TLC Vacation: Global Day of Discovery, Paris

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I was recently invited to Paris by Renaissance Hotels to celebrate their fifth annual Global Day of Discovery.  This hotel group is known for helping its travellers really experience their destination, something so frequently missed out on by those with a busy travel or work schedule, and for one day a year 170 of their hotels, across 24 countries, assist in helping you uncover the real soul of the location you’re visiting.  As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea,” so how could I miss such an exciting opportunity - one that would really immerse myself within the city, and not just within it’s bottles of wine and baskets of baguettes, as previous trips have witnessed!  This time, I was set to truly experience some authentic local culture that makes Paris unique.  

After arriving in Paris on the Eurostar (still never gets old), we were collected and taken to the Renaissance Arc de Triumph Hotel.  After a quick change and turnaround (I obviously needed to don some stripes and apply some red lipstick… ‘Cos Paris, innit?!) I was taken for the most tasty, colourful and inventive lunch at Balagan, the latest offering from the team behind the Experimental Cocktail Club.

With famous Israeli Chef Assaf Granit at its helm, this new, stylish restaurant and cocktail bar officially opens in June, in the Renaissance Vendome, and it should not be missed.  Make sure to try the amazing polenta starter and the tuna tatar wth tomatoes and tobiko yoghurt before the staff, accompanied by loud music, all join together to create you the messiest and most fun deserts… Think, chunks of cake thrown with wild abandon onto a tin foil lined counter top, followed by handfuls of watermelon and blueberries, a scattering of nuts, and giant spurts fruity syrups and lashings of cream! How very apt that Balagan means ‘Joyful Bazaar’ in Hebrew!

After a walk in the beautiful sunshine around the surrounding area, I have to admit I maaaaaay have then spent most of the afternoon in Sezane#DésoléPasDésolé

TLC LOVES... SEZANE

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After another quick change (so little time, so much Paris), and another quick change after that (zip issues with my dress), we were entertained by some dancers in the lobby over champagne, followed by Parisian beatboxers over more champagne, in a coach headed towards the Eiffel Tower.  Oh, did I forget to mention?!  The six Renaissance Hotels in Paris came together and threw an exclusive party a the sought-after Salon Gustave Eiffel in the Eiffel Tower and THAT’s where I was headed.

Aside from getting ABSOLUTELY SOAKED by a freak thunder storm (if you watched my InstaStories that night, you might remember my hurricane of a hair doo and complaints over my soggy Jimmy Choo’s!) the evening was what dreams were made of; incredible and rare views across Paris, the City of Light, and a fun party involving a lot of glitter, a lot of bubbles, and many, many extraordinarily good looking stubbly men. I mean… They were EVERYWHERE. If you’re single Ladies, head to Paris, that’s all I’m gonna say!!  

The next day, a Renaissance Navigator, an expert in local neighbourhood activities and local gems, took us to the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Not only was it as fabulous as ever, but I was able to visit the Art Afrique exhibition, which was exhibiting one of my all time favourite photographs in all its glory, 'Nuit Noël’ (below).  Captured by Malian goat herder turned photographer Malick Sidibé, in 1963, three years after Mali's independence from France, and a time of hugely euphoric cultural and social change.  I just love the vibrant intimacy of the couple jiving under an African night's sky, still both in their Parisian best (she, sweetly barefoot), surrounded by beer bottles on the concrete dance floor.  

Before heading for to catch the Eurostar home, we headed for the Place du Trocadéro. You can’t come all the way to Paris and not get the money shot, after all!

TLC ON TOUR... PARIS SUITCASE

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When in Paris... I love French beauty products (*and pastries) and I have a lot of love for cool cat (and daughter of Serge and Jane) Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new khaki packaged NARS collaboration - the make up brushes are firmly on my Wish List. Also, if I could eat the new Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream on toast, I would.

An unforgettable journey, Merci Renaissance Hotels!

