SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT

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Evening! Before you send out a search party I thought I should make an appearance. It’s been a while hasn’t it? We’ve not spoken for a few weeks and it’s about time for a catch-up. Since we last chatted I’ve had my head glued to a computer screen working on my new book which is due for release next year! I also managed to sneak in a quick trip to Mexico via Miami last week so I’m writing this slathered in moisturiser hoping the golden glow will stick around.

Anyway, more about my travels later on. For now I want you to know that change is coming. Don’t worry, it’s good change. Something that looks just like Frock Trade but with a few new additions and a bumper helping of useful, colourful content that I hope you’ll love.

After nearly five years of Frock Trade it’s time for a scenery change so bear with me as we draw the curtains for a little while and stay tuned for a shiny new brand! All of your Frock Trade favourites will be sticking around but they’ll be joined by a cast of new content featuring the most stylish people and places around the world. You won’t want to miss it!

Speak soon, Ann x

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SUNDAY SHORTLIST: 3 Creative Ladies And Their Marvellous Mums

Today three of my favourite creative ladies share why their mums are special – sharing advice, being a shoulder to cry on, joining in new adventures and being the ultimate inspiration these ladies are worth celebrating today and every day. Happy Mothers Day!

Nikki McWilliamsNikki McWilliams, Designer www.nikkimcwilliams.com : “When my mum was pregnant with me, she craved chocolate digestives. True story! After I was born she left her office job to raise my brother and I, and at the same time set up her own kids’ clothing company (fun fact: I would only wear things that she had made for me up until the age of 10!). She taught me how to sew and involved me in her business from an early age- I loved to join in with the daily activities in the house! I sketched a pinafore dress design when I was around 7 that was later developed for production. Even then, I knew that she had so much confidence in me.When I think about it- not much has changed since then! My mum now plays an important role in my design business and we speak every day.”

Christina Miller, The Daydreamer

Christina Miller, The Daydreamer www.thedaydreamer.net: “My mum is a superstar. She’s lived an interesting life, one that has seen her face many tough challenges but which has also been filled with fun and laughter. I admire her spirit and her strength; she has been both my mother and my father since I was born and, despite being a single parent working almost seven days a week, she has never asked for anything. She’s supported me endlessly and has provided me with opportunities that have allowed me to study, travel the world and grow into a woman myself. I continue to learn from her as we spend time together, whether it’s sharing cake on a rainy afternoon or roaring with laughter while dodging the traffic in a pedi-cab in Paris last year. She’s always there to cheer me on – or to pick up the pieces – and I can only hope that I have helped her in the same way, that I’ve made her proud. My mum is a star; shines brightly and her light will never fade. Even at the age of 33, she continues to guide me! Like most girls, I’ll always need my mum. So here’s to her, and all the mums, on this special day.”

Kim LawlerKim Lawler, Finest Imaginary www.finestimaginary.com: “My mum (here in the grey top) is special because even with her second cancer diagnosis she still made it around the Race for Life course and raised money for an incredibly important cause! After beating cancer once and positively living with it a second time ’round, she’s pretty bad ass!”

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TRADE SECRETS: Lucy Choi, Shoe Designer

Lucy Choi

A steady supply of stilettos has to trump most career perks but how does a young shoe designer make her mark on an industry where her uncle is footwear royalty? Meet Lucy Choi, business woman and champion of affordable luxury shoes, following in the footsteps of uncle Jimmy Choo, but on her own terms.

When did you realise the time was right to build your own business?

In 2012 after 10 years in the city and another 10 years working in fashion as the MD at French Sole, I finally felt I had all the experience I needed to run my own business. I had gained valuable finance, business and PR experience, built up my own fashion contacts and learned so much from running a business on behalf of someone else. With these skills and confidence I felt it was time to just go for it and launch my own business for myself.

I always knew I wanted to go into fashion and follow in the footsteps of my uncle Jimmy Choo but I wanted to make sure my brand would have a great USP and I’d have the knowledge and experience to be able to steer it in the right direction. I had spotted a gap in the market for stylish and luxurious but also comfortable and affordable shoes and noticed that there were huge disparities in price ranges between other brands, with designers charging over £900 and high street stores charging very low prices and also prices up to £200. I saw a need for shoes that have the wow factor and excellent and trustworthy craftsmanship but at an affordable price point. It was the right time to prove that shoes can be well made, beautiful and affordable all at the same time!

Lucy Choi stilettos

Like anyone that has a famous relative in the same profession, how much pressure have you felt to make your own unique mark on the footwear industry?

There will always be pressure and people do like to draw comparisons but Lucy Choi London is a brand in it’s own right and my goal is not to compete with him in anyway but to offer something very different in the shoe market. It has been so exciting to explore a new niche in the market. I can’t deny that having Jimmy Choo as my uncle has of course opened doors for me and I will always be thankful of his wonderful support.

