Clarabella Speaks.

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves" - Shakespeare

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Should Burberry have branded it like Beckham?

If you haven't seen the pictures yet you obviously haven't heard the news (or perhaps you just have a life) because this is fashion gold: Romeo Beckham is the one of the stars of Burberry's new ad campaign, but it's a role that hasn't come without controversy. Principally, should a 10 year old really be modelling (in such a prestigious campaign), and why does another Beckham family member need to be in the spotlight?

Age first. I don't see why a child modelling is any worse than a child acting, in fact I'd say it's a lot better, so why were the likes of Macauley Culkin, Dakota Fanning and Nicholas Hoult nurtured and loved as talented child stars? This is something that could also be brought up with Vogue, who will not personally work with models under the age of 16, and have hence said that Romeo Beckham will not be a cover star any time soon, but who view child actors as a different kettle of fish. I accept that this policy is based on the negative effects of the fashion industry on health and body-image, but child stars in most industries are subject to this so what goes for one should go for all. Furthermore, at the tender age of 8 Romeo Beckham was named as one of Britain's best-dressed men, and given who his parents are, he has obviously already had some exposure to the fashion world, so it's not as if this is a huge step, right? And it's not as if Dave and Vix pushed him towards it, Christopher Bailey apparently hand picked him for the job. I say if the child wants to model and he's good at it let him model, it's not as if he has lead a normal existence up until now and he certainly looks as if he was born to do it.

And as for those anti-Beckhamites out there, it's not the child's fault he's a Beckham (not that I think it's any bad thing). Granted that without the public spotlight that comes with his name David Bailey would not have known who he was to personally hand-pick him for the job, and that without his privileged background he would not have had access to the fashion that lead to him being named on Britain's best-dressed list, he did nonetheless get the gig on his own merit, albeit by using his situation to his utmost advantage (but then again in his [expensive] shoes, anyone would do the same). If David and Victoria Beckham aren't on your list of favourite celeb couples fair enough, but don't write off the kid just because of it.

At the end of the day, Burberry have another stylishly striking campaign and whilst I may not get the umbrella-one-foot-in-the-air pose (maybe I'm not as artsy as I'd like to believe) Romeo Beckham will no doubt play a huge part in it's success - I mean tell me you haven't noticed the cheeky grin and the already remarkable good looks? Move over David there's a new Beckham in town.

Un beso enorme.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Why did Chloe do anything next?

"What Chloe did next",  I don't know about you, but my first thought after reading those words was 'Why??'. Given the last CJG collection I didn't think we'd be seeing another one, but then again a parent's love is blind.

You've got to hand it to whoever wrote the feature on the Topshop website; if I had had no previous knowledge of the first collection I would have been excited to see what the next page had in store for me. But alas, the world isn't perfect and given said previous knowledge, phrases such as "Lavish sky-high heels...and dainty ballerinas", "high fashion twist" or "soft velvety suedes and delicate mesh overlays" had me under no illusions.

The monstrous heels, as well as the monstrous prices, are back. Except this time with some biker boots and flats added into the mix (monstrous is an apt description for them too). Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, but I don't understand how a collection made up of a combination of studs, 6 inch heels, snake print and could ever look anything other than trashy? Maybe that's an opinion that could be proved wrong with the right outfit, but I don't think I'll be parting with upwards of £115 to find out. I'd rather put the money towards a pair of actual designer shoes, or fruit. Imagine the amount of pomegranates I could buy with that.

And speaking of actual designer shoes, the CJG version of the red Louboutin sole is back with an exciting new "stamp of individuality" - her signature charms print. Sorry what? Don't try and twist someone else's trademark idea into your own by adding a new dimension. Any design on the sole of a shoe will never be original, and so it's a territory better left untouched.

I'm not really sure what else I can add. I think it's pretty unlikely I will ever be a fan of CJG for Topshop but obviously someone out there is (size 36 in the 'stud lightening platform sandals' has sold out). Nonetheless it's always fun to rant about these things, and we all know how much I love a good rant. I've given you my opinion, now it's time to decide your own. I would say 'here are some of my faves' but obviously that doesn't apply here so instead, here is a selection from the collection (have no fear, the rhyme ends here).

Un besito guapos

Saturday, 10 November 2012

An Ode to the Great British Highstreet

Hola a todos!

