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Haute So Fabulous

The HSF Holiday Guide; From Me to Him

Rebecca O'ByrneComment

From Me to Him, With Love

Finding something wonderful for the men in our lives can be a difficult task at the best times. Whether it's our boyfriends or husbands, sons, brothers or Dads, we all seem to come up against similar problems; they simply don't need or want for much - or at least they don't leave as many hinds as we do (CC your own Santa list wishes from out Gift Guide to Her here). Yet it's that time of year again to come up trumps in terms of what to leave the one you love under the tree this year and in our belief that shopping should be easy and fun, here's our list of what's hot for the men in your life!


Javier Martin, The Interview

LifeRebecca O'Byrne1 Comment

Javier Martin, a multi-disciplinary contemporary artist, is on a mission to break boundaries and have us question, as a society, who we are and what we believe in. Politically and ethically charged, his deeper meaning approach to art and each of his collections to date was born of a life-long devotion to his passion which has seen him grow from is first exhibition at the tender age of eight back in Spain where he grew up, to showing at galleries an museums around the world. As a true artist, his limitless attitude sees him continuously evolve on his personal journey, which he allows be defined by one thing only: the message he wishes to bring to life. 

Javier has been working on his current collection 'Blindness' for a collective 10 years. It is here he tests the limits we place on ourselves in terms of defining beauty and what is has come to mean in a world that tolerates nothing less than perfect. Here we speak to Javier about his discovery of art, the importance of expression and his devotion to eliciting a more curious culture that seeks answers instead of following conventional standards. 

Javier, tell us a little about your journey into the art world...

I began painting in oil colors when I was seven years old, and my first show was for the CAJA Madrid Young Artist Award at nine. I have always worked in a creative way because art is my passion.

At what point did your passion, that clearly started so young, turn to something you were making a living from?

I never made a conscious decision to become a professional artist. Everything progressed in a very natural way. I have always lived for my art, and one day you wake up and realize this has turned into a career. This did not happen overnight though; I have been making art for over 20 years. For me, art is something that lives inside of you. Art is my whole life.

Your current collection, 'Blindness’ is captivating not only for it’s beauty but it’s deeper meaning.. can you share what this collection is about?

For ten years, I have analyzed society’s actions, explored superficial perceptions of what is beautiful and valuable, and questioned the theory of genuine beauty and truth. I transform and deconstruct this idea of manufactured perfection used in advertising to explore the warped notions of beauty and value. In my work, I always conceal the eyes. Eliminating one’s most compelling and expressive tool to me is representative of how society’s triviality blinds us and takes us further from what is truly important.

Do you feel being untrained - in the traditional sense of having studied art at college - has allowed you express yourself more freely as an adult artist, and in fact allowed you to remain uninhibited and limitless as the writer of your own story?

I do. I don’t subscribe to one specific style or medium. My focus is on communicating a message. My first contact with art was when I was seven and began painting in oil colors. In that class, my instructor gave me the freedom to experiment. I never painted to recreate an image like the rest of the students but painted what I saw in my mind or my emotions. From the moment I discovered art.

That was my only formal art training, as I did not have the opportunity to study art as I began working at a young age and I now apply the skills I’ve acquired to creating art. Travelling, visiting museums, meeting people around the world was my education. And still is. I believe art is synonymous with freedom. Art isn't above anyone or anything. That's the beautiful thing about art because it allows people to see things from different perspectives.

 As an artist, how do you bridge the gap between the freedom of creativity and the restraints of consumerism?

I don’t feel those restraints on my freedom of creativity. I focus on making what I want and, if anything, consumerism is a source of inspiration for me. I base my art on my observations of society, what I create invites the viewer to think critically and reflect on the issues I believe are especially prevalent. Everything from consumerism, immigration, war, the game of politics and everything in between. I don’t criticize anything but merely put two realities together, and people can form their own opinion. Art has a purpose and should not just be beautiful. As an artist, I have responsibilities. I have the mission to say something meaningful.

 ‘Lies and Light’, one of your performance art pieces was revived with high regard, take us through the process of bringing such a performance together..

For many years I have been attracted to the idea of fully immersing myself into my work, creating something where I am completely present. With performance art it's interesting because it's art created at that moment and then it disappears forever, only the people present with you at that time get to keep a piece of the art. It’s something incredibly intimate and changed how I approach my work.

When I had the opportunity to do something like this, I decided to take all of my personal experiences and battles and transform them into a performance, connecting them to my Blindness concept and my work with lights. I felt very vulnerable when performing the piece, but I also a strange sense of power and release.

