Category Archives: Style

Winter Want List 2014: Style

grana hong kongFeel that tiny drop in temperature in Hong Kong over the past few weeks? Well that, my friend, is what us shopaholics know as a trigger… a trigger to buy new things because it’s a whole new season! Right?! RIGHT. It’s called Becky Bloomwood logic, y’all.

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Summer Lust List 2014

Why isn’t there a Santa for summertime? There are simply too many things I want… and not nearly enough fairy godmothers to gift them to me!

ANIMAL MAGIC

Forget animal prints, I’d rather take “animal magic” to a more literal… and cute… level!

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Abercrombie & Fitch hits Hong Kong – I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch…

UPDATE: In November 2016, Abercrombie & Fitch announced their Hong Kong store would be closing, as a result of the economic downtown – it had been rumoured for a while and what with Forever 21 also exiting their phenomenally expensive space in Causeway Bay, was not really a surprise. As part of their rebranding, A&F also removed all their #HotGuys videos from Youtube (and from the stores!); props to various gay YT channels for preserving Call Me Maybe for perpetuity, whilst I’ve plugged in some other fan/news videos to try showcase the mayhem of the opening. Let’s remember the good times…

So, in case you live under not just one rock but ten tonnes of them, Abercrombie & Fitch finally opened its first Hong Kong store in the iconic Pedder Building in Central.

At 11am, August 11, 2012, the doors finally opened (signature Fierce cologne filling the air). People queued overnight, lines of not just hundreds but thousands swarmed all the way around Pedder, an MTR exit was closed and police barricades were in effect. Don’t believe me? See the video above!

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Red Carpet Rundown: I ♥ Jennifer Lawrence

Over the past month, I have come down with an overwhelming fever… HUNGER GAMES FEVER. You’ve seen my mani, you’ve listened to my ramblings and now you must tolerate my love for Jennifer Lawrence too.

She was at a lot of awards shows circa her Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone. She was a truly annoying Mystique in X-Men: First Class. And she’s dating Tony from Skins. Honestly, I never felt much towards her other than indifference. But come her casting as Katniss Everdeen, The Girl On Fire, and suddenly she clicked… To the power hundred!

Lawrence is phenomenal in the films… driven, hard, urgent, grounded, strong but vulnerable compulsive watching… but I’m here to tell you about my raging girl crush instead. Katniss Everdeen was always going to be a winning character if she was played right, but what I love about J.Law (as probably no one is calling her) is how awesome it was to see a real woman on screen. A woman who didn’t look anorexic, didn’t look plastic, didn’t look like she spends every waking moment in the gym refusing carbs, but a curvy, gorgeous, young woman with a natural fresh beauty and a magnetic screen presence. And my, has she worked some gorgeous gowns during the Hunger Games promo tour. As The Girl On Fire rightly should!

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Monki see, Monki do! Monki Spring/Summer 2012 Collection

My story with Monki, the Scandinavian street-style sister brand to H&M, has been a potted one. But, and I’m going to spoil it now for you all, it’s one with a happy ending – completely down to Gloria, their superstar PR in HK.

When it first arrived in Hong Kong, I rolled up to their Mong Kok store excited at the prospect of something new (no Monkis in the UK back then!) – but I was hugely disappointed. Everything was black, baggy and oversized or black, cropped and oversized, there were far too many pairs of leggings for me to process and overall, the whole thing was far too fashion-forward for me. I scuttled back to H&M tail between my legs and vowed never to return.

I then wrote an article criticising Monki and wished Cos, another of H&M sister’s brands, would make the trip to the 852 instead. Enter Gloria, who went to the trouble of finding my email address, messaged me to say that she was sad that my experiences at Monki had been disappointing – but wondered had I been recently, as actually Monki had had a bit of a style makeover.  I took a look at the pictures and was amazed. Colour! Non-baggy! Not all leggings!

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Jack Wills is opening in Hong Kong… and it’s Fabulously British!

Amidst all the new international store openings in Hong Kong (Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle, Gap, Forever 21), one store has quietly sneaked in under the radar… and may just eclipse them all. Ladies and gents, may I introduce you to Jack Wills.

And it definitely is an introduction. When I mentioned Jack Wills to most of my HK friends, the resounding response was ‘Who?!’. Having lived, attended school and gone to university in the UK, I was very familiar with Mr Wills. It was just getting big when I left around 4 years ago; Nottingham, the big university town where I spent far too many of my formative years, had just got its own store and had basically become THE uniform of choice for nearly everyone from my old school and uni.

The typical Jack Wills wearer then was:

In case you don’t know, that’s JP (played by Jack Whitehall) from  Fresh Meat (and do watch it, it’s hilarious), who basically epitomises near enough every person I went to school and uni with. JP would probably pronounce Jack Wills as “totally rape”… but enough Fresh Meat in-jokes!

Back then Jack Wills was very much a preppy British A&F, beloved by poshos and public schools (their tagline is ‘University Outfitters’, after all). Round my parts, we call these people ‘rah’s – for girls, think Ugg boots, sweat pants, all-enveloping scarves and big artfully-tousled bed-hair; for guys, think rugby shirts with collars never anything but up, lived-in jeans or board shorts determinedly worn in a country and climate that really doesn’t warrant having your hairy legs out for 8 months of the year.

