Jo Malone's 'Just Because' Dinner

We all know there is nothing better than receiving an unexpected gift, especially when said gift arrives in a distinctive pale yellow box with a black ribbon!  It is with that exact warm, fuzzy feeling in mind, and that celebration of generosity, which lies behind Jo Malone’s ‘Just Because’ campaign.  

Being thoughtful and spoiling a friend or loved one with some gorgeous Jo Malone treats completely out of the blue, for no particular reason, is a pretty darn lovely idea, and one we honoured recently over a lavish dinner at the Jo Malone Townhouse in Marylebone. 

Amongst hundreds of cream and black balloons, a mountain of gift boxes and a multitude of glowing Jo Malone candles exuding heavenly scents, guests (including Portia Freeman and Laura Jackson, below), enjoyed overflowing glasses of champagne and a delicious dinner. 

Not only were each of us totally spoilt with our very own ‘Just Because’ gift, all which were personalised with a unique reason for the kind gesture, but we were also able to have a go on the now famous Jo Malone pier-style Gift Grabber.  I managed a record grab of three small pressies at one time, a triumph I obviously gracefully down played… WHATEVER, I WON BIG PEOPLE, BIG! HUUUUGE! I’M THE WINNNNNERRRRRR!!  Errrrrrrm... Like I said, graceful.

Below:  My Basil and Neroli 'Just Because' gift from Jo Malone, adorably citing ‘Just Because we think Willow would approve…” referencing my beloved niece! A much appreciated, random act of kindness on a random Tuesday... #JustBecause! Thank you Jo Malone xx

TLC Loves.... Jo Malone

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Matthew Williamson's Belvoir Collection

In a wonderful attempt to coax the Spring sunshine out of hiding, Matthew Williamson’s ‘Gown Gang’ congregated at the palatial Kiping Sweet in Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair to play dress up in our favourite designer’s new Belvoir Collection

Matthew's opulent collection is inspired by Belvoir Castle and its beautiful interiors, with beautifully flowing countryside florals and eccentric patterns featuring monkeys and peacocks. 

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After a breakfast feast comprising of acai bowls and chocolate dipped bananas (and apple pastries, which I admit, I ate four of – but they were REALLY REALLY TINY, people!) Charlotte Tilbury’s amazing team were on hand to give us all gorgeous make-overs. 

After each choosing one of the show stopping dresses to wear, and grabbing a pair of Cinderella worthy Jimmy Choo's, we braced the chilly streets of London for our multi-coloured Sun Dance (a little like a Rain Dance but with less stomping, and a lot more of our signature swooshing!)

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Now, we don’t want to compleeeeetely take credit for the recent heavenly rays shining through the grey… But I don’t want to fully discount this theory either.  Jus’sayin.

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Photography:  Moeez Ali

Hair:  Secret Spa

Nails:  Sophie Gass

Smythson's Kingly Collection

Smythson will take your ol'canvas bag and raise ya… Their new, light weight and butter-soft leather Kingly bags have launched and are fast making those now tatty canvas totes hanging in your kitchen quite redundant!  Easy to carry around and designed to be rolled and unfolded without losing its shape, this bag is my perfect, and most chic, handbag overflow solution! 

I always carry two bags; one large, one small.  During the day, whilst whizzing around London, the large bag carries my Rose Gold MacBook, Smythson 2017 Diary and umbrella, leaving room for that last minute 1/2 pint of milk, and some sort of unnecessary Portobello Market curiosity bought en route home.  The small cross-body carries the essentials I need quick access to; My orange Smythson's Mara Card Wallet which also holds my Oyster card, my iPhone 6 Plus, Lipstick (currently I’m pouting with Tom Ford's 'Bruised Plum'), mints and keys. If I go straight out after work, I check in the large bag and I'm all set with the small.  

Available in their signature Nile Blue, contemporary silver and classic black, you can even have your Kingly bag personalised with your name, or favourite motif... I went for a unicorn - how sweet?!

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Photography: Tommy Clarke

Hair: Clo & Flo

Nails: Sophie Gass

#OOTD: 19.03.17

I have been an avid fan of the British cashmere label Wyse London since their launch in 2014, even featuring them in my first ever column in Hello! Fashion Monthly.  Their unique, but totally wearable, cashmere is flattering, beyond soft, pretty affordable and most importantly, C.O.L.O.U.R.F.U.L. 

