Personal stylist Melanie Sarah Brewer, of Melanie Sarah Image Styling, shares with us her top tips to make 2013 a truly stylish year – with a bit of a British twist….
Wherever you are in the world, enjoying a sumptuous dose of The Luxury Channel, I hope your 2013 brings you happiness, good health and opportunities to make you smile. I have some of my own experiences to share with you here, through my own eyes as a Personal Stylist. Better style decisions so often mean you can be confident, look younger and authentic. It is also possible to bring calm to your wardrobe/dressing room and enjoy selective, successful shopping. Clients with demanding schedules with important events to attend don’t have the time, nor can they risk, being distracted or unhappy with their outfit.
Colour, texture and shape are good for you. The interaction of these three elements gives me the possibilities for my client’s style strategy. Let’s consider British style, its heritage, individuals who inspire me, some recent events and brands which get me excited. There are many – this is an introductory flavour from a style feast. Perhaps I may bring further courses to you in the future?
Rewind to the summer of 2012 – the best of British. Wow! The visually-magic and heart-warming celebrations throughout my home country were an injection of energy and release of talent. There was no other British summer to compete with it. This special time burst with colour, anticipation, style, attention to detail, creativity, team work and a determination to win. The glow and sparkle of the nation’s London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations lit up the world and made a global-sized smile.
The Queen celebrated 60 years as Monarch last year and through these six decades, she has worn some of the finest evening dresses and immaculate tailoring. The 40s and 50s were all about full-skirted dresses in sumptuous silks and duchesse satins, while the 70s blossomed with flowing chiffon dresses, which reflected the more relaxed style of that time. The designs of Hardy Amies, Ian Thomas, Maureen Rose, Stewart Parvin and Angela Kelly have all shaped Her Majesty’s clothing collection over the years. The Queen’s style formula has to be fit for the work diary and it has to adapt. How can we forget The Queen in her acting debut, in a capsule James Bond film during the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony? Her Majesty was seen to leave Buckingham Palace with Bond, played by Daniel Craig, and boarded a helicopter, leaving her corgis behind to gaze and wonder. Thanks to the creativity of British film director and producer, Danny Boyle (Artistic Director for the open ceremony’s Isles of Wonder), this unique stunt opened the London Olympics with thrill. As The Queen entered the stadium, live, to take her seat – she was beaming a smile whilst we all absorbed the entire sequence and this most historical jump. Hold that thought – I will come back to this.
What influences and inspires a personal stylist? On my mother’s side of the family, I have a Royal court dress maker to Elizabeth Duchess of York on the family tree. This included dresses for King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s wedding – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. My late grandmothers continue to inspire me too – one a milliner, the other a wedding dress maker. People I meet fuel my ideas – how they walk, posture, their attention to detail or perhaps someone’s neglect of their personal appearance – especially when they are troubled by this aspect. Not everyone realises they have good-looking and unique natural assets in their eye-colouring, body proportions, skin tone or hair colour, or all four. A dressing strategy can help steer the outfit decisions all year round, any time, any occasion. Most of all, it’s the navigation for when you shop!
Landscapes, exhibitions, trend predictions, new and established designers, sporting events, museums, art galleries, vintage clothing, authors, window dressing, film and shows – there are many reference points and they all play a colourful role for the stylist.
Let me share with you a London event I attended in October of 2012, hosted by Nick and Giles English of Bremont Chronometers, an award-winning British brand producing beautifully engineered watches. In the first month of 2013, they relocated their workshop facility in Switzerland to England, proudly and with confidence. Bremont had been on my radar for a while; I needed to handle and try on the watches, and get more details. Held at the Bremont Boutique in South Audley Street, in Mayfair, London, the invitation-only gathering enjoyed the watch and accessories collection, its knowledgeable team and superb hospitality, in stylish premises. The evening was part of the Bremont Adventure Club series, held throughout 2012. No element of the evening tried too hard – that’s a quality in itself!
