Fashion Editorial and the Digital State of Mind…

This blog was supposed to be about Tumblr, but then I found myself staring at my magazine collection, which has remained untouched for months, and realised this is so much more than Tumblr – it’s my digital state of mind…  

There are still many a people out there that simply choose to reject social media.They refuse to create a Facebook Page, deny how powerful Twitter is,  have never heard of Pinterest, they are likely to hate Fashion Bloggers and still do all of their fashion, music and lifestyle reading in print! As a writer before I am a blogger, I respect anyone that still picks up a print magazine and takes pleasure in displaying them in bookshelves and coffee tables – I do.  However, as a fashion lover, I will be as bold as to say – anyone that is still yet to embrace social media cannot be deemed a true fashion devotee – they are missing out on the whole damn thing.

It makes sense that fashion and social media walk hand in hand together. Fashion is an industry that finds its foundation in change and trend – a creative expression of human behaviour. Social media is the tool that documents the change, picks up on the trend and is the platform that displays the behaviour. Admittedly, as much as I love the two,  I struggle to keep up! Fashion is quicker, social media develops at lightening speed, trends change almost weekly, my personal likes and dislikes change almost as fast. One week I’ll be in love with Celine’s lux interpretation of the Birkenstock and can’t imagine having my feet in any other shoe, the next week I’ll hate them, consider them ugly and un-sexy and then it’ll be another shoe, another trend, another hashtag and a new fashion blogger to follow!

At least, with a print glossy, you can take your time, refine your shopping list, shop it and feel satisfied for a whole entire month. And that is exactly what I used to do. But, I have developed a digital state of mind. I consume 99% of my fashion editorial via online content. My magazine subscriptions have subsided and each night before I go to bed, I routinely check the weather on my BBC weather app and then flick through Pinterest, Stylecaster or Who What Wear to research the ensemble I will adorn myself in the following day. I absolutely hate to say it, but a Vogue magazine doesn’t seem relevant in terms of style any more. I say style as opposed to fashion, because Vogue is chiefly fashion focussed; if you’re concerned with runway trends, designer’s inspiration and the opinions of big wig fashion  journos and those in the industry then Vogue is indeed your fashion bible.

However, if your love for fashion is more about manipulating and interpreting trends, piecing together ensembles, finding new and interesting ways to wear your clothes then  there’a whole world of Street Style Fashion out there that changes daily and that should not be missed. Imitating Runway looks is too cliche and for most of us, runway looks aren’t usually suitable for our lifestyles – of course Anna Dello Russo would tell you differently.

And since having to sadly make a conscious decision to stop buying fashion magazines, after realising that I just never read them any more, I have noticed my dress changing. I will always have my own inherent style. I will always be the girl that wears lots of gold and costume jewellery – a little less now since I have my beautiful 1920s-esque diamond cushion cut halo engagement ring -I will always love long Naomi Campbell hair and still love being made up. But with so many trends, so many different styles, so many social media platforms and so many different fashion bloggers so readily available and easily accessible at the swish of an iPhone, the way I am fashioning myself changes from one day to the next.

My daily website reads:

Once you start reading StyleCaster you literally won’t be able to stop! There are endless style concerned posts – many written in list formats, featuring images of Street Style bloggers and icons. The StyleCaster’s editorial style is easily digestible with posts like Ten Ways to Wear the Denim Shirt, Ten Ensembles to Copy, Ten Emerging Street Style Bloggers etc. This is the perfect read on the train to and from work, in the hairdressers or the nail salon. Check out StyleCaster for wardrobe inspiration – I do!

StyleCaster image

Mr. Blasberg

Fashion writer, Editor at Large of Harpers Bazaar, Editor of VMan and Vmagazine and too many other credits to mention, Derek Blasberg is fashion’s ultimate Man About Town. He parties with Naomi Campbell, Giselle and Marc Jacobs, he travels endlessly and writes lengthy blog posts accompanied with the most tantalising of pictures with the most beautiful human beings wearing the most beautiful of clothes for his website Mr Derek Blasberg’s success and career is very inspiring for any writer that loves fashion. If you don’t mind spending some time online reading then check out However, Blasberg’s website is less street style concerned and more into displaying the world that surrounds fashion, the parties, the travel, the people – most of which emerging fashion bloggers won’t have access to. I check out Blasberg for an instant insight into the fashion world from a perspective that I quite like, although a little envious.

Who What Wear

Again, like StyleCaster, Who What Wear is addictive for anyone that likes to get a little creative when piecing together an ensembles for a Sunday Roast in the pub or needs some inspiration for a holiday wardrobe or wants to see what Olivia Palermo would wear on a rainy summer’s day – this is the site for you! I use Who What Wear to put together my work ensembles for the week, to see what wardrobe items I am missing or just to kill time whenever, wherever.    



Needs no introduction, but the digital arm of this fashion glossy is just as successful as the print version. After subscribing to Elle for many years, I couldn’t get to grip with the new design they introduced last year and once my subscription ran out I never renewed it. But I am glad I can still enjoy in digital form. The style section covers street style, models off duty and offers style advice. I think Elle have been really good at interpreting the magazine for online readers, so you might not get to indulge in the smell of a new magazine, but you still get the Elle tone of voice.

Having said all that…how could I not purchase the Victoria Beckham August Vogue edition?

Be charmed, stay inspired!x 

Ayesha @COAD

Alexa Chung – Stylish Reads

Alexa Chung – Stylish Reads

The cover of 'IT'

Indeed Alexa Chung, the girl that has been championing flat shoes way before Charlotte Olympia made the smoking slipper a statement shoe, has penned her own book, titled simply ‘IT’ and released on the 5th September 2013. The book will contain writing, no doubt of the stylish nature, accompanied by photos that Alexa has been taking since October 2012, when she first announced that she would be writing a book, and her very own illustrations – yes she draws too. Alexa has said that the book is by no means autobiographical, but, as the description reads on Amazon

A truly one-off collection of Alexa’s personal writings, drawings and photographs, It covers everything from her thoughts on life, love and music to her favourite looks and how to decide what to wear in the morning. With wit, charm and a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude, this gorgeously-designed full-colour book is a must-have for anyone who loves fashion, music and just about everything Alexa Chung.’

