Sicilianita’ T’amero Ppi Sempre

Sicilianita’ T’amero Ppi Sempre

Sicilianita’

Image used for Platform Magazine, taken by Paolo Torrisi

To explore Sicily and have no interest in the mafia is like loving the Island but hating the cuisine. They are both very much intrinsic and integral to this amazing and mystifying land that we see in the great visions of Martin Scorsese or read through the page turning words of Mario Puzzo.  Films, sitcoms and books often depict the Sicilian/Italian American way of life – often peppered with mafia dealings. Usually the women are unbelievably sexy and sassy, the men, macho and adulterous and the fashion, flashy and opulent.

For some, The Godfather, The Sopranos and other Italian American media portrayals may be the closest they’ll get to the sizzling culture of Sicily, fictitious and glamourised accounts of a culture and a land that for its media popularity is comparatively obscure in actuality. It is almost prerequisite to mention Sicily and the Mafia in the same breath, something that the proud Sicilian may not be too proud of. There is so much more to Sicily beyond the fascination and criticism of the Mafiosi. It is a land that is just as fascinating and attractive outside of the Hollywood movie scene.

Sicilian authors, designers and photographers add a great depth to Sicily, taking their subject to the classic and traditional capital, Palermo, the bustling, contemporary city of Catania (home to one of the largest clubs in Europe), to the rustic foothills of Mount Etna, the Greek mythology that lingers on the seafront of Aci Trezza and the beautiful terracotta pottery of Caltagirone. Sicilians live a life that is just as rich and admirable as the Italians, appreciating all the finer things in life. The people are colourful, vivid and defiantly respectful, with an overwhelming sense of generosity. The temperament may be a little more passionate and the land more condensed with all its contradictions, but Sicily, regardless of its location (just off the toe of the boot that is Italy) is the true spirit and dialogue of Italy.

Sicily, for many centuries was the host and participant to the torments of war, colonisation and conquer. The now Italian island has been under the rule of Greek, Arabic, Norman, Austrian, French and Spanish monarchies, kingdoms and empires. Towards the final years of the lands turmoil it was once even a protected state of Britain. On May 11th 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian custodian, fought for the unification of Sicily and Italy, battling with the island’s Spanish oppressors. After fighting for several days , the British Navy, omnipresent as always, interceded and called armistice. The Spaniards surrendered and Sicily became favourably united with Italy and henceforth Italian.

The history of Sicily not only remains extremely intense, but there is an extraordinary sense that it remains extremely close to the present. The centuries of war and colonisation is so prevalent it can be heard in the language and witnessed in the architecture. Sicily’s battle has created a wonderland for the enthusiast of life, love, cuisine and a palpable and rich playground of history, architecture, etymology and genealogy.

The language is a fusion of Italian and that of its predecessors’. Although most Sicilians are bilingual in Italian and Sicilian, Italians will struggle with the comprehension of the Sicilian language. The history, like the mestizo race, is also evident in the aesthetic of the Sicilian people. The further and further south of Italy one ventures, the greater the mix of skin colours and hair textures becomes. The darkest of Sicilians have skin the colour of Indians and hair that curls so tightly that if they were black it would be called afro, yet the lightest of them, so fair, they are as blonde and blue eyed as any Aryan.

Like the language and the people, the architecture and the land itself are just as diverse and intermixed. There is an architectural juxtaposition due to both the unrest of wars and an unfortunate natural disaster, which was the great volcanic eruption of Mount Etna. Many buildings take the shape of Arabic and Norman influences, disseminated throughout the island. An assemblage of Arab castles altered to the Norman tastes form breathtaking palaces, churches and cathedrals. The Palazzio dei Normanni, situated in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is an example of this. Meanwhile, Sicily’s infamous Mount Etna’s 1693 earthquake, coined Earthquake Baroque, wiped out the southern part of Italy, killing two thirds of the Catanese* population and with it many of the island’s construction – this initiated the construction of the highly ornamental style, Sicilian Baroque .

There has only been one eruption of this kind since the Earthquake Baroque, which took place in 1928, nevertheless the volcano stands proudly setting the scene for the eastern region of Sicily. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and the inspiration for many of the world’s great thinkers, writers and poets. Frequently  molten lava seeps through  Etna’s flank, painting the  Sicilian night sky with a great crimson red streak – sat in the  Piazza Catanese* at night against this back drop is a remarkable sight, foreigners are often unable to peel their eyes away from the assertive looming existence of the Sicilian volcano.

Like Jorge Luis Borges’ The Aleph, the Aleph was the central point at which all corners of the universe met and could be witnessed without any disorder or confusion. This great, powerful phenomenon in the world was kept hidden in an old man’s basement, away from the exposure of the world. Many have said the same about Sicily, maybe not in the poetic language of the Argentine literary, but the essence remains the same; in this respect the universe is Italy and the Aleph, Sicily – lost in the eclipse of Italy, obscured by its shadow.

Italy has a wealth of diverse characteristics that allow for prosperity and whilst remaining true to its essence, Italians, like the French, have mastered the art of good living – their method: to find enjoyment in the experience of luxury and beauty, whilst being respectful of tradition, remaining classic and adhering to form. Travellers venture to Italy to witness the chic and sharpness of the distinguished Milanese fashion, to take pilgrimage or be spectator to the masterpieces of Leonardo DaVinci at the Vatican city, to celebrate love and float along the canals of the sinking Venezia or travel south to indulge in the simple pleasures of life – good people, good wine and even better food. Nevertheless, it was the great Goethe, along the lines of Borges’ Aleph that wrote, ‘Without seeing Sicily it is impossible to understand Italy – Sicily is the key to everything.’

My Dolce and Gabbana Milan Pilgrimage

Why the Dolce and Gabbana Milan  Pilgrimage?

Dolce and Gabbana Crown and Jewls

I recently travelled to Milan to visit my fiance, who was sent to the famous Corso Venezia number 15 Dolce and Gabbana Milan store to work on the launch of the first ever Dolce and Gabbana atelier in the world for bespoke menswear garments only. The Dolce and Gabbana atelier, titled Sartoria, expands even further upon the luxury fashion and lifestyle experience the palazzo already offers to its shoppers and guests.

If you have visited the Dolce and Gabbana palace before, you will know that I am by no means exaggerating when I call its quarters a ‘palace’ and a visit to the palace an ‘experience’ – as a visit to any palace would be. Keep reading to find out more about my Dolce and Gabbana and Milan fashion pilgrimage….

Although I have been travelling back and forth to Italy for nine years now, I was still yet to make it to what my fiance calls ‘the ultimate fashion capital’. ‘Arguably, maybe Paris might be the home of womenswear fashion, but, hands down, the menswear capital is Milan.’ He told me, with his proud Sicilian-ness.