The ‘Adventurer’ speaker was a specialist in his field, a high-flyer, and he was enjoying sharing some recent achievements, with supporting photography of two important days in 2012 to remember. Our speaker, one of the Bremont ambassadors, turned out to be Henley-based stunt man Gary “Wingman” Connery. Back in May, Bremont had supported Gary’s biggest stunt yet. The stunt delivered and Gary did in fact make a new world record in being the first man ever to jump out of a helicopter with a wingsuit and land without deploying a parachute. This British ‘Wingman’ also wore a Bremont watch when he parachuted from a helicopter dressed as The Queen at the opening ceremony for the Olympics – wardrobe and timing were crucial!
A particular watch to really follow this year is Bremont’s Limited Edition, Victory. With the blessing of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Bremont is producing a totally unique watch which includes parts of oak timber and copper from the original ship to commemorate Nelson and the ship itself. Part of the proceeds of each watch will go towards the ship’s restoration. The Stainless Steel Victory is limited to 250, and the Rose Gold to 40.
If you are a Bremont Adventurer in the making, you will know about Bremont’s aviation heritage, from the English brothers’ family history of aviation and engineering, and its highly developed aviation inspired timepieces. Dressed for flight, this is all about creating something to make the aircrew unique on a Squadron level. These bespoke, mechanical chronometers closely mirror a Squadron’s DNA.
I caught up with Nick English this month and he shared this with me, for The Luxury Channel: “The last year has been an incredibly exciting one for Bremont. 2012 was the company’s 10th year and it saw the brand continue its growth, which was great. We won a number of prestigious awards, both in the UK and in the US, and we managed to open our own boutique in Mayfair in London. What is certainly the most exciting development for Giles and myself, however, has been the moving over of our watch manufacture from Switzerland to the UK. It has been no mean feat (!) and the new Bremont HQ and workshop was finally up and running this month. It is the first time that mechanical watches in these numbers have been made in the UK for a number of decades. This has always been a dream of ours, and fingers crossed this will bide well for 2013!.”
The Bremont Watch Company has a handsome year ahead. On January 17th 2013, Nick and Giles English announced the launch of their new British watch-making facility in Henley on Thames, South Oxfordshire. The beautiful oak framed building in the heart of the Chiltern Valley has been custom-built to provide an ideal facility for the manufacture of their high-end mechanical watches. If I may say, those English chaps, who have always been proud of their pivotal role in this British revival, can feel even better when they say ‘Our workshop is in England.’
Someone who is making a big difference to how we think about make-up is British, Enfield-born, make-up champion, Jane Iredale, Founder of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics. I caught up with Jane this month to ask what British style meant to her, what she notices on trips back to her home country and what 2013 holds for the Jane Iredale brand’s colours and products. One of those location ‘moments’ as Jane spoke with me from her Berkshire County, Massachusetts HQ office to me in Berkshire, in the UK. We were both amused by the geography. Like an Olympic race, the Jane Iredale brand is all about the quest for the best. As a personal stylist, a make-up solution finishes off a wardrobe review or shopping assignment, and sometimes it’s a starting point. Whatever the timing, I needed make-up which offered my clients the best ingredients list. Iredale Mineral Cosmetics offered ‘no oil, talc, FD&C dyes, synthetic preservatives, parabens, or synthetic fragrance.’ I had found a make-up range for my savvy clients to enjoy.
Today, the Jane Iredale brand is carried throughout the United States and in more than forty countries worldwide. The brand also includes the needs of men’s skin with the H\E range, including a Bronzer, camouflage and SPF all in one, with lip balm and wash glove. Jane Iredale products are popular in the UK because of their ability to cover and perform, be applied quickly and offer a range of finishes from sheer to full, from luminescent to velvety. With the ever-growing interest and support of broad spectrum sun protection, Jane Iredale has this covered too – six products have earned the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation. To earn this seal, a manufacturer must provide scientific data showing that its products sufficiently and safely aid in the prevention of sun-induced damage to the skin. Overall, the choice of colour is impressive.
Jane shared with me this beautiful insight into her world, for The Luxury Channel: “I’ve always loved British style because it has huge ranges from the very formal to tweedy country to street fashion – the creative putting together of unrelated objects that result in a unique and on-trend look. No-one does it better than the British girl who seems so confident in her choices. I think Kate Moss is such a good example of this. There’s a carefree, fun approach to fashion that isn’t evident in many other countries. Women tell us that feeling better about the way they look boosts their confidence levels to the point where they do everything better – even their jobs. That makes me feel really good.
