Everyone say #SSSNYC!

The London Lassie’s takes a trip to NYC with Sunsilk…

On behalf of my new client Sunsilk, my fellow Salt PR colleague and I flew across the pond to shoot one of the most exciting look books of the decade!

Sunsilk haven’t been in the UK for a couple of years, but they’re HUGE in many other lands named under Elidor, Seda, Sedal and Sunsilk. Their Co-created products are customised for every hair type with the help of some of the world’s top hair experts. There’s Rita Hazan, colour expert to the stars; Ouidad, the Queen of Curl; Dr. Francesca Fusco, hair fall and scalp expert; Yuko Yamashita, who invented the Yuko straightening system; Jamal Hammadi, celebrity stylist and shine guru; Teddy, the go to guy on achieving volumous hair; Tom, the dry and damaged expert and last but not least, Mauro, the Latino hair expert.

Everyone knows bloggers are the new trend setters. I personally would much rather take advice from them than some PR ran celebrity. Bloggers are inspirational, not aspirational, so Sunsilk decided to shoot a fabulous look book at Hudson Studios in New York with 6 of the worlds top fashion bloggers, and their beloved hair experts!

The lucky bloggers:

Alaa Balkhy – Saudi Arabia/New York (http://alaabalkhy.blogspot.co.uk/)
Anny Vela – Peru (http://www.radarfashion.net/)
Eunice Annabel – Singapore (http://euniceannabel.blogspot.sg/)
Marou Rivero – Argentina (http://www.marourivero.com/)
Sherry Shroff – India (http://scherezadeshroff.blogspot.co.uk/)
Zuhal Okcu – Turkey (http://www.zetfashion.com/)

They were all a JOY to work with and absolutely gorgeous!

Apart from shooting we got to spend some fun times at some amazing Big Apple venues such as The Spotted Pig (where Maria parties with Jay Z and co!), ABC Kitchen, PHD, The Boom Boom Room, The Standard, Barneys, One Oak and Craft to name a few! A great week had by all…

A special thanks to all the hair experts, the bloggers, Salt PR, Unilever, Tracy, Nick & Co at Matador Productions, Hudson Studios, Vanity Projects (for their amazing nail bar), Anna Wolf (our superstar photographer), the lovely Martha and her very talented props crew, MARIA (big apple veteran and bff to Mary J. Blige and Beyonce!), Alpha Vomero (great stylist!), Marc and Michele at Marc Perman Management and of course Jamie Magnifico for being an all round legend!

Take a look at our story below…

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And I thought it was just me!

The London Lassie is glad not to be the only one sick of fashion week freak shows.

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As February neared I grew more and more excited. What sort of fashion art would Holly Fulton conjure up? Could Christopher Bailey top last season? I planned my outfits, and I arranged what shows and parties to go to (well, since in the fashion world I’m positively working class, I decided what parties I could get to). As Friday came I slipped on my Karl Lagerfeld camouflage dress, I slid my toes into some spiked KG shoe boots, I clutched my Alexa bag and kept the February winds at bay with a black boucle jacket with studded shoulders. If I was to walk down the high street in my tiny Scottish home town I’d probably get a few looks. At London Fashion Week? Hell no.

My friend Ramla and I strolled into Somerset house to discover a swarm of photographers gathering around a seemingly stylish, or famous individual. First thoughts were Cara Delevingne, or perhaps Jourdan Dunn? Or, could we be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Wintour cracking a smile? No. It was a girl wearing a giant cat on her head.

For seasons I’ve been thinking someone’s gotta give – I can’t be the only one that finds these exhibitionists unfashionable? That’s why I was absolutely ecstatic when I read Laura Weir’s feature, ‘Is this fashion?’ in yesterday’s issue of Style. Like myself, Weir has noticed that these ‘fashion murderers’ (a fashion victim copies, these freaks are just plain cray) are all out for publicity and to be honest, don’t know shit about what looks good. It’s style vile, not street style!

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Tim Blanks, Editor-in-chief at style.com recently said street style “is empowering, but empowering in the way that reality television is empowering. It doesn’t make gods, it makes monsters”. Please Chanel (my fashion god), don’t make fashion like reality TV! I saw Arg from Towie at the last fashion week, it actually seems to be happening already!

These self promoting bloggers are all about getting photographed and will go to all odds to ensure it. Think bright colours, colourful wigs, a clash of hideous prints and necklaces made of Duplo. And most of them act disgruntled when they get pictured. You poor little infamous bloggers.