It has somehow got to that time of year again when Christmas lights are going up and the supermarkets are selling Christmas food (namely turrón and panettone aquí en España), so naturally it is also time for me to trawl the internet and torture my poor mama dearest with links of clothes she can feel free to buy me.

Sounds pretty standard right? Well think again, because this year's present hunt has brought about a realisation (greater than "i have zero clothes") that has inspired this blog. Said realisation: I miss fashion. And after four months of clarabella not speaking, I miss blogging too.

You may wonder how this could be: I am in Spain, not some third world country without access to clothes shops; I still play dress up every morning until I find an outfit I like (although if you could see me right now you may wonder); Spain produces the same fashion magazines as the UK, albeit with a slight language difference; and I still have internet access. With regards to the last two points, I will admit that maybe I have gotten a little lazy (the inevitable -Durham- Erasmus mentality) and that reading ELLE in Spanish takes more effort than I at times wish to exert and that my 'to-read' list of fashion blogs is increasing without ever being read. However in my defence, even if I wasn't so vaga and was reading a magazine and blog a day, I would still not be sartorially satisfied. Why? Because I am missing the diversity and excitement of the Great British High Street, and that is something I never thought I'd say.

Topshop come back to me!

Before anyone gets up in arms and accuses me of slagging Spanish fashion, this is not what I'm doing. In fact in recent days, as my tally of amigas has quadrupled (I'm not bragging about my popularity - I started with 3), I have found myself admiring their outfits, as happens with la gente in the street too. Rather, I am lamenting the mostly conformist attitude of Spanish fashion - I have noticed that the outfits (that is those worthy of street style status) tend to be elegant with more class than brass, for example cream jumpers with indigo skinny jeans and knee high boots. 'Hang on a minute' you may think, 'isn't this the girl who is always babbling on about how the only way is chic?' And yes, I put my hands up and admit it, maybe I have been too closed minded in the past (this is painful): as much as I am an ambassador of all things chic, the world would be a very boring place if we didn't mix things up a bit. Ouch.

There's no denying that she has style but it's not very exciting!

So basically what I'm saying is that the Spanish High Street is lacking in exciting variety. Yes they've got Zara, Mango, Pull & Bear all at rather fabulous prices, and whilst you can source a good purchase alli, to be honest they are very much of a muchness. And as for H&M, the clothes may look relatively good on the hanger, but on a hanger is where they should stay if you value the quality, cut and fit of your clothes. Obviously the Spanish high street isn't confined to 4 shops but I've learnt that if you haven't heard of the store and the prices seem cheap, the clothes look it and it's better avoided.

The Great British High Street, and the brands that it connotes, such as Topshop, Warehouse, Next, River Island, is considered to be one of the best in the world but it's only now that I'm appreciating why. I used to dislike that London Street Style was celebrated for being eclectic and now I wish I saw more of it's influence when I walked down the street - bring me some of that creativity and variety! Don't get me wrong obviously the afore mentioned stores are not the be all and end all (heaven forbid), but they would certainly not go amiss here to add some fun to a stylish but rather standard selection of clothes - there's only so much a girl can do with a 20kg baggage allowance.

Okay so the makeup is a little bizarre but this is so refreshing. Her outfit makes me want to go shopping (preferably in the UK)!

I got asked this week if I missed Primark and my initial reaction was one of horror, as I quickly sought to clearly state that the answer was no. But you know what, whilst I avoid shopping there, there is something to be said for the range of styles that it offers. Again, something I never thought I'd say, but it appears this whole Year Abroad business is opening my mind to a whole range of things, not just botellons and boys with piercings. Tehe.

Un besito.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Queen Elizabeth: A Style File. From princess to model.

What comes to mind when you think of the Queen? What does she represent for you? and why do you love her (or not as the case may be)?

Let me give you my thoughts. For me, Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom at its most refined, its most eloquent and its most luxurious. But more than that, she is like a grandmother figure for us all. I have heard several people say that she reminds them of their granny, and this, I think, is an important factor  (at least for younger generations), in the special place that we have for her in our hearts. This comparison determines, to a certain extent, our image of the Queen: it is often difficult to imagine that your grandmother was ever young and so you think of her as wise, without considering the life experience that has made her so; you treat her with respect, not only because that is what you should do, but also because you feel that she would not understand nor accept your more modern values, without considering that she once faced the same quandary and that she is less conservative than you may imagine.

