitamins C and E C & E to help skin appear brighter and more even-toned.

The  ‘medical grade’ description owes itself to a formula using clinically proven ingredients at higher concentrations. The higher percentages of ingredients mean your skin will react quicker and more intensely.

I’ll take ten pots please.

… a word from the Editor & Blogger Amanda

As the hottest summer, like ever, trails behind us and becomes a distant memory, it’s time to embrace my very favourite fashion time of the year, and the shops are full it.

 Fabulous Autumn/ Winter wear 2018 has landed.

I had a brief mooch around my local shopping mall in North London today and it was all about designer prints, camel coats, red boots and again, timeless snakeskin and leopard print clothing.

The reason I love an A/W collection is because it’s always smart, not quite summer, not quite winter but enough to cover up any summer pounds you’ve gained on your holidays.

Gone are all the garish yellows, pinks and pastel colours. And bikinis, thank god.

Autumnal reds, camel and greys are in full effect, along with textured fabrics and cosy comforts.

Strong influenced prints which could easily be mistaken for Versace or Gucci are ruling the rails, and this year it’s all about wearing printed blouses (or shirts) with matching pants (or trews). Yes (she gulps) it’s eye catching, but it’s all about getting noticed in 2018.

Strongest ranges this year can be found at Zara, obvs.

I walked in, took one look around and asked my daughter to gently guide me out of the store before my credit card became red hot and my husband confiscated it.

So, keep your eyes peeled out there on the high street and embrace the red boot and camel coat – which we Zip Up today, and of course I’ll bring you all the latest prints to be seen in over the coming weeks.

This week we celebrate 10 years of Victoria Beckham and discover the magic of Magnesium.

The Camel Coat

The traditional Camel Coat has long been considered something of an icon when it comes to outerwear. Smart, flattering, timeless and versatile, it has serious wardrobe staying power. That’s why they come in and out of fashion every so many years and why it’s so important you to get yours this Autumn.

I’m not alone in championing the iconic coat. Year in and year out, street-stylers and the fashion conscious continue to choose the classic coat in favour of other options, confirming that this universally adored item remains the ultimate investment piece.

There are many brands specializing in this wardrobe staple in 2018 from & Other Stories to Zara.

Whether you wear yours over black leather jeans and a black polo neck, like I would, or a little black dress and red heels, or even a grey hoodie and grey jeans, the Camel Coat will always look classy and expensive.

Lately, camel coats with asymmetric hemlines, oversized silhouettes and belts have caught my eye, but although a classic double-breasted Crombie will always tick the boxes, sometimes it’s good to experiment with different silhouettes to suit your own individual style tastes.

Here are the very best – all at Zararight now. Expect to pay around £100.