Net a Porter 2017 Summer Sale

Summmmmer Tiiiiiime... And not only is the living easy, but the Net-a-Porter’s sale has kicked off!  To save you some time (and timing is of the essence when it comes to this) I’ve curated an edit of my favourite pieces - much of which you've seen me wear myself over the last few months.  In undertaking this task, i might also have made myself veritably bankrupt... I couldn't help it... That unobtainable digital shopping basket suddenly got a whole heap more obtainable!  Anyway, it's not what your spending, it's what you're saving, right?! RIGHT?!

Hover and click on the items below for their direct links.

TLC Vacation: Montenegro with Octavia Hix

I was recently whisked away by Octavia Hix to beautiful Montonegro for a fun filled few days.  I got to explore the country’s dramatic coastlines by speedboat, its breathtaking views over wine-tasting, and its Unesco-listed old town of Kotor (all very Game of Thrones), ALL whilst getting to wear some of the designer’s newest, silkiest designs. Spoilt, much??... Da!  

I wore an Octavia Hix dress on a trip to the Caribbean last year, and was really excited to get my mitts on some more.  Founded by sun-kissed sisters Vix and Hattie Clark, Octavia Hix really do create the most timeless, ageless and elegant printed silk dresses, which you can even wear as over sized shirts with jeans on chillier days.  The prints are inspired by their travels and their upcoming marble print was designed with Montenegro in mind.

I flew out on British Airways to Dubrovnik, where we were swiftly collected and driven across the border to the Regent Porto Montenegro, our glamorous new abode.

The Venetian-Renaissance inspired hotel is located inside the exclusive Porto Montenegro complex, neighbouring an abundance of chic cafes, restaurants (TLC TIP: Head straight to Byblos for the most amazing Lebanese feast) and designer boutiques, a sprawling Yacht Club (with the most INSANE of infinity pools) and it overlooks a picturesque 450-berth super-yacht marina… I mean, I obviously fitted in perfectly, darrrrling!

As well as having its own in-house bakery (the dream), the Regent Porto Montenegro is home to a cosy library bar, a delicious Mediterranean/Fusion-Asian restaurant, and the most heavenly spa, one I was lucky enough to visit on my last evening for an amazing massage. 

Two real highlights of the trip included taking in the amazing views over wine tasting (my new favourite hobby) at Castel Savina (TLC TIP:  The Castel Savina Merlot is ACES. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!) and our boat ride around the atmospheric Kotor Bay.  

Despite not being the sunniest of boat trips, the billowing clouds rolling over the bay, in all its wild, brooding beauty, was incredible and I loved weaving around the dramatic maze of cobbled streets in Kotor’s walled in medieval old town, which incidentally is brim full with stray cats… I’m not even kidding.  The whole town FREAKING LOVES CATS, and every shop and restaurant leaves water and food out for these descendants of seafaring felines, and there are even designated shops exclusively selling a plethora of cat clobber. Basically, I think I’ve found my people…

TLC ON TOUR... MONTENEGRO SUITCASE:

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TLC Staycation: RHS Chelsea Flower Show with The Dorchester

Whether you know your Acer Saccharinum from your Liriodendron Tulipifera (which I don’t either FYI…) you don’t need to be an avid horticulturalist to LOVE the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. The Royal Hospital Chelsea annually transforms its grounds with stunning floral displays, with world renowned designers creating show stopping, cutting edge gardens, creative floral artwork and frequently unusual floral displays. It’s a much anticipated date in every Londoner’s diary, and one that allows for a few stolen hours of pure browsing bliss in the sunshine amidst the plants and the sculptures.

Imagine the next level excitement I felt therefore, to not only attend this year’s show (tickets are like gold dust), but to also be invited to preview The Dorchester’s Afternoon Tea pop up before all the rest of the floral folk and fancies. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough (and lets not underestimate my notorious love of cake), but I also got to stay at The Dorchester the night before in a maaahooosive suite – AND be chauffeur driven around in my very own Rolls Royce convertible Dawn. Yes, I know, Cinderkella had it goooooood.

