Fashion Rambler meets Kate Finnigan

Yesterday was a bit of a whirl-wind. I was firstly up early to write practice essays on Anne Frank (joy of joys). My last ever University exam is on Wednesday, after which I will be well and truly a full-time fashion-person. Oosh. More on that in another post, but for now… Kate Finnigan.

If you caught my belated post yesterday, which announced that I was chairing The Fashion Network’s ‘An Evening with Kate Finnigan’, you’ll know what I mean. If not, Kate is the Style Director of Stella Magazine at the Sunday Telegraph and quite the lovely lady, she was in Manchester for a chat with me at Harvey Nichols in Manchester about her life, work and thoughts on fashion. 

You’ll find lots and lots about the event on various blogs and sites in the coming days but let me give you a quick break down.

The only picture I have at present… twit-pic courtesy of @IrenaDMusic

Kate grew up in Manchester (Chorlton) and studied English Literature at Sheffield. She then went on to study post-graduate Journalism at City University in London and worked on various teen-mags like J-17 (totes used to read that) where she was the deputy-editor. Finnigan then landed a role at Elle where her attention turned to fashion and from there, Stella and the rest is history….

Kate’s role at Stella primarily involves heaps of writing. The title, Style Director implies a lot of styling but that’s actually the Fashion Director’s job, Kate is more involved with editorial, editing, commissioning etc. 

Kate envisages a place for online and print in the future, using the apt example that those with kindles still like to read books, those with iPads, still buy newspapers. I think I get where Kate is coming from but I believe we’ll see an inevitable switch over in the next five-to-ten years and I think some print publications will either switch or die.

Kate is not the snobby fashion editor when it comes to commercial collaborations either. Kate believes platforms like Fashion East, Newgen etc. are what makes London Fashion Week stand out on the international platform and we should embrace designers who are commercially minded.

Interesting facts:

The Telegraph offices are really really really quiet.

Hilary Alexander is exactly as you think she is. (Amazing)

Not everyone at Stella gets to go to the international fashion shows and only a few get to go to London.

Kate once interviewed Britney Spears and she said she was lovely, sweet and extremely sexy in front of the camera.


Fashion Rambler to meet Kate Finnigan, Style Director of Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine

What a week, I’ve been so busy (sunbathing) that I completely forgot to scream and shout about tonight’s event. The Fashion Network and Harvey Nichols Manchester will host an evening with the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine Style Director, Kate Finnigan.

Kate is a Manc girl with a lot of soul and a lot to say about the fashion industry. Well worth a listen to! What’s more is that I’m chairing the evening, double the reason to come (ha!)


See you there!


BANG! Selfridges Manchester Trafford Big Beauty Bang!

Oosh, if you’re not sick of hearing about the Olympics by now you’re probably sick of hearing about the Jubilee. It’s her Majesty’s diamond year and an excuse for fashion retailers to cash in on the hype. Whilst I’m no cynic and love a bit of pomp, I have to admit that some of the attempts to celebrate the Jubilee have been a little dull. Does opting for a Union Jack paper carrier bag really count? Does stringing some bunting in the window really show a keen effort? Perhaps it does but nothing I’ve seen so far can compare to how Selfridges kicked into gear. 

The super centre of super shopping has been celebrating Britain, the Jubilee and the Olympics all in one with their national roll out of the Big Beauty Bang and Big British Bang events. Selfridges Manchester Exchange celebrated their do earlier this month but Manchester Trafford kicked off their bash last night, coinciding with the Trafford Centre Summer of Hope and Glory night – quite the big event.

Walking around the Trafford Centre before heading to Selfridges we (Adam came along) saw so many stores stepping it up; even typically dull Dorothy Perkins forked out for a DJ! 

Still, the main event was at Selfridges and here is what we did…

We had pink lemonade, cupcakes and Champagne handed to us by male models in pink chinos.

Then, I had my eyebrows done at the Blink brow bar. 

Eyebrows freshly threaded, we had photos with Her Majesty Mary Queen of Shops AKA Mary Portas AKA Drag Artist Jonny Woo dressed as Mary AKA Amazing with HRH Prince Charles (well, a look-a-like).

Then, we had a look at sun glasses because Adam hasn’t got his for this summer yet!

We then watched a cool Hoola-Hoop performer (As seen on Britain’s Got Talent)

We then jealously watched people who had forked out £50.00 or more being treated to a go on the grabber machine to win goodie bags! (Everyone won).