Although Alexa may not be a style icon on my radar, I am most definitely intrigued to read ‘IT’, after all, isn’t she the girl whose CV any girl would want to emulate? Model, TV Presenter, FANTASTIC WARDROBE, a relationship with Karl Lagerfeld, guest editor at Vogue and now illustrator and author!

Better get to writing that book then, eh?

In the meantime, here’s some stylish reads on my Fashion reading list…

Elves Shoemaker

 Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty - fashion fairytale memoir
The Fashion Fairtytale Memoirs – Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty


The Fashion Fairtytale Memoirs - -The Empress's New-Clothes
The Fashion Fairtytale Memoirs – -The Empress’s New-Clothes

Grace by Grace Coddington - A MemoireGrace by Grace Coddington – A Memoir

The Fashion Fairtytale Memoirs
The Fashion Fairtytale Memoirs – Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty, Manolo Blahnik’s the Elves and the Shoemaker, Diane Von Furstenberg and the Tale of the Empress’s New Clothes


Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations: On Fashion
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations: On Fashion. Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli talk fashion

Happy reading,

Be charmed, stay inspired!x


Sex and the City – Fifteen Years!


For those like myself, that were barely even teenagers when Sex and the City graced our TV’s late on a school night on channel four, Sex and the City was a little more special than it was to those of an older generation. Arguably, maybe we should not have been watching Sex and the City at all – after all, it was aired after the watershed – but we all watched Friends and that was pretty harmless, so what made Sex and the City any more special?

Well – it just was, wasn’t it?

For those of us that were in the early years of our secondary school education, we were still trying discover ourselves and work our way around our friendships – many of them new. We were starting to experiment with make up, trying to decide how we wanted to dress, which fashions we wanted to follow and most importantly, we were just starting to realise the opposite sex and getting used to being realised!

At such a young and impressionable age there is no denying it, those of us at the tender age of thirteen or fourteen that were reading Vogue and thinking ourselves as writers, fashionistas or ‘relationship experts’, Sex and the City had a far bigger impact on our adolescence than any parent might like to admit. Throughout the course of our teenage years, from tweenies to late teens, most girlfriend groups will have assigned each in the circle their very own Sex and the City character. Most girls will have emulated at least one of Carrie Bradshaw’s ensembles or referenced her somehow when dressing and most will have compared our own relationship dilemmas or triumphs to either Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha or Carrie (Samantha and Carrie mostly – let’s be honest!)

It’s been fifteen years since Sex and the City first aired on TV and all I can say is, those of us that went through our teenage adolescence with these amazing empowering women to watch each and every week – how lucky are we?


Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Sex and the City


Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Be charmed, stay inspired! x

The Sweatshirt and the Kenzo Tiger Sweatshirt!

Trending #Sweatshirts

It was winter last year that the grey sweatshirt became one of the key wardrobe items to for super savvy street style dressing. The sporty garment, a staple for the gym, once taken out of its context and paired with skinny jeans and strappy sandals or a tailored pair of trousers and brogues seemed risque and innovative. Although it would appear, as seen in these photographs taken by Tommy Ton, that the reign of the sweatshirt sill very much resides this winter 2012-13, we have become so accustomed to the sweatshirt trend, that for super savvy-ness and ultimate fashion manipulation we can no longer play it safe by simply nodding towards the sporty trend with the initial grey sweatshirt. This norm has been accepted and it’s time to innovate once again and push the boundaries. Now the expert sweatshirt wearer creates a more stylised sweatshirt ensemble or selects a more statement making sweatshirt.

Those of you that have adopted the new approach to dress that Vogue has coined ‘Haute Casual’ for your winter wardrobe may have coveted the utmost seasoned sweatshirt wearers donning the, albeit conspicuous, admittedly cool Kenzo Tiger sweater. This Kenzo sweatshirt has indeed become the queen of this evolving sweatshirt trend and will buy you plenty of street style kudos in this fashion jungle. So much so that all 2,000 Kenzo tiger sweaters sold out in just two days and in a matter of hours at the Parisian Kenzo store earlier this year. This sweatshirt literally does all the talking, so you don’t have to do too much to look super stylish in it, no matter its sporty nature. Having said that, in my humble fashion books, the most street style kudos clearly comes from how creative you can get with incorporating this practical and functional sportswear item into a trendy chic ensemble.

Admittedly, as much as I adore the creativity and unpredictability of this new sweatshirt glamour, I am yet to invest in a sweatshirt myself. Habitually, in the winter months I take on a more Olivia Palermo/Victoria Beckham perfectly preened and neat image, seeking more inspiration from runway looks as opposed to street style. Unfortunately the sweatshirt creates a couple of concerns for me; firstly, with such a casual garment I would be very keen to wear a shirt beneath it that can smarten the round neck with a nice collar – this I can imagine would leave me feeling very hot, especially when I am commuting. Secondly, I wear a lot of slim lined coats, which I doubt a sweatshirt and shirt ensemble wouldn’t fit beneath comfortably. Thirdly, I fear that wearing the sweatshirt beneath a cape or the voluminous coats we have seen at the likes of Celine a/w 2012-13 can make me appear particularly top heavy and again, leave me feeling extremely hot.