I dare not call him biased.

Milan – The Fashion Capital I Wanted to Love Me Back

Milan street style fashion

Milan was indeed the last fashion capital on my list to be crossed off. Regular Charms of a Dandizette readers will know that I have a special affection for Italy, because of my fiance and my close ties with the country , my love of its culture, its food, its language and its traditions . It’s become part of the world that I have grown familiar with and have started to look upon it as my home away from home.

However,  while I was excited to finally travel to a more northern region of Italy and naturally, excited to see this fashion capital, anticipating my travel to Milan evoked a sense of nervousness in me. I had it on a pedestal and I really wanted to fall in love with it.

I had fallen in love with Parisienne Chic fashion and the romance of the culture in Paris. I was ignited by the energy, the lifestyle and the spectacularly designed stores belonging to the major fashion houses on the iconic 5th Avenue and of course, I already live in London – one of the braver and more pioneering fashion capitals (in my books). But this was the Italian fashion capital. I wanted to fall in love with it and, I would be lying if I didn’t say, I also wanted Milan to fall in love with me too. I wanted to fit in, to feel at home and make a good impression on this great fashion capital. And as any fashion lover will know, first impressions start with clothes.

I landed in Milan, wearing a a khaki, leather piping zip up jumpsuit from Zara. On my feet a pair of silver Terry De Havilland wedges, in my hand my Alexander Wang black Rocco bag and on my face my  Anouk Tom Ford sunglasses. A jumpsuit seems to do wonders for my figure, although I am already of a good height, the jumpsuit slims and elongates and they are perfect for flying. My shoes, bag and sunglasses added that high fashion edge to the ensemble, which I felt was completely necessary for my fashion pilgrimage in Milan – a metallic Terry De Havilland wedge can do wonders for any ensemble. I jumped in a taxi, giddy with fashion excitement, and headed straight for the number 15 Corso Venezia store, with no idea what to expect from the new store, the Milanese fashion or the people.  

Dolce and Gabbana Corso Venezia- A Palace Fit for a King

Corso Venezia is Milan’s elite shopping district – think Bond Street or Sloane Street – lined with the stores of world famous fashion houses, Prada, Gucci and, of course, Dolce and Gabbana, having a presence in a very big way. When my taxi pulled up  outside 15 Corso Venezia I could barely believe what I was seeing – this was no ordinary store. I stepped out of the car to meet my fiance, who walked me through a quaint and picturesque courtyard where petite yet curvy beautiful women, wearing dresses of the typical Dolce and Gabbana silhouette and lace court shoes, were serving drinks to patrons sitting in the courtyard. I continued walking further into the enclosed outdoor space to meet some of the Dolce and Gabanna employees – men, groomed to perfection, dark haired, sun kissed skin and perfectly manicured hands, wearing impeccably cut black suits.

Like I said, it was later understood that, indeed, the Dolce and Gabbana store on Corso Venezia was no ordinary store at all, in fact, it occupies a palace. An entire neoclassical palace of the 16th century, that once belonged to a wealthy Italian family.  The palace makes home to a Dolce and Gabbana leather goods and accessories store complete with an in store shoe mender.  The main store, which covers four floors, selling the most comprehensive selection of Dolce and Gabbana goods, including jewellery, casual wear, fashion suits, knitwear, classic and season goods and the most recently opened and more specialist space, Dolce and Gabbana Sartoria, for which my fiance went to assist with the opening.

Dolce and Gabbana Sartoria is dedicated solely to bespoke menswear. All garments are handcrafted and cut and finished by Dolce and Gabbana tailors. The Sartoria offers a a one to one fashion experience for men that want their garments made from cloth to finish entirely, designed for their tastes, cut as sharp as a razor and fit to perfection.

Can you smell the opulence and the ultimate luxury? There’s more still. In addition to leather goods, handmade garments and all things Dolce and Gabbana, men can also be coiffed by Dolce and Gabbana at the Dolce and Gabbana Barber shop.  This barber shop makes the designer beard (in the literal sense of the word) completely achievable. In a time when men’s hair and facial hair is just as crucial  a statement to be made as his shoes, his watch or his jacket, this is the perfect way to finish off any desired look and for those that can’t afford handcrafted garments designed by Dolce and Gabbana, the barber shop offers the chance to experience the luxury of the fashion house in an alternative, but just as fashionable way.

The Fashion, the Approach, La Dolce Vita

Dolce and Gabbana SS2014

So, that covers the garments and the grooming. There I am, sat inside the palace walls, in the courtyard of the famous Dolce and Gabbana Bar Martini, ambient house music filtering through the speakers. I am presented with an endless list of delicious cocktails, each coming in their appropriately shaped Martini glass.  In addition to Bar Martini, across the courtyard of the palace is Dolce and Gabbana Bistrot Martini,  a fine dining restaurant serving Italian cuisine with a chic and modern influence, again with it’s own al fresco dining area in another courtyard. Alone, waiting for my fiance to finish his work, I was  feeling extremely excited to have a reason to be here and proud of my very small association with this groundbreaking and unbelievably glamorous fashion house.

Bar Martini slowly began to fill with patrons that had clearly been shopping and working in this fabulous Milan shopping district, giving me the opportunity to get a feel for the fashion and style in the city. Unlike Sicily, where women dress in slightly more typical Italian fashions and I often feel I need to tone down my dress to avoid being overdressed, in Milan it’s just fashion. It’s the street style fashion you see on street style fashion blogs, it’s the glamour you see in Italian Vogue, it’s the way of dress you see on Giovanna Battaglia. It’s fashion for fashion sake. The fashion isn’t alternative, you can’t be too cool for it, it isn’t considered shallow or irrelevant and there’s nothing wrong with loving it, embracing it and aspiring to it.

For the first time ever in Italy, I had no concern of being overdressed at all. Everybody was dressed, adorned with pride, expensively clad, stylishly and tastefully. I definitely noticed more glamour and opulence than what you might see in Paris, but what you might expect to see in elite locations in London. Italian Vogue is certainly reflective of the Milanese fashion spirit and its style. Women and men alike had taken the time to present their best self and of course, if you’re enjoying an aperitivo in the bar of one of Italy’s most notoriously luxurious fashion houses, then of course, you must dress the part and both sexes did.

It was this, the approach to fashion as opposed to the fashion itself, that made me fall head over heels for Milan, that reaffirmed my adoration for Dolce and Gabbana and gave me a sense of pride for my dedication and love for fashion. Milan is unashamedly glamorous, it’s unapologetically fashionable and the life here for a fashion lover can’t help be anything but La Dolce Vita – with endless places and opportunity to dress, to see and be seen and most importantly, for your efforts to be appreciated.