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But can you go all out and get it right?

I actually think you can. But it’s rarer than seeing Victoria Beckham smile. Ever heard of Pandemonia? A giant plastic doll like ‘work of art’ that (I think) pokes at the fake and shallow culture we live in. We don’t know who the latex wearer is – is it a man, or a woman? Pandemonia is kind of the Banksy of the fashion world. P’Trique is another one. Just google him. He’s too funny for words. Take note: if you’ve got a point, or a crazy personality to match, I’ll let you off.

Pandemonia

Pandemonia

P'Trique

P’Trique

Which bloggers get my vote in the style stakes? Number 1 has to be Kristina Bazan, the beautiful Swiss blogger. Then Audrey Rogers (Be Frassy) and finally, an up-and-coming blogger who I think sticks to her own style, Tamara at Glam & Glitter.

Kristina Bazan

Kristina Bazan

Audrey Rogers

Audrey Rogers

Tamara (Glam & Glitter)

Tamara (Glam & Glitter)

What do you think of LFW exhibitionists? Which bloggers do you think get it right?

Get a summer glow even when the sun isn’t shining!

The London Lassie gives the tops tips for a hydrated summer complexion…

After SIX MONTHS of winter, (seriously Mother Nature, what gives?) our skin really needs a boost. Winter isn’t the best time for skin. Chopping and changing between sub-zero temperatures and central heating filled homes causes skin to become dull and lifeless with a tendency to breakout. Because our body needs more energy in winter, if not fully nourished it will tap into the fat reserves, where essential skin nutrients are stored, resulting in dry skin. Dehydrated skin cells turn over sluggishly, causing a build-up of dead skin, which deters light reflection.

Something has got to give – and it doesn’t look like we can rely on the weather. Follow these tips to trick your skin into believing it’s spring.

Get a microdermabrasion facial

This treatment is known in the industry as the ‘non surgical facelift’ and it really is that miraculous. The skin is cleansed and then heavily exfoliated using crystals blasted onto the skin. This deep scrub smoothes out fine lines and reduces deep wrinkles. It also takes away the top layer of your skin which is blocked with oil and pollution. Afterwards, the excess skin is shown, and it’s not a pretty sight (think grey dirt), and if you get the tube to work it will be much worse. Oxygen is then pumped deep into the skin to give it a glowing and healthy boost. After your skin has been buffed to perfection and oxidised a deep hydrating mask is applied and left to set. The result? A glowing complexion you weren’t even sure you were capable of. Your make up will sit much better too!

Prices around £70 and available from most good salons.

 microdermabrasion

Drink coconut water

Since the changeable weather is getting us down, many of us are beating the blues by engaging in a good night out. But the consequential hangover is another skin enemy leading to more dehydration. Drinking water is universally known as the way to go, but apparently pure coconut water is the most hydrating fluid you can drink for your skin. Get this delicious stuff down you to put all the rich goodness back into your complexion!

 coconut

 Exfoliate regularly

Central heating and extreme weather can dry our skin out, and can also lead to breakouts. Keep excess oils at bay and remove pollution regularly by using a daily facial scrub such as St Ives Invigorating Apricot Facial Scrub (£4.29). Follow with a hydrating moisturiser and you’re good to go!

 st ives

Take Supplements

Although we all try to eat our 5 a day, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Add extra nutrients and improve your looks from within by taking a good daily supplement. Perfectil Hair Skin and Nails Tablets are always a winner and at only £6.69 for a month’s supply they are a bargain!

 Perfectil

Sleep

Okay, it seems obvious, but sleeping more is one of the most important things you can do for your skin. Skin cell production is at its highest at midnight and your skin is more likely to absorb moisturiser after 4pm so make sure you apply a rich night cream. While you sleep your skin is given the chance to restore and revitalize itself. Your skin cells need 8-10 hours of rest in order to do this. Without enough sleep your body cannot drain off enough toxins meaning you can wake up with puffy and sallow skin with dark circles under your eyes – never a good look!

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Dull winter skin – we’re coming to get you!

Oil slick, or chic?

The London Lassie looks at the latest celeb hair trend…

A rather surprising look has made it into the hair style stakes this season. And it’s causing controversy everywhere. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lawrence have been rocking the slicked back look. The shiny rooted style was also seen on many a Spring/Summer catwalk through the likes of Giambattista Valli. But is this look gorgeous, or greasy?