We all know one of my favourite colours is rainbow (‘rainbow-leopard’ to be specific…) and it just so happens, that amongst a love for stars and neon, Wyse London also shares my penchant for a bright, joyous, multi coloured stripe. Their charcoal grey, slouchy Ines Jumper (RRP. £180.00) and Lucie Loungers (RRP. £195.00) are now my GO TO outfit for hanging at home and for strolling around Portobello, and they're sure to become like a second skin on my upcoming skiing trip.  A winning combo of comfortable yet stylish, I challenge you to find something else as effortless and relaxed, yet wholly luxurious and fun.  

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Photographer:  Ella Sadika

Hair:  Ruuby App.  Nails:  Sophie Gass

#OOTD: 17.03.17

When I broke my wrist earlier this year there were VERY few things that were capable of cheering me up. Realising that in a miserable post-Gilmore Girls world I could still watch hours of Matt Czuchry by starting seven seasons of The Good Wife was one, and this Topshop Duster Coat was the other.

I first saw this coat on some cool cat at Portobello hotspot, The Electric, one morning during a meeting. I assumed the over-sized, colour blocking coat HAD to be designer - the maximalist sizing and the colour clashing just seemed too fashwunnn to be easily (or financially) accessible – so I quickly moved my thoughts back to my pancakes.  I saw the coat a week later whilst perusing Topshop’s website, which was OBVIOUSLY a sign, right?!! I mean, I basically manifested this coat back into my world, and at a jolly decent price… It had to be mine. 

As predicted, I absolutely love it, and with Spring toying with us, seemingly unwilling to stick around and play ball, this colour block Topshop Duster Coat is warm enough for London’s current chilly situ, but not too wooly or faux furry that I feel like I’ll melt on those rare, but gloooorious, sunny days.  EVEN better, this coat is now in the sale (reduced from £129.00 to £65.00!) so move QUIIIIICK!!

Now, excuse me, must get back to Cary Agos… (*I still love you Logan Huntzberger!)

Topshop Duster Coat RRP. £65.00

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Photographer:  Ella Sadika

#TLCVacation: Antwerp's Square Mile with Boodles

I was so excited to recently visit Antwerp with leading British jewellery house, Boodles. As well as being well known for its chocolate and waffles, this ‘other’ Eurostar destination is also recognised for its share in the diamond trade… Chocolate, waffles, diamonds… How had I not visited before?!! 

Given Boodles’ reputation for both its heritage and creativity, it was no surprise that they had organised for me to stay at the beyond charismatic ‘De Witte Lelie,’ Antwerp’s most luxurious boutique hotel, dating back to the 17th Century.  Contemporary and stylish, this quirky hotel, with its leopard print sofas, bowls of Chupa Chups and individually styled bedrooms, is the perfect pied à terre and it had me at Goeiedag.

The Flemish capital sees 50% of the world’s consumption of rough, polished and industrial diamonds all pass through its cobbled Square Mile, and people flock there to buy the most precious and exclusive diamonds.  Boodles naturally only acquires the most exquisite gemstones, and as their guest I was able to visit some of the most notoriously private diamond cutters and dealers in the Diamond Quarter.

Over $16 billion in polished diamonds passes through the district’s exchanges each year, and after learning a lot about the industry, my day culminated in playing with an overwhelming £17 million of the most sparkliest jewels I ever did see!  

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I decided that this rather subtle 37 carat yellow diamond would make the most charming of pinky rings…!  Keep an eye out out for my imminent crowd funding requests...

After a wonderfully spoiling dinner with the Boodles team, wearing my competitively sparkly party shoes, I woke up to breakfast and Boodles diamonds in bed… What a way to wake up!! My delicate 18ct Blossom Mini Rose Gold Diamond Necklace is both youthful and elegant, and works just as well when worn with jeans and a white tee, as it does with a cocktail dress.

After a quick trip back to London on the Eurostar with Leo, I was invited to the Boodles flagship Bond Street store.  Spanning a whopping 2.500sq ft, the showroom houses a luxurious VIP apartment where I was able to try on some of the brand’s most exceptional ‘High Jewellery,’ one-off designs.

A diamond necklace and emerald ring were the two pieces which caught my Magpie eye in particular.  The exquisitely special platinum necklace I tried on features 55 ‘Ashoka’ cut diamonds, making it exceptionally rare, as only 2% of all diamonds mined can be cut this way. Exclusive to Boodles, the necklace weigh a total of 55.33 carats.  I also tried on the giant platinum and diamond ‘Greenfire Ring,’ which features an 18.7 carat cushion cut emerald from the Muzo Mine in Colombia.  Taking these beauties off was heart breaking! My inner Elizabeth Taylor has officially been unleashed... 