Seriously, I could spot people from my school long after I’d left from the fact their hair was fluffed up to about five times the size of their body and that they were slouching about in sweats with ‘Jack Wills’ emblazoned on their arse. And as you’re probably now realising, I might just be a bit of a rah too. Like blates. But sadly, without the budget!

So I was already more than interested in Jack Wills opening in Hong Kong and the chance for me to relive my rah days. But, having attended a preview of their new store, I am now no longer interested, but EXTREMELY BLOODY EXCITED.

What became clear, especially after chatting to the fabulous Rachel Johnson, head of womenswear (and with a totes awesome first name, may I just add), is that Jack Wills has come on leaps and bounds since my time in the UK. Yes, there’s still rugby shirts, sweatpants and checked shirts galore, but now there’s so very much more too.

I was blown away by their range of dresses, all of which were immediately covetable, absolutely gorgeous and yet still had that signature Jack Wills feel about them. My heart did a little hop, skip and jump of delight when one of the models came out in the spotted black dress above – the very dress I pointed out to my friend a few moments before from the lookbook, stating ‘It must be mine.’

I was also rather enamoured with their fur capes, sparkly cardigans and fabulous tweed-y outdoors coats (with adorable metal anchor-embossed buttons – its the little details that count!) – here’s hoping HK actually gets cold enough to wear them! I’m also going through a cute print underwear and legwarmer obsession, so you can imagine what I made of the box of treasures below!

I loved the way the outfits were styled too – classic but still fashionable and in a way that felt distinctly British. I was also smitten by this Liberty-style print dress (most prints are bespoke to JW), paired with a slouchy knit cardigan, the perfect mix between dressed up and dressed down; all I have to say is, yes, yes YES! And this mannequin, showcasing sparkly sequinned shorts matched with a plain tee and statement-outfit making red blazer (I’m getting Claudia Winkleman vibes off this look) – even more YES! Even if I’d probably never be able to pull it off myself…

The great thing, especially for someone like me who buys what I like rather than paying close attention to whatever’s in fashion, is that Jack Wills doesn’t slavishly follow trends but rather forages its own distinctive path. I’d describe it as British heritage with a modern twist but with clothes classic and well-designed enough to last far more than a few seasons. However, unlike other shops that have an easily-identifiable signature look (*cough A&F cough*), Jack Wills doesn’t feel like a one-trick pony stuck in a major sartorial rut.

The other cause for major excitement – they’re doing BEAUTY. I think I totally freaked out Rachel, JW’s lovely brand coordinator Lauren and gorgeous PR extraordinaire Elle with my extreme excited squealing when they told me! It seems, in my time away, that Jack Wills have branched into nearly everything – home décor, mugs, iPhone accessories, jewellery and, obviously much to my delight, cosmetics too. The packaging, in their signature pink and navy stripes, is absolutely beyond cute and everything looks really affordable too. Obviously I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts onto some of the product to give them a test drive – but that Union Jack tin stuffed with nail polishes?! It may as well have my name written on it!

I also NEED the following make-up bags – well, you can never have too many make-up bags, right?!

The lookbook is basically the cast of Skins having had a shower and minus the hipster posing, mini Rosie Huntington-Whiteleys and Prince Harrys. A sense of quintessential Britishness is as intrinsic to the brand as with Burberry or Mulberry, but at high street prices. (Though not that High Street – I’d say prices are on the more premium side, comparable to Ted Baker or Club Monaco here, but not unreasonable for the quality and with some more affordable basics. Rachel assured me they wouldn’t be jacking up the price tags for the HK market either, and my wallet thanks them hugely). There’s an emphasis on heritage prints, old-school Arran knits and little details, like embossed buttons and vintage-style labels sewn into each piece, that give it a sense of much-loved tradition but with a youthful twist.

I was also totally in love with the store itself. In HK, home to the mega-mall, store anonymity is the norm. The Jack Wills flagship, housed in Leighton Centre (behind G.O.D) in Causeway Bay, is anything but.

Firstly, it’s huge. Two floors, high ceilings, practically a mansion by Hong Kong standards. Yes, A&F may have got the press inches by forcing out Shanghai Tang but, unless they’re going to work wonders, this is actually the much better shop space.

Secondly, it’s amazing. No longer will wandering through M&S be my only port of call when pangs of homesickness strike – I can now go stroke some Jack Wills stuff too! There are so many idiosyncratic little touches, just the right mix between quirky and cool whilst being distinctively and delightfully British, that I can imagine people (especially Mainland tourists) will be popping into the shop just to take photos – and no doubt, grab a few Union Jack emblazoned souvenirs whilst they’re at it. So there’s a fireplace, vintage luggage cases, huge pre-loved Union Jack sofas, sweeping staircases, dazzling chandeliers, walls of haphazardly placed but perfectly-thought-out pictures, neon antlers, stuffed animals (didn’t take any pictures of these, slightly creepy)… oh and did I mention the big Jack Wills-striped Range Rover too?!

In a place where stores rarely have such a quirky sense of individuality expressed in their décor, this makes Jack Wills a very exciting… and enticing… prospect indeed. Their unique brand identity is just so cohesive (even their business cards have the pink and navy stripes!)… flick through their lookbook and everything just goes. It’s a study in easy fluidity yet without trying too hard.