 The Italian duo are known for doing nothing by halves and this spectacular palace, complete with gardens and courtyards, was not just here to satisfy the rich and famous’ desire to shop. This was a Dolce and Gabbana brand experience, a lifestyle experience and Dolce and Gabbana were providing the clothes and showing you the lifestyle in which their clothes belong to.

After drinking two…. or maybe three of the Sartoria Spritz cocktails, created and named after the new atelier, my fiance joined me and we enjoyed an apperitivo of oysters, smoke salmon and a cold and spicy lobster bisque. It’s pretty fair to say, it was possibly one of the most decadent appertivo I have ever had in Italy. Through fear of eating too much before our dinner, we left the Dolce and Gabbana palace to continue to buzz without us.

‘Tomorrow,’ my fiance said, ‘I will take you to the Duomo di Milano. Then for drinks at Maio at La Rinascente and then to the Dolce and Gabbana Gold restaurant for lunch.’! Indeed this Milan/ Dolce and Gabbana lifestyle was one I could most certainly get used to living.

MARTINI
Bar Martini – Dolce and Gabbana
Aperitivo Bar Martini
Aperitivo Bar Martini
Oysters at Bar Martini at Dolce and Gabbana
Oysters at Bar Martini at Dolce and Gabbana
Ayesha Charles Dandizette Charms
Dinner Il Navigli
Dinner at Il Navigli
Dinner at Il Navigli
Duomo di Milano
Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milano
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milano
galleria vittorio emanuele - Versace store board
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – that Versace head is impressive
Versace galleria vittorio emanuele
The perfect place to make a serious fashion statement
This is why you've got to love a fashion city!
This is why you’ve got to love a fashion city!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele chilling with the Carabinieri - look at how immaculately adorned they are
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele chilling with the Carabinieri – look at how immaculately adorned they are
La Rinascente
Maio at La Rinascente
Maio at La Rinascente
Prosecco at Maio La Rinascente
Prosecco at Maio La Rinascente
Maio at La Rinascente
Maio at La Rinascente
Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant Via Carlo Poerio, 2/A, 20129 Milano, Italy
Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant Via Carlo Poerio, 2/A, 20129 Milano, Italy

IMG_2731

Pasta alla Norma at Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant
Pasta alla Norma at Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant
Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant
Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant

Dolce and Gabbana Gold Restaurant

Yes, there are TV screens in the bathroom doors - in case you wish to watch Goldfinger whilst you're on the john! Love it!
Yes, there are TV screens in the bathroom doors – in case you wish to watch Goldfinger whilst you’re on the john! Love it!

Dolce and Gabbana Gold restaurant - the bathroom Dolce and Gabbana Gold restaurant - the bathroom

spaghetti alle vongole
spaghetti alle vongole
cotoletta alla milanese
cotoletta alla milanese – my first coteletta in Milan!

 Let the shopping begin….

IMG_2777
And last but by no means least – Dolce and Gabbana accessories shopping!
IMG_2773
Adore these beauties!
IMG_2765
Love leopard

IMG_2776 IMG_2768 IMG_2767  IMG_2763 IMG_2762

Dolce and Gabbana leopard print clutch, across the body bag and flip flops
My lovely leopard Dolce and Gabbana purchases and some gold too!

Be charmed, stay inspired! x

Dolce and Gabbana Milan Fashion Week AW 2014

Dolce and Gabbana Milan Fashion Week a/w2014 -15
Dolce and Gabbana Milan Fashion Week a/w 2014 -15

Once Upon a Time in Sicily…

There’s only one way to describe Dolce and Gabbana’s A/W 2014 collection and that is a beautifully told fairy story. With such a decadent and indulgent colour pallet, a beautiful mixture of fabrics and textures, bejeweled, embroidered and adorned, with lots and lots of brocade looking – royal in gold and refined in black, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume yourself thumbing through the illustrated pages of a giant fairy tale book.

Maid Marion meets Little Red Riding Hood immediately comes to mind as you imagine outer -wear made spectacular embellished with giant golden skeleton keys and sumptuous hoods made from velvet and fur, in that ever so striking blood red or the deep and sensual purple.

For those a little less intense, billowing floor length dresses that fluttered were dreamy, sheer midi length corseted dresses were ever so damsel in distress and chic shift dresses were toughened up with metal boots of armour.

How could we help but imagine our own ‘Happily ever afters’ when the models appear so proud and protected in this ever so opulent and rich collection of armour, tough enough to shield us from reality.  

Be charmed, stay inspired! x

Sicily, Dolce and Gabbana and Papini

Sicily, Dolce and Gabbana and Papini

The 2013 Winter Visit to Catania, Sicilia

IMG_2164

If there’s one thing I know fashion lovers absolutely adore, as well as everyone else, it’s the opportunity to travel. So I am going to deviate from my usual fashion writing to share with you some memorable moments from my recent trip to Sicily. Needless to say, my four days in Sicily was not completely void of fashion and fabulousness – how can it be when in Italy?

My partner and I went back to Sicily last week to celebrate his birthday with his family and friends – frequent readers of Charms of a Dandizette will know that my partner is Sicilian and I have been travelling to and from Catania, Sicily for the past eight years. No matter where in the world I travel, no matter how inspired and rejuvenated I feel on my escape and on my return, there is something very special about the way I feel when I am in and have returned from the wonderful island that is Sicily. Admittedly my affection for Sicily may well be because of my emotional ties with the island and the great family and friends I have gained through my partner, but no matter how many times I return to Sicily, it never fails to fascinate me.

We flew to Sicily the morning that the Dolce and Gabbana New Bond Street Menswear store had their Sicilian Christmas table installed on the shop floor. My partner, being Sicilian and working for Dolce and Gabbana, as you can imagine, was extremely excited about all the typical Sicilian sweet treats featured on the table – it was indeed the perfect little send off for our Sicilian pursuit. On our arrival we unpacked the Christmas gifts we had bought for his family and instead of wrapping in nondescript wrapping paper, we placed the presents in Dolce and Gabbana paper bags – which his family absolutely adored – not because they are Dolce and Gabbana, but because these bags are pieces of art work in themselves (I myself have started my own little collection). These bags feature elements of typical Sicilian culture and folklore, some of which you will recognise from the collections, such as the Sicilian puppets, the Sicilian ceramics, the Moorish head and the Sicilian cart. For admirers of Dolce and Gabbana these bags are a perfect representation of the collection, however for my partner and his family, these bags are a small token of Sicilian heritage.

Once we had embellished the Christmas tree with our Dolce and Gabbana bags we sat down to eat. Needless to say we ate and drank extremely well, in fact we did so for five hours! With course after course of Bruschetta, Artichokes and grilled courgettes and aubergine, a fennel, orange and pomegranate pallet cleansing salad followed by swordfish and pistachio involtini, savoury pastries filled with ricotta and sundried tomato pesto and so on so forth, all washed down with Nero D’avola and followed by a selection of Limoncello and cream liquers and Prossecco. Yum!