How has your uncle’s advice shaped the way you run your business?

My uncle has given me such valuable advice from a really young age, acting as a role model and mentor. Watching him at work, I could see his strong work ethic and values which have always stuck with me and helped my ethos towards running my own business. I learnt early on that nothing in life comes easy and you must give 110% to succeed, which has given me the determination and confidence to launch my own business and take important risks in life. My uncle has always stayed true to his belief in himself, in his workmanship and in delivering his promises and so I strive to stay true to those values that he instilled in me.

Lucy Choi Shoe Collection

The fashion industry can be a ruthless and competitive environment. How do you avoid distraction and maintain a consistent design aesthetic?

It is so important to me that every pair of shoes I create fits my ethos of the 3 ‘C’s – comfort, craftsmanship and character – without compromising on price and originality. To maintain a consistent aesthetic that has this all encompassing wow factor I always bear in mind my ‘Rock & Royal’ philosophy, inspired by the 2 Kate’s: the classic and elegant Kate Middleton and the iconic and edgy Kate Moss. My personal style is very much a reflection of my brand and our shoes are classic yet playful rather than trend led. I like to inject character into my shoe designs with pops of colour or through the use of different textures and fabrics, such as leather, silk and lace.

Your price point is more accessible than many designer footwear brands. Why is affordability so important to you?

I know there is a generation of stylish and savvy shoppers out there who want craftsmanship, quality and design led shoes for a competitive price. Why should you always have to spend hundreds or thousands of pounds for a single pair of beautiful shoes when you can buy shoes that can last you from day to night, look amazing, and are affordable? Our customers buy from designer stores, boutiques and high street shops and I like to think that Lucy Choi London shoes encompass different elements of all three sections.

With design houses like Burberry changing their show schedules, how do think the fashion industry needs to evolve to meet consumer demand?

I’ve found that consumers now are looking for one-stop shops where their lives are made easy and they can access all manner of luxury goods for all occasions. This generation of consumers needs shoes that are practical and give you confidence, while looking eye catching and beautiful all at the same time.

Lucy Choi Shoe Collection

For the students reading this, what’s the best piece of advice you learned as a young adult that practically shaped your career path?

I’d advise anyone starting out that to succeed you need a combination of knowledge, experience and business know-how and you mustn’t be afraid to take risks and get your hands dirty! I’m a passionate believer in work experience to obtain valuable, practical experience in an industry and so we run an intern programme at Lucy Choi London. Personally, I learnt my most valuable lessons from watching my uncle at work when I was young, especially his strong work ethic and values. As the boss of my own company, I have the chance to pass on that experience and skills to my team.

You’ve achieved fantastic business growth. What is the best way for young designers to push their own label forward and achieve brand recognition on a limited budget?

I believe anything is possible even on a limited budget. If you have a USP and a great product, and you work hard and have drive and determination, you can push labels forward. It helps to build up good contacts and is really important to have a good team. Ultimately, good business skills are the core of any successful business. You need to have a clear vision and strategy and stick to it, without focusing on any negatives.

You’re about to become a mum again, what challenges do you expect when juggling family life with the demands of business?

It’s going to be hard! There will always be the challenge when running your own business of balancing your time between family and work which both need constant attention. However, I’ve already faced a huge challenge in my career when I first launched my label and also gave birth to my first child all in the same year! I definitely learnt then how to become more efficient and work on less sleep! I measure my success in many ways but to me being successful and happy is having a balanced work life and contented family life which is a reward in itself. To make any business work you have to have a combination of 3 things: balance of work, friends, family & support; a good team that shares your vision and strategies and understands your end goal; and the ability to take risk in life and believe in your brand. I am so grateful to my husband whose indefatigable support has allowed me to juggle both the birth of my business and our son. Being able to combine the two most important parts of my life makes me feel fulfilled and I hope to keep this up with the birth of my next son.

Find out more about Lucy Choi London here and shop her latest collections online or at 18 Connaught Street, London W2 2AF.

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SUNDAY SHORTLIST: 4 Reasons Why You Need A Staycation

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Call me old-fashioned but I when I used to think about holidays it was all sun, sea and sand, until the staycation came along and encouraged me to appreciate my immediate surroundings. How many times have you planned a relaxing weekend only to get caught up in chores, errands and unnecessary to-do lists? If this routine is happening all too often it’s time to take a break. I don’t mean a few hours in-front of the television I mean a proper break, even to explore your own city. I recently visited The Chester Residence to discover just how worthwhile a staycation can be.

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TURN A NEW PAGE – When was the last time you picked up a book, a real page turner that kept you engrossed for hours? It’s high time you separated yourself from Facebook and all the other tech clouding your subconscious and took a break. Sit down with that bestseller you’ve been meaning to read for so long. My read of the moment is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, perfect if you’re seeking inspiration away from online noise. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Gilbert encourages us to embrace our creative curiosity. If you’ve been looking for an artistic outlet recently but are unsure where to begin this book is a must-read.