My stay at The Dorchester was, as ever, dreamy, with my highlights always including wallowing in their bathtub (the deepest in London, in case you wondered) and of course, ROOM SERVICE. Is there anything more luxurious than having your pancakes, bathed in Maple syrup, wheeled into greet you first thing whilst still in your fluffy white towel robe at The Dorchester?! I think not.

I was so lucky to visit the Rolls Royce Factory a few years ago, and have to say, they really are ALL the hype and more. People literally stop and stare as you drive past, wondering who you are… Ummmm, Kelly Kardashian, OBVs. The car’s unparalleled craftsmanship is matched only by its beauty, and it really is a total show stopper. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be whizzing around in a convertible, with the sun blazing down upon us, although I soon realised why ladies ‘back in the day’ took to wearing head scarfs…!

The show is attended by around roughly 157,000 visitors each year, so imagine what a treat it is to have a sneak peak before the masses arrive...

The Dorchester pop up was everything you would expect and more, and by 11am I was two scones down and mid way through their signature Chelsea Flower Show cocktail, ‘Her Majesty’s Cup’ (below), served from a floral teapot! The elegant, quintessentially British pastries and flower arrangements were exquisite, and I really had the opportunity to relax, kick back and smell the roses - not just Instagram them!

Here is a little video of my day...

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Thank you to The Dorchester, Rolls Royce and the team at London.

Photography and Film: Merrick Winter

Hair: Secret Spa

Chelsea In Bloom x Bloom & Wild

Last week Chelsea was indeed in BLOOOOOM.  The theme of this year’s annual ‘alternative’ floral art show (lets face it, ‘dem Chelsea Flower Show tickets are like gold dust!) was ‘Floral Safari,’ and the shops and restaurants of Chelsea were all filled with the most creative of wild displays, all competing for several coveted awards.  

Bloom & Wild, the hugely popular letterbox flower delivery service and leading floral stylists, teamed up with Club Monaco, creating a stunning Borneo inspired installation at their Sloane Square shop.  With cascading lush greenery with intermittent flashes of bright, tropical colour, you could wander around on the scout for wild (albeit more fragrant than ferocious) exotic wildlife.

From camouflaged frogs to cheeky orangutans and elusive clouded leopards, a ‘safari guide’ was on hand to add to the interactive experience, and being from Kenya myself, with a true passion for wildlife, you can only imagine how much I enjoyed exploring this jungle.

I specifically loved the stark contrast of Bloom & Wild’s rugged combination of palms, ferns, over grown vines and moss, set alongside Club Monaco’s clean and modern Spring styles. The neutral-heavy Club Monaco outfit I chose to wear also served to highlight this.

Bloom & Wild, most deservedly, won the People’s Champion Award, as voted for by the public – Congratulations!  

In Collaboration with Bloom & Wild

Photography: Tom Griffiths

Hair:  Secret Spa

Nails:  Swanky

Boden Icons Summer 2017

If you haven’t heard about Boden Icons before, you are to be entirely forgiven, mainly because the hero pieces of each of the limited edition, capsule collections usually sell out within minutes, with a good 90% of all stock having found happy homes within mere days!  Last season I had my beady eyes on a beautiful, cream embroidered skirt, and when I was inevitably too slow off the mark and missed out, I vowed to be more prepared this time round!

When I previewed the Boden Icons collection a few months back, it was the embroidered Rita Skirt which really stood out for me.  The stunning, intricate embroidery (also found on the skirt’s matching Rita Jacket), was inspired by a vintage jacket discovered in Portobello Market last year, so I felt it only, my new Boden Icons suede Martha Heels in hand, to hit those same streets of Notting Hill, to give it its first lil'shimmy...

This more premium and unique, 24 piece Boden Icons collection was inspired by the 1920’s and is all exquisitely crafted by hand. Each piece is really individual and regardless whether you prefer something structured, flowy, lacey or ruffled, there will be something here to turn your head... Just be quick - Only a few hundred of each item have been produced!