Can you tell us about your studio and take us through your creative processes there?

I look at my studio as my temple. Sometimes, I will just go there and walk around, clean things, move things around as if in a trance. Other times I will go with a clear idea and work until it’s complete. But usually, I am working on multiple projects.

Do you ever struggle with creative blocks?

I usually don’t because my mind is continually working and thinking. I have a book where I keep all of my ideas. Typically when I have an idea in my mind, I take out my book and write it all down. The problem is the battle of when I have the energy and the time to make the idea a reality.

Where do you find yourself most inspired? And by whom?

Every moment I live and experience is essential, but it’s interesting because I am often the inspired when I am by myself either immersed in nature or lost in my studio amongst my materials. It’s in those moments that I don’t have anything to distract me, I can reflect, and regain my balance. I grew up in Marbella next to Malaga the city where Picasso was born. He was one of the first artists I connected with when I was very young. Another artist who inspires me is Maurizio Cattelan as his art carries strong messages meant to revolutionize society. But everyday people and our culture inspire me the most because it’s the basis for so much of my work.

 To what do you attribute your success thus far?

Three words. Consistency, time, and passion. Over the years, I have never lost focus, passion or my ideas. No one is going to fight for you or pave the way for you. You need to find your truth because that’s the only weapon you have to fight. I believe and trust in myself.

What exhibitions are currently catching your attention in terms of contemporary art?

The Michelangelo Pistoletto’s retrospective at Blenheim Palace.
Ai Weiwei’s latest city-wide public art installation ‘Good Fences Make Good Neighbors’ with Public Art Fund.
Daniel Arsham’s first solo show in Russia ‘Architecture in Motion’, at the VDNH's "Karelia" Pavilion.

What is it that you want people to take from your work?

I want people to take a minute and just think. We often do not not wish to see our reality and are blinded by so many different things within our society, there is nothing more dangerous than to lose the window to your interior and only focus on the superficial. Self-reflect and find who we truly are inside and what we really want from this life.

 How does your art play a part in social change do you think and in essence pave the way forward for greater expression and less insecurity?

My focus is always on sending a message, the important thing for me is to make people think and reflect on where we are now as a society. I love the idea of changing the standards of beauty. I believe we still have a lot of work to do before we start to embrace everyone, not for their similarities but for their differences. I hope that the message in my art can help at least one person discover their light and the freedom that comes with it. As an artist I have responsibilities, I believe through my art I can change the world.

There a recurring thread of personal philosophy to each of your creations..

Yes, I want to express something powerful and meaningful because art has purpose and power, so it should not just be beautiful.
However, we live in a very superficial world, so I often use beautiful things to draw people in, because if it's disturbing, people tend to look the other way. My Blindness Collection is an example of this. At the end of the idea, we are all the same and dealing with many of the same challenges. Everyone possesses their own unique beauty. But what's most important is who a person is, what they think, feel, and believe.

What has been your greatest challenge to date and how have you dealt with it?

Fighting all of my life to become an artist and to be free from this system laid out by society. But believing in myself, listening to my interior and having a clear vision of the path laid out in front of me has really helped. No one is going to fight for you or pave the way for you. You need to find your truth because that is the only weapon you have to fight. I believe and trust in myself, I pick myself up every time I fall, and I always continue on my path. That is the only way to keep a dream alive.

And your proudest moment?

Seeing myself and my work in a museum for the first time. Earlier this year, I presented a video art of my first performance piece 'Lies and Light' in the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. Interacting with the people of that city and realizing that what I do as an artist has power, through my art I can affect change and accomplish my goals. I continue to learn about myself every day and the things I am capable of doing.

If you had one more hour in your day how would you spend it?

I would spend it creating and making art.



Richard Malone, The Interview

Style, LifeRebecca O'ByrneComment
Richard Malone

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins just three years ago, there is something extraordinary about Richard Malone and his impeccably chic yet distinctly powerful impact on the fashion industry thus far. 

The designer, born and raised in Co. Wexford, Ireland, is a true talent and beyond having mastered pattern cutting and a flair for seriously original creations, he possess a refreshingly humble approach to his success thus far, not forgetting the pressures designers face in the ‘real world’ today. Living in a time where the designer is glorified as a celebrity in their own right, his sole aim is admirable as it is discerning and quite simply put, is to design clothes for a generation under pressure; bringing about a sense of authenticity and threading through each collection a feeling of what’s truly important. 