However, for those of you that are tiny, whose commute does not involve power walking or taking the London Underground, that acclimatise to temperatures quickly, if you are thinking of trying out this new Haute Couture sweatshirt ensemble don’t let my sweatshirt concerns stop you. Opt for placing statement jewellery around the neckline, juxtaposing the sporty garment with a tailored shirt collar or pairing the sweatshirt with a glamorous skirt, evening clutch or an elegant shoe. The key is to play that push and pull game between conformist and alternative, formal against disorderly. And hey, if you can nail this look and are prepared to invest, why not go the whole hog and purchase the highly coveted tiger Kenzo sweater?!

I don’t think this sweatshirt trend is one that will stick with me for long, so I’ll definitely be giving the Kenzo tiger sweatshirt a miss. However, I am keen to try out the trend and am currently on the hunt for a grey Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, that I’ll wear with a white shirt, black skinny jeans and a pair of black pointed court shoes and statement necklace. So, I am still playing it safe with the colour, but with Mickey Mouse emblazoned on the front, it’s still a little quirky and most importantly, easy on my bank balance. Having said that, should someone wish to purchase the Kenzo Tiger sweatshirt for me as a gift, I most certainly won’t say no!

Grey sweatshirt ensemble

Black Neoprene Sweatshirt ensembles

Kenzo Sweatshirt

Anna dello Russo with grey sweatshirt dress

grey floral sweatshirt

Pink Letterman Sweatshirt

Black sweatshirt

Pink sweatshirt with blue peplum skirt

blue, red and grey sweatshirt

Green Kenzo SweatshirtBe charmed, stay inspired! x

Fashion Illustration: A Brush With Fantasy

A Brush with Fantasy –

with fashion illustrations by Hayden Williams

It would seem that the fantastical world of fashion illustration is a world that has sadly been forgotten. In the Golden Age of fashion illustration, illustrated magazine covers charmed the readers into their sensational visions, but today these symbols of fashion and fantasy barely make the pages of the magazines. COAD Charms of a Dandizette celebrates the wonderful and sadly forgotten world of fashion illustration.   

Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration for ELLE Thailand
Chanel fur hat – illustrated by Hayden Williams
The September Issue: Anna Wintour by Hayden Williams
The September Issue: Anna Wintour by Hayden Williams

There is a delightful and indescribable emotion evoked by the spectacle of beautifully dreamy and fabulously glamorous fashion illustrations. A glance at the visions of David Downton, Jean Phillipe Delhomme or Gladys Perint Palmer is instantly breathtaking. The contrast of whimsical brushstrokes juxtaposed against the accuracy of the garment’s design makes the impact of this art form almost haunting. Many find themselves lost in the illustrator’s world of colour, technique, style and imagination. The illustrated Vogue covers of the golden age have a collector’s value and are beginning to find their homes in frames displayed on the walls of fashion and art aficionados. It’s a wonder why these tokens of art, fashion and fantasy no longer grace the pages of the magazine covers and pages the way they once used to.

There was a time when the world of fashion moved a little slower and the rapid turnaround of fashion design, production and the associated media happened over a lengthier period. Today collections are created to deadlines, fashion bloggers and journalists go toe to toe to relay the latest stories and have a number of media platforms to choose from to access the public in the quickest form. Fashion resides in a breakneck world and those not on its heels risk losing their relevance. It was only inevitable that the presence of fashion illustrations in our glossies would grow scarce after the development of the click and snap nature of photography.

‘Illustration is still extremely popular with designers and the public alike,’ says David Downton, ‘but remains generally under the wire.’ What a treat it would be today to purchase a magazine that only featured fashion illustration. No doubt this would be a magazine that would sit proudly on the coffee tables of fashion lovers amongst the Valentino and Vogue collectors books, but it seems almost impossible to imagine that magazines with purely illustrated images ever existed.

During the Golden Age of fashion illustration, Vogue publisher Condé Montrose Nast was the custodian for illustration, he invested in a team of Vogue illustrators that would illustrate every Vogue cover from 1910 till the beginning of world war two. Condé Nast’s admiration of fashion illustration was enthused by La Gazette du Bon Ton, the French fashion, lifestyle and beauty magazine published from 1912 – 1925. The French publication centred itself around the creation of fashion illustration and employed some of the best illustrators of the art deco era, Paul Iribe, Gearges Lepape and Pierre Brissaud to name a few. Each edition would feature ten illustrated couture designs, seven of which were the illustrations of couture designs and the remaining three, which allowed the illustrators to envisage and illustrate their own designs merely to excercise and display their own illustrative minds.

Many of La Gazette du Bon Ton’s illustrators worked on the covers at Vogue including Helen Dryden and George Wolf Plank, but the end of La Gazete soon rendered these artists without a place to execute their fashion fantasies on the page. Nast required illustrators to portray the garments in their most realist form in order to provide the reader with the most accurate vision of the design, while the illustrators naturally longed to implement their artistic freedom. Sadly, fashion illustration began to contradict its very existence, a world that seemed to survive off the imagination, fantasy and art desired the utmost realism and truth.

Carl Erickson and Rene Bouet were illustrative pioneers for creating illustrations for which realism was the essence, it was not long before the two set the bar for this fashion illustration form. Inevitably Edward Steichen’s colour photograph in 1932 would provide the industry with exactly what it wanted. By 1936 Vogue sales proved that the photographic images that replaced the illustrations on the covers sold more copies.

Since the golden age of fashion illustration its presence in the fashion publication has fluctuated. The works of the Puerto Rican major fashion illustrator, Antonio Lopez became a fixture in Vogue and other high fashion magazines throughout the sixties and seventies, even though both decades were particularly dominated by photography.  During this period magazines such as Honey (the first British magazine to feature black models), Jackie and Petticoat all featured fashion illustration, nevertheless, on the whole the art form struggled in and didn’t see its next surge till the eighties. An advert illustrated by Jean-Philippe Delhomme for Barneys New York inspired an enthusiasm around the medium once again, La Mode en Peinture 1982, Condé Nast’s Vanity 1981 and Visionaire 1991 created opportunities for a new generation of fashion illustrators.