Honestly, I really can’t think of anywhere that could compare to it in HK, which can only be a good thing. For me, another British chain with a similarly strong (though totally different) brand identity would be All Saints – in Notts, its store was an old bank kitted out to feel cutting-edge cool and rock-star gothic; meanwhile, another brand that has the quirky Brit thing would be Ted Baker, although I feel this has pretty much been entirely lost in HK stores (they used to give away condoms in my local one… can’t see that ever happening here!), whilst on the whole cool word-of-mouth front they’re totally doing a Superdry… but with a slightly posher accent!

A verrrry English tea… complete with too pretty to eat cupcakes!

Jack Wills is famous ‘in the industry’ for not doing billboards and conventional advertising, but going by word-of-mouth and viral marketing campaigns; they used to hire pretty young things to wear their clothes (and no doubt look stunning on them) and have Jack Wills beach and pub parties in the UK, all the time promoting the brand and handing out freebies.

I had a little chat about their marketing strategy here, as I was concerned that with all the new stores opening that would be aggressive about their marketing (seen those huge Gap adverts taking over the whole of Central MTR yet?!) and with very little brand recognition to work on, they might get somewhat lost. However, it sounds like they do have some cool tricks up their sleeves (involving HK’s iconic trams and some fab Facebook competitions) and they’ve created a bit of social media buzz already by inviting so many bloggers to check it out – and from what I’ve seen so far, response has been really positive, myself included!

I brought my friend Aurora along, a hot local twenty-something with a shopping addiction almost as bad as mine (i.e. totally JW’s demographic) and no previous knowledge of JW. She was won over within minutes. What she saw even from a half-finished store and a few racks of clothes had her almost as excited about the store as I was. (And here she is above, rocking her Jack Wills goodies far better than I ever could).

Her – and my! – final thoughts? Forget A&F! Head to Jack Wills instead!

Jack Wills will open two stores in HK – at Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay (see artist’s impression above!) and LCX (Ocean Terminal), Tsim Sha Tsui – at the beginning of December. Thanks to Elle and the whole Jack Wills team for inviting me and being so very welcoming and lovely throughout.

I’ll see you all at the launch party!

London Show Rooms HK: Spring Summer 2012

Regular readers may remember my Red Carpet Rundowns from awards ceremonies of yore, which generally consisted of me writing in the throes of passion to some stunningly beautiful designer dress. Well now, I’ve actually been and gone and seen and TOUCHED these dresses in person. And they are all SO MUCH MORE AMAZING in person!

But also, in a way, not that much more amazing too. At the end of the day, they are just body-part shaped bits of material, much the same as the body-part shaped bits of material you’d find at H&M, Primark or even the local wet market. Celebs, models and the beautiful people have a way of making you think their garments are some sort of magical mystical cloaks of wonder, elevating them to minor divinity status. But actually, having handled the very garments I’ve swooned at on a pixelated level, I can now tell you – it really is just a dress. No pixie dust, no ethereal glow, no heavens opening sound when you touch them… just a dress after all.

But still exceedingly pretty dresses after all!

Enough rambling and onto the point… I was lucky enough to be invited to the London Show Rooms, a British Council initiative to showcase the work of some of Britain’s hottest designers. Having pored over the recent pics from London Fashion Week, it was honestly like a dream come true!

I went with the lovely Hester from Sassy Hong Kong, and tried to keep my ridiculous squeeing in check in case she realised what a fashion fan-girl I am – especially for someone who generally looks such a state in person!

The event itself was a little weird – I saw someone toting a giant papiermâché hand, which just about says it all. Apart from the fact that no-one bothered to introduce themselves so I had no idea who worked there or who was just wafting around to cover the event like myself, the biggest downfall was that very few of the dresses were displayed on a body – either real or plastic. These dresses come alive shown on people, yet there were fewer than 10 models standing around the room, strutting their insolent stuff (and yes, I did totally feel like I was in an episode of Next Top Model!). A fashion show, or even a small presentation about the designers (or even just better lighting!), would have done more justice to these wonderful garments.

On the plus side, you were allowed to handle the garments to your heart’s desire. I’m far too intimated by snobby shop assistants to ever try and go into the retail shops myself (Pretty Woman syndrome!) so it was great to be able to enjoy a leisurely swoon and sigh, without feeling like my grubby mitts would be shoo-ed off at any moment!

My favourite – Mary Katrantzou. I loved these dresses in print, I loved these dresses in pixel and I LOVED these dresses in person!

Katrantzou’s calling card is colourful, mental, full-on floral prints – as you can see from her rail (banner photo), which is just a riot of rainbow! The dress on the model was just exquisite – the flow, the shape, the way it sat on her body, that gorgeous train and most importantly, the fabulous print itself. You can appreciate how precisely thought-out the colours and shapes are by the way each different print begins and ends so crisply and beautifully – the fact the model looks gift-wrapped is a Brucie bonus! – but this is a perfect example of why high street knock-offs will never quite cut it. There is no way you could get as complex and crazy a print that still looks expensive, flattering and elegant for el cheapo prices!

I also loved this tropical-coloured coral reef asymmetric dress from The Katrantzou (held by Hester!). What you can’t really see in this photo is the gorgeous stiff full skirt, which pouffed out uber-cutely, and it’s such a shame I didn’t get to see this on a model, where it really would have come alive. Again, this isn’t the kind of tailoring you can get for high street prices – and that’s coming from someone that has been looking for that proper pouffy structured full skirt for ages! (Or alternatively, tell me where and I’m there!)