Giambatista Valli SS13

Kim Kardashian rocking the slicked back look

Although this style is daring, and easy to get wrong, when done correctly it frames the face and looks enormously sexy (think Ursula Andress stepping out of the ocean and running her fingers through her sea dampened hair). Also, it only takes five minutes to create -minimum input, for maximum output!

The trick is to keep the roots shiny, not greasy, and keep the lengths of your hair matt. This can be done by slicking some Bumble and Bumble Semi Sumo through dry roots. This best selling product promises to give flexible hold and a grease free shine. Brush hair back using your fingers and pin behind the ears to hold. Then spray some dry shampoo (Baptiste is the best) into the lower roots and ends of your locks. Rub the dry shampoo in and then brush through. Finally, remove the pins and you’re done!

semi sumo

Don’t go for this style if you have sticky out ears as it will only enhance them. If you have perfect ears, don some chandelier earrings and go for it! This style gives all face shapes an edgy and sophisticated look. Pass the hair gel…

Check out LOOK’s beauty editor Katie styling the look on me (I don’t know why I look so moody by the way…):

La Beauté de la Simplicité

The London Lassie looks at the purest new beauty trend fresh from Paris…

Whilst watching the Paris runway shows in awe style followers from around the world witnessed many stunning collections from the likes of fashion connoisseurs Lanvin and Margiela. Nevertheless, the obvious trend is a simple one. Shown through Paris showcasers Chloe, Stella McCartney and many more it is apparent that the only wear to wear our face next season is fuss free.

Dozens of fresh faced beauties graced the runway in non-existent lip and eye shades with beautiful fresh skin that let the clothes do the talking. It seems back to basics is the only way to go. Boring and unimaginative you say? Think again.

Celine AW13

Celine AW13

Chloe AW13

Chloe AW13

Isabel Marant AW13

Isabel Marant AW13

Jean-Paul Gaultier AW13

Jean-Paul Gaultier AW13

Stella McCartney AW13

Stella McCartney AW13

With shows such as Geordie Shore and TOWIE showing wannabes heading to the supermarket in make up so heavy you’d need a trowel to remove it, it’s time women went to the bare necessities. Surprisingly the new series of TOWIE has shown stars Lucy Mecklenburgh and Jessica Wright without make up. It seems even Essex girls are willing to bare all!

But do you dare to bear? It’s not as scary as you might think! With more and more BB creams hitting the shelves it seems no surprise that this is becoming an apparent trend. BB creams smooth out imperfections and give a flawless complexion resulting in not much need for foundation. Also, Nail Inc and many other brands have released nude collections to keep your nails as simple as your face.

Top tips for a naturally beautiful face:

  • Have regular facials to keep your skin in tip top condition
  • Start with a good BB cream (Rimmel do a great one)
  • Use a light reflecting foundation or tinted moisturiser (Guerlain’s Parure de Lumiere is amazing) and apply using a brush for a flawless, natural looking complexion
  • Use a cream blush on the apples of the cheeks to give a natural glow (Try Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge in Uber Beige)
  • Use a nude or white kohl pencil on the lower lids to create the illusion of bigger, brighter eyes
  • Use a good lengthening mascara (can’t go wrong with YSL’s false lash effect)
  • Pencil your eyebrows in using feather like strokes in a shade lighter than your natural colour. A good set of eyebrow do wonders for your face.
  • Use a nude lipstick such as Mac’s lippy in Creme d’Nude and finish with a dab of clear lip gloss

This trend may be more difficult for some to adapt to than others, especially if you’re addicted to smoky eyes or scarlet pouts. But just think, this look doesn’t take long to achieve -you can have an extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning! Pass the cleansing wipe…

Raise a Few Eyebrows this Spring

The London Lassie explains how shapely slim brows are officially a thing of the past…

 As a child I had bushy brows (making brow plural is a stretch) and hated them. Over a year a lot of money has been spent on electrolysis and I’ve spent hours plucking and waxing to get the slim arched brow I always craved. Heck, I actually thought about getting a slim shape tattooed on! My brow icon was always Jennifer Lopez. Since doing a writing project on her aged 12, I craved for her elegantly slim face framers. That was until Cara Delevingne came along.
Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne

Winning her model of the year title in November and racing the March cover of British Vogue it’s official that Cara Delevingne has become an icon. Is it because of her flowing sun-kissed locks? Her chiselled cheekbones? Her fun and energetic nature? Or, could it be those bushy brows of hers? Quite possibly. Since the 21 year old graced the fashion scene, voluminous eyebrows have appeared on more and more catwalks. And spring summer 2013 is no exception. Next season full brows have been celebrated by Alexander Wang, Burberry, Victoria Beckham, and Dolce and Gabanna to name a few. It’s official: the thick furrow is the only way to grow, ahem, go.
Dolce & Gabanna SS13

Dolce & Gabanna SS13

Moschino SS13

Moschino SS13

According to Caroline Frazer, Simple Skincare expert and celebrity make-up artist, “Fuller, bushier eyebrows are making a serious comeback for this spring summer”. She also states that growing them in is worth the wait as “Thicker brows frame the face and can take years off you are they are often associated with youth”.

But what happens if you’re not blessed in the forehead fur growing department? Get your hands on a great eyebrow pencil. Mac do a great one that twists, meaning no annoying sharpening. Apply in feather like strokes and always go for a shade lighter than your own colour for a natural look. Please note: the Scouse brow is never, I repeat, never a good look.
Over pencilling to create the 'Scouse Brow' is NEVER a good look

Over pencilling to create the ‘Scouse Brow’ is NEVER a good look

Not up for pencilling in your brows? Help is ready, but it will cost you- £3,500 to be exact. Claire Cilverwell, a British dental technician recently told the Daily Mail on her extravagant purchase in order to achieve the perfect brow. After years of over tweezing, her brows simply wouldn’t grow so she underwent a 6 hour eyebrow transplant operation. After the pricey treatment she happily stated “It has boosted my confidence and made me feel so much more comfortable about my appearance. It is the best thing I have ever done”. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, there has been a surge in demand for the treatment due to the trend for bold eyebrows like those of the Duchess of Cambridge  currently one of the most high-profile member of the big brow brigade along with model, Delevingne.
Kate rocks the naturally full brow

Kate rocks the naturally full brow

Unsurprisingly, most of you will not have this amount of cash to spare. Boots have apparently came to the rescue, with their new RapidBrow serum (£37) claiming to improve eyebrow density by up to 108 percent in 60 days.
RapidBrow product
So girls, pack those tweezers away. Over-tweezed brows are officially out. It’s time to join Kate, Cara and Co in the brow brigade. Who knew eyebrow growing veterans such as Jack Black could be such style icons? Come to think of it, the bushy browed actor actually once said “You must never underestimate the power of the eyebrow”. The fashion posse couldn’t agree more!

Swinging Sixties Style

The London Lassie explains how even though the year is 2013, the vibe is definitely the sixties…

60s IT-girl, Edie Sedgwick

60s IT-girl, Edie Sedgwick

The sixties was a special decade. We landed on the moon, the Beatles wrote songs that would nestle longingly forever in our heads, skirts got dangerously short and classic beauties like Bridget Bardot and Grace Kelly were in their prime. This summer it’s time to celebrate this amazing decade, as spring summer 2013 style brings with it an array of minis, shifts, psychedelic prints, felt tip eyeliner and bouffant locks. The dark gothic themes of winter have melted into an array of bright and bold geometry, lines and prints. Groovy baby!
As Louis Vuitton’s chequered twins glided down escalators last September one thing was clear: psychedelic chic is back with a bang. As Marc Jacobs brought monochrome and primary coloured checks to Vuitton, he brought similarly toned modish lines to his own collection with barcode clad Edie Sedwick style models. At Moschino the vibe was sixties meets Lana Del Rey as models donned with bouffant locks wearing belted and pocketed floral shifts along with matching plastic handbags and white bug eyed glasses graced the runway.
Louis Vuitton ss13

Louis Vuitton ss13

Marc Jacobs ss13

Marc Jacobs ss13

Moschino ss13

Moschino ss13

Just like the pop art of Andy Warhol caused a storm over fifty years ago – colour blocking, popping and contrasting is huge for spring-summer’13. Michael Kors utilised black and white as well as bold colours such as scarlet, emerald green, canary yellow and sapphire together with stripes and sixties inspired curves in shift dresses, A-line skirts and crops to create a collection any sixties chick would kill for.