You would be surprised just exactly how much a person's outfit translates, and creates, this image. I didn't realise how influential it was until I decided to do a style file on the Queen. Looking back on her outfits and style over the past 60+ years added a new dimension to my understanding and opinion of the woman who I consider as my sort of royal granny. These are my favourite images, (the most revelatory, if you like) with an explanation as to why...

The Queen as Daisy Buchanan:
'Elegant glamour' sums up this photograph perfectly. It also depicts what it is that every girl fantasises about when they read classics such as The Great Gatsby. We want to be her, not because she's royalty, but because of this fantasy.

The Queen as the eternally youthful princess:
Why do little girls dream of being a princess? For the beauty and elegance and luxury that we see in this photograph.

The Queen as a feminine power:
I am mesmerised by this photo. HRH looks so feminine, so elegant and so dainty yet by her stance, and by that of the soldiers, it is clear that her power, and the respect that she commands, is immense.

The Queen as a style icon:
I chose this photo for the interesting hat. It seems more frivolous than royal and I think it reminds us that the Queen is human and that she shared/shares normal female interests, such as aesthetic appeal.

The Queen as a 60s girl:
I never thought I'd see the Queen in boots like this, it's just so retro!

The Queen as a commoner:
Those boots, that coat! I wouldn't pass any remarks if I saw a similar outfit on Eastenders. I find it quite a surprising choice of outfit for a Queen, but it is refreshing and it keeps things interesting.

The Queen as a model:
I think this is my favourite photo. Striking a pose she looks so carefree, so relaxed, so unofficial. The outfit is fabulous - she has a wonderfully vintage air about her.

The Queen as a fan of glitz and glam:
This photo and this outfit are exciting and glamourous. We all want to have an occasion that requires an outfit like this.

The Queen as your granny: 
I have definitely seen a photo of my granny in a similar outfit. It's such a heart-warming, comforting photograph and the best bit is she looks so normal and so happy. When I look at it I imagine a grandmother looking out contentedly at her family playing in the garden. It's so british, so familiar and so wonderful.

The Queen as the Queen of Diamonds:
This outfit is so regal. When you imagine a Queen, this is what you see. She almost reminds me of an Ice Queen, but one that replaces hostility with warmth.

The Queen as herself:
There is no pretence here. Nowadays at official functions the Queen often wears a coat/skirt combination and while they are always beautiful outfits, I like the simplicity of a dress without a jacket or hat. It's also quite unusual to see her in print and I think it suits her. It's youthful and happy, which is exactly how she looks.

Before I did my research for this, I saw the Queen as an adorable little woman, quintessentially british and an important presence in our lives. Now, I still think that, but I also see her as a young woman with more responsibility than we could ever imagine and who carried out her duties with such grace; as a mother who enjoyed her family life as well as her own; as a normal woman who enjoyed her fashion, and as a strong woman who set a wonderful example for us all.  I had never considered the Queen beyond the woman of my lifetime but now, with the help of some outfit analyses, I have a better understanding of the woman who has reigned this country for 60 years, and with the surprises that came with some of the photos, came also a renewed respect.

So ask yourself the same 3 questions again: What comes to mind when you think of the Queen? What does she represent for you? and why do you love her (or not as the case may be)? Have your opinions changed, even just a little bit?
I hope they have because there are so many (surprising) elements to the wonderful woman we call the Queen.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


So I think it's time for a new post, and what better topic than a royal visit. For any of you not from Northern Ireland, this is no ordinary royal visit (if there is such a thing), no, THE QUEEN CAME TO MY CHURCH!

The excitement that you can sense began when my invitation from Buckingham Palace arrived in the post, making me, as Noel Thompson put it, one of the 750 "dignitaries" who were invited to take part in the service (i'm not going to correct him...).

However, excitement quickly turned to doom when I read on said invitation that "Ladies" were to wear hats. WHAT?! This unfortunate piece of news had me reconsidering my reply of acceptance. I had absolutely no desire to wear a ridiculous contraption on my head that was going to age me by approximately 20 years, and so my shopping antennae went in to overdrive as I searched for the perfect hat. 