My next favourite, somewhat surprisingly, was Marios Schwab. His pieces were SO much more beautiful in person; on the catwalk, they can look a little plain – especially compared with all the other crazy colours and vibrant prints that come out to play for Spring/Summer. What I’ve always loved about his designs is how they always perfectly combine the tough with the sensual, the sexy with the soft. Despite the corsetry and cut-out elements to many of his dresses, they’re the very antithesis of the tired old trollope standby, the bandage dress.

It’s an overtly sexy, tight-fitting silhouette, but muted with netting, overlays and veiling. It’s lattice-work that actually reveals very little at all. It’s tough shapes and colours, but then a sprinkling of Swarovski crystals. And what amazed me most was how soft these were to the touch. Many bandage dresses I’ve handled before felt hard, rigid and constricting – that’s how they suck you in all the right places – but these were meltingly fluid, like a buttery soft fluid leather. I really loved the pretty lilac and blush coloured ones, which often lose out on the red carpet stakes to the more obvious black, white or nude numbers.

I also adored the work of Peter Pilotto. Pilotto’s digital prints were really hot a couple of seasons ago, where everyone and their ice-cream man was seen in his colourful abstract numbers (or a high street knock off of them!) but I feel he’s since been overshadowed by the likes of Katranzou and Erdem. Well, this collection showed me that he’s definitely still alive and kicking… with a vengeance! These were ultra-colourful, but in much less whimsical way – I’m gonna call it future-tribal! These were also some of the more complex dress shapes on show with lots of intricate cutting and plenty of those full structured skirts I love. Here’s the red dress I was eyeing for my wardrobe!

I was expecting to be wow-ed by Roksanda Ilincic and Jonathan Saunders, two of my other favourites on the red carpet (especially the divine Ms Roksanda, as worn by my ultimate girl crush, Kate Middleton) yet I ended up being a little disappointed.

Ilnicic’s pieces for me have always been about stunning cutting, draping and folding and an effortlessly tactile structured but unstructured elegance that enlivens her essentially simple and classic shapes. On coat-hangers, this just wasn’t evident. The colour palette was gorgeous – vivid turquoise and fuchsia jewel tones playing off muted mustards and grey but I needed to see these on a person! I’m still lusting after her Debenhams collection though!

Saunder’s rail was pretty delicious from afar – a cool ice-cream coloured rack of spring sorbets, especially to the right of my picture where my favourite of his pieces sat. As worn by Samatha Cameron and another one with a Debenhams collaboration under his belt, I felt his outfits were a lot more mainstream than most of the other designers here, though would probably look lovely on (Thandie Newton is another fan and I always think she looks amazing), but unfortunately they didn’t do much for me on the hanger either. Some of his prints were surprisingly acid-y, Pucci-esque and Mystery Machine-worthy though – I guess we just don’t get to see those on the red carpet as much.

David Koma was another surprise – him of dressing Cheryl Cole on X Factor in dustbin lids fame. As expected, lots of chunky embellishments (see the 3D Persplex on what I believe was a miniskirt yet which was so short I wouldn’t even wear it as a scarf!) but I saw some more mature designs in there too.

I loved the model’s outfit, which was decorated with awesome iridescent panels of sequins, shimmering and gleaming like insects wings in the light, which just looked intensely flattering yet still different. Expect to see more of Koma on the red carpet – and with a Topshop collaboration on the way (as has Katranzou, by the way), his time is definitely now.

Holly Fulton is another ‘one to watch’, who apparently revels in bad taste. Not really my style but nice to see some unashamedly happy designs (she’s supposedly influenced by Versace and most of these would fit right in with their H&M partnership) – but I have to admit, the model does look amazing!

Finally, some shoe porn of the highest order from Nicholas Kirkwood. I could have spent half an hour playing with these alone. If ever there was a case for shoes as art work, here it be. I once called Kirkwood’s designs ‘pure joy on a hoof’ and after seeing them in person, I stand by that description!

Of course, they’re far too beautiful for me to ever actually want to wear, as opposed to bring out the closet to stroke lovingly in times of sadness – as if I’d ever be able to afford a pair anyway!

So there you have it… amazing designer dresses are amazing. Not that amazing. But still amazing enough.

Atelier Versace Exhibition, Pacific Place: Gonna dress you up in my love!

I love beautiful dresses. I love seeing them, buying them, wearing them and, as this blog proves, writing about them too! Sadly, with the most beautiful designer dresses worn by the most beautiful celebrities, that’s about as close as I get – seeing them on a computer screen and then detailing my lust in writing afterwards. But not anymore…

Kawai Wong, the lovely Shopping & Style Editor of Time Out Hong Kong, tipped off her followers on Twitter that there would be a mini Atelier Versace exhibition in Pacific Place shopping mall. I made a mental note and promptly forgot all about it but as chance would have it, I just happened to be in Pacific Place that weekend – and thank God I was. Because I got to see some of those beautiful dresses that I had previously only written about IN PERSON. And they were BREATH-TAKING.

Apologies for all the caps but as you can see from the photos, upper-case in this case is totally deserved!