Aside from drinking, eating and socialising, there was also some shopping and an acquaintance with my partner’s cousin Chicco – an acquaintance I have been particularly keen to make the eight years I have been with my partner. Chicco is one of the owners of Papini, the Eastern region of Sicily’s go to fashion department store for the luxury shopper.  In Catania there are two Papini stores, both located on Corsa Italia, the ultimate fashion and luxury shopping strip – think Sloane or Bond Street. One store is dedicated to Men’s and Womenswear and the other dedicates itself entirely to shoes, handbags and accessories. The third Papini store is located on the small island of Ortigia, the historical centre of Siracusa, Sicily, the very same location of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2007 film Malena, starring Monica Belluci. My partner tells me Chicco has a particular talent for picking up on designers and trends before they have blown up. Among many other operations for Papini, Chicco does the buying for the business, he attends fashion week, he circulates in the industry and builds and maintains relationships with the suppliers.

Although having been to Papini many a times, this time I meet Chicco. He asks me what’s hot in London right now. We talk about the Celine Phantom bag and the just as coveted sling back Valentino stiletto, all of which is stocked at Papini. I admire the array of Givenchy printed sweatshirts, the myriad of leather and fur from Gucci, hand woven classic Bottega Veneta bags and the Saint Laurent punk boots. And after deliberating between the Alexander Wang Rocco bag and the Givenchy Nightingale bag for my own purchase, I leave with the Rocco bag. As if I could avoid all of that gleaming gold hardware. 

Please enjoy my Sicilian break in pictures…

IMG_2093
The Sicilian Christmas table at Dolce and Gabbana New Bond Street store
IMG_2101
The Christmas tree in Sicily
IMG_2166
The Dolce and Gabbana bag collection

IMG_2161

IMG_2160

IMG_2163

IMG_2164
The Arrancini Dolce and Gabbana bag
IMG_2105
Aubergines, courgettes and artichokes
IMG_2106
Bruschetta and ricotta cheese
IMG_2107
pastry filled with cheese and pesto
IMG_2109
a fennel, orange and pomegranate salad, swordfish involtini, prawns, stuffed squid
IMG_2114
Chocolate birthday cake
IMG_2153
Apperitivo at Spinella, wearing Tom Ford sunglasses, Zara leather and lace insert top

IMG_2155

IMG_2154
Prossecco, pizzetta and arrancini at Spinella
IMG_2157
The rose gold Rocco bag by Alexander Wang from Papini Catania

IMG_2156

IMG_2118
Apperitivo with Chicco and Giorgia at Bonu, wearing Biba earrings, necklace from Primark, coat and top from Zara, bracelet from Marc by Marc Jacobs, leather trousers from Topshop, bag from Marc Jacobs

Be charmed, stay inspired! x

Marella Ferrera – Sicilian Treasure

Marella Ferrera is possibly one of Sicily’s most influential and inspirational fashion designers still living and working in Sicily. Sicily always at the heart of her artistic endeavours, Marella Ferrera has provided the island not only with its very own claim to high fashion, but possibly one of the most imaginative and intelligent fashion designers to date.

Sicilian fashion designer Marella FerreraMarella Ferrera is an acclaimed Haute Couturier and Prêt a Porter designer who began her career in 1974 after attending the Accademia di Costume e di Moda (Academy of Costume and Fashion, Rome). She has won numerous awards across Europe that have crowned her ‘Best Couturier’ and given her recognition globally. The precious works of Marella Ferrera are not only the proud possessions of Sicilian art and fashion, but are the treasures of Sicilian culture, history and geography.

It is in the creations of Marella Ferrera that one can truly begin to decipher the distinction of Sicilian fashion from Italian, ‘true Sicilian style is not related to the clichés of “mafia, coppola (1) and lupara (2)”, but it is the unique and elegant melange of tradition, heritage; all the conquerors that signed the identity of this land,’ she explains. Using materials that are rustic, raw materials that are geologically Sicilian and materials that may not necessarily be associated with fashion design at all gives Marella her distinctiveness. A Marella Ferrera creation not only acts as an emblem of Sicilian fashion and art, but gives her designs an unmatched exceptionality. The core of a Marella Ferrera design, beyond its sicilianita’ is her desire to create, ‘garments unlike anything you would normally see,’ she says.

A Marella Ferrera dress might be embroidered with terracotta or embellished with thin clay flowers. She incorporates lava rock, rock crystal, copper wire, papyrus, textile paper, cork and palm roots, to name just a few, into her designs. ‘For my professional fulfilment I have always trusted in the potential of my birth land. I have never cut the cord that ties me to Sicily, Sicily is my creative limb.’
Italian Sicilian Catanese Fashion designerThe bodice of a Marella Ferrera dress can take up to one month to be created, she describes the process of making a terracotta dress, ‘it must be painted, then it is broken, pierced with holes, and crocheted together like a piece of embroidery.’ The final result is a dress that one might assume to be heavy or stiff due to the materials used to create it. Surprisingly a terracotta dress weighs only a hundred grams. Using science and geography to create pieces without a mind that continuously seeks knowledge and takes on experimentation might seem impossible, but Marella persists to take on challenges to make new discoveries and push physical boundaries. The advances in technology are paramount to her designs, as this provides her with the tools that allow her to reinvent and present the innate materials of Sicily in original ways.

Her creations have a sensitivity about them that evokes her spirit and her sentiment. Her work is poetic and picturesque, whilst remaining romantic and sensual. Marella’s designs can transform any woman in to a goddess, so much so she designed the wedding gown of Princess Elvira Grimaldi di Nixima, the cousin of Princess Carolina of Monaco and frequently sells her creations to Arab princesses. Her designs are favoured as wedding dresses and ceremonial events. A Marella Ferrera dress is for the occasion that is to be memorable, worn by women who want their garments to have significance and discourse.

It is clear to see that she is a couturier at heart. Placing a Marella Ferrera design in the middle of a room transcends its purpose, from protection and functionality to a piece of art ornamenting a space – a memento of her dreams, her childhood, her travels and her origin. She creates designs with such intricacy and attention to detail that she is any fashion technicians dream. Her fashion design and creative process is just as intriguing and inventive as that of the wondrous Karl Lagerfeld or the talented and late Alexander McQueen. One might indeed find a likeness comparing the work of Marella Ferrera to an artist or a sculptor and this is what makes both her and her work so unique and enchanting. Marella’s designs are a castle in the air, a wonderland or a fairy tale that have been miraculously brought to reality. The utilisation of outstanding technique and an approach to fashion design that is out of this world creates designs that are literally like no other, thus far. Marella Ferrera truly is a Sicilian treasure.