Today the presence of the fashion illustration is out of the ordinary and merely peppers the pages of the fashion magazines – what was once the super glue of the magazine is now barely a garnish, decorating the white spaces of magazine editorial. On the upside of this, the fashion illustrator of today is no longer constricted to the magazine and works in a number of different mediums. Gladys Perint Palmer, a Central Saint Martins graduate and one of the last students of Muriel Pemberton, the inventor of fashion education, says, ‘depending on the illustrators style depends where they will find their work.’ Gladys is the proof in the pudding that fashion illustration, even though it isn’t celebrated in the fashion publication, is indeed still sought after. ‘I am on a heavily impending deadline,’ she says, ‘I am currently working on a book titled From Eve to Yves. There is plenty of work. I am swamped.’

Albeit, it is a shame these little slices of art are absent from the fashion magazines, but at least the occasional glimpse, in an ad campaign or on the cover of a book, is a moment that remains just as special and fantastical as the last.

This articles was written in 2010 – the fabulous illustrations of Hayden Williams have inspired its update.

Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration of Miranda Priestly
Miranda Priestly – Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration Rosie Huntington Whitely
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration Rosie Huntington Whitely
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration The Olsen Twins
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration The Olsen Twins Paris Fashion Week
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration - On the Prowl - PFW
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration – On the Prowl – PFW
Fashion Illustration MFW: 'Milan Moda' by Hayden Williams
Fashion Illustration MFW: ‘Milan Moda’ by Hayden Williams
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration Beyonce
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration Feature in Fashion London magazine
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustration
Hayden Williams featured in the Oct issue of Annex Magazine Anniversary ‘I Don’t Give A Fashion!’ issue.
Hayden Williams Fashion Illustrations
LFW: ‘The London Look’ by Hayden Williams
Fashion Illustrations by Hayden Williams
‘Fierce Creature’ by Hayden Williams
NYFW: 'Girl on the Go' Fashion Illustration by Hayden Williams
NYFW: ‘Girl on the Go’ by Hayden Williams
Happy Birthday Beyoncé - Fashion Illustration by Hayden Williams
Happy Birthday Beyoncé – by Hayden Williams

Some of my favourite blogging illustrators: Jean Philippe Delhomme, The Uknown Hipster, Garance Dore and,  of course, Hayden Williams.

Be charmed, stay inspired!x

Costume Jewellery

Last weekend I watched X Factor whilst tweeting, shoe shopping and searching for that one piece of jewellery that is going to heighten my wardrobe for the christmas period. Florence Welch belted out her wondrous, thick and sweet, powerful and angelic voice adorned in a particularly unique off-white dress.   The dress in itself was probably phenonomenal enough to write about, but it wasn’t so much her dress that appealed to my own aesthetic tastes, it was the magnificent Art Deco embellishments that featured in the staging. I have been dying to purchase a pair of wonderful, dangling Art Deco inspired earrings for ages, but the fear that they’d only end up amidst the rest of my precious costume jewellery, that sits on shelves, in trinket boxes and overspilling vanity cases, looking pretty but with nowhere to wear them – I have always opted to save the money.

It’s pretty predictable of me to adore Art Deco design. All the opulence and drama, the glitz and glamour walk hand in hand with my love for the 1920’s, the Jazz Age and of course, the man I try to live up to every time I sit down to write my own novel, the stupefying F Scott Fitzgerald. I am not saying that I am glamorous or glitzy, but I have battled with my inability to be understated for many years. I am not sure I will ever master the art of understated chic, but I think I have finally found a balance. I find myself residing somewhere amongst, formal, classic, occassionally trendy, but always with a hint of glamour.

I express my love for glamour nowadays with my jewellery. My social life consists of dinners, gatherings, cocktails, going into the office or attending  meetings. Jewellery is  the only way for me to express my luxurious attraction to glamour  tastefully and practically.  I don’t go clubbing that frequently and unfortunately have never been invited to a red carpet event, therefore my life seldomly requires me to be dressed as glamorous as Kim Kardashian. Having said that, I’d take her jewellery, shoes and fur coat collection any day of the week.

For those who too love the 1920’s, whether it be for the Art Deco design, the feathers and the glitter, the mentality of the Flapper or simply the literature, I can’t think of a better time of the year to be extravagant and express the inner flapper than the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. There are many Christmas parties to be attended, copious amounts of alcohol to be consumed and lots of fun to be had. I am looking forward to Christmas so much this year I am almost combustible. I am looking forward to spending time with my family, I am looking forward to endless days of curling up on the sofa not having to worry about going to work, but what I am most looking forward to – is reverting back to being a child. And by child I mean, twenty one, without responsibilities and lots of opportunities to dress up.

Nothing shows a bit of frivolity like a stunning piece of costume jewellery. It’s all in the name, ‘costume’. It’s fantastical. One powerful piece can define an entire outfit. I am completely excited by the impact a statement necklace can have on a simple shift dress for example. My excitement is not only evoked by the aesthetic of the combination, it’s the actual communication. That necklace combined with that shift dress says, ‘I care just that little bit more than I need to.’ Granted, it doesn’t communicate anything particularly profound on the grand scheme of things, but its enough to tastefully nod towards glamour. Besides,  the way we dress and embellish our atire says plenty to the people that we want to communicate with.

That necklace worn against that shift dress could be vintage, that’s kudos from the vintage fiends. It could be Givenchy, that’s kudos from the designer divas. It could have been designed specifically for a Vogue shoot in the 1920’s (undoubtedly the average Jo wouldn’t be able to get their hands on it),  that’s kudos from fashion journos, editors and all the fashion big wigs. If you happen to come across a figure who embodies all of the above then all the more powerful a statement that statement necklace makes.