I decided my only option was vintage, and so I went on the search for a turban/long-sleeved maxi dress combo, which proved impossible to find. I was envisaging something along these lines, with a plain dress but colour co-ordination was a major issue and in the end I had no choice but to rethink...

10 days to go and the pressure was on as I was still dress and hatless. Thankfully French Connection came to the rescue and I got myself a beautiful and sophisticated navy, long-sleeved, v-necked dress. When I finally found my hat in Ding-Dong Vintage, Durham, the shop assistant told me that the outfit was very Chanel, and with that I was sold (she also told me I suited hats which was a blatant lie, and so obviously her remarks were ploys to secure my purchase, but they worked nonetheless - far be it from me to give up on the chance to channel Chanel)! 

Fit for a Queen?
However, even if I had been Coco Chanel herself, nothing would have taken attention away from the beautiful little lady we call the Queen, and beautiful was indeed an apt description (little too - she is tiny!). I fear I may have lost out on the style-stakes to her gorgeous blue, wedge wood outfit, but hey this is the Queen, a worthy winner if ever there was one. (style file to follow!)

Seeing her walk down the aisle and looking up to see her sat right there was surreal - I can't put my excitement into words - and to make things even better, apparently I looked like an Olsen twin (in my world that is quite possibly the best compliment I could get). It really was my perfect day!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Is Chloe Green the next big shoe designer?HA.

You may be pleased to hear it is time for a rant. The subject of said rant? Chloe Green's debut shoe collection for Topshop. First things first, if her father did not own the store there is no way that this would have happened; her credentials aren't exactly high, and I am sorry (or maybe I'm not) to say that they have not been improved by a blatantly average, hugely overpriced collection of shoes, whose main objective seems to be to make an impact, good or bad (and I'm erring on the wrong side of good).

According to Topshop, Chloe's own 200 strong shoe collection means she knows exactly what girls want and need. Hmm. I don't remember ever wanting or needing anything like these. I am very tempted to call them monstrosities, but maybe that is a little harsh? I could maybe admit to liking one pair, and appreciating that someone else could like one of the other designs (see both below), but that is as far as it goes. Moreover, there is no innovation, and very little variation; head out on to the high street now and I guarantee that you could find something similar. 

Similar that is, except for the 'signature green sole'. I am sorry but do you really want to show off that you are wearing Chloe Green for Topshop? It's more of a blaring statement that says 'hey I can't afford Louboutin and I don't have any appreciation for the reputation of such a prestigious designer'. The red sole works because it is the iconic trademark of a well established brand, and because it is unique. Please don't let this be the beginning of an offensive rainbow coloured pavement every time you lower your gaze. 

Finally...what on earth is going on with the price? The £115-£175 price range is quite frankly ridiculous. I would just about consider paying that for a nice pair of upper-end high street shoes, but for a pair of shoes from the debut collection of a girl who has made her name because her daddy owns Topshop, the price is an insult to the customers. High prices do not equal prestige and exclusivity. These are things that have to be earned, and Chloe Green has certainly not done that yet. Who knows, maybe she will do with future collections - she has confirmed that there will be an AW12 collection. Fab.

The maybe acceptable pair...
Aside from the slight clod-hopperness of these they are quite nice...


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Never mind the bride, everyone will be looking at you...

I think this is my fave outfit so far. If I hadn't already chosen my outfit - a very elegant full length, possibly diamond-printed dress that I found in mama's wardrobe (this is the best bit because then if someone asks where I got it I can say, with a tone of superiority "oh it's vintage") - then I think I would have made the purchase there and then when I spotted this beauty this morning. Very summery, very chic, and very interesting...what more could you want?

I told you it was fabulous. Dress: Topshop Boutique
Couldn't decide between the two pairs of shoes. If you want to make it a bit more fun I'd go for these tan almost-wedges, but if you'd prefer to remain on the more proper side of elegance, I'd go for the courts. Either way it's win-win because they are both rather excellent choices. (Both Topshop).

Ring: Topshop (do you see a pattern forming?!)

Clutch: Ted Baker (House of Fraser)

The only way you could possibly go wrong in this dress is by looking so amazing that you upstage the bride. Beware of her wrath.


Friday, 13 April 2012

Summer Wedding Outfit numero 2...