Visit Marrella Ferrera’s multi-functional Museum come Artelier in Sicily Catania. Read more about Sicily in Platform Magazine.

Sicilian cap
1) Sicilian Coppola Cap2) Lupara, sawn down shot gun

 

Dolce and Gabbana Catwalk Report: Sicilianita’

It is impossible to speak with the Sicilian artist about their work without them slip into a profound nostalgia of their land and its spirit in their creations. Their devotion is thrilling, poignant and undeniably powerful, all the core ingredients that created Dolce and Gabbana’s collection this season.

The two Italians managed to communicate an affectionate homage to Sicily and the fashion house’s core essence by creating classic Dolce and Gabbana; perfect tailoring and seductive femininity. The show was entitled ‘Sicilianita’, translating Sicilian-ness, the quintessence of Sicily.

Amidst the minimal chic humdrum, it had seemed that the woman had been robbed of her real meaning. Thankfully, Dolce and Gabbana served up a beautiful myriad of dresses, made from Sicilian lace, velvet and satin that brought sexy back. The dresses were breathtaking to the eye, made from materials that were sumptuous to the touch.  Knee length fitted leopard print and polka dotted dresses, form fitting and to the knee were extraordinary.  Underwear as outerwear appeared in an array of sensuous 1950’s inspired body suits. Bustiers and French knickers peaked out beneath tailored jackets and caramel coloured corsets were decorated with contrasting black lace. The theme here was not minimal, but intense and dreamy, just as rich and alluring as Italian ice cream.

There was a constant dance between logic and emotion, romance and reality. Whether the Dolce and Gabbana woman wore the classic tailored short suit, or played on the under wear as outer wear, in feminine lace and sheer materials, there was a sense of the strong Sicilian woman in every ensemble.

The Italian Sicilian duo redefined and distinguished, with total clarity all that is exquisite about the continent, the island and the woman. It was an assemblage that set apart the Dolce and Gabbana woman from any other woman this season and presented her with what it truly means to be a woman’s woman; sexy, sensuous, classy and elegant.

The collection kept its strength, it remained Sicilian, it remained classic and extremely ‘sexy woman.’ If there was ever a moment for the Sicilian to be proud, now would be as good as any.

With Miss Campbell taking respite from her diamond debacle on the island, Sicily is only seconds away from becoming the next destination a la moda.

Sono Arrivata – I Have Arrived!

(Sorry people – this is a rough and first draft entry. I am working on the Sicilian’s sister’s computer and have limited time on here. It will be edited when i am back home, just wanted to get this online in the moment – enjoy!!)

I have officially arrived in what i like to think of my home away from home, except here seems far more exciting and far more richer and warmer in all the elements of life that i love that little bit more than in London. On my arrival i was greeted by the Sicilian’s in laws, waiting with beaming faces and skin as dark as a golden desert. They wave to us through the glass windows while we await our baggage and once we meet them on the other side of the doors rapturous gestures, big hugs and kisses are exchanged. They show their affections to their son, the Sicilian. His mum looks at him with pride and happiness to have her son back home. Then they turn to me and bombard me with hugs, kisses and the italian language, which my mind is working over time to understand. The Sicilian’s father, a huge Sicilian masculine character in side a four foot something tiny body tells me my italian is improvng, “Now, let’s work on your Sicilian!” he jokes. He can only be joking.We step outside of the airport and are greeted with a still, intense humid heat, it’s nine o clock at night and the temperature is twenty nine degrees centigrade – the Sicilian’s father looks at me with all my London armour as though i am a crazy person, my new leopard print oversize scarf that i bought earlier this morning from Primark and my black blazer is most certainly NOT NEEDED HERE. As we walk to the car the in laws hustle me out of my excessive attire, leaving me with a vest, jeans and pumps on – it’s still ridiculously hot, there’s no breeze, the leaves on the trees stand as still as stone and the heat leaves sweat beads on the Sicilian’s face.In the car we have the inevitable important conversation and i am so glad that this conversation has come so soon, ‘Cosa mangiamao? – WHERE SHALL WE EAT?’ The options are Carne di Cavallo (Horse Meat) at Achilles, a trattoria specialising in horse meat which the Sicilian and i frequent with his family every Sunday for lunch or Pizza in the mountains – the Pizzeria is located on the drive towards Etna, the Sicilian tells me that during the summer the Catanese (people of Catania) and general city folk head to the mountains where it’s cooler to do their essentials for the day – which is of course eating dinner and eating ice cream.

So – eventually we decide to head to Achilles; Achilles is located in what you could call the ghetto, although amazingly picturesque with beautiful rustic terraced houses and a back drop of castles and cathederals, it is the urban part of Catania. People here are on the grind and doing what they can to make a living, most of which are making their living from food – so you can imagine how good the food is here. As we make our way up to Achille i am surprised at how many people there are simply hanging out, on every street corner there are people, Sicilian people from the age of two right through to eight years old – i am yet to see one foreigner or holiday maker. Every bar or restaurant or Carrozzoni (a food place in the style of a mini hut or mini van usually selling pannini’s and beers) has a gathering of people surrounding it. Achilles’s is set on a narrow main road, along this strip there are probably another twenty trattorias just like Achille. They have huge grills outside where they grill the horse meat, creating fumes and a smell of cooking meat in the hot air, due to the heat the trattorias have had to extend their outside space to accomodate their loyal customers, who want to site outside. So all the trattoria’s have placed their grills on the edges of the road, some have even placed some tables and chairs in the road just so they can get as many people outside. Cars and bikes struggle to pass down the now narrowed main road and of course abusive rhetoric is exchanged even more frequently from the drivers than usual. It is not long after our arrival in Achilles that the Polizia arrive and initiate some havok, telling all restauranteurs to set back their tables and chairs and get their grills out of the road. ‘You would have these tables bang in the middle of the road if you could,’ the police man continues, he cusses like a Jamaican -the Sicilian is known for their oral expressive nature. They are quick, witty and sharp tongued and they never miss a beat.Once we have finished watching the Polizia raid the trattoria’s we eat – for starter’s we head up to the buffet where me and the Sicilian load our plates with Parmagiana (an aubergine cake, layered with egg, parma ham and sometimes cheese), a spinach and cheese cake, red peppers with bread crumbs, Finochio (Fennel) and Crochette di patate. We order half a bottle of the local red wine, which is served in a jug cold, when Salvo (the waiter) brings our wine without any glasses the Sicilian’s mother yells, ‘Salvo!’ Here there are no airs or graces, if you want something just ask and if you can’t be heard, talk louder and if you can’t be seen then shout! So at Achilles this is how you dine and my meal is punctuated with the yells amongst the wiaters and customers calling out at each other, ‘Vanessa! Agata! Salvo!’ When you are a foreigner here it is so easy to take delight in the colorfulness of this culture and the Sicilian people and i always catch myself taking a moment, studying and falling more and more in love with this island. My thoughts are interrupted by my Polpetti di Cavallo (horse meatballs) which are placed in front of me, the rest of the table have a mixture of horse meat, which is cooked like a steak only cut thinly and Salsiccia condida (seasoned sausage), in the centre of the table a tomato, garlic, onion and cheese salad to accompany the meat. I tuck into my food, how i have missed these meatballs – ‘Ho!’ The Sicilian father says, (Ho is the equivalent to Oi), ‘Do you come here to see us or eat our food?’ He jokes. They joke about me arriving looking too skinny and tell me that they will take even more pride in fattening me up. Grazie!So after finishing at Achille only naturally we head to Quaranta, a gelateria (ice cream bar, it is completely packed – inside people push their way to the ice cream counter which features Mars, Forrero Roche, Kit Kat and Nutella flavoured ice cream as well as many many more. Outside there are wicker chairs and tables where we sit and enjoy our ice cream as we would enjoy a glass of wine in a bar in London…