With a mission to change the way we look at fashion - all while remaining far from airbrushed front pages and filtered Instagram feeds - this young designer has an array of accolades under his belt including LVMH’s honourable Grand Prix scholarship, the Deutsche Bank Award for Fashion (previously won by Christopher Kane) alongside being considered one of the Best young Artists under 25 in the UK by the BBC.

His collections have been received with high regard from the influences of international press and have appeared in some of the most respected publications worldwide from LOVE and Dazed, British Vogue and WWD to AnOther and Interview. 

Malone’s collections are stocked at some of the globe’s most prolific stores including Brown Thomas in Dublin, Selfridges in London and Joyce in Hong Kong.

In conjunction with and with sincere gratitude to Kildare Village, I chatted to Richard about his path to date and his recent undertaking as judge at Kildare Village’s Racing Colours Competition. The winner, Kate McGowan has been awarded a year long internship with him at his London studio and with Richard Malone as a mentor we’re sure Kate’s name is one you’ll want to know in the very near future..

Richard, you’re currently one of Ireland’s most prolific young designers with many accolades to your credit thus far. Where did your love of design begin?

I feel like it has always been there but perhaps a bit more abstract in the beginning. I was constantly drawing or sculpting - making anything from anything really so it was probably very obvious I would end up doing something creative, even though we haven't any other artists or designers in the family. Working with my Dad on building sites from a very young age and also being forced to wear a school uniform made me very aware of different types of dressing - things like functionality, conformity, how clothes can construct parts of an identity etc. Originally I was doing sculpture and performance before a tutor introduced me to Central Saint Martins and I thought I’d better go there even though I had no fashion experience and art at my school was completely shit. It was only when I did a short course in Waterford when I was 17 that a tutor introduced me to contemporary art, she was absolutely brilliant in pushing you outside your comfort zone and getting you back in line, she really made you take things seriously, her name was Anne O’Regan.

You’re incredibly open about your upbringing in Ireland with your current collection paying tribute to the work uniforms your Mum and other family members wore on a daily basis. Can you tell us a little about the process of each collection, from idea to customer.

I never try to focus on other references, looking at other designers or time periods etc - its such an easy formula. Originality is something I believe to be incredibly important, especially at a time when it is so lacking and so many seem so happy to conform, also we have a real problem with people from backgrounds like mine not having access to education. I really believe that your upbringing and surroundings are crucial to your identity as a designer, I’ve never tried to ignore where I’m from and luckily at Saint Martins it was really encouraged. My point of view is totally different as a result, and especially in an industry that is full of the upper class and extremely privileged. Theres something to be said for having to fight for your place, and I’m happy creating and working in the way I always have; essentially making something from nothing - its very creative and quite erratic, often creating forms away from the body and constant trials and errors. Its also super private and my working process/drawings and video works are never something I’ve allowed to be published although I’ve been lucky enough to have them collected by some amazing museums around the world. I’ve taught myself some quite extreme pattern cutting skills so I’m really proud that every piece that comes from the studio is pattern cut by me, as it's a skill that designers are losing all the time. People forget that creating garments is a skill, theres so much rubbish now thats made for Instagram, this front on image of a white teenage model that no woman can really relate to. Its really important to me that there is diversity in my casting for the shows, and that we aren't having negative conversations about womens bodies in the studio, or projecting negative ideals out there. I also hate that fashion is consumed as a front on image now, as opposed to being experienced. I alway design totally 3d, sometimes focusing silhouettes to the back or details all on the back of a garment, I really like when things don't register properly in those photos, as that's not their purpose for me.

Upon graduating from Central Saint Martins was it difficult to navigate the working world as a designer? In essence, to bridge that gap between the uninhibited world of creativity and the reality of making a living..

I was incredibly lucky on leaving Saint Martins. I’d already spent a year in the design team for Louis Vuitton in Paris and then came back for my final year, where I won the LVMH scholarship. It was my first time in uni that I didnt have to work 2 part time jobs to pay for it so I was just ploughing through all this work I would have never had the time to do before between jobs, and we’re always in 7.30am-10pm at CSM.. I think because I’d already been at Vuitton, which is fashions biggest company so I knew the inner workings of a corporate beast and I knew I couldn't really be part of that machine for any longer, its just a system that at its very core I despise, even though I absolutely loved the people I worked with it was just too much ‘stuff’. The day after I graduated CSM I was lucky enough to have two amazing job offers from huge houses in Paris who’s creative directors were changing hands, I met with both teams but said no to each one, even though everyone thought I was insane. I knew after final year and that accomplishment that I should just do my own thing and always stick to my guns. Creativity is now at the core of everything I do, I get to work on a tonne of projects and commissions that you would miss out on if you worked at a huge company, and working with private clients and working on your own terms is so much more rewarding. Everything is a risk but every accomplishment feels magnified because you did it entirely off your own back.