Lisa Salzer  of Lulu Frost says, ‘Jewellery is transformative.’ There was a time when my casual wardrobe consisted of little more than skinny jeans, long line vest tops and boyfriend cardigans. I dressed simply just so I could pile on my jewellery. Transformation through accessories has been my number one style tip since my parents stopped buying me designer clothes. My jewellery collection is vast and predominately costume. Unlike when I was younger, my collection now grows at a much slower pace. Having said that, my collection is far more powerful. Instead of buying ten pairs of earrings from Topshop and Accessorize at any one time, and having to replace them once they change colour, I am starting to invest sensibly in beautiful, admittedly more expensive, transformative pieces of jewellery.

I am now in search of one transformative piece of jewellery that I’ll wear proudly over the christmas period. My search has been dominated by chunky necklaces and chains, solid cuffs and bangles, broches and of course the art deco inspired earrings. I thought I’d share with you my findings and show you which designers, shops and jewels I am coveting to glamourize my christmas wardrobe.  It is to be noted that I don’t tend to wear many sequined or beaded garments on my upper body, so my jewellery preference is big, bold and strong!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Black Book

It is undeniable that the female fashion and lifestyle magazine reader of today is spoilt for choice. The abundance of women’s magazines gracing the shelves is phenomenal, sometimes even overwhelming. A visit to the local WH Smiths can last absolute hours and for the enthusiastic reader, can cost a small fortune, or at least a nice lunch. As readers we select our magazines in accordance to the publications that speaks to who we are, or more aptly, who we aspire to be.  A wealth of publishers, photographers, editors, writers, stylists and designers want to give readers the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. They are the vocal-chord of fashion, communicating the core ideals of the industry through their voices. With great creative manipulation they use the shiny pages of their glossy magazines to show us how beautiful, respectable, fabulous and glamorous the world of fashion is. These creatives, however, that assure us fashion is global, multicultural, powerful and important, whilst being at the same time and most significantly – fabulous, seem to be less eager to style, write, advertise or photograph ethnic women.

London is home to approximately seven million people, known for its great melting pot society. It is the creative hub, rich in cultures, races and lifestyles. There are two and a half million of London’s population living in the capital’s largest borough of Lewisham, half of the population are black. Amongst the assortment of mainstream fashion magazines on display at a Lewisham newsagents it may be possible to spot three or four black women’s lifestyle magazines on the shelf at any one time. This however, does not happen often and when it does, no doubt these newsagents are keen ethnic magazine stockists. There are only but two longstanding UK based women’s lifestyle magazines, Pride, ‘for the woman of colour’ which has been in print for nineteen years and Black Beauty and Hair, ‘for the beauty conscious black woman’, for twenty four years. Acutely looking for these two black ‘lifestyle’ magazines in the Lewisham borough the investigation found it was not always possible to find them on the ethnic magazine stockist’s shelves, however, Jet, Essence, Ebony and Oprah, all of which are black American women’s glossies appeared to be the staple of the such vendors, (of course, whether Oprah is actually a black magazine remains slightly ambiguous).

Whether its music tastes, fashion, Hip Hop and basketball subcultures or hair and beauty matters, it is no revelation that black UK culture follows on the heels of America’s dominant black culture, henceforth, 56% of black women claim they are more likely to read a black American magazine than they are a black UK magazine, opposed to 22% who said they would prefer to read a black UK magazine. 22% of black women claimed they wouldn’t read either. The general consensus feels that black American magazines have a more authentic position on black issues and a greater affluent black population than the UK, with ideologies that UK blacks obviously feel they can identify with. Of course the black population is significantly larger in number in America, hence America’s ability to represent blacks better and produce higher quality black magazines that obtain a larger readership in countries outside of its own. ‘I hardly ever see a Pride magazine in my newsagents and Black Hair and Beauty, never,’ says London College of Fashion trained Afro and European hairdresser, Natasha Bonet. For the woman who never buys a magazine, or doesn’t care too much for them, if there is one place that she is certain to at the least flick through one, it’s at the hairdressers. Most hairdressers spend ample amounts of money on magazines and most black women spend ample amounts of time at the hairdressers. Natasha runs a private boutique hairdressing service in Forest Hill, Lewisham. Her clientele are by referral only. Ninety nine percent of them are black women, who she describes as mature professionals or young upwardly mobile. In the magazine rack in her salon she has Vogue, Glamour, Look, Elle, Marie Claire and OK – all the mainstream glossies you can think of, but not a black magazine in sight, not even a black hair magazine. In this boutique salon, that is, without claiming to be, a posh black hairdressers, even the hair magazines are white hair magazines. If there is a formula for the survival of the black publication it most certainly involves saturating it with black hair editorial, advertorial and adverts.  In fact there are more black hair magazines than there are lifestyle magazines and even those lifestyle magazines are filled with hair products and adverts. Hawker publications, publisher of Black Beauty and Hair magazine also publishes Braids and Naturals, Black Hairstyles and Black Beauty and Hair professional, their media pack says, ‘Black Beauty and Hair has a high pass-on readership because it is the top choice magazine for salons,’ evidently not for this boutique salon.