I squealed with delight when I saw this stunning  gown that I adored on Charlize Theron at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party standing there in all its glory right in front of my eyes! This was my favourite gown of the lot simply because I remembered writing how much I loved it – and there it was!

Even on the mannequins, everything draped just so and looked utterly beautiful. This gown was worn by Eva Mendes at the Rome Film Festival last year. I didn’t really like the dress in photos but up-close, all the detailing was just exquisite. What was missing was the gorgeous sense of movement that Eva managed to create but I think this proves just how much a million flash bulbs wash out a dress, as it was much more of a vibrant tan colour in person.

This cobalt beauty was worn by Jessica Alba at this year’s Baftas and was another one I wrote about! She worn it sans feathers but this was every bit as vividly gorgeous in person. I love how effortlessly flowing it is.

This cascading grey ombre dress hasn’t been worn by anyone famous – yet! Love the cut-out detail on the back too. Stunning. By now, I was nearly going into seizure at being close enough to touch these gowns. Waaaah… just one stroke!

Fan Bing Bing’s ruffled purple gown (as worn at the Cannes Film Festival, which marked the beginning of many of our style crushes on The Bingster) was probably the true show-stopper of the collection. It was just so big, pouffy and spectacular in real-life. Again, the detail of all those flounces was just amazingly lush up-close. It was so delicate yet dramatic and that skirt looked like it was made up of crush flower petals. Divine.

There was lots of ‘oh my God’-ing and longing sighing that my boyfriend didn’t totally understand but ugh, I need more of these exhibitions in my life! Just five dresses isn’t enough! Hurry up and get that Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty show on the road to Hong Kong please!

Atelier Versace Exhibition, Pacific Place mall, Admiralty

Red Carpet Rundown: I ♥ Kate Middleton/Duchess of Cambridge/Princess Kate

There was a time when I didn’t even like Kate Middleton much. I even preferred Prince Harry’s spunkier beau, Chelsea Davy, because she actually seemed to be doing something with her life, as opposed to just hanging around with immaculate hair waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question.

How times have changed.

Now I can’t get enough of Princess Kate. Thankfully, the media can’t either, so I have been happily gorging on photos of her daily thanks to Wills & Kate’s Great North American Adventure. And now I don’t just want her hair… I want her wardrobe too!

Kate’s style has been criticised as ‘boring’, but I can’t remember the last time I didn’t think she looked lovely. Isn’t it refreshing to see a young woman in the public eye who isn’t slavishly following every trend going or trying to reveal as much boob as possible? Kate’s style is elegant, refined and obviously, totally her own. No stylist required.

Obviously, being a royal means there’s some element of conservatism to her look – yes, wah wah wah, she has to wear skin-coloured tights but frankly, she wears them so well that I’m considering buying some! Yet she still looks young and fresh, un-stuffy and gorgeous – and I suppose being in love with the future King of England helps too.

My favourite looks from the North American tour are numerous… so this post is as much for my personal squee-ing viewing pleasure as for yours.

I knew it was going to be a good few weeks when Kate’s first look was this navy lace shift dress from Erdem. Subconsciously, I’d been longing for Kate to wear Erdem since… well, forever. Erdem does lacy florals in a way that is so far away from grannie’s doilies and cushion covers that you’ll forget chintz even existed; instead, they’re contemporary, chic and oh-so-breathtakingly pretty dresses every time. I LOVE this dress. I want it. You’ll hear this phrase a lot this post.

The marriage made in heaven (and I’m talking Kate & Erdem, not Kate & Wills!) continued with this second Erdem dress. This time it’s a more vibrant shade of royal blue, a colour we’ve seen Kate wear a lot recently, obviously purely coincidentally setting off that engagement ring. Again, I love it. I want it less than the navy one though. The navy was just SO effortlessly classy yet still a little bit sexy. This is beautiful though. See what I mean? Modern yet conservative and still young and fresh. Delightful.

Another designer that Kate should wear more of is Jenny Packham. Packham is actually British-born, yet has so far received more attention from young American starlet types who are drawn magpie-esque to her sparkly feminine designs (see Emma Roberts, Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus, Jayma Mays and Sandra Bullock). This is also an excuse for me to shoehorn in my second-favourite Princess Kate look of all time (second to THE wedding dress, obvs) courtesy of Ms Packham from the ARK Gala – delicate blush colour, shimmering silver sequins, a floating romantic princess dream topped off with ribbons on her shoes. She looked stunning in every single photo, from every single angle – the power of a totally magical dress.

But back to the dresses from the tour. They’re just such a perfect fit for Kate. Delightful, charming and pretty, simple yet with an easy sophistication. She got a bit windswept in the primrose yellow frock so I’m hoping this will get another Reiss engagement dress re-run because it’s utterly gorgeous. Easy and breezy without a Covergirl advert in sight. It’s a shame Kate tends towards nudes and neutrals as colours like this really light her up. She looks years younger. Adorable.

Similarly, she should totally wear more prints. She can carry them off – and so easily too! Ideally, she needs to amalgamate these two looks and do *quelle horreur* a bright print! Baby steps, I know… This is yet another effortlessly gorgeous outfit and the print, in an array of pale neutral hues, is just beautiful, light and chic. I love the way those butterfly-like sleeves fall too. It’s the little details!