Michael Kors ss13

Michael Kors ss13

Fashion genius Tom Ford showed that sixties can be modern. Nostalgia was brought in the sense of Bouffant topped models in monochrome looks that mixed innocent covered up suits and hoodies with dominatrix style thigh gladiators, sheer panelling and suggestive bandaging. As for PPQ, the sixties hippy was brought back with colourful paisley high necked mini dresses mixed with teased Catherine Deneuve style tresses.
PPQ ss13

PPQ ss13

The sixties is too great a decade not to bring back into style now and again, but why now? Quite possibly the release of “Hitchcock”: the biopic based around the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic horror, Psycho. The suspense master’s heroines were always, classy, understated and beautiful (he famously dismissed Marylin Monroe as being “too obvious”). The likes of Miu Miu showed us how to create the heroine look right now with over the knee skirts, demure blazers and faux fur stoles. Grace Kelly and Janet Leigh, eat your heart out!
Scarlet Johansson in 'Hitchcock'

Scarlet Johansson in ‘Hitchcock’

Get your eyeliners st the ready girls and get the Kinks on the iPod – it’s time to embrace your inner sixties goddess. For skinny minnies, go for the chop and rock the Edie Sedgwick/Twiggy pixie cut with a monochrome mini skirt and crop top a la Vuitton. For buxom blondes, grab your backcombing brushes and make that hair sky high. Finish off by slipping into a Hitchcock style skirt and jacket combo. And for anyone who fancies a sixties vibe on a night out, make your eyes dark, and slide your figure into a bright shift dress from PPQ or Moschino. Nostalgia never looked so good.

The Pursuit of Happiness

It’s that time of year when everyone gets a little down in the dumps. The London Lassie chats to Happyologist, Susanna Halonen on how to be cheery and live life to the full…

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Le Pain Quotidien on Marylebone High Street is the setting for my lunch with Happyologist, Susanna Halonen. Nestled between fashion boutiques, and quaint restaurants, this French cafe reeks of chic. Amongst the bustle of well-to-do accents and air kisses I order a cappuccino, which arrives in a large handleless mug – just how the French drink it. Susanna arrives, all in black, which contrasts with her blonde hair and pillar-box red Alexa bag. Around her neck is a Tiffany silver horseshoe chain. She orders a green tea Mojito and unsurprisingly, has a huge smile on her face.

Susanna, 25, is Finnish, but has lived everywhere from Brazil to Germany. She now rests in Surrey where she can enjoy the best of both worlds: riding in the countryside and enjoying the hustle bustle of London. Susanna runs a blog, ‘the Happyologist’, where she shares her insights and experience on how to achieve happiness. She also coaches people on how to employ life fulfilment. “I figured it would be great to share insights that inspire others to work out what makes them smile, and pursue it”.

Susanna notices people don’t know what happiness is anymore. “I realised how focussed everyone is in climbing the career ladder, making money and buying things. The common believe is ‘if I’m successful then I’ll be happy’, but actually it’s the opposite”. She makes me think of a Finnish friend who always thinks negatively, and attracts bad luck (think perm from hell). Susanna laughs. “That’s a bit of a Finnish trait! But yeah, I completely agree. Whatever you focus on in your life is what you’re going to attract. It’s so much to do with a positive mindset”.

Susanna seems to be in the right field at the right time. “There are studies showing happiness levels have decreased, even though our income levels and living standards have risen. It shows income and success doesn’t bring happiness. I think society is waking up to it.” She tells me about the UK governments ‘Action for Happiness’ movement. “They hold seminars monthly. They had a Buddhist monk last time. They’re really interesting.”

I ask Susanna why she thinks despite increased quality of living, our society is getting unhappy. Is consumerism to blame? She thinks so. “There’s this whole thing about having so much stuff. People are like ‘oh i don’t have anything to do, I’m gonna go shop’ and then you buy this cheap stuff, and wear them a couple of times. We should invest in quality pieces. We appreciate things more that way, and that in turn makes us happier”.

Health may also be to blame. “It seems sports have disappeared. Hopefully the Olympics have brought it back!” She is a huge believer in health (probably why she invited me to an organic cafe). “You need to have a healthy mind and body. Invest in good sleep, healthy diet, and exercise. It gives you healthy hormones and adrenaline”. However, this Nordic chick ain’t a health freak, “I’m all up for treats. I love cakes! But it’s about balance”.