Black magazines may not be as readily available as mainstream glossies, however this may not be the absolute reason that black women prefer to purchase mainstream magazines as opposed to black magazines. You can guarantee that if there is a black hair shop in the vicinity there is definitely an ethnic magazine stockist nearby. Catford, in Lewisham  has a diminutive town centre, asides from the local butchers, bakers and other high street staples, there isn’t much else there, that is of course, not including two impressively sized, well stocked black hair shops and two newsagents whose black magazine collections are rife. Catford is also home to a WH Smiths, where a black aspiring writer, who refuses to be named, buys her magazines on a weekly basis, ‘I have been collecting Vogue since I was sixteen,’ she says. She also admits that she never used to read them, just admire the fashion and possibly read the cover feature if she liked the celebrity. She only has two black magazines in her collection, ‘One, a friend gave me last year and the other I bought the following month with a conscious effort to support black magazines – what a joke that was.’ She hasn’t bought one since and has vowed never to do so again. There is most certainly a pattern here which is creating a significant problem for black publications. While the majority of black women are quite happy to overlook black UK magazines and receive their lifestyle, beauty and fashion advice from mainstream magazines, the black UK magazine struggles to maintain readership. ‘One hurdle editors and publishers of black newspapers feel that they have to overcome is the lingering belief on the part of many people that any black-run institution is inherently inferior to any comparable white one,’ writes David Hatchett, in his article, The Black Newspaper: Still Serving the Community. He goes on to quote publishing figure, White, ‘Black newspapers have to struggle to get rid of the stereotyping of inferiority that black people place on everything black.’

Many believe that the difficulties that black magazines face are self inflicted, the publications feature poorly edited articles that are neither topical or engaging, the photography at best appears somewhat defective and substandard and the styling and make up, just the same. Of course the quality is a knock on effect of the circulation and advertising rates. Black magazines are a specialist, niche magazine, an alternative to the mainstream magazine, yet they need mainstream readership figures to create the revenue they need to level with the quality of any mainstream glossy, however the black magazine must remain niche, to remain a black magazine. Ed Davies, managing editor of American newspaper, the New Pittsburgh Courier says, ‘Black newspapers are caught in a quality –revenue “Catch 22.” Black newspapers need to hire additional reporters and editors and purchase computer systems and other equipment to improve the quality of their products and attract more readers. More readers will bring in more advertising, which brings in more revenue to further operations.’ Advertising has an insurmountable impact on the survival and production of the magazine, as this is where the publication will generate a significant amount of its revenue. However advertisers markedly are more attracted to advertising their products in magazines with more impressive readership figures, as this creates greater exposure for their product. Mainstream magazines unmistakably provide a more lucrative platform than any niche magazine because the readership figures are greater. ‘Many ethnic magazines are niche products and their publishers should perhaps spend more time promoting the quality of their target readership rather than worrying about the quantity when trying to woo advertisers,’ says Media Week.  Some advertisers claim they are reluctant to advertise in ethnic magazines, some publications aren’t ABC certified (Audit Bureau of Circulations) and publishers swell their readership and circulation figures. Pride has a regular monthly print of 200,000 with a readership of 40,000. Black Beauty and Hair has a regular print of 30,000, how many people actually read Black Beauty and Hair is ambiguous, however Black Beauty and Hair claims to be the biggest selling black UK magazine in WH Smiths and generates the most advertising revenue.

On the complete other end of the scale, Vogue has a total paid circulation of 1,240,800. Magazines such as Vogue can sell advertising space to Versace, Chanel, Christian Dior and Prada and each fashion house has a number of adverts in one edition, advertising various products, from sunglasses, watches, and perfume, to make up, handbags, shoes and clothes. The quantity of adverts in such magazines can be grating for some, in Vogue March 2010, there are fourteen double spread adverts, which totals twenty eight pages, not including the Louis Vuitton double sided fold out, before even getting to the contents page. How does Vogue get away with it? The adverts are beautiful, as are the models, but most importantly they can afford to balance their high fashion adverts with high quality stylists, editors, photographers, features and journalists and for such a reason, their readers are prepared to pay a little extra for the cover price.  Black Hair and Beauty and Pride magazine, the closest equivalent to a glossy magazine, on the other hand fight to secure advertising that can generate sufficient funds to improve the magazine’s quality.

Black magazines cannot attract mainstream advertisers, Versace has never advertised in Pride magazine and neither has H and M.  Media Week claims that, ‘the difficulty for advertisers is that ethnic communities can be as internally diverse in terms of age, language and location as they are distinct from mainstream culture. Add this to a client team’s possible lack of understanding of ethnic cultures and a fear its brand image will be damaged if a company gets its advertising message wrong, and it is perhaps understandable that many advertisers and their creative agencies prefer to stick with the mainstream media they know so well.’ Surely then United Colours of Benetton must have mastered this art, then? The brand prides itself on its diversity and features models of nationalities from all over the world, Alek Wek being a household Benetton model. However, according to the United Colours of Benetton press area the brand hasn’t advertised in either of the major black magazines in the past year and undoubtedly, ever. The truth is, regardless of what Media Week claims about ABC certificates and a team’s lack of ethnic understanding, advertisers don’t consider black consumers to be significant enough to target them solely. David Hatchett quotes a black American media figure, Warren, ‘Many businesses do not advertise in black newspapers because they are not overly important to their marketing strategies in the black community.’ Advertisers are also aware that they can reach the black market through mainstream magazines, as black frequent magazine consumers read mainstream magazines more frequently than black magazines. 86% of black upwardly mobile women under forty read mainstream magazines as opposed to black magazines, 10% of these women said they might buy a Black Beauty and Hair magazine to refer to when getting their hair done.

So what kinds of adverts end up gracing the pages of black magazines? In Pride’s May 2010 edition, seventeen pages of seventeen different brands are dedicated to hair adverts, two double spread adverts, (two brands, four pages) appear before the contents page, in comparison to Vogue’s fourteen adverts, twenty eight pages. Pride evidently has fewer brands to advertise in its publication; out of forty pages dedicated to advertising and seventeen hair adverts, the remaining twenty three pages are dedicated to churches, foster care, community events, black Businesses and organisations and black album releases. The lack of advertisers willing to advertise their brands in black magazines leads to black publications being forced to depend on black businesses, government projects and inevitably, black hairdressers. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume when reading Black Beauty and Hair or Pride, that black women have but one issue in their lives – beauty. ‘It’s embarrassing, surely we have progressed a little more than this, or are we still seeing our beauty through the eyes of European standards?  It’s a shame black history can’t generate more advertising revenue,’ Gemma Ellen says, disappointedly.