Fabulations and the Joie de Vivre

 

 

Today is the first day of the rest of what is going to be my fabulous summer…

Today is the first day of the rest of what is going to be my fabulous summer. The weather is beautiful and although some days grey has pretty much decided to stay warm. Barbecues and drinks in gardens are in abundance, weddings are being planned and holidays and honeymoons are being taken or heavily awaited upon!
Yes – today, although I’m finding it particularly hard to be completely exultant considering my Sicilian is a minute away from boarding his plane back to Sicily without a return ticket – is a very exciting day!
Summer is the time for FABULOUSNESS and although I have been pulled up on my excessive use of this word by the Sicilian, I don’t care. Firstly he’s not here anymore and secondly very seldom does he read my work anyway.
He asks me what I’ll do while he’s gone, I pull my sunglasses down my nose and look over the rim for effect and simply say, of course with a hint of a joke, ‘Be fabulous.’ He can’t help but laugh, he doesn’t know that part of me and every other woman’s life is seriously concerned with being fabulous. And when better to be fabulous, than in the fabulous summer?
Of course if we could be we’d be fabulous all the time in all aspects of life, our dream jobs would pay our dream salaries, we’d drive dream cars, we’d reside in dream houses in dream locations, we’d have our dream bodies and ridiculously dreamy boyfriend’s.

Nobody can be completely fabulous…

Unfortunately most of us are old enough and sane enough to know that nobody can be completely fabulous. I would like to believe that I am a fabulous writer – But I do not make a fabulous wage. I would like to believe I am a fabulous shopper – But can not shop in fabulous shops – (at least not all the time).
Amy Winehouse is a fabulous singer – But her addiction to intoxication, not so fabulous. See my revelation – or should I say FABULATION?!
And as we get older I think we concern ourselves far more with the importance of being fabulous, I suppose being fabulous coincides with success. I’m guessing if you feel successful then no doubt you should feel pretty fabulous.

Her career requires her to look young, healthy and glamorous…

I have a collection of friends who all are pretty much buying that one way ticket to fabulous; Friends that only date rich men, footballers or models, others that only wear designer clothes and shop in shops just because they’re expensive, others that refuse to wear one outfit twice and friends that only go to exclusive clubs and bars. All of these idiosyncrasies make us feel extraordinary, special – fabulous.
I won’t name any names, I’ll call them Angel Rae and Kimmie Parker – these two are concerned less with how to accumulate fabulous things and focus more on a fabulous lifestyle.
Angel Rae is an air hostess, her career is consumed by looking young, healthy and glamorous, staying in hotels and ordering room service, travelling the world, shopping globally – her tailor is located in Dehli and her favourite shop in America, she’s chin wagged with a seriously intoxicated singers weed dealer and plans gatherings in Barbados. She has very little time for boyfriends and when in London spends her time getting manicures, waxing and clubbing in Crystal. She’s rarely depressed or saddened, she loves her job which completely defines her life – therefore she loves this too. Sounds fabulous? – I think so.

They frequented Soho and Shoreditch house…

Kimmie Parker on the other hand is a student, like myself she wishes to build a career that is as infinite and as fabulous as you make it. She has always had it in mind to work in a field which brings her loads of fabulous perks. Her ex boyfriend was an actor, they frequented Soho and Shoreditch house, hobnobbed with the aspiring creatives and attended film screenings and premiers.
Kimmie, while she’s not studying works for a household Italian designer and spots Naomi Campbell and Sienna Miller from her shop window. She is completely connected in the world of fabulous retail and never pays full price for those fabulous forever purchases. Kimmie Parker recently told me after splitting with her actor boyfriend, ‘Oh I met a man at the Hogan party.’ I told her I thought it was too soon for her to be searching for men already, she replied, ‘Oh he’s gay.’ So then my next comment was, ‘So – what’s he going to do for you?’ Kimmie replied, ‘He knows lots of fabulous people that can get us in to lots of fabulous places where we can meet lots more fabulous people.’ Kimmie Parker is a networker and understands the importance of assimilation and association. She’s a theatre goer, a party goer, a shopper, a fashionista and determined to cater for her fabulous pallet. On nights out drinking in London Angel Rae tells me how much she loves Kimmie and how great she is, ‘She just seems to have no issues.’

Her sole ambition in life was to be rich…

Lila Carr, a friend of a cousin was at a barbecue on Sunday that I attended, she told me her sole ambition in life was to be rich and apart from sleeping her way to the top she was quite happy to do pretty much anything she needed to get there. She told me her life is accustomed to getting her hair and nails done twice a week, to driving a top of the range German car, eating out or getting take away every day and living in Canary Wharf.
‘I don’t have time for passions, for creativity or art.’ She told me she just needed a pay cheque and the best way she could get the kind of pay cheque she needed was to work in sales. I never asked her what her pay cheque was, but she assured me, ‘Trust me – I sell.’ I never doubted her for a second. She pulled out a book from her Louis Vuitton speedy bag, it was entitled,‘I Will be a Millionaire.’
I guess that that was Lila Carr’s idea of fabulous – money.

‘So, what does it mean to you, then – this fabulous life?’

‘So, what does it mean to you, then – this fabulous life?’ My Sicilian asks me.
I am glad that he has become intrigued by my pondering and hope he can endure the endless deliberating I am about to undergo.
The Hills and The City, Runs House, Desperate Housewives, Jackie Collins’ books and Vogue – these all feature characters with fabulous lives. Let’s not forget the queen of fabulous life, Sex and the City.
None of these fictitious or reality characters are happy all the time, their lives aren’t perfect, Carrie Bradshaw didn’t own her house and struggled to find love, but her passion was sex, relationships and writing, so she made that her career – that was fabulous, Mr Big was fabulous, her shoe collection was fabulous and she lived in Manhattan and that was fabulous too.