Above:  Wearing a Walton Gold Russian Wedding Ring (RRP. £295.00) and the 9ct Gold Satao bracelet (RRP. £140.00) from my Tembo Collection with Auree Jewellery (100% profits of entire collection go to For Rangers and wildlife conservation across Africa - See More Here), with the Angled Marble Gold Cuff (RRP. £155.00) and Totem Gold Cuff (RRP. £135.00) by Edge of Ember.

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Shop the full Boden Icons Summer 2017 Collection HERE.

Friday Feathers with Matthew Williamson

There is nothing, nooothing, that can put you in more of a party mood than one of Matthew Williamson’s signature cocktail dresses.  From the intricate, sparkling embellishment, to their ostrich-feather trimmed skirt, these show stopping, conversation starting, razamatazz inducing, form-fitting dresses are unashamedly feminine and oodles fun.  Some of my most frivolous and fanciful nights in London have been spent shimmying around in one of these fancies.  Ohhhh, the stories they could (but thankfully won’t) tell…!

I recently enjoyed the most unashamedly girly morning with the ‘Gown Gang’ playing dress up in Matthew Williamson’s new Belvoir Collection (see more here).  With Brown’s Hotel acting as our lavish host, Charlotte Tilbury’s team on hand to make us look our best, and an army of Jimmy Choo beauties standing to attention, I couldn’t help but try the Matthew’s latest, one-of-a-kind, Rose Lace Feather delight on to share with you.  Friday - Watch out, buddy!

Above:  Wearing the 9ct Gold Satao (RRP. £140.00) and the Silver Shina (RRP. £50.00) bracelets from my Tembo Collection with Auree Jewellery (100% profits of entire collection go to For Rangers and wildlife conservation across Africa - See More Here) and an Assya London Oriental Cross Ring (RRP. £195.00)

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TLC LOVES... Matthew Williamson Feathers

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Photographer:  Moeez Ali

Hair:  Secret Spa

Nails:  Sophie Gass

A Spring in my Step with Temperley London

I have always loved Temperley London’s free-spirited aesthetics, in fact the first designer dress I ever bought myself (albeit when it hit the sale, with a staff discount added on top, back in my wee shop girl days!) was a sparkling Temperley cocktail dress.  The excitement of wearing one of Alice’s bohemian dresses or best selling, cooler than cool sequin jumpsuits never ends (or fails to turn the right heads!) and this season’s collection, inspired by dreamcatchers, is a vision.  Immaculately crafted with strikingly colourful prints and patterns, these pieces can easily take you from day to night, which was exactly what I was looking for when I attended my friend’s wedding in Chelsea last weekend.  

The Temperley London V-Neck Aura Dress beautifully encapsulates this time of year, with its bold thread work embroidery featuring flowers and the most gorgeous bees. With a dress like this you should keep all your accessories to a bare minimum; A good pair of Choos (the only skyscrapers I can comfortably stand for eight hours in) and a gorgeous draping of wisteria and you’re good to go, with a Spring in your step…

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TLC LOVES... Temperley London SS'17

Fashion Targets Breast Cancer x River Island

Right now, breast cancer is at a tipping point;  More women are surviving, but more are being diagnosed than ever before.  One in eight women in the UK will face breast cancer in their lifetime and currently every 45 minutes another woman dies from the disease.

With these overwhelming statistics in mind, I'm so proud to be supporting Fashion Targets Breast Cancer this year.  30% of each sale of River Island's Choker Sweatshirt (RRP. £30.00) will go straight to Breast Cancer Now, helping fund the vital research needed to end this devastating disease.

We're all in this together... Shop it. Own it. Wear it. 

Makeup:  Secret Spa

#RefuseTheStraw

Today is World Earth Day.  

Plastic in the ocean now outnumbers sea life six to one, with straws making up a huge part of that. I wish all restaurants/cafes/bars/clubs would start using eco-friendly alternatives (bamboo for instance), or ask their customers if they wanted a straw in the first place?! Perhaps If they charged extra for the use of them, like supermarkets do with plastic bags, we'd consciously take a moment to question if we really needed one.

Let's all start to #RefuseTheStraw! A small easy step towards protecting our planet and it's wildlife.