Working at a large fashion house can be restricted I would imagine, it’s not the designers who direct but rather the businessmen who need to see the return. Time at Louis Vuitton was clearly a hug3e learning curve but what was the greatest lesson you learned at such a huge house?

The power of saying no. Designers are expected to jump up and down for these companies but you have to give yourself some worth. I’ve been lucky to have that experience with Vuitton for over a year and I've consulted for some big brands since - there are times that are brilliant and obvious perks but it all depends on your mindset and your personality. At the end of the day I’ve never had money, I didnt grow up with money or excess so making decisions based on how much money I’ll get from it has never appealed to me, the cash reward doesnt interest me one bit, and some of these companies will throw money at designers but they just don't know the value in having creative freedom. I actually find it so weird when I go into a Vuitton store and you see things you've designed selling to thousands, well more like hundreds of thousands of people, it doesn't feel very personal or special, it's just product after product after product and nothing like I’d design for myself. These luxury brands have really killed what those namesakes originally stood for, I bet they'd turn in there graves seeing how these beautiful artisinal pieces have been reduced to something similar to a pound shop find but with a massive mark up. I mean Vuitton was never a fashion brand until the 90s, its bizarre that they do eight shows a year now really. It taught me much being there. If you figure out what you actually want to be doing decisions become extremely easy. At the end of the day creatives are the bread and butter of all of these companies, the business men know strategy and market but have zero taste or initiative. It's the same as all of these ‘business’ fashion brands like The Row and Victoria Beckham, they are not designers but brands, and there is a real difference between a designer and a brand - anyone with money can start a brand and hire the right people but you know something personal and raw and real when you see it, it doesn't need an explanation. The best lesson is to have balls and work harder. 

Now that you’re well established with your own design house, how do you find or create that much-needed assurance between creativity and consumerism?

I’m very lucky to work with some incredible private clients who respond to the most creative pieces, and they've been selling really well since my graduate collection. I think when you are doing something creative and have an identity you’ll always have a customer. When you start doing bullshit cap sleeved shift dresses then you're up against every other brand with bullshit cap sleeve shift dresses. The reason I started my own brand was so I could avoid the easy selling crap, I also never work in black which scares some stores, but I just don't - I also don't own anything black, I have a complete aversion to it.

What does a day in the life of Richard Malone look like?

Hectic. It peaks sometimes around showtimes or when I have particularly hectic deadlines. Like at the minute I’m working on a project in the states so in the last 2 weeks alone I’ve been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico, New York, Ireland for a day, back to London and now I’m in India looking at some sustainable production and development techniques. But everyday is totally different so there is never really a typical day as such, if I had a routine I’d get bored too easily. Except on Fridays and Saturdays you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be watching RuPauls Drag Race somewhere. I’m also obsessed with dogs so anytime I can be around dogs I’m pretty much there.

Where do you find yourself most inspired? And by whom?

Anywhere, although I do love Wexford when I’m home as its so relaxing and so far from everything else. My family and my grandmother are always very inspiring because they don't give a shit and know how to have laugh, everything is a joke and its always great to be around that. 

It’s an admirable trait in a designer to leave behind the trappings of the fantastical and bring about a foundation of the everyday in their designs. Your humility and lack of vanity in your work is beautiful and very much reflects that value. Is that a conscious direction you’re taking? 

Not necessarily, I mean some clothes I design to be extremely functional, some are more like limited and one off pieces or ‘museum’ pieces, there has to be a balance - if I did 10 extreme sculptural pieces I’d be equally as bored as doing 10 pairs of flares.

Taking into account the world of social media and the pressures on designers these days to share their every move in the attaining of celebrity status themselves, how do you deal with such pressures and where do your values stand on the world as it is today?

I ignore it completely. Social media can be a good thing in terms of transparency or rallying for elections, but its so fake and forced the majority of the time. If it's proven anything to me its how bored most of the world is and also how there is such a lack of individual identity now - I mean what is with this bizarre contouring make up? And everyone trying to look like a Kardashian? Or Gucci making collection after collection that looks like any charity shop find with a logo on it, it's actually mortifying. Its really shown me that most people are sheep and we have to fight against that, having an individual taste is dying so quickly, I mean how many posts can there be about a minging Chanel bag thats been around for 60 years or how clever someone is for rolling up there fake worn in jeans to show off some Stan Smiths, it's sometimes plain stupid. I just hate the idea of making money out of someones insecurities, because at the root of it thats what it really fosters and its a bit of an epidemic. A place where people can boast about shit and make a fake personality they spend all day hiding in their real lives. We have to remember how to have conversations and stop using it as a distraction - get out and talk to people. I’m the same as my Mam in a way, if you even take to your phone at dinner with me I lose my mind, although my Mam would probably throw something at you. 