Townhouse Photography:  Ella Sadika

Tried and Tested: You Need A PA

Although Doris is currently making it slightly hard for us to believe, Spring IS actually on its way. This annual, most welcomed thaw instantly encourages me to feel lighter; lighter in my clothes (enough with the eight layers already, London…), lighter with my meals (I'm beginning to feel more like five pieces of fruit’n’veg a day, rather than five Fruit'n'Nut Chocolate bars a day…), and finally, lighter in CLUTTER!

I don’t know about you, but during the Winter months, the clutter in my flat seems to just procreate and multiply.  Although these eclectic masses and artefacts can sometimes act as great insulation during the big freeze, by the time the sun is readying his hat, their weight makes both me and my flat groan.  Living and working in the same space doesn’t help.  My sitting room at times can be filled with piles of samples, bags of returns, cupboards bursting with unattended admin... If I’m not careful my work/life balance can teeter far too much towards the work side , so my flat kind of needs to be pretty meticulously managed! 

I know I am not alone.  4.6 million Brits are now self-employed (17.3% of which are Londoners) but most of theses ‘One Women Orchestras’ and ‘One Man Bands’ cannot afford full time assistants. I have had several intern requests, but given that I never know where I will be or what I will be doing, being responsible for mentoring someone seems unrealistic and unfair.  Whilst daily zooming from one end of London to the next, having writing deadlines, evening events and conservation projects on the go, I really recently started feeling overwhelmed and in need of someone to help… That someone was Polly.

Polly Hadden-Paton (above), and her partner Vicky Silverthorn, set up ‘You Need A PA,’ a wonderful ‘Pay As You Go’ PA service, which provides you with a fully qualified, brilliantly connected and efficient PA to help you get all your tasks completed in record time.  This team is used to working with footballers, pop stars and hedge funders, but Polly has seen a recent increase in her ‘normal’ clients (working mums, the self employed, etc), who may not have the funds to employ a full time assistant, but are in dire need of some extra hands on board to make their lives easier.  

Whether you are in need of just a morning, a full day, or someone on a more regular basis, Polly and her team will work through the harrowing To-Do List you simply don’t have the time or contacts to complete yourself, either in person or remotely.  Need to move house? Need last minute, hard-to-get reservations or sold-out tickets? Need your holiday or party organised? Need some personal shopping or research done? Some property management or maintenance? Literally, WHATEVER you need, these girls have got yo'back! 

I had Polly come to my flat one morning a week for three weeks. The fourth week I was feeling utterly bereft, and missing her madly.  I had become completely reliant on this wonderful girl and far too used to her sorting out my life for me!  However embarrassed you may seem at the state of your home (mine resembled a bomb site), or lack of organisation skills, Polly has seen it all before which makes you feel instantly relaxed.  Each morning we made a list of what tasks I would be relieved to get off my shoulders, and Polly confidently ploughed her way through each and every one with total ease.  Standing orders were set up, bills were paid, tax receipts were sorted, a new printer was set up, my television tuned (I thought it was broken, my bad), bulbs replaced, files bought and then organised, plane tickets were booked, piles clothes for charities were organised and delivered, my dry cleaning was sorted and collected… All jobs which sound pretty benign for the girl who’s used to creating parties for 200 guests at a moments notice or arranging last minute transportation for clients when flight connections are missed!  You see, no job is seemingly too big or too small for Polly or her equally efficient team to tackle.

The best result from Polly’s three mornings at the illustrious TLC HQ, was that she set up the most useful office filing system in some cupboards under my television, housing all my admin, cables, stationary and printer.  The results have been game changing.  I can now happily shut away my work life in one big swoop, making my sitting room feel far more relaxing and fit for purpose.  Also, Polly’s love of admin rubbed off and inspired me to maintain these levels of efficiency (or at least attempt to!) and it feels much easier to do that now I have a cleaner slate to work with.  

These levels of acute help obviously come at a fair price, and even though I realistically can’t afford to have Polly regularly visit (*weeeeping as I write...) treating myself occasionally to one of her beyond helpful visits will be something to look forward to.

www.YouNeedAPa.com

Below:  I got these gorgeous grey canvas files and boxes (which Polly labelled with her own LABEL MAKER!) and some rose gold stationary (yes, I’m such a blogger) from Kiki K. As well as being practical, their simple, Scandi designs have made my work cupboard look so chic – another incentive to keep organised.  