As for trends for this spring in the US, make-up is fresh and luminous; brows are prominent if worn with little make-up elsewhere. Yellow is a popular shadow with lots of lashes. There are choices. Leave lips bare and wear tons of eye liner and neon shadows, or do the reverse and wear cherry lips with very little eye make-up except a defined brow. Make-up is going to continue to edge towards skin care. I really think the consumer is beginning to expect that her make-up should be an extension of skincare.
We’ve redone our lip glosses for this spring. A new formula that’s even more nurturing for the lips – eleven new colours for a total of eighteen and beautifully sleek new packaging. I was also inspired by the berries I grow in my garden for the flavour. We ended up with a mix of blackcurrant and blackberry. It’s so fresh and luscious. I hope you like it.” Jane Iredale, a colour adventure, a brand with a bright future and confidently set to win more awards in its field.
The New Year arrived, hand-in-hand with a brand new colour, centre stage. Pantone Colour of The Year 2013 is Emerald Green. Pantone 17-5641 Emerald, a ‘lively, radiant, lush green’. Pantone, the authority on colour, describe it as “a colour of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.” Green was rekindled in my mind at an awards ceremony in December 2012 – an evening which wrapped the achievements and energy of a 2012 to remember. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy was presented by the Duchess of Cambridge to Sir Bradley Wiggins, and she also handed the London 2012 chief, Lord Coe, with the Lifetime Achievement award. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a long, green Alexander McQueen dress with long bell-sleeves, a deep v-neck, trompe l’oeil belt waistband, high front slit and gentle peplum. A wonderful surprise for the nation to see the Duchess of Cambridge walk on to the stage, surrounded by so many sports personalities, at the end of a magical year.
What’s ahead, in fashion colours? For Spring 2013, Pantone’s ten leaders for this coming season are all about balance and colour as self-expression. For hectic schedules and life’s demands – there is something here for all eye colours, skin tones and mood. Dusk blue (a balanced neutral and representing serenity); Grayed Jade (strong grey undertone, calming influence from the green family); Linen (one of the ‘nudes,’ this one a light and airy tone); Emerald (vivid and bright, with clarity – a beautiful grounding amongst the spring palette), African Violet (for an exotic shot), Nectarine (progression of recent years’ orange family), Lemon Zest (brings in sunshine, cheerful), Tender Shoots (a fun colour, quite an attention-getter), Poppy Red (this one really pops and represents exuberance), and Monaco Blue (the anchor colour, calming and quietly confident, it’s the anchor player and friend to all in the spring palette).
The partner in crime of colour is texture. Add these two friends to heritage, a loom shed, remoteness and excellence and you have Harris Tweed. This is a special cloth with a bright future. The definition of Harris Tweed contained in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines Harris Tweed as follows: “Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.” The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine Harris Tweed, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed. Harris Tweed or Clo Mor (The Big Cloth) is the only fabric in the world governed by its own Act of Parliament. Harris Tweed stands for quality and style, history and heritage. Many designers have fallen in love with it, producing traditional tailoring, millinery, accessories, catwalk couture and innovative streetwear – it’s a versatile cloth. While it still holds its heritage for being practical and durable, it offers softness, breathability, warmth, colour, sustainability and it’s very adaptable. The love affair is set to continue, and when I caught up with the Harris Tweed Authority earlier this month, they were looking forward to a most buoyant 2013. Harris Tweed features in the recent archive at the HTA, showing collections from Paul Smith’s AW09 and in bright runway shots from House of Holland.
A snowy Berkshire in mid-January brings my thoughts to shoes and boots. Dressed for the weather, in an outfit you trust and enjoy – your stylish walk starts in the feet.
William Green, born in 1835, learnt his shoe-making skills from his mother – in their cottage industry, producing men’s boots, and later in his own home. In 1866, William stopped producing shoes and boots in his house and instead became a “factor” – in a nutshell, he began to employ craftsmen to fulfill the orders. It was not long before his reputation was about quality, craftmanship and durability. Later, his factory, The Greens Yard, went on to be the first factory in the world to use the Goodyear Welt Construction method in its gentlemen’s shoes. “Green & Son” soon became Grenson, registering its name in 1913. Today, it’s a strong and stylish brand, going from strength to strength in this brand new year.