Neue London

SLIP INTO SILK – Luxuriate in that Christmas loungewear or soft silk separates that feel decadent after a long bubble bath. This patterned shirt and trousers co-ord is from contemporary womenswear label NEUE LONDON who work with British manufacturers to create wearable, delicately patterned designs. Head designer Alice Tibble’s beautiful soft petal and bloom shirt for Spring/Summer 2016 fits the ‘pyjamas as daywear’ trend seen on fashion favourites Alexa Chung and Julia Sarr Jamois. In her latest collection Alice blends the commerce of New York with the creative flare of London. Wear this shirt-trousers combo with a pair of stiletto heels and a blanket coat or team the shirt with a pair of dark wash jeans.

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Penthouse Apartent - Main Bathroom (1280x996)

TAKE A STEP BACK – Gaining perspective is no mean feat but I find that it helps to remove yourself from everyday routines to evaluate important things like your career. If you’ve reached a crossroads at work or are thinking about making a change taking time away from everyday distractions always makes things clearer. For me, relaxing at The Chester Residence was a welcome retreat after spending the last few weeks glued to my laptop working on my book project. It freed up my mind to mull over other business plans and take a step away from the computer screen.

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EXPLORE YOUR CITY – How often do we ignore local gems right on our doorstep? One of the real positives of staycation-ing is becoming a tourist and discovering new attractions in places we know so well. The Chester Residence is a short walk from Edinburgh Castle and sits amongst the hidden gems of the West End with a collective of independent shops and cafes to explore. Paper Tiger and Studio One are two of my favourites.

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The Chill at Chester Package (£65 not including accommodation) comes with a luxury hamper full of tasty treats (Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream anyone?), access to a huge DVD library plus Molton Brown toiletries for the perfect night in followed by a continental breakfast served to your apartment the following morning. Bliss!

Images | Ivory Pictures. This post was written in collaboration with The Chester Residence. The opinions shared are entirely mine, thank you for reading them.

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RUNWAY TO REALITY: How to Wear Colourful Fur

Ann Russell Personal Style

Fashion should be fun, right? Yes, there’s a multi-million pound business behind the clothes you wear but when it comes to personal style experimentation is surely a good thing. Taking time to try different clothes is the only way to define what suits you, what colours you like and what styles highlight your best assets. For me it’s all about colour. I’m talking slogan sweaters, pastel prints and patterned trousers (not worn together of course). So without further ado let me introduce you to the newest colour pop in the rainbow wardrobe – my Mustard Fur scarf (he’s faux fur obviously!). If you’ve been coveting similar styles by Charlotte Simone and Shrimps but are debating how to wear them here’s 5 faux fur tips to achieve the fuzzy wow-factor:

WEAR NEUTRAL COLOURS – Don’t worry if you find colourful fur tricky to wear, we’ve all been there and nobody wants to look like a psychedelic yeti. If you’re adventurous enough to sport bold and bright faux fur turn the saturation down when choosing the rest of your outfit. Try to keep colour and prints to a minimum – black or dark denim jeans are a fool-proof option. If print is your thing I find a white shirt with very small details works well.

How to wear faux fur

KEEP A ROLLER HANDY – Much like the cute little puppy you spotted on Instagram, faux fur has a tendency to shed everywhere so keep a mini sticky clothes roller in your bag in case the fluff decides to dismantle all over your dark denims. Before wearing your fur try to shake off any loose or excess fibres and keep it away from sticky products like hairspray.

How to wear colourful fur

NEVER COMBINE FURS – Double denim can look cool but double fur is a whole different story. Combining your fur coat with a fur scarf or hood is an ill advised move my friend. Pick one furry separate and stick with it, especially if it’s brightly coloured.

Yellow faux fur topshop

LITTLE STEPS WORK TOO – This yellow number might scare the living daylights out of you but that’s ok. Start small by introducing a little faux fur handbag pom pom (I love Helen Moore’s range) into your wardrobe and work up to a fluffier number in time.

KEEP AWAY FROM RUFFLES – Ruffles or any heavily layered fabric are hugely popular for the new season but teaming a big faux fur scarf with a whole load of frills is overkill. (no, not roadkill!). Think of simple separates perhaps with delicate texture or very small patterns if completely plain pieces are too minimalistic for you. Bear in mind that fur adds weight and bulk to any outfit so keeping other pieces streamlined and fitted will ensure your body shape isn’t lost.

New Look Black boots

Patterned Shirt and Trousers – Zara | Faux Fur Scarf – Topshop | Black Boots – New Look

Images: Ivory Pictures. With thanks to The Chester Residence.

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