Susanna coaches individuals, as well as work teams. “With individuals, I help them to identify things they need to change by helping them self reflect. For example, if they’re insecure and dwelling on past experiences we try and conquer that in unique ways so they move on. I create a timeline and set goals”. She states “It’s always looking towards the future, working on positivity and working towards achieving it”.

As for businesses, “Everything from how you position desks to how you deal with authority effects happiness. With quarterly reviews, you have to focus on the person’s strengths and let people use what they’re best at because that’s what they’re happiest doing”. As for office layout, “Cubicles are bad. Make it more open. It promotes collaboration rather than competitiveness.” Susanna uses Apple as an example, “Steve jobs was such a visionary leader. That’s why the company is successful. You never hear a bad word from someone working at apple – they enjoy their job”. Susanna obviously loves her job as well. “Its empowering for me to watch clients progress and realise they have the answers within them to create that self-confidence.”

It appears Susanna has always been happy, but that’s not the case. “I can’t say I’ve always been the happiest person, but awareness is the first step, then you have to put positivity into practice”. I ask Susanna about her most inspiring story, and surprisingly, she uses herself. “I was actually coached myself. I always wanted to start my own coaching company, but thought people would think ‘she’s young, what does she know?’, but my coach helped me achieve the confidence I needed. When you get that light bulb moment it’s like wow!” It was this increase in confidence that saw the creation of the Happyologist persona. “Since then, I’ve been taking steps to work towards my goal. I realised I want to help more people find their happiness”.

Susanna’s typical client is a young professional woman who is unsure she is on the right path. “I think I attract women because they feel they can click with me”. Susanna’s past with her own coach also has a lot to identify with her clients, “I think a lot of people can relate to that, they realise that there’s lots of other opportunities out there”.

So, what makes us happy? “Follow your passion; it’s something you will naturally be good at. My passion is horse riding”. As well as this, “create positive attitude and believe in yourself – focus on the things you are grateful for in your life”. Making other people happy is key, “help people, even just holding a door open.  It’s a double win – you make yourself and the other person happy”. But overall Susanna states “Life is long – enjoy the journey, little successes and daily joys!”

Five Tips on Living Life to the Full:

1)      Do what you love.

2)      Create that positive attitude – Focus on the little things you are grateful for and appreciate them.

3)      Exercise.

4)      Believe in yourself. Then you can achieve anything. You are the master of your life and the skies are the limit.

5)      Be generous and kind. It will spread good vibes around you.

View Susanna’s blog here: http://www.happyologist.co.uk/

The Prophet Wears Prada

The London Lassie Explores the Modern Day Predictors; This is the Rise of the Trend Forecasters

forecast confirmation

In the past millennia predictions were made by the likes of Moses and Jesus, crystal ball clad gypsies, Nostradamus, and the Mayans. But now, we have new prophets – the trend forecasters. Involved with an ever growing industry worth billions, these new fortune tellers are here to stay, and they’re stylish as hell.

It’s no coincidence that everyone started wearing wedged hi-tops or how tribal prints were weaved into high-end garments as well as Next cushions last summer. Trend forecasting organisations such as WGSN predict fashion and lifestyle trends years in advance, and they’re making mega bucks for designers, retailers and themselves. Chuck Richard, vice president and lead analyst of research company Outsell, believes trend forecasting, could now have a global market value of $36 billion.

 WGSN, the biggest trend forecasting organisation today, was started by British brothers Julian and Marc Worth in 1997. It was later bought by EMAP for £140m. In January of this year, EMAP revealed WGSN had created £40m of revenues, up 5% on the previous year. That’s roughly the same amount of revenue generated by all of EMAP’s magazines put together. In an age of social media and increasing communication it seems trend forecasting is becoming extremely important.

With offices around the globe, WGSN has proven expertise in telling the fashion and lifestyle future for over a decade. It has over 38,000 subscribers including Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, who pay up from £16,500 a year for the service. Subscribers can browse over 20,000 crystal clear catwalk images per season as well as browse over news, forecasts and analysis. WGSN was involved with Graduate fashion Week in June this year and Martyn Roberts, Event Director commented, “With their world-renowned expertise on trends, there can be no one better to collaborate with”.

However, WGSN is not a lone wolf in the trend forecasting sector. Due to the increasing popularity of this industry, they now have serious competition. Stylesight, who are based in Tommy Hilfiger’s old New York office, yet translate their site into numerous languages, came on the fortunetelling scene in 2008. They offer subscribers a much cheaper service at $7,500 a year, and compete for similar clients to WGSN such as Prada and Zara.