Tim Little has built up two shoe making brands – Tim Little and Grenson. On his travels, he can spot a high-quality pair of shoes, instantly. So many shoes in the world have a fake welt using a moulding – this is stuck-on and made to look like it is stitched. With the famous Goodyear welt, the sole is much larger – a knife is used to trim off the excess and then finished with a machine. Most of Grenson’s shoes are stitched with an old Singer machine. On the apron of a loafer – these may be stitched by hand. This is about skill, precision and a craft.
I caught up with Tim Little on his return from Pitti Immagine Uomo, Florence and asked him to capsule the year ahead in words, for The Luxury Channel. “For Spring and Fall, the Grenson collection continues along the theme of classic, timeless shoes with new tweaks and in materials that make them relevant and fresh. The brand is a heritage brand with a modern attitude and we love to combine quirky materials, soles and details on classic styles such as the brogue, the loafer and the Chelsea Boot. Grenson will open a West End store this year, continue the growth of our women’s collection and maybe even open a store in New York if the wind is in the right direction. All in all it’s about doing what we do best, just doing a bit more of it.” My hunch is there’s a steady and confident sparkle to Grenson this year, and that’s good when you’re in shoes.
I would like to close this feature with a brief tailoring story. My chance to also highlight the continuing work of the Campaign For Wool, a global community of sheep farmers, manufacturers, designers, retailers, and the wool lover but also the heightened interest in men’s tailoring, especially Savile Row tailors. Savile Row never disappeared of course, it’s ‘always been there’ – the destination for the elegant male icon and discerning customer from all over the world, and many of these men have come to depend on it. My style barometer has detected more interest in this group of specialist firms than ever before. London’s Savile Row is a style and cloth heaven and haven, and collectively a matter of skilled observation and unique measurements. Anderson And Sheppard, its beginnings in 1906, can be found at 32 Old Burlington Street and today continues to follow the traditions of Savile Row and dress its individual clients.
Royalty, musicians, actors, politicians and designers have recommended Anderson And Sheppard over the years. A couple of clients to mention have been Fred Astaire and Bryan Ferry. The tailor received a visit from The Prince of Wales just before Christmas. The Prince has been using the services of Anderson And Sheppard since 1983 and it was indeed His Royal Highness who founded the Campaign For Wool – he asked the tailor to make suits for his visit to Australia and New Zealand last year, sourcing the wool from both countries to make them. John Hitchcock, the Managing Director and Head Cutter at Anderson And Sheppard, was proud to say that the Prince of Wales had come to see the company’s seven young apprentices who are learning the art of tailoring. John usually travels to Clarence House or Highgrove House to fit the Prince of Wales so it was therefore a real treat for the apprentices to meet His Royal Highness and see one of the suits being worn in front of their own eyes, which they had helped craft. The apprentices train hard and only the best work will do – they are the future, specialist tailors.
As well as the Anderson And Sheppard bespoke shop in Old Burlington Street, there is the addition of the firm’s haberdashery shop selling trousers, shirts, knitwear and accessories, which can be found around the corner at 17 Clifford Street. Anderson And Sheppard’s own summary is perfect: they have “had the honour of dressing some of the world’s most elegant and famous men.” A tailor’s shop can be a peaceful haven for the client, even tranquil, far from stuffy and blessed with skilled men and women who are very proud of their craft. I leave feeling inspired.
Stylish brands and highly experienced British expertise is abundant for 2013. For those who watch style and seek luxury, I believe there is a global appetite for an authentic and meaningful story and the need to connect on a deeper level when we buy. From the watch on your wrist to the ingredients in your makeup; your dressing strategy to the people who inspire you; from the cloth the designer fell in love with to the shoes on your feet and the perfect fit of a new jacket – what’s your personal style?
Melanie Sarah Image Styling is a bespoke service for men and women, based in West Berkshire and available to clients from London to Bath. Many of Melanie’s clients are British and are based in the UK, whilst some book a style review as part of their visit from overseas.
+44 (0) 7715 113 632