Anything we can aspire to is usually fabulous, I aspire to have a career like Candace Bushnell (Carrie Bradshaw), Lauren Conrad or Whitney Port. I aspire to have a life like some of the journalists in Vogue who in their articles just seem to have it all – PLUS free clothes.
Of course money can buy you all the things you need for a fabulous life – Holidays, Fine Wining and Dining, Bulgari Jewellery, Cartier Time Pieces, Bentley’s with Chauffeurs and children in Private Schools. But now so consumed with becoming a writer I know that recognition for my talent is far more fabulous at this point in my life than a pay cheque for work I am less consumed with. I suppose unlike Lila Carr, my grand plan for fabulousness isn’t to make money, but to become a writer, which in turn should make me money. The difference is you can be a fabulous writer without having the fabulous trinkets, of course if you said you were giving me a chauffeur driven Bentley and a book deal that would be doubly fabulous!

Once you have that, what isn’t fabulous?

So – after my deliberating I have decided that being fabulous is having that Joie de Vivre. Once you have that, what isn’t fabulous? Getting dressed is a fashion show, the pavement is a Catwalk, a glass of wine is an evening in a bar with conversation, laughter and amazing company, eating is a dinner party, a restaurant that serves your favourite food or a beautiful home cooked meal with family, you look and feel a million fabulous pounds and being gifted with multi tasking you do all of this while being dressed incredibly fabulously (of course).

So, here’s to a fabulous summer, fabulous outfits and most importantly to the Joy of Life X x

 

A Sicilian Winter Visit…

A visit to Catania Sicily and the handbag trend…
 
Emma Watson Burberry Campaign
 
I once wrote a poem in a poetry class at University about an evening out with my girlfriends, I wrote about the drinks we drank, the men issues we discussed and the Gucci bags we carried. My teacher asked me, ‘What do these Gucci bags symbolise?’ Typical poetry teacher question, I thought to myself and explained to her that they symbolise nothing, ‘They are just bags.’ She then said to me, ‘If they are just bags, there is no need to state that they are Gucci bags. Let’s be honest…,’ She continued, ‘these are little tokens of status.’
Five years ago when she made this statement I would have agreed – ninety nine percent of the reason I bought the bag was because it was Gucci and I definitely would not have purchased it had it been the exact same bag not designed by Gucci or another high end designer. Prior to my visit to Sicily I had proudly developed the attitude that high end designer bags were no longer of such importance, the key factor was the design of the bag. I very rarely carried a designer bag and when I did it wasn’t because it was Gucci or Dior, it was because I simply liked the design of the bag, it complimented my outfit and most importantly, it was already in my wardrobe. I happily carried beautiful leather bags from TK Maxx and never felt less stylish or fashionable because it wasn’t designed by a high end designer.

In Italy high fashion designer bags are in abundance – it’s almost a sin not to have one. Women swing their designer hand bags like a brownie sticks their badges to a sash. The bag is really that serious in Italy and bottom line is – it must be designer. Many of the times I have visited ninety nine point nine percent of the time I would not have been carrying a high fashion designer bag. I hoped that people would think I was dressed so impeccably well they’d naturally assume that my bag was designed by a high fashion designer or they’d just think that I was alternative and too cool to carry a designer bag. However it would seem that if you want to qualify as the fashion concerned, stylish woman in Italy there are a few things you have to get on board with –and carrying a designer bag is definitely one of them. As they say, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!’ I suppose fashion is not a race that I’m prepared to lose and the Italians are way way up there with the true tasteful sense of dress – so adopting their style can’t be so much of a backwards move… or can it? Part of me can’t help thinking that it is!

In Sicily it’s not just about carrying a nice high fashion designer hand bag – the Chloe Padlock bag or the YSL down town bag, huge in London – wouldn’t have survived a second in the places I frequented in Sicily. These are up to the minute, beautiful, sexy bags, far more beautiful than a Louis Vuitton Monogram printed canvas speedy bag or a Burberry Check mini messenger bag. However, drinking on a Thursday night in Central Catania Sicily in a club that is essentially a designer bathroom show room by day and a club by night I stand with my partner and take in the Sicilian fashion trend. Now, this club is hosted by one of the top hosts in Catania, he also owns Studio 54 (which is a club I frequented during my summer in Catania) – he is the host of parties, wine bars and clubs to a relatively selective crowd – The London equivalent would be China Whites on a members night. China Whites on a members night would be inhabited by two kinds of women; the modestly dressed after work woman and the woman out for a night out, spruced up and sparkling. The difference between the two, aside from those that I have just mentioned, aside from the suit, strappy shoes and alcohol consumption would be, of course The Handbag.

A woman out for a night out in London does not carry a hand bag – she clutches a clutch, the tiniest, most impractical of bags for any woman; some may be embellished with jewels, some may be expensive, others may not, some are vintage, some are satin, some are bright others are black, very few are covered in a Logo’d designer print and almost always they are worn to compliment an outfit. Studio 54, The Bathroom Show room – a designer bag hung from every woman’s body – whether it be held by handles in their hand or slung over their shoulder. These were not the tiny, impractical China White occupants’ bags – No. What were these bags? They were ‘Status Tokens’, Louis Vuitton Monogram and Burberry Check everywhere, almost mimicking the attitude of a chav (of course the style of a Sicilian woman ‘logo or no logo’ is far from anything remotely close to resembling that of a chav). And if the bag wasn’t plastered with a Logo all over it, you could assure it had such a huge featured logo that Stevie Wonder could identify the designer!

 

These are not the bags that you see carried down the Catwalk, these are not the bags that a Londoner would particularly boast about. In London we go crazy over ‘IT’ bags; a snake skin Hermes Birkin, a Croc Kelly bag, a Fendi Spy bag, a Gucci Tassel bag or the Miu Miu Matelasse bag– I couldn’t help thinking that in Sicily bags were desired just because they were a designer bag with a logo. Let’s put it into context, the bags I have just listed are high fashion bags, you know these bags not because you like to look nice and like to go shopping, but because you have an interest in fashion. The bags I have listed are almost double the price of a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag (which was the most prevalent of all the bags carried) – so, is it worthwhile to invest in a high end designer bag that you want everyone to know is a high end designer bag without the obvious Logo print?

Probably not.

