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08/09/2017

Headgear

Headgear

Hats in fashion don’t always have to mean outlandish creations worthy of Ascot. Sometimes, a bit of DIY mixed with anarchic dress-up goes a long way. See Marta Jakubowski, who re-worked coloured net into bags worn over heads, or face masks that looked like the ones worn by bank robbers at Gareth Pugh. Christopher Kane had distressed leather hats by Stephen Jones, while Erdem’s were a bit like the one worn by Robinson Crusoe, though probably not made of the scraps found on a fictional desert island. The takeaway? SS17 is a very selfie-friendly season.

PentagramsGoth

is enjoying something of a moment right now – largely thanks to Vetementsdesigner Demna Gvasalia and his penchant for an old Sisters of Mercy T-shirt, and the use of gothic script on hoodies. Preen took this to the next level with its collection, which featured a whole lot of black, stompy boots and lace. There was also that goth favourite – the pentagram – with flowers as a print on pretty chiffon frilly dresses and soft bikers. Forget Insta-models. Emily the Strange, Wednesday Addams and Elvira are the cool girl’s style icons this season, with Aleister Crowley and Wilkie Collins the required reading.

The kick flare

The death knoll of the skinny jean is forever being sounded – with little effect. But, judging by the fashion editors at London fashion week, there is certainly a solid contender for the skinny’s replacement. Enter the kick flare – basically skinny jeans with a little bounce out from the knee, typically worn cropped at the ankle with raw hems. Think Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, rather than anyone in the 70s. The kick flare has been getting play on the catwalk as well as the front row, at Marques’ Almeida, Erdem and Ryan Lo, suggesting it will go into spring as well. To get it now, go to Topshop, where a pair of kick flares can be bought for

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06/09/2017

Meet Bow Savile founder Sarah Kane, the woman out to change the way we shop for affordable workwear

 

curating a wardrobe where everything slots together seamlessly is no mean feat; something that Sarah Kane, the founder of new workwear label Bow Savile, will vouch for. Time-poor, while working as a partner in a luxury services firm, Kane was frustrated by how difficult it was to create a capsule work wardrobe. ''I would go into a shop and find a nice jacket, but then there would be nothing to coordinate with it,'' she tells The Telegraph of her sartorial struggles.

Kane was looking for a one-stop-shop to buy a succinct office-appropriate wardrobe. ''If places like The Fold had existed back then, perhaps I wouldn't have ever had the idea for Bow Savile,'' she muses, ''but at the time there was no place I could go to buy a small capsule wardrobe where everything worked together, that was also a little bit different.''

As is often the case with fashion entrepreneurs, the idea for Bow Savile was born out of Kane's own frustration. ''A lot of brands were still making the male uniform for women,'' she recalls. ''I ended up with twelve black jackets in my wardrobe in different lengths and styles,'' she continues, before highlighting that if you type 'women's workwear' into Google, even now, the first thing that pops up is white shirting and black tailored trousers.

Kane's exasperation with the myriad mismatched, masculine-inspired workwear options she was presented with when she was required to adhere to a corporate dress code, means that the brand she launched with her two friends last year is brimming with colourful and printed, neat-but-feminine pieces that fall at the opposite end of spectrum. Think floral pussy-bow blouses, cobalt coats, and fuchsia wrap tops, as well as more classic offerings like black shift dresses with a twist (their most popular style, the Tulip dress, is currently sold out), and A-line skirts.

''I think Amal Clooney set the bar higher. She’s always beautifully dressed and coordinated, she wears colour, and she always looks super polished,'' says Kane on the subject of who she think offers fabulous workwear inspiration, also citing French lawyer and politician Christine Lagarde as someone who perfectly depicts Bow Savile's approach to office attire: ''she often wears a classic suit but adds a pop of colour.''

A market research survey carried out by Bow Savile early on as an attempt to find out what women really want from their workwear saw comfort emerge high on the agenda. ''I was initially surprised about that,'' Kane admits, ''but then perhaps it's obvious, because you might leave the house at 7 O'clock in the morning, and then get back at 8 O'clock at night, and so you're wearing it all day on planes, trains and in taxis.''

''One other bit of feedback we got was that women want help putting an outfit together, which validated my own experiences,'' says Kane, before describing how Bow Savile are currently working on a way of making it crystal clear how each piece can be mixed and matched by offering the option to purchase whole outfits on the website.

And the proof is in the pudding. Their attempts to make the collection both comfortable and wearable have thus far paid off. ''When people put on our collarless shirt which has two layers they say: 'brilliant it’s not see-through, and it’s super comfortable','' describes Kane.

Another take-away from their research was that women want to look classic but still stylish. ''We really wanted the collection to be uncluttered but feminine, and hopefully very wearable for a long time,'' says Kane. ''We wanted someone to be able to buy a dress and feel like they could wear it for several years.''

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04/09/2017

Meet the women who made Marks and Spencer cool again

Meet the women who made Marks and Spencer cool again

Amid the poster-sized lookbook images and departmental signs on the walls at Marks & Spencer’s headquarters, there’s one very bossy piece of A4 paper. ‘DUMP the FRUMP!’ it urges, following each letter of F-R-U-M-P with a value – about family, style relevance and value for money, to name a few – for designers to keep in mind. ‘Oh no,’ head of lingerie design Soozie Jenkinson says in mock horror when I ask about it. ‘We forgot to do a sweep!’

Soozie is one of a small group of women responsible for enacting this unofficial mantra. They’ve gathered in a light-filled conference room to talk about how, after so many stumbles and setbacks and mumsy blouses, M&S got its groove back. The answer is in their outfits and on the rails around the room, filled with gold-buttoned navy blazers, colour-blocked cashmere jumpers, velvet dresses, teddy-bear coats and slippy satin skirts. The frump, in case there...


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