89% of black women claim that they do not get sufficient information from UK black magazines, 78% claim they don’t feel they get sufficient information from mainstream magazines either. 75% think that mainstream magazines should diversify and would prefer to see a more diverse and integrated mainstream magazines as opposed to black UK magazines becoming fruitfully successful within their own specialist niche. Only 25% feel mainstream magazines are created to represent the majority and are fulfilling their remit perfectly, they believe it is the black UK magazines responsibility to satisfy black women. 100% of women feel that the black UK magazine is completely necessary for black women living in this country. Although the obvious differences between blacks and Caucasians are hair and beauty related, the disparity isn’t just skin deep, black women feel that the black UK magazines should feature editorial that mainstream publishers won’t publish, such as cultural and social issues, they also feel strongly about covering editorial focused on black history.

Instead what black women end up with is something that resembles the yellow pages of hair, an index of black hair salons, photography of black hair styles and hair stylists (which also advertise black hair salons) and page after page of black hair products. It is overwhelmingly tedious to sieve out any editorial that isn’t advertising or writing about black beauty issues or hairdressers. Black Beauty and Hair’s photography is cleverly disguised, at a first glance you may think the photography is the cultivated vision of the magazine, makeup artists, hairstylists, stylists, photographers and the creative director coming together to create something which captures the essence of the magazine, however you would be mistaken. A source reveals that Black Beauty and Hair magazine have nothing to do with the production of the pages of photography, ‘hairdressers arrange their own photography, send it over to the magazine, who advertise their salon on the page. The magazine doesn’t actually do any photo shoots.’ The magazine’s offices, or office, to be apt is just as non impressive; one office, three desks, no more than a handful of computers and on that particular visit, two members of staff. David Hatchett says, ‘Another yoke around the necks of the black newspapers is the continuous movement of the better black editors and reporters from black newspapers to better paying jobs at white-owned newspapers.’ So, which black journalist, with the possible power to begin the resolution of the black magazine predicament aspires to work for such publications? It is rumoured that the editor of Pride magazine has no journalistic qualifications and Black Beauty and Hair doesn’t appear to have the need to employ anyone that isn’t working on a sales and commission basis. Aspiring black journalists ultimately want exposure, they want their work to be read, accredited and critically acclaimed, understandably they want to receive the big bucks, the aspiring black journalist wants to write for a mainstream publication.

However it would appear that there is a change slowly developing and it has begun by marketers and advertisers recognising the black beauty market share. Cosmetic brands such as MAC, Bobbi Brown and Clinique cater for a greater range of skin colours and therefore nationalities than most mainstream brands and reflect this in their advertising campaigns. MAC has featured black celebrities such as Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige in their campaigns. Clinique and Bobbi Brown both frequently cast models of various nationalities. All three brands are regularly in the editorial of Black Beauty and Hair and Pride. Both MAC and Clinique have adverts in the May 2010 edition of Pride; Clinique has a double page spread, the only double page spread advert throughout the entire magazine, barring two hair adverts.  MAC has a single page advert which features Lady Gaga. These are, however, the only mainstream adverts in the magazine, whose products cannot be bought at the local pharmacy, such as Vaseline or Cocoa Butter. On the other side of the coin, ‘Superdrug is the first high street retailer to throw its weight behind an ethnic cosmetics brand, by stocking Sleek Make UP in more than 100 stores nationwide. Like the rest of the retailers, Boots sells only a small number of ethnic brands in selected stores,’ says Mintel.Fashion retailer Next revamped its brand in 2007 and made mixed race, Brazilian born Emanuela de Paula its household model. In turn Marie Claire has notably begun to diversify their subject matter and identify with their readers beyond the black token celebrity on the cover; Emanuela de Paula features in the fashion spread of the June 2010 edition, which introduces The New Black, which describes itself, in the words of Marie Claire, as being ‘all about black beauty.’ In actual fact, it’s a page with four hair and makeup tips written by black fashion and beauty writer and editor of, Funmi Odulate, nevertheless this definitely shows the black Marie Claire reader that she is being acknowledged.

What brought on this change? In a word – money.  According to Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, ‘Black models do not sell,’ (unfortunately she made this statement before the Vogue Black is Beautiful edition was released, which flew off the shelves and had to go into print twice). It may be the general media consensus that black models do not sell, but black women most certainly consume. Mintel reports inform marketers and advertisers that the black female consumer is a valuable and untapped market, with a thriving consumer base that can make a significant boost to product sales. ‘Ethnic make-up, skincare and hair care is a niche market worth £65 million in 2007, growing by 18% since 2002. However, the ethnic beauty products market has not kept pace with population growth, due to a lack of impactful new product activity and limited distribution opportunities. Market growth is hampered by limited availability of ethnic brands on the high street. Ethnic brands are losing sales to mainstream cosmetics and toiletries brands as ethnic women turn to a wider range of brands to meet their beauty and personal care needs,’ Mintel reports.