In a natural evolution, designers tend to find their own signature inclinations as each collection accumulates over time. How do you ensure your collections remain fresh and never become stale to your customers?

Keep honest, work hard, only listen to the few people you trust.

Do you have a mentor and what has been the greatest learnings up to this point that you hold on to?

I have a small group of people who's opinion I really, truly value, my boyfriend is one of them. We actually met before applying for Saint Martins and we both applied and got accepted, the odds of that happening were crazy and the odds of us both coming out the other side unharmed and not psychologically damaged are almost unheard of. He’s a genuinely brilliant artist and is always by my side and vice versa. His work is so intelligent and sophisticated its inspires an awful lot of people. Also my family, my grandmother is brilliantly honest and incredibly creative - she's constantly busy painting or making photo books or getting back to her countless friends, she's 83 and slaying life basically. I've never come across someone that age with such a modern take on life. I’ve also a couple of close friends who are also artists and some of my incredible tutors from Saint Martins who have since retired. Other than that I rely on myself for most things. 

Do you have a life motto that you live by?

Not really, although I’d never base a decision on money, it's the most useless thing.

Your pieces have been worn by some incredibly famous people and shot in the world’s most influential magazines. What does it mean to you to have that recognition and ultimately, who is your ideal customer?

I think its nice but I don’t place much real value on that side of things. Press has never really interested me and although my works been in all of these incredible magazines I dont really read fashion magazines at all. The recognition is lovely and much appreciated but I think learning to critique your own work and value it differently and individually is more important, away from current trends that don’t relate to it. Being nominated for designer of the year at the Design Museum this year was really incredible and so unexpected - it was really surreal seeing it in the exhibition, I also have a really exciting museum project coming up in New York that I feel so honoured to be a part of. Seeing your clothes worn and lived in by women who inspire you is the most rewarding thing - from Bjork and Roisin Murphy to some incredible artists, collectors and gallerists, you get to learn from them and have brilliant conversations about anything and everything, that's really my favourite thing. It's also really funny when I think that I made my first collection in the top of my Dad's shed in a tiny room and now the label is stocked all around the world, from 8 locations in America and Canada through to stores in South Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai and of course Europe. It's a bit mental.

You recently sat on the judging panel of The Racing Colours competition in association with Kildare Village. What was the like to reach a point where your opinion and level of excellence hold so much influence?

It's great and its nice to have really open conversations with other people in the industry. I think you learn that every opinion is important, and also that opinions are just opinions at the end of the day and they should never deter you from doing anything. You also realise there is so much support there if you look for it. I’ve tutored several times at Central Saint Martins since and its really quite a weird experience - I’m not even out of it three years yet, same as the judging, I just think that it's best to be totally and brutally honest and give the best feedback you can, that's the only way any of us learn. We all have to support each other at the end of the day and if there's a way I can help someone I certainly will. I also think what Kildare Village are doing in sponsoring students education, showing their work etc is really incredible and so so smart, that is really what is needed. Even through these internship programmes it's such a great way of getting these students and graduates into the industry, as obviously there is no fashion industry here that can create jobs and sustain lots of progress for designers. It breaks down that homogenised thing where only rich students can do internships, now it goes to the person with the most talent. You have these stores here who do pop up events for graduates and students but its completely self serving - it's a way of them making more money for themselves and promoting themselves in the right light whereas Kildare Village are willing to actually put the money on the table and get these students into education and show their work in real exhibitions, we need more of this - actual tangible support that will help these students succeed. I mean stores are only good if they have your customer and the customer base here is tiny. I’ve seen work here that I would never have really seen otherwise, and I can help people out as we’re all very closely connected in the fashion industry, I mean its tiny. If theres an opportunity for someone that I think suits whether its in Paris with one of the houses or with another young designer that I think they’d love I’ll definitely put them forward for it. 

What do you look for in young designers wishing to make their own mark?

Honesty and integrity, you also need to work fucking hard, like more-than-you-can-imagine hard. Designers are the most critiqued people in the whole industry, there's thousands of fashion graduates every year and hardly any jobs, like close to zero with the big houses. There are tonnes of rich privileged kids ready to intern for free so you better be doing something right to get your foot in the door. Have a point of view also, I’ve come across so many students who want to work at Celine or Dior, so they make a collection that looks like Celine or Dior and thats completely the wrong way to go about it, they already have teams of people to create that, what they need is a new voice and a new perspective.