We watched a one-man band (like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins)

We had a great time. As always, Selfridges, you know how to party.


Confessions of an Assistant Buyer

A while back I had the privilege of accompanying a Buyer on a AW12 buying trip to London. We visited Splendid, J Brand, Sam Edelman, Bridget Bardot and others.

The experience was eye-opening for so many reasons. The showrooms are generally like lovely deserted shops without noisy crowds. The coffee is always good and served on trays. The showrooms are always in the most obscure of places, either in the middle of it all or in the middle of nowhere. 

Mainly, however, what opened by eyes (and ears) was that fact that Buyers and those selling in the showrooms speak an entirely different language. Whilst I was able follow, I still thought it was funny that the jargon was so deliberately applied to the conversation with such gusto! Oh how we love fashion…

Glossary of lovely fashion nonsense:

Story, n

“that boot is part of the same story”, “would you like to know the story”

Translation: collection, line of inspiration.

Drop, n,

“Would you like an early drop?”, “we can accommodate the late July drop or mid August but you have to have two.”

Translation: delivery, sequence of deliveries through season.

J Brand AW12

Pre, pre-fix as n,

“Are you buying Pre this season?”, “You can have a little Pre in the buy too.”

Translation: Pre-collection, the buffer between seasonal mainlines.

Mainline, n,

“This is Mainline.”

Translation: The main collection for a season, not diffusion or pre.

Diffusion, n,

“We don’t call it a diffusion”, “It’s not a diffusion, its more a sister-line.”

Translation: alternative and often cheaper version of the brand’s mainline, although never admittedly so.

Trans-seasonal, adj,

“Well to be honest that is a trans-seasonal piece (holding sunhat)”, “If you’re looking for trans-seasonal this is the piece (holding bikini)”

Translation: Pieces which can accommodate both Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter season.

Carry Through, v,

“That’s a carry through”, “Oh, it’s a carry through option, you have to have it!”

Translation: items which feature in all collections as statement staples of the brand.

Splendid AW12

POS, n,

“Do you need POS?”, “I can include POS for this line.”

Translation: Point Of Sale, branded posters etc. for in-store.

Blocks, n,

“I have blocks!”

Translation, perspex POS blocks with brand’s logo on, people get very excited about them.

They/Them, n,

“I don’t know why they stopped doing it”, “I know, I know, I told them but they didn’t listen.”

Translation: The brand, mystically referred to in order to establish a deliciously elitist distance.

Retail, n,

“That’s £180 retail”, “Do you want wholesale or retail prices?”

Translation: indicates RRP.

Swap, v,

“You can swap it up”, “If it’s no good we can swap it.”

Translation: Items which, if bought, can be swapped later on if they perform badly.

Back-order, v,

“You can always back-order”, “I have these on back-order from last season.”

Translation: Items still in the warehouse from last season that you can order at late notice.

Other Terms:

“it depends how you buy it”

“I think you’ve bought really well”

“You’ve got a good buy” 

“You can use this to pull through some colour” (with beaded headdress in hand)

“Here are the key shapes for this season” (whilst pointing out boot-cut, skinny and flares)

“This has been picked up by everyone” (followed by knowing glare whilst thinking the word ‘Harrods!’ in a hope to telepathically convey the significance of the bag.)

Got any other gems? @jordanjmcdowell


Fashion Rambler meets Daisy Knights

Daisy Knights is a bit of a crush of mine. No no, not the lady (although, she’s beautiful), but her jewellery.

Now, I’m not a jewellery man. I have knobbly fingers, girlie wrists and chest so hairy even Mr T’s bling would get lost in it. However, I’d make an exception for Daisy Knights.

Strictly speaking, the Knights jewellery line caters more for girls than it does for boys but that’s never stopped me (perhaps it should)

I adore this feather necklace, it would be one of my only-when-on-a-night-out pieces. Don’t you think it would glitter perfectly under the mirror ball?

I also love these tie pins. The anchor one is based on one Knights made for her Dad to wear to her wedding. Sniffles.

I got the chance to chat to Knights about her brand, her business and her thoughts on the current whole-sale price of gold, quite the interesting read:

fashion Rambler: You design a menswear range but do you see the line between women’s jewellery and men’s jewellery blurring?