Onto the Alexander McQueens, forever destined to be overshadowed by THE wedding dress. Part of her duty as a royal is to champion British fashion so well done Kate for finding McQueen pieces that work with her sensibilities – and not only work, but weeerk (you know, said with a Tyra hip thrust or Mr Jay finger wag). This vaguely nautical-themed cream cable-knit dress is just that little bit quirkier than Kate’s usual choices; it was worn for her visit to the place where Anne Of Green Gables was set and she just looks… delightful. What’s the word count for that adjective already? Classic but cute. Hair up looks good too, huh?!

The biggie of the tour was this full-length lavender ball-gown with a crystallised waistband worn for the Baftas Brits To Watch event. If this isn’t a princess dress, I’m not sure what is. It looks like it was designed by Disney artists for that final romantic waltz in the clouds accompanied by the Disney choir reaching crescendo. The sparkly waist reminds me of the after-wedding McQueen gown, whilst accessories are strictly from the school of sparkly princess stuff too. It’s so soft and silky and swooning. On a night when Hollywood’s A-List were out strutting their stuff (and, in celeb anecdote gold, J.Lo was apparently shoving Mary Louise Parker out the way), Princess Kate wafted down the red carpet like she’s been doing it for years. Beautiful.

So these dresses are the proof why Kate should give colour a few more spins. Look how much brighter and vibrant and youthful she looks in these bold eye-popping shades. The purple Issa and green Diane Von Furstenberg are both very simple shapes that let the colour do all the talking – but it’s one hell of a conversation! Issa’s speciality is flattering shapes in vivid colours (remember the engagement announcement dress?) and this is no exception. I just wish I could make unforgiving jersey look this easy! Meanwhile, it’s always been one of my aims in life to buy myself a DVF – the designer has a reputation for making flattering, quality clothing for women of any age in all kinds of lively prints and colours. This is just selling the brand to me even more.

One of my other favourites from the tour was rather understated and underrated. I’ve loved Roksanda Ilincic’s designs for a long time now – there’s just something about the way she drapes her fabrics that’s artful, interesting, tactile and feminine; structured but unstructured, if that makes sense. She isn’t afraid of a bright colour either and most of her pieces have an effortless grace to them, yet are still very modern. In short, Kate should be wearing this British designer much more! And also in short, I obviously want this lavender pale blue grey Peridot dress for my own. See that twist at the neckline? The way the material folds so beautifully around the figure? The way it just feels feather-light and delicate and dreamy yet could see you through practically any occasion? LOVE.

I have to mention the Reiss Nanette dress re-run too. It’s always endearing to see celebs wear outfits again – Camilla recently trotted out her entire wedding guest garb! – and it feels a very British thing too. It’s such a high-profile dress to recycle (worn for one of the official engagement photos) yet shows how much new life can be breathed into an outfit through stylish accessorising… and of course there’s the whole Canadian flag, red-and-white theme going on. The Lock & Co red maple leaf fascinator is charmingly quirky, the Lulu Guinness fan clutch is AMAZING and I want one, the maple leaf brooch borrowed from Her Majesty herself is a lovely touch and the ruby heels tie everything together. And the dress is still the very gorgeous clean crisp and modern thing it always was.

Finally, the Catherine Walkers, my least favourite of the favourites. For me, these are a little too mature for Kate yet still have some exquisite features about them. The dress-coat feels a little old-fashioned for Kate (I think it’s that heavy collar) but the shape of that full skirt is rather wonderful and I’m getting a cute Mary Poppins vibe off the whole outfit. Kate’s colouring actually suits red very well and I’d love to see her wear it more often.

The grey pencil dress is a little too formal – it feels too much like work-wear and consequently feels a little uptight. But the collar is very cute on Kate and from the back – well, it’s a whole much nicer, more interesting, more modern dress.

For those that can’t be bothered to traipse through 1500-odd words of fawning, here’s the short version: Princess Kate, I love you, can I have your clothes now please?

Awwwww…

Photos: Daily Mail, Just Jared, Go Fug Yourself, My Hollywood Life

Red Carpet Rundown: Met Gala 2011, The Best of the Rest

Oh my God, you guys! We made it! You made it! I made it! My final post on the Met Gala 2011. I thought the day would never come! All the rest of my posts were themed, but this is basically my brain throwing its arms up and saying ‘Enough!’

Emma Roberts in Michael Kors – Wow. For me, this is the best Emma Roberts has ever looked on the red carpet. Normally, her style is quite young and fresh but here she just oozes class, sophistication and maturity. I love the sneaky cut-out exposing just the tiniest ray of flesh – so sexy but still elegant. The hair is Kate Middleton perfect and the contrast vamp of the red nails is just the frosting on top of the cupcake.

Kristen Bell and Isla Fisher in Tory Burch – Two of my favourite girls in two of the most boring dresses. They don’t do anything much wrong but they don’t do anything much right either. That puff of smoke is me forgetting about them already.