I understand the winner of the competition, Kate McGowan will enjoy a stint of work experience with you in your studio in London, how did internships add to your own personal growth as a designer and what do you wish to give back to those who will in turn learn from you?

Yes they did, I helped out a lot of young labels and friends at CSM too. Internships are super important in understanding how this bizarre industry works and also finding your place within it, not everyone is a designer - in fact it's a very rare trait. I hope that they have fun in my studio, enjoy it enough to work hard at it and are committed to seeing it through - there is nothing worse than someone not wanting to be there, you usually end up doing them a favour and asking them to leave. It is important also to surround yourself with people who are passionate and excited about what there doing.

If you weren’t a world-famous designer, what do you think would fill your days?

Sculpting or painting, and walking and entertaining several dogs. I also read like crazy, so I would probably read even more.

Richard Malone
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Richard Malone Interview
Richard Malone Interview
Richard Malone Interview
Richard Malone Interview
Richard Malone

This publishing of this interview is with great thanks to Kildare Village.


Louise Roe Interview

LifeRebecca O'Byrne1 Comment

I am super-duper excited to start my brand new interview series here on Haute So Fabulous. I've forever been inspired by the study of prolific people and fascinated by how people make it in life. I find that no matter ones circumstances, career choices, family situation, location, success or anything else we 'judge' each other by, people are people and I love getting an insight into their thoughts and inspirations, what makes them tick and in essence what their take on the world around them is. It takes away the illusion of hierarchy. We can only live our own lives but it's so motivating and encouraging to gain another perspective and as we move forward on this Haute So Fabulous journey together I'm insanely excited to share with you some incredible people and their tales of successes through all the ups and down and the true living of and facing up to their challenges and triumphs!

First up is the incredible Louise Roe whom I had the privilege of interviewing recently. We were at Kildare Village in celebration of their SS17 collections which are so heartbreakingly stunning. You might have seen on my Snapchat and Instagram the lust worthy Versace white tailored suit and the beautiful pieces from Louise Kennedy that I adore, one such jacket is the beautiful cape Louise wears in these images. Things are being pared back this season and I'm so glad emphasis is being put back on investment pieces again. I'll be back in Kildare Village again soon so keep an eye out.. 

Getting to meet Louise was such a privilege, Louise is a world-famous blogger, author, presenter, woman's rights ambassador and behind all her successes and incredible victories to date, is one of the sweetest and most sincere people I've met to date. In a world where notions fly freely Louise is devoid of any airs or graces, her presence in person is sincerely endearing and she is exactly the cool, intelligent, fun and interesting person I imagined her to be.. 

I understand you studied English Literature in Durham as an undergrad at university, how did you then come to decide to work in fashion and how did that process occur?

Well I always loved fashion but I loved writing the most. My Dad is a travel journalist and his advise was always to get an academic degree, do history, do geography, do english, something and so as I always loved english it was a no-brainer for me. It wasn't like I suddenly finished college and found a brand new love with fashion, it was always part of the plan. I just wanted to get a degree in English Literature because I always loved english. Then I went to Elle Magazine and started writing in the features department and I got really bedazzled by all these beautiful shoes walking into the office everyday and wondered if I could combine writing with my obsession with fashion. And well, it turns out you can..

Yes it would appear so, and from your work Louise, very well.. Ok so, having worked in both print and online, where do you see the industry heading? In terms of so many brands turning more and more to digital the industry is changing dramatically and at such a fast pace, what are your thoughts?

It's an interesting question because like you, I love to open a magazine, it's such a different experience than clicking on a phone - or even an iPad - it's just a way of taking in information and I think editorial shoots are much more beautiful on paper. There are some magazines I hope will never go away like Vogue, W, I.D. As you know though Instyle print version closed at the end of last year and I was quite shocked actually. I don't think it'll be the last though and it's interesting to see the industry constantly change but I think you've just got to constantly choose to move with it and enjoy it and always be open to new things. It's about not being a stickler and embracing the changes.

Your Dad is a travel journalist, did you get to travel with him as a kid and what are your fondest memories of those time?

Yeah gosh cool question. I was so lucky as a kid and I had no understanding of it at the time. I remember we went to Jamaica during a school half-term and one of my girlfriends at the time was like "I don't believe you, don't be ridiculous you're definitely not going to Jamaica tomorrow.." and I was like yeah I really am. Seriously though I was so blessed and some of my favourites trips which I still love with my family today are when we go skiing together, not just because being in the mountains is so breathtaking but it's such a bonding time with your family. My Dad taught me to ski during those first times, my Mum was there too and those kinds of memories are forever precious. 