Daisy Knights: Yes, I do, I think androgynous style will always be in as long as it’s done with a chic edge. My jewellery is defiantly more women orientated, but I do have some exciting menswear collaborations in the pipeline.

fR: Would you ever consider a stand-alone bricks-and-mortar retail store?
DK: Never say never, but I don’t really see this in my future, I really like boutiques with lots of labels and I think its great being able to put a whole outfit together in one shop rather than just a jewellery shop. I also think a stand alone jewellery shop could be a bit intimidating.
fR: How does your online store participate to your overall business, is it a major avenue to market for your brand?
DK: Yes, it is. Its really great as it showcases the brand and I really enjoy styling it and doing new things for it, all the model photos on the website are taken by me. Its a really great to be able to tell shops what sells really well online and what areas, price point etc.
fR: With the prices of gold at an all-time high, how does Daisy Knights aim to stay accessible?
DK: Tough question! I try to keep my designs light and delicate so there isn’t so much to gold plate. Luckily every other jewellery designer is in the same boat so all our prices reflect that.


Emporio Armani / Elliot Landy, Manchester Event

Armani Manchester staged a soiree last week, to celebrate the artistic collaboration of the store and photo-journalist, Elliot Landy.

Landy was the official photographer of the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and captured images that would later become famous, world wide. Many of the ’27 club’ were featured, including Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. 

Using a technique devised by the CIA, the shots were captured in infa-red. Whilst I enjoy my photography a little more political (Google: Barbara Kruger) I enjoyed being swept up in the druggy whirl-wind that is Landy’s image.

What an excuse to get dressed up, ‘eh? You can see me here, between my plus one, Christopher, and Lynda Moyo of I’m wearing my new McQ Alexander McQueen vest.

Photos courtesy of: Victor Frankowski


A Fashion Break: My beef with Queen Liz

I’ve just had an epiphany: this is my blog and I can blog if I want to. (to the tune of Lesley Gore).

I’ve often had topics on the tips of my typing fingers that I felt I was unable to express on fashion Rambler  because they didn’t concern fashion. To hell with that, I pay the domain subscription, I’m blogging this thang my way. 

*note to self, never type ‘thang’ again and stop watching Saved By The Bell when no one is looking.

So, the first non-fashion specific topic is:

Her Majesty the Queen’s Speech at the opening of Parliament. Didn’t she look lovely? (See, we can find a fashion angle in everything)

My main issue with the whole day isn’t that tax payer’s money was used to block a road for Liz to give a speech for 8 minutes when the Windsors should have Skype. My issue isn’t with the really odd tradition of knocking on the door of Commons three times before the MPs will agree to listen to the Queen. My issue isn’t even with Her Majesty’s neglect to mention her fellow Queens (by this I mean the derogatory term for homosexual) in her speech. No, my issue isn’t with any of these minor (major) points. My issue is with Liz calling the British Government, as elected by the general public, “My Government.” 

Really? I mean, are we really going to go all Charles I and claim divine right to sovereignty? 

OK, I confess. I’ve never actually sat through and listened to the past speeches. I’m 21 and have other things to worry about like hair product and whether or not too much super noodles gives you cancer. However, for the purposes of essay procrastination, I felt best to switch over to BBC iPlayer and catch a little of old Lizzie in action.

I mean, the speech was dull but I wasn’t excepting lyrical excellence from someone who thinks the ‘royal’ we is grammatically correct. However, the reiteration of ‘My Government’ shall do this, ‘My Government’ shall do that, struck a chord. Isn’t it a little presumptuous to state, on camera, on record, to the globe that the British Government is in actually yours? 

Sorry to you electoral voters (all 5 of you) but I’m claiming Cameron and his cronies for my own. Whilst I am happy to regulate responsibility for the shambles that is the British governmental system to anyone who will have it (Al Qaeda anyone?) one teeny tiny problem persists to niggle at the back of my mind. Isn’t Great Britain supposed to be a free Democracy?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Royal. Di was a saint and understood the power of Valentino. Whilst Kate hasn’t got the style of her late Mother-in-law, at least she looks the part. Mind you, my taste in royal isn’t just about stick-figures in couture, I love the Greek one too. He’s like Britain’s awkward Great Uncle, always improper and always at the party. He was even by Liz’s side at Parliament today, nodding off. 

However, whilst I adore the ridiculousness of the Royal Family (when will MTV secure a dram-ality deal with the Monarchy?) I still consider myself a free citizen, not her royal subject. So, rather than pretend we’re something we’re not, how about we figure out a role for our expensive tourist attraction that suits both the Monarchy and its position within the 21st Century? Britain doesn’t seem to fare well without a sovereign at the helm (Case Study: The Cromwell Years) but we certainly need to reconsider how we approach the Monarchy because the traditions from yester-year are growing old and tedious, and one wouldn’t want that, would one?

