A Bit of European Inspiration: Stella McCartney

It would be difficult to state simply one thing that I loved about living in London.  Forget that there are more than a handful of different nationalities and cultures to experience within the city, the uniqueness in which each borough brings from trendy Islington to characteristic Camden, or the fact that each street has a deep and rich history behind its name.  London inspired me in every way from the architecture, people, museums, and parks.  Each weekend I would hop on the tube, travel to a stop unknown, hop off and find my way back by foot.  By doing this, I was able to explore the little spots that are not typically found in your Frommer’s travel guide.  I found great restaurants, intricate pubs, and of course…shops! 

I believe that where you come from and the experiences you collect throughout your life influence who you are, what you do, and what lies to come.  Each fashion designer has a different background, a different perception of what fashion is to them, as we all do.  To understand a designer’s collection, you must first understand the designer.  Since this week we are speaking of London and what inspires, I find it only appropriate to include one of my favorite designers in the topic.  She is young, inventive, and ambitious in helping women dress stylishly with ease.  Not only do her stunning collections take over the runways, but they do so being Earth friendly as well, not harming animals and opting for organic fabrics when possible.  She also just so happens to be the daughter of one of the most iconic men who ever lived, Sir Paul McCartney, one of four members of a band you might possibly have heard of…the Beatles!

Designer, Stella McCartney (shown far right with father, Paul).

Stella McCartney was born in 1971 and although she had a bit more than normal upbringing, she found that her passion in life was not in music, like her father, but in fashion.  In 1995, Stella graduated from the well known Central St. Martin’s college in London and immediately began creating her own collections.  Showing her keen sense of style and eye for fashion, she was appointed Creative Director for the chic design house, Chloé for Paris, in 1997.  While some believed she was not accomplished enough and too young to take control of such a large name, Stella drove forward and succeeded in redefining the company’s image and greatly increasing revenues. After four years, she decided it was time for a change, starting up her own company alongside Gucci.  She then opened up her own boutique to sell her designs in Mayfair, London. 

McCartney's Store Front in Mayfair, London.

Having been in her boutique, it is truly one of the most beautiful stores I have stepped into.  The house offers a home appeal with her pieces of work shown throughout various rooms in unique forms.  For instance, as I climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor, I entered a dining room with a table set with exquisite china, fancy glasses, and on top of each decorative plate setting, a pair of shoes from her latest collection.  Stella designs for the everyday woman.  She creatively mixes strong, masculine pieces alongside feminine ones to offer a fresh take on the look.  She shows in her collections that fashion need not be over the top, extravagant, and out of the ordinary to be in style but designs with clean lines and an idea that a well made garment speaks for itself. 

Pieces from McCartney's '10 Collection

As Stella McCartney’s pieces of work speak for themselves, Stella is influential in showing the world of young go-getters that anything is achievable if you believe in what you are doing.  Inspiration is everywhere; in the lines of your favorite book, the fantasy of motion pictures, and in the individuality of people.  I find it inspiring to know the history and background of those who have accomplished so much in their fields and feel it offers a greater sense of what you are capable of in life with a little patience, a generous amount of ambition, and a giant heap of passion.

A Christmas Conundrum

It’s that time again!  The end of the year, when one holiday comes right after the other, and your daily planner begins to fill up more rapidly than ever with special occasions, get-togethers, and holiday parties.  I know the first thing that comes to mind for me, is usually, “What am I going to wear?!”  Well, don’t worry.  No matter what the festivity is from the company Christmas party to your beloved family gathering on Christmas Eve, there is a perfect outfit for you (and it might be in your closet already)!

The Situation: Annual Family Gathering

The Solution:

It’s Christmas Eve and your family gathers every year, from all over the country, to celebrate being a family and enjoying the holidays together.  If your family is anything like mine, after a delicious meal of all your favorite foods, the night will end with a rowdy game of catch phrase, phase 10, or dare I even mention it…a dangerous game of spoons!  As it is a tradition to come all together once a year, you might want to dress in a festive fashion but also remain comfortable.  This season, I suggest pulling out your Nordic sweater that may or may not have been hidden in your drawer from years past already. Admittedly, you might have only worn them before at the annual “ugly Christmas sweater” party, but designers have done what designers do best and the made the not so popular, popular again.  Whether you are a recent recruit or already a Nordic sweater aficionado, these new designs are great looking on anyone at any age.

Originally from Norway, Nordic sweaters are called by its name because it is made using the Nordic knitting technique.  In the beginning, they were only offered in plain black or white because these were the sheep’s natural colors.  Soon to follow, knitters began combining these two colors to create patterns in a “V” shape.  These patterns then evolved into more colors and elaborate designs woven on the upper part of the sweater.  The reason for the location of these new patterns was for the fact that Nordic people tucked their sweaters far down into baggy pants.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the 1800’s and don’t need to tuck thick sweaters into our pants.  So, I suggest pairing a version of these beautiful sweaters with great fitting denim or a fitted trouser to this year’s Christmas extravaganza and save the gingerbread man sweater for the “ugly Christmas sweater” party.

 

Dolce & Gabbana

 

The Situation: Office Christmas Party

The Solution:

When the words, “office Christmas party” are brought to my attention, I always revert back to my favorite show, The Office, where the boss, Michael Scott, will inevitably do something idiotic or wear a costume as ridiculous as a James Bond Santa outfit.  While I hope your parties are just as fun, you can still dress to impress while not wearing your normal 9-5 work attire. If your party is during or right after work, choose an eye-catching piece such as a red velvet blazer.  The rich color mixed with the plush fabric offers a sophisticated yet fun look while still wearing your dress pants.  If the fun filled get together is later in the evening, try a classic navy, silk or velvet dress, with a cardigan or blazer over it, wrapped in a belt.  Clean cut pieces like these allow you to show a more relaxed side while still keeping that professional feel.  Just remember not to pull a “Meredith” and drink too much of the office punch. No clothes can save you from your actions!

 

Actress/Singer Demi Lovato showing how to wear a red velvet blazer.

Fergie on the cover of Glamour.

 

To all of my readers, Merry Christmas! May your travels be safe, time enjoyable, and gatherings well dressed!