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date, career wise?

Writing a book. It was always an ambition and to hold that very first copy in my hands was a really cool moment. It took a lot of time, energy  and work, not to mention late nights. In America when I get interviewed about it, people ask me a lot whether I had a ghost writer and I'm like noooo, God of course not, I wrote every word. I’d never want someone else putting words to my mind.

On the topic of writing a book. It is in fact one of my own greatest dreams and ambitions. Do you have any tips for taking on such large projects?

Yes I have actually. Just start it. It's a very overwhelming thing to take on. You think “oh my GOD I’m about to write my book”.. but you’re not, you’ve got to break it down and make notes, starting with your proposal to your publisher. This has to be quite lengthy to get all the structure done and by the time you actually start it you’ve done all the leg work. And I used to keep this drawer, I still do for my next book in fact, full of ripped out bits from magazines and books full of thoughts, inspirations and all sorts of stuff so I have something too start with. From there you have great ideas to springboard off. 

What has been your greatest challenge to date and how have you dealt with it?

Well I find LA is great but living away from my family and friends - of course my husband is with me in LA - is perhaps the biggest thing I face. I am very very close to my family so I feel real torn and so do a lot of my friends who live in LA too. It's such a long distance to get home, it’s an eleven-hour plane ride so that’s a big challenge. I deal with it by trying to get home as often as I can and work trips even like this one I stay with my sister. You’ve just got to make the most of it and put the effort in to keeping touch with people. Modern technology makes that super easy though really. 

Is there any one in the industry that in your opinion we should have our eyes on as someone up-and-coming?

Great question. I’d say Jen Atkin for hair. She’s incredible and in fact she’s not even up-and-coming, she’s already doing really well but she’s someone I met even before I moved to LA and she took me under her wing and has not changed a bit, she’s so down-to-earth, so kind and caring. In terms of a style icon, I’d say Ruth Negga. She did so well at awards season this year and she’s just got it. You can tell when someone is being styled or has an eye themselves. She’s definitely got it. 

Do you have a mentor and if so what have been the top three pieces of advice they’ve given you in life?

Lots of people have definitely been mentors to me. One person who sticks in my memory and we’re still close, is Tasmina Perry - she’s actually a really famous novelist now but when I first met her she was deputy-editor of Instil Magazine. She gave me my first paid job and she’s just always pushing me and questioning me in all the right ways, getting my creative juices flowing and makes me feel like I can do more. Specific advice? Tasmina encouraged me to write my first book and she wants me to write a novel one day. She’s always encouraged me to network and taught me of the importance in always following up when you meet someone and getting their information. You don’t leave loose ends untied; you never know where those people could lead you to..

With all it’s pros and cons, social media these days can at times be a real pressure, the weight of having to constantly depict the picture-perfect life. Do you feel these pressures and how do you deal with them?

It's definitely a funny one. People always joke, “oh you’re not going to put the moment you’re really hungover or feeling awful up” and that is true but you might put it on InstaStory cause that’s a nice outlet for people to see the real you and when you’re messing around, it enables people to see your fun side too and see that you’re not just sitting pretty all day. But do I want to create beautiful images? well yes absolutely I do and with it I aim to give back in the best way possible with tutorials and tips - there is always a takeaway for people who read my blog, something they can put to action themselves and not just a pretty picture to look at. There is definitely a pressure but I am so lucky that I love what I do and that this is actually my job now. 

If you were to go and tell your younger self what not to do, what would that be and on that topic, do you have any advice for young girls coming through their teenager years and into their 20's? 

I feel like 80% of my career is giving advice to those young girls. When I hosted Plain Jane I didn’t realise the huge impact of it (actually fingers crossed we’re going to bring it actually which would be amazing). Women are all very different but the message on confidence is the same really and spending a week with each girl was one of the most powerful things I’ve done in terms of helping young women. It’s far deeper than just saying ’oh be more confident and believe in yourself’, everyone gets to that solid point in themselves in their own way. 

If I could go back though ummm.. well I mean I’m still a worrier and always worry about everything so I think I’d say to chill out and stop worrying, it’s never going to be as bad as you think at the time. I got bullied in High School pretty badly and only when I did Plain Jane did I realise there is a silver lining to times like that cause I could really help those girls from genuine experience - obviously it wasn’t a nice time for me but if I didn’t go through that I wouldn’t be able to give the advice in the same way. 