However, advertisers are already aware of the fact that they don’t need to advertise in black publications to contact the black market share as more black women read mainstream magazines as opposed to black magazines anyhow. Should diversification of mainstream magazines occur, it would be more likely to render the adverts that are currently limited to black magazines being advertised in mainstream glossies. This would inevitably lead to mainstream magazines hiring more black journalists. Black readers already lost for reasons to purchase the black UK magazine, in this instance will no longer have any need to do so, whatsoever. Whether Vogue will ever sell advertising space to Sensationnel is debatable, however, if black magazines are already struggling to stay above board and are doing so without being entirely respected by the black population, the diversification of mainstream magazines could lead to the complete demise of the black magazine, the magazine that black women feel is totally necessary to the UK.  If what black women want is the choice between a good UK black magazine and a mainstream magazine then ultimately they need to begin by purchasing the black UK magazine and remaining loyal consumers. Only then will the revenue be generated to improve the quality of production, the increased advertising rates and a better editorial content – but until the black woman’s market becomes a market that can solely be communicated to via its own channel, Versace will never cast a black model and will never advertise in Pride magazine.And how does this affect the black magazine? The impact can be vast. Primarily, the more this niche market  is recognised, the more marketers will want mainstream products to tap into it, this will initiate the diversification in the advertising of mainstream products, possibly employing more black creative advertisers to create more ethnically diverse advertisements, requiring the casting of more black models. Needless to say, such adverts would fit aptly in the black magazine and conclusively give the black magazine its lifeline; a continuous flow of mainstream advertisers. At long length this should precipitate greater readership figures, possible higher advertising rates and a requirement for better black journalists, photographers, editors and staff in general, creating a significantly more attractive magazine for readers, advertisers and prospective employees. It sounds all a bit pie in the sky, but may be less far off than some may realise. The past two years have seen two Vogue Italia editions celebrating blackness in one way or another, in 2008 Vogue Italia created the The Black Issue, in 2009 Vogue Italia celebrated Barbie’s fiftieth anniversary by creating an edition which consisted of back to back pages of  photography of black Barbies only, titled The Barbie Issue. Vogue Italia has even gone that one step further and has a residential section on their website entitled Vogue Black, which devotes itself to the black Vogue reader. Vogue Black is written in English and features black writers from Italy, New York, London and Paris. The site discusses black issues, photos black women and features black celebrities and models.

*It is to be noted that since this investigative feature was written Marie Claire’s The New Black appears to have dropped off the pages since its November edition.

*Boots now stocks a number of black beauty products.

*Toni and Guy and Pantene have developed products for afro hair.


(n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from National Readership Survery:

(09, 03 03). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Black is Beautiful:

ABC. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from The Role of ABC:

Achitsa, B. (2009, may 15). Black Fashion Models Suffer Under the Hypocrisy of the Fashion Industry. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from Art Matters:

Adesioye, L. (2009, May 05). Do we need black/ethnic media in a ‘post-racial’ age? Retrieved 04 02, 2010, from Lola Adesioye:

Barnard, M. (1996). Fashion as Communication. London: Routledge.

Barthes, R. (2005). The Language of Fashion. Greater London: Berg.

Benetton Press. (n.d.). Retrieved 05 01, 2010, from Benetton:

Black Barbie Sold for Less Than White Barbie at Walmart Store. (2010, March 09). Retrieved 02 29, 2010, from ABC News:

Black Beauty and Hair. (2009). Black Beauty and Hair .

Black Beauty and Hair Media Kit. (n.d.). Black Beauty and Hair.

Black Magazines. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Black News:

Burton, G. (1997). More than Meets the Eye. New York: Arnold Publishers.

Carter, M. (2003). Fashion Classics from Carlisle to Barthes. Berg.

Craig, M. (2002). Ain’t I a Beauty Queen. OUP USA.

Crofts, A. (2002). The Freelance Writers Handbook. London: Piatkus.

Dodai. (2008, April 04). Jezebel. Retrieved 05 01, 2010, from Whose Fault is it Anyway:

Drawing on Diversity for Successful Marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from

Ethnic. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from State of the News Media:

France, L. (2008, November 02). Retrieved March 01, 2010, from

Hennessy, B. (1989). Writing Feature Articles. London: Heinemann Professional Publishing.

It Ain’t Just Cricket. (2004, 05 11). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Media Week:

Italian Vogue’s “Black Issue” Goes Into Reprints. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Glossed Over:

Larsen, N. (1992). Passing, Quicksand and The Stories. In N. Larsen, Passing, Quicksand and The Stories. New York: Random House Inc.

Lead Dataset. (n.d.). Retrieved march 04, 2010, from Office For National Statistics:;jsessionid=ac1f930c30d843fec5d95c7c4976be2595bbb8658176?a=3&b=276765&c=lewisham&d=13&g=341782&i=1001×1003&m=0&r=1&s=1275006602642&enc=1&domainId=16&nsjs=true&nsck=true&nssvg=false&nsw

MEDIA CONSUMPTION & THE MULTICULTURAL COMMUNITIES IN THE UK. (2008 , 01 09). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Brand Republic:

Mintel. (2008, 12). Mintel Oxygen. Retrieved 03 20, 2010, from Table listing for Women’s Magazines:

Mori, I. (n.d.). NRS. Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from National Readership Survey:

Odulate, F. (2010). Marie Claire. The New Black , 225, 232.

Pride Magazine. (May 2010). Pride Magazine .

Pride Magazine Media Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved 05 01, 2010, from Pride Magazine.

Purdy, D. L. (2004). The Rise of Fashion. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Quinn, C. (2009). How to Pitch and Sell a Freelance Feature. London: Methuen.

Readership Research. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from

Rooks, N. M. (1996). Hair Raising, Beauty Culture and African American Women. In N. M. Rooks, Hair Raising, Beauty Culture and African American Women (p. 34). Brooklyn: Rutgers University Press.

Rubinstein, R. P. Dress Codes. Westview Press.

Scranton, P. (2001). Beauty and Business. New York : Routledge.

Sex, Lies and Advertising. (1990, aug). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from Publishing Business Group:

Taggart, C. (2010). Writers Market UK and Ireland. Cincinatit: D & C.

The Black Press. (1991, March). Retrieved 04 01, 2010, from The Crisis:

The Bleak Future of Magazines. (n.d.). Retrieved 05 01, 2010, from Brother Peace Maker:

The Crisis Magazine – About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2010, from The Crisis Magazine:

The Milwaukee Journal. (1990, aug 14). Retrieved 03 06, 2010, from The Milwaukee Journal:,6551614

Vogue. (2010). Vogue March .

Wilson, E. (2003). Adorned in Dreams. London: I.B Taurus.