For more rambles that aren’t fashion rambles, check out Matt’s blog, Today Made Me Think, which inspired by break from fashion-normality.

Also, have a comment? Tweet me @jordanjmcdowell


Oliver Sweeney on The Avenue, Spinningfields /The Series Events

Manchester’s Oliver Sweeney store were the second retailer in the city’s new luxury quarter to host their Thursday night do for /The Series Events. Weekly excuses to shop, drink and shop at Spinningfields.

Bored of the words? Here is a photo-montage of the night’s frivolity.

Whist I was there I picked up a nifty little booklet that advises on the best care for one’s footware!

 Perfect advice methinks.


#insidelive Manchester Arndale enters the cybersphere

I’ve just got back from a rather interesting trip to Manchester Arndale, one which fused new media and fashion in a way few retailers can even begin to understand.
Yep, it’s true. I do. Me with my new favourite PJ tee and the rather funky branded goody bag
To celebrate the latest issue of the centre’s in-house magazine, Inside Magazine, the pages of the magazine were brought to life with an interactive and digitally connected event expo in the middle of the centre’s busiest thoroughfare, Exchange Court. It was hash-tag, QR Code, blogging, shopping, make-over madness! Allow me to explain…
It’s like this, Inside Magazine is a sixteen page print magazine distributed to 350,000 Manchester postcodes quarterly to showcase all things fashion, beauty and Manchester Arndale. As far as in-house publications go, Inside Magazine is a top read – precisely because it isn’t exactly about reading. The pages offer an explosion of product, styled around various trends and themes, with little in the way of wordy copy to keep the experience as fast as the fashion! It’s also printed on top quality paper and is handbag sized so it ticks all the boxes. 
Now, the #insidelive event took the magazine to the people with huge installations which replicated the style pages from the magazine. Around each giant page, mannequins modeled the clothes featured in the pages and QR codes offered passers-by the chance to quickly scan and enter competitions!
Around the installation, GHD provided free hair make-overs for shoppers and make-up artists were on hand to slap on some SS12 powders and creams. The whole event was also scented by The Fragrance Shop, whose Manchester Arndale store manager was almost bursting with excitement at the prospect of being the only Fragrance retailer allowed to spritz centre shoppers! 
Gents weren’t exactly missed out, with two pages showcasing Gatsby and Retro Rocker trends but this was an event aimed at the girls and aim at girls it did.
However, I was impressed. Manchester Arndale are very new to new media, having only just set up a Twitter account to cool the storm which formed during the Manchester Riots where tweets broadcasted that the centre was razed to the ground! Whilst it was not true, at least it got Manchester Arndale into the Twittersphere! 
The event understood how new media can enhance the retail experience by ensuring that the customer is fully immersed into the experience, lock, stock and twitter handle! It also avoided the pitfall that stand-alone fashion expos can sometimes find themselves in, where the link between the event message and the till point is missed out. Whilst customers can’t buy from the stand itself, store assistants throughout the centre were briefed and prepared for customers looking for the pieces showcased. Likewise, the QR codes offer shoppers the chance to win the look from the stand so with a little data-capture magic a link is forged to encourage repeat custom.
You can pop to Manchester Arndale #insidelive event over this bank holiday weekend for your free make-over or just to have a nosey. I would certainly recommend!

Oh, I nearly forgot: if you do pop by these are the discounts you can expect!

• Warehouse 20% off selected lines
• Coast 15% off boutique range
• Vero Moda 20% off selected lines
• Select 15% off selected lines
• Republic 10% off full price product (excluding G-Star,
Diesel and Police)
• Monsoon 15% off all Ladies wear
• Evans 10% off full price
• Oasis 20% off full price
• Guess 20% off selected lines
• Levi 20% off student discount
• Quiz 10% off all occasion wear
• New Look 10% off
• Aldo 20% off selected lines
• Garage 10% off
• Jake 20% off selected lines
• Dune 20% off
• Clarks 10% off
• Schuh 10% off
• G-Star Raw 20% off selected lines
• Foot Asylum 20% off selected lines
• Jack Jones 20% off selected lines

If you can’t make it, have a look at Manchester Arndale TV online for behind the scenes videos from the current Inside Magazine issue!