How do you balance work with personal life? Especially with social media being so demanding and instant..

I definitely don’t have it down fully and because Mackenzie and I work together a lot which is so great but it also means you don’t stop talking about it all or completely switch off so sometimes we just say ‘ok enough is enough’. I take personal time and do things for myself that I find relaxing, like a massage or a facial - things that are good for mind and body; I definitely love working out too, that’s one that is definitely about mind and not just body. A nice glass of wine is also always a good way to forget about work.. (giggles).

In building your own brand do you have a moral code that you you adhere to in terms of brands you will and will not work with?

I love that - moral code. That’s exactly what it is. Yes I do and it’s definitely not just with brands but also the things I say and the way I shoot. Each to their own of course and no judgement but you do get shocked by how sexual young girls are getting on Instagram and other social media platforms.. they’re like 16 and it’s dangerous. I’m very very conscious of the young women that follow me and to be called a role model is the biggest honour and responsibility so I’ll always be myself but I want to feel proud of the message I’m putting out there. It definitely relates to brands too - it has to work with my aesthetics and always has to feel right. Otherwise it’s forced and not authentic. 

I am in LA later this month, what are your favourite LA experiences?

Oh exciting. You should definitely go to dinner at a place called Eveleigh - it’s got a great atmosphere, amazing bar, a really interesting menu if you’re a foodie and great views if you’re outside. I’d go get a drink at the Sunset Tower Hotel cause it’s just so legendary and so many Hollywood stars have been there. It's super corny but I’d even go on the Hollywood bus tour, they are so hideous but so amazing and they’re ALL wrong but you see amazing back routes and secret house that look like castles - you’ve got to do that. You should definitely do the hike to the Hollywood sign too, that’s an absolute must! And of course Melrose Place, you’ve got to do Melrose Place - it’s very LA.

..And some quickies if you will..

Your favourite everyday outfit?

At the moment I’m loving high-waisted cropped jeans with a vintage t-shirt and a loafer or a slide.

Do you have a morning routine?

No and I love that, I really don’t have any routine because everyday is so different. I could be on plane or at an early shoot. One thing that happens everyday though no matter where I am is my English Tea, I must have that.

Your go-to nail colour?

‘Big Apple Red’ by OPI - I love a good red.

Your favourite food?

I love Mexican.. with a good margarita. 

Thanks so Louise for taking the time to share her thoughts on life with us and to Kildare Village for creating this wonderful opportunity..net

Love R x

Sketch, London

Travel, InteriorsHaute So Fabulous1 Comment

Conceived in 2002 by restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and infamous French master chef Pierre Gagnnaire, Sketch, London is a slick and desirable destination, or perhaps more accurately an experience, that continues to attract and capture the chic crowd, one hard to get booking after another. Truly 'Instagram' famous since the 2014 opening of ' The Gallery' which is home to a tickiliciously pink creation by Parisian based designer and architect, India Mahdavi. The contemporary pink mix and old-Hollywood style velvet furnishings, in turn plays as a classic backdrop for the most eclectic and 'grammable' experiential exhibit I've had the pleasure of dining amid yet. Showcasing 239 of David Shrigley's original works on the walls, Sketch is a dream any night of the week. It's collision of art and design, humour and panache bring a rather interesting beauty to life. The atmosphere is fun and in fact, it's a rather tempting act to simply stare at the walls, loosing oneself in the mysterious, dark and humorous world of Shrigley's infamous doodles. 

The walls though aren't the sole dwelling place for the exhibition pieces. Tables and their settings are also works of art by Shrigley who said of his ceramic designs, "It is the first artwork that I have made that can go in the dishwasher". Don't forget to check your plate once you're done, trust me. 

And of course, as with any chic collaboration of the creatives, the waiting staff wear the coolest designs by fashion designer Richar Nicoll. 

Although Sketch is admittedly not the new kid on the block these days, it's been on my list for quite some time and upon a recent quickie to London with my best friend I was thrilled to make a fun and fabulous night of it. Admittedly I'm not the girl who goes to places for the love of food but rather the experience, I must stop to say the food is utterly delicious; obviously. I had two starters, the broccoli veloutè to (actually) start and then tuna tartar as my main, both leaving me in the dream of starting all over again to savour every bite. 

Bathroom breaks are off the charts kind of interesting. You've got to see it to believe it. But let's just say it's like landing in space in your very own designer chic shell!

Book your night of fun at sketch.london

And check out DavidShrigley for a taste of why I loved Sketch so much.

Love R x