#OOTD: 24.02.17 with Topshop

News that the skinny jean is ‘OVER’ is something I read year after year, yet fail to actually ever see any proof of.  As far as I can see, the looser, straighter, and flared trend-led designs are the ones which I see come and go, and despite being perhaps the least forgiving of denim fits, the faithful skinnies remain a classic, fail safe staple in all our wardrobes.  Seasonless, versatile, and undeniably cool (think Kate Moss in her rock’n’roll greys, or Olivia Palermo in her chic khakis…) the super skinnies triumph, time and time again, as the world’s favoured denim style.

Due to a broken wrist, with subsequent weeks wearing only the easiest to pull on baggy, boyfriend jeans, I was so excited, brace off and more mobile, to try on the new Topshop Jamie skinnies, one of Topshop’s latest updated Spring/Summer'17 denim styles.  Topshop has long been known for its iconic, yet brilliantly affordable array of jeans, and this season they have not let us down. 

This pair of Jamie’s ankle grazing length and light blue colour will be perfect for the sunnier months, and their slightly higher waist is super flattering and gives them a slightly vintage feel.

Currently Topshop sells a pair of jeans every 10 seconds globally, and at their flagship store on Oxford Street one pair is sold every minute!! It will not be difficult to imagine therefore, that come Springtime, Topshop’s new collection of nine jean styles, will also fly out of their stores.  Regardless of shape or occasion, and without having to spend a fortune, Topshop is THE destination for your every denim need (not to mention all the new summery tops and Spring-in-ma-step shoes you can also pair them with...)

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In Collaboration with Topshop

Photography: Ella Sadika

Hair: Ruuby App 

Nails: Sophie Gass

Yin Yoga with Nike Women

After weeks of hanging out sofa-side with my horribly sprained wrist (having two hands is now something I count among the highest of blessings) I have been feeling in desperate need of stretch! Not being able to function at my usual fast paced rate, where I usually dash all over London at all hours, has made me go out of my mind, and feel unusually frustrated.  I’ve felt soft in body predictably, but also in mind.  When Nike Women approached me and asked me to attend a private yoga class with Jessica Skye, kitted out in all their newest active wear, this wee marshmallow jumped at the chance! Now that my wrist is feeling stronger, this was exactly the push I needed to start my road back to feeling tough and sprightly again.

Nike currently have a relaxing pop-up yoga studio in the basement of FaceGym UK, on the King’s Road in Chelsea. I arrived with all the gear - and absolutely no idea!  There had been so many great Nike yoga options to choose from, but I had decided on some Nike Zonal Strength High-Rise Training Tights (I love their ombre’esq black to grey colour and the v-shaped waist band is ultra flattering), a supportive Nike Indy Cooling Sports Bra, and a super soft and loose fitting Nike Dry Training Top

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I was soon in the softly lit studio with the wonderful Jessica Skye (Yoga Guru, SLASH DJ, SLASH Nike trainer, SLASH major babe) who instantly came up with a gentle Yin Yoga routine for me to follow, which would make sure my objectives were reached; to feel a little more mentally relaxed and suitably stretched - all while keeping my wrist free from any pressure or weight.

Yin Yoga, Jessica explained, comes from the Taoist tradition and is all about finding stillness, and cooling the body.  This practice is great for those who are already active but who suffer from mental overload and “mind chatter’ (errrrrrm, hello?! Yes! Hand raised!) With one eye constantly on my phone, replying to emails and updating my social media, these slow-paced poses and bends can prove to be the perfect antidote.  

After the class I felt so relaxed, and a lot more awake and alert than I had in weeks. I was given my own monogrammed Nike sports bra and a delicious cold pressed juice before heading upstairs to try the signature FaceGym facial.  I definitely feel ready, now I have my bounce back and my wrist is feeling stronger by the day, to start getting fitter – and with all the best kit to wear, I now have no excuse!

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Some other TLC Nike Yoga faves...

In collaboration with Nike Women
Nails:  Sophie Gass.  Photography:  Maria Bazhanova

Valentine's Gift List 2017 - For Him

Let’s be honest, Valentine's Day should kinda be all about the ladies, but regardless of how much of a ‘lad’ your fella might be, there isn’t a chap in town that doesn’t appreciate a little sweet Valentine gesture.  So what to give our menfolk to show that we care too?!  Well, aside from the obvious (beer, food, socks, you...) here are a few little gift suggestions to spoil your beau.

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

Above:  Frangipani shirts, inspired by travels around the world and ancient block printing, manage to make the boys (and the girls that go on to steal them) stand out from the crowd whilst not looking too garish. There is a pattern for everyone and an occasion for them all.  Check out their new linen designs too.