Ginnifer Goodwin in Topshop – Some folk are up in arms that Ginnifer dared to wear Topshop to the Met. Did these people stop and actually look at the dress?! Honestly, if they weren’t told, I doubt they’d guess this wasn’t couture; it more than holds it own against the other gowns, if not bettering most of them. An amazing striking emerald green, a fantastic cut and all being sold with utter conviction by Ginnifer, who makes it look couture-worthy. I get a real Studio 54 vibe from this dress, the kind of thing Jerry Hall might have seduced Mick Jagger with on a yacht party. Arguably the matching necklace and eye make-up are slight overkill and I’m not sure what’s going on with the orthopaedic sandal, but the dress itself is a winner. [Meanwhile, the one no-one cares about from Gossip Girl also wore Topshop and instead looked like she took a wrong turn on her way to Gatecrasher.]

Evan Rachel Wood in Gucci Premiere – The gown is gorgeous. A wonderful, rarely-seen smoky aubergine colour, with a smattering of tasteful sparkle and a truly beautiful unusual neckline. But what’s with the Tin Tin quiff? There’s something about Wood that I just can’t get fully on board with; I find her persona quite contrived and vaguely smug, unlike say Dita Von Teese or Gwen Stefani who often do the 1950s screen siren too and feel like they’re living it rather than just playing a part. Sad to say Evan herself is the only thing stopping me from fully loving this look.

Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley in Burberry – It’s pink. It’s shiny. It’s tacky. But it’s Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley. And so it just became fabulous.

Dianna Agron in Michael Kors – On Through The Looking Glass, you’ve seen me fall in love with Dianna’s exquisite elegant Waspy style… and then rapidly fall out of love with it but a few weeks later. Well, I’m back on board with this baby! It’s a departure from her usual tea-dress and princess-hair combinations but this sort of chic simplicity suits her. A striking colour, an unusual neckline, an outfit-elevating gold cuff (less Wonder Woman, more Greek goddess) and whoever made the decision to pull that hair back into a sleek ponytail absolutely deserves an extra chocolate digestive with their cuppa tonight.

Lea Michele in Escada – Lea usually brings the drama to match her diva reputation but this gown is doing nothing for me… or her. The neckline is odd to the point of looking a little evil and stabby, the shape is too standard in a night of show-stealing gowns and even she looks rather unconvinced by it all. Fabulous clutch though.

Frieda Pinto in Chanel – I’ve not liked a single Chanel look this Met Gala (Kirsten Dunst, Blake Lively, Anna Wintour), although Frieda is just about radiant enough to make this look not as spectacularly stupid an idea as a skinny tie over a slinky gown should be. That neckline is unusual and beautiful enough to not need the tie frippery but now all I can think about when I see it is Avril Lavigne. And me thinking about Avril Lavigne is not conductive to me having any positive emotions whatsoever. Everything else about the look – the hair, the red lips, the fluidity of the fabric – is fantastic yet the tie?! Even a badly-dressed Apprentice candidate would shudder.

Michelle Williams in Miu Miu – The last time we saw Michelle Williams, she was wearing a shower curtain and not wearing a bra so just about anything would be an improvement on that. As it is, I think this is gown is actually rather wonderful. The gold swallow embroidery is done just the right amount without starting to look like a scene from The Birds and works to enhance rather than smother what is essentially an immaculately-cut black gown. Still hate the frumpy and middle-aged hair but I’ll take the dress to go, thanks!

Kristen Stewart in Proenza Schouler – I defended Kristen through the dark days where she’d scuttle down the red carpet like she was Viola from The Incredibles and now look… she’s smiling, no longer a hunchback and what’s this, maybe even a hint of red carpet posing too?! I’m so proud! I always prefer Kristen’s edgier ensembles to when she tries (and generally fails) to play it safe so this Proenza Schouler is a very good choice for her, with red and black always looking great against her colouring. Overall, I think it’s a really clean, modern, funky look (and I’ve obviously got an obsession with cuffs creeping in as I love them here too) – and for that reason, I wish it stopped somewhere nearer the knee area. But I’m more excited about seeing Kristen pull S-bends, smizing and giving fierce eyes in the near future. Too soon??

Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott – I love this dress on Amy; she looks about five thousand feet tall in this photo! I’ve not always been a fan of L’Wren Scott’s designs, as I feel the demure lengths and cuts tend to age some wearers, but this is great. The colour might be pretty delicate blush but the print is something a little more savage – it reminds me of the wild garden of thorns that Prince Philip had to hack his way through to awaken Sleeping Beauty with true love’s kiss. Connection to my (joint) favourite Disney movie of all-time? Check. Worn by a real-life Disney princess? Check again. All this, plus a disarmingly lovely milkmaid braid? How could I not love it?!

Isabel Lucas in Louis Vuitton – I like the dress, it’s a zingy watermelon colour that pops against the rest of proceedings, the pleating is pretty and those little gold bow-shaped studs are super-cute. But no-one’s looking at the dress. They’re looking at the bizarre virgin sacrifice adornment perched on top of Isabel’s head. Never has Coco Chanel’s advice about looking in the mirror and taking one piece off seemed more apt. And no, Isabel, before you start trying to put down that gorgeous gold ingot of a bag – it’s the headdress that needs to go! But practically the only thing I remember Isabel for – and it certainly ain’t her films – is always having one piece of utter insanity about her look, be it a sweatband, a strange hat, floral harem pants, odd coloured tights, eyebrows the wrong colour and, most memorably, a parasol. Charming or infuriating, it is her USP and let’s face it, a starlet needs one these days. It’s more than Kate Bosworth’s got anyhow.