I was in a bar called Tinkite (Sicilian for ‘everything’) in Siracusa, with my partner, his friend, the manager of Papini and a girl who we had met in the bar. She told me a story about her visit to a high end fashion retail store. She said she walked in the shop carrying a Pollini (logo’d) bag – she told me that in Sicily it is very normal that when you shop you are fussed over by sales assistant’s, Papini’s manager agrees, filling in; this is the way Italian’s like to shop. The girl carries on to say that she couldn’t have got an assistant’s attention if she’d of whistled. She goes on to say that she returns to the shop a few days later carrying a Channel bag, the sales assistants, she says, flocked to her like sheep to a shepherd. She believed it was due to the bag she was carrying. Can bags have this much impact? Part of me, ashamedly understands that they can.

I have tried to analyse the attitude of the Sicilian Logo bag carrying woman – surely she does not go into Burberry and buy a Burberry check bag because it’s the nicest in the shop. And then I realise – there is no Burberry in Sicily, there’s also no Emporio Armani, Fendi, Louis Vuitton or any other high end designer store. What they do have in Sicily are shops that have the mandate to sell designers in certain regions of the island, so it is probably almost never that you would walk into a shop in Sicily and see a designer’s full season, instead what you get is a selection of goods that the buyer for the shop knows will sell well. Secondly – it would appear that the majority of Sicilian’s, both men and women are concerned with elegance and class. They are not worried about frills, golden buckles, jewels or tassels – my senses tell me they prefer a simplicity; a classy and sophisticated look. They are never dressed overtly sexy, but nevertheless always carry themselves with a sexy, rich, elegant style. Point being, with a look that is almost timeless and definitely classic they needn’t worry about purchasing an up to the minute ‘high fashion’ bag. The bags they carry are the bags that Louis Vuitton and Burberry will stock season through season – the staple bag which never goes in or out of fashion. If it is for this reason that the Logo Bag Carrying is the trend, then it’s a technique I like and definitely a trend I would recommend to any fashion loving, ordinary waged person. I don’t necessarily like the fact that it ‘needs’ to be logo printed – but definitely agree it should be classic.

I enter Papini, a high end fashion retailer, with the mandate to sell Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Miu Miu, Balenciaga and many others I may not have noticed. I was undecided between two bags – one with a logo print and the other with a statement huge gold buckle (I am a sucker for gold trimmings). ‘I prefer the logo bag,’ the shop assistant says, she says something to my boyfriend in Italian, he translates, ‘She says if you’re only buying one bag then go for the logo one. You can grow tired of the buckles on the other bag. This one (points to the logo’d bag) is timeless.’
In the end I bought myself the bag the sales assistant had suggested (a plain black logo’d Fendi bag) and a Balenciaga wallet, ‘You can use these for life,’ my boyfriend said to me and to be quite frank that was exactly what I wanted to hear. I’m an average girl on an average wage – I can’t afford to spend the money I’m spending on a bag that’s only going to last me a season – Logo or no logo!

A Fashion Love Affair

I feel like I’ve just woken from a coma and the flame that used to burn so fiercely within me has just been rekindled. I woke up one morning by the chattering of a voice reading off a list over and over and over again. Where the hell is this voice coming from and most importantly who on earth does it belong to? Low and behold it was my voice, my voice in my head listing – Skinny jeans from Zara, Jeweled bag from Accessorize, save one hundred pounds towards designer funds, one hundred pounds towards shopping in Sicily, buy wedges to wear on grass for film festival … trust me the list goes on and the list repeats itself most days and can go on for the majority of the day and night if I allow it.
What is this voice? – My shopping voice, planning out my pay cheque before it has even landed into my bank account.
I say I feel like I’ve woken from a coma, as I only have recently come into funds that have allowed me to even have a voice that considers buying hundreds and hundreds of pounds of clothes week upon week. I have always been concerned with fashion, I’ve always taken pride in my appearance and have always enjoyed dressing up and trying out new looks. However being a recent university graduate means that I haven’t had thousands of pounds hitting my bank account each month until recently. I had to become the connoisseur of reviving and remixing garments – pulling out old shoes and jeans and wearing them in a way that made them seem different than they did in their first life – instead of buying tops and jeans I’d buy belts and bags – things that could change and reshape a whole outfit without necessarily having to buy a whole new outfit.
Then the job with the pay cheque came and suddenly I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t check my emails without logging onto Gucci’s website and starring in awe at the bags or getting on ASOS and building a huge basket of clothes and shoes and belts and bags – and that was after a careful selection and elimination process. I realised – this is a true Love Affair that I have going on with fashion right now and it continues to come back to me, find me and make me fall in love with it all over again. How?
Well – I loved fashion from a young age anyway, I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist if you’d like to call it that. I’m an ex – dancer, expression is an essential outlet in my life and fashion is one of those many ways that I can creatively express myself. I made an application to the London College of Fashion to study a degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising and was sadly turned down due to my disability to draw – and I would definitely refer to it as a disability! So I decided that my affair with fashion would simply have to remain a retail and consumer relationship. Then I met my partner, a Sicilian from a family made in the fashion business in Italy and an ex UK fashion agent for Italy. He gave me a writing opportunity within his business and once I finished, he turned round and said to me, ‘You need to be in fashion.’
A problem arises when you earn money, love fashion and all your money is disposable income – you can spend and spend and spend till your heart is content and worries about having funds to make it to the next month are completely non existent because you have no overheads. You may be questioning what exactly is the problem with having disposable income and no overheads? Well, the problem is you can end up buying any and everything just because you can – and well, that’s not fashion, is it? No, that is simply having a consumerist nature and great purchasing power. Fashion is about learning and knowing the trends, sourcing and finding them and then deciding which of the trends suits you best. I personally pick up on the trends and then decide which trend is going to inspire my look or wardrobe for that season – then I begin to accumulate key garments bit by bit. This means any garments that don’t make the trend list I don’t need to buy. This works for me because anything concerned with image I’m pretty much a sucker for – Hair, Clothes, Make up, Hair and Nail pills, Nail Varnish, Waxing – ultimately I can find almost anything to spend my money on, which means I have to approach my fashion consumption strategically.
After great thought I have decided that I want to share my strategic fashion, shopping consumption techniques with the World Wide Web. Initially I was dubious about this as everyone’s image is unique and personal to them, I can’t preach fashion and I can’t expect everyone in the world to dress the way that I do (nor do I want them too), however this site will only give you ideas, tips and act as an index to your own shopping, it’s not a shopping bible – it’s about shopping technique. You’ll find product reviews on key garments of current trends, reviews on key shops for the current trends, trend overviews prior to their entry into the shop or the season and much, much more. When you become passionate about something it becomes very hard to be logical about it and when you’re just an ordinary girl on an ordinary wage – Sloane Street and personal shoppers are not always so readily at hand – But I can be!
I am a Fashion TV watching, internet shopping, price comparison, sales watching, quality rating fashion index and I’m going to share my knowledge and shopping techniques with you so I can clear my head of it’s voices and you can clear your head if you happen to be suffering from SHOPAPHRENIA too!