Back for number two in the wedding outfit series. I'm having lots of fun finding outfits - (my iPhoto library is crazy!) but unfortunately this means that my italian presentation is still only half done...if I fail, at least I'll fail in the name of fashion, and that's got to be worth it right?!

Thought I'd avoid the stereotypical dress for this one so that you don't write me off as boring (please don't!), so I went for trousers instead. It took a while to find a pair that were formal, and floral, but not offensively so, but Whistles (I think it's my new favourite shop) came to the rescue. The shirt is refreshing and the lack of collar means that it in no way screams office-job at you, rather it screams 'hey look at me I am SO chic'. The shoes that Whistles have paired with the trousers seem perfect to me, you may think I'm being lazy, but I promise you that is not the case (to prove it I even found them)! And I love love love this clutch. It's the perfect finishing touch to an elegant but interesting outfit and as far as jewellery goes, I'd keep it simple with a something sentimental that you are more than likely going to find in your or your mother's jewellery box.

Shirt - Zara

Trousers - Whistles

Sandals - ASOS

Beautiful Clutch - Accessorize
Oh and as for jackets, I'm imagining a pinky/peachy and slightly shorter version of this, but I can't find one to match so you'll just have to imagine it. You may think this is lazy, but I've got work to do remember?!

Jacket - Topshop


Saturday, 31 March 2012

Say farewell to wedding-outfit blues...

The invitations, will soon arrive (if they don't I think you can probably take it personally), and whilst the happy couple are happy to give you a great big nudge in the right direction when it comes to buying their gift, there is no such help when it comes to buying our outfits. We can however, be sure of the following (ignore at your peril):

You must not, under any circumstances, upstage the bride (I will always respect this because if anyone tries it on me looks really will kill); you must not expose too much skin because you don't want to ruin the classy wedding photos; you don't want to be wearing the same thing as someone else; money doesn't grow on trees so you need something re-wearable...yes wedding outfit's are a bitch. Or at least they were, because panic not I have trawled the internet (sure-fire sign that I've got a lot of work to do) to find you some fabulous wedding outfits that fit all these criteria (budget maybe fluctuates a bit but I never claimed to be perfect).

We all love an excuse to dress up and excuses don't come much better than a wedding, especially a summer wedding. Granted we should always have a pair of tights and an umbrella at the ready, because good old Northern Ireland (or Great Britain for the less fortunate among you) ain't no Spain, but we should be making the most of this opportunity to go a little crazy with the plastic and indulge in the name of fashion (and love for the more sickeningly sweet among us). Think classy, exciting and refreshing and you're on the right track!  

Dress: Jonathon Saunders at Urban Outfitters

Shoes: I want to say Kurt Geiger  but if it turns out I'm wrong then it's ASOS

Clutch: Accessorize

Ring: Topshop

As soon as I saw this dress I knew I had my first outfit. I don't think it's a stereotypical wedding outfit, but if an outfit screams wedding then maybe you need to age 20 years before you wear it. The dress says it all so accessorise with gold to keep classy (San Diego). I would add my very aptly named bin-lids (they are earrings incase you're wondering) to finish it off, but you're going have to use your imagination to picture them because they are an old purchase. Just trust me when I say they would look good!

I'm thinking that wedding outfits could be a nice little series of blogs so get excited and stay the internet version of tuned,


Tuesday, 6 March 2012


It's no secret that I am a huge YSL fan - in my world french + fashion is the most winning combination there is - so I have often felt a pang of guilt, almost like I am betraying my beloved Yves, when I feel disappointed by new YSL collections (it's even paining me to admit it). Yes yes yes, I am aware that he is dead and so it is no longer he who actually designs the clothes, but nevertheless it is his legacy and so it deserves the utmost respect.
Imagine how relieved/ecstatic I was today then, when I completely fell in love with the YSL AW12 collection. It is seriously phenomenal. I had to control my excitement upon seeing it as I was in the library at the time, but let me tell you my jaws still dropped in awe. It's almost as if the universe was preparing me for this splendour; just the hour before I had read an article (it was in French and so technically constituted work) that praised Saint Laurent's respect for women and his innovatory ideas on female power dressing. Stefano Pilati translated this perfectly on to the catwalk in his final collection for the label and I am so very glad he did.
Strong lines, elegant cuts and luxurious fabrics, I don't really need to say anything more. An image speaks a thousand words so just take a look at these...

Power never looked so appealing.