The Olsens in Givenchy & Christian Dior – One day, the world will wake up and realise that the Olsen twins have been playing out a real life re-telling of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I don’t “get” Chloe Sevigny or Alexa Chung’s style, but I sort of understand why people do. But the Olsens? They generally look old – great-grandma made homeless and smelly old – with minor drug addict undertones. I also do not know which one is which and don’t wish to waste valuable seconds of my life in finding out so let’s just say that the one in the shapeless red designer potato sack looks better, basically just because she doesn’t look ill. The other one is wearing Barbara Cartland armbands as a style statement and looks like she has consumption. I’m sure they’re really nice people in real life…

Christina Hendricks in Carolina Herrera – I can’t remember the last time I saw Christina look good in anything other than a publicity shot for Mad Men. Suffice to say, adress with  a Dulux colour chart as its bodice and a really ugly oil painting that used to hang in my house as its bottom, is not going to break that chain. I’m intrigued by how they’ve managed to put sleeves on what the fashion gods surely intended to be a strapless sleeveless dress, but intrigued in a way that I want it solving on How 2 rather than in a ‘Wow, isn’t that fabulous way!’ way. Her skin looks beautiful though.

Zoe Saldana in Calvin Klein – And here’s how to do simple but stunning. This lemon yellow simple shift is like a palette cleanser to all the insanity that has gone before it and Zoe just looks like she’s skipped right out of a spring meadow smelling of daisies. I love the carefree cascading hair whilst the addition of a gold necklace peps up proceedings a little. It helps that no-one else wore this colour and that no-one else dared to play it quite this minimalist but when you’ve got a gorgeous girl in a gorgeous dress, very little can go wrong.

Kerry Washington in Escada – Did I mention that I like turquoise? Lucky Kerry therefore gets an easy pass for this relatively uncomplicated outfit, although those ultra-slimming cut-outs are a neat touch. Is the sea-foam shade plus the bubblegum pink lipstick plus the Monica humidity hair a bit too beach-ready? Oh screw it, her little Borrower clutch bag is too cute. Run by quick, before I change my mind.

Michelle Monaghan in Derek Lam – Is it me or has having a fringe completely changed Michelle Monaghan’s face? I showed some pictures of her plus bangs to my boyfriend and he swore that it wasn’t her. This gown is pulling a Zoe Saldana on me in making its minimalism work by way of a strong colour, although I like the shape less than Saldana’s. I’d even call it slightly austere-looking were it not for the fact that it is in bubblegum pink and calling anything bubblegum pink austere is just plain ridiculous. But the colour looks great against her hair and I love the contrast of the dark nails too. Am I still not convinced that this is Michelle Monaghan? Totally.

Elizabeth Banks in Tommy Hilfiger – I’ve mentioned a few times how Elizabeth Banks does absolutely nothing for me and yet every time I’ve featured her, she has duly decided to look stunning. Maybe I should send some curses Christina Hendricks’ way instead. This dress is just gorgeous. It’s that really yellow shade of gold that just looks so new and shiny and Midas-kissed that it bypasses all my vital senses and speaks straight to my inner Abu (you know, when he stuffs all the treasure down his top in the cave in Aladdin). Hair, make-up, jewellery – all flawless, all 50s screen siren worthy. So could you at least look happy about it, love?

Joy Bryant & Margherita Missoni in Missoni – Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, you are seeing knitwear at the Met Gala. Of course, colourful knitwear that looks like a Magic Eye painting is Missoni’s calling card (and yes, that is the second time I’ve name-checked Magic Eyes in these posts, high five!) so we shouldn’t really expect anything else from the designer. Joy’s still feels a little too casual, although I would definitely be interested in tasting the tropical cocktail that it was inspired by. Meanwhile, I am slightly in love with Margherita’s gown, a pretty pastel concoction that reminds me of Easter eggs. I’d change the slightly cheap-looking belt and give her a more romantic playful hair-do but otherwise, I’m picking Easter eggs over a Singapore Sling. Who’d have thunk?

Mila Jovovich & Anouck Lepere in Marni – The jury’s out on whether these dresses are a little too casual for the Met Gala but I really like both of them nonetheless. As ever, Mila is badass and WORKING hers like it’s the only LBD worth owning (and that embroidery is sooo pretty) whilst I love how Anouck has accessorised hers. It turns a dress with a print that looks like corporate artwork into something very funky and fashion and her loose waves are glorious. I actually want to wear both of these dresses, which despite my love for it, is not something I could say about Christina Ricci’s cobwebby confection.

Karlie Kloss & Angela Lindvall in Dior – Karlie Kloss is allegedly only 17 and gets to wear a stunning, gold, glittery Dior dress and look more self-assured and confident than most people in their thirties. (Angela Lindvall doesn’t look too shabby either.) Life sometimes really does seem unfair, right?!

P.S. Since I normally split my posts into favourites but haven’t here, plus you know I love lists, here’s my best-dressed from the event: 1) Gisele Bundchen 2) Diane Kruger 3) Liv Tyler 4) Chanel Iman 5) Christina Ricci, with honorable mentions going to Hilary Rhoda, Karolina Kurkova, Emma Roberts, Madonna, Zoe Saldana and SJP. And now I really am DONE!

Pictures: Just Jared, Style.com, Look.co.uk, Socialite Life, Huffington Post Style