 Nevertheless, there are even cheaper forecasting companies on the rise, and they don’t charge a penny. Trend Hunter, launched by Canadian Jeremy Gutsche, is a free trend predicting website that anyone can subscribe to. Nevertheless, is paying a vast amount for this providing the feeling of authority and expertise? If the service is for free, anyone can access it. This may be important, as wallet-busting WGSN is still on top. According to Isham Sardouk, senior vice president of Trend Forecasting at Stylesight, “People will always pay for something they require to get their job done”.

So how do they do it? Does it involve magic powers, or a spiritual gift? Apparently it’s simply about noticing things. Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory in East London, who funnily enough predicted the economic downturn to a reluctant banker in 2005, states “social, fashion and spending trends are all interconnected. You can look at young generations – their environment, concerns, and sexual attitudes – and guess how that will impact later on as trends.”

 Melika Imoru, past designer for ASOS, River Island and Jane Norman and founder of brand, Melika M describes trend forecasting as simply “a gut feeling”. “It’s an art, all about keeping up with the consumer and what they’re doing.”

 Isham Sardouk, senior vice president of Trend Forecasting at Stylesight, states fashion fortunetelling is based on observation and research, almost to the point of “obsession”. “There isn’t really a limit to where our research should stop…Predicting what’s going to be popular or successful is simply the process of detailed and thorough observations of what has occurred in the past, examining the present and based on our expertise, we build logical evolutions to everything that exists today”. He also articulates “We sometimes also predict trends that have no past or present, by simply scouting what’s happening in the art world, in politics, in music, in design and fashion.” Sardouk states one of his favourite predictions was the African tribal summer trend “The entire Burberry collection reflected our predictions, with identical colours and patterns, as if Burberry had used our forecast – but of course they didn’t since they aren’t clients”.

burberry spring summer

 Sue Barrett, a denim specialist for WGSN, agrees that prophecies are based on observation, but this has to be combined with travel. She makes her predictions through “travelling around Sweden, Italy and France, scoping out what styles are popular in each country”. Sue states that interestingly trends are adopted at different rates and in different ways across the globe. For example, Italians iron their jeans, opposed to Brits who would wear them crushed for an edgy look.

Cher Potter Senior Editor of Creative Direction at WGSN, the department that looks the furthest ahead in terms of trends, states her job also involves lots of continent hopping, “every six months, I look into all major exhibitions around the world and travel to the important ones, we identify regions that are generating a lot of interest and travel there to understand the creative scenes”. But they don’t just travel to New York and Tokyo; these prophets go way off the footpath, to dive into bubbling future trends. When asked about the craziest thing to happen whilst researching for WGSN, Potter states “a 48-hour trip to Kazakhstan that involved 2 lectures, a workshop, 2 studio visits, a trip up a mountain, a visit to a turquoise-toned communist era caviar market, an evening in a club with a women who owned 3 diamond studded mobile phones and a short period of being held in a locked metal room at the airport by Russian-speaking attendants”.

 Crazy travel tales and excessive observation aside, Potter states trend forecasting has more to it than meets the eye, “There are in fact many aspects to trend forecasting, beyond what people commonly think” she says. “Most people know about the trend spotting aspect …But trend forecasters also analyse what is happening on the catwalks, identifying major trends and predicting how they may develop over the coming seasons”. She also explains “we study youth groups and online themes to understand new modes of identity. And then there is the cultural side that I work on – we look at architecture, design, arts, music, and philosophy. We also study big cultural movements and how these will impact on the fashion world. Based on these we create WGSN’s Macro trends”.

 But why does the fashion industry need these trend predictions? It’s slightly mind boggling how an industry based on creativity pays thousands a year for someone else’s ideas, albeit unproven ones. According to designer, Melika Imoru, founder of Melika M, “On the buying floor the ‘we have it first’ ethos is key!”

But, can a trend forecaster ever get it wrong? According to Melika Imoru, it’s the forecast followers that get it wrong, and one of the current victims is Next. “Their current campaign is too one dimensional” says Imoru, “It is too much based on the Prada SS12 collection and their sales are down! I think the key is to not try too hard with catwalk trends as it can turn out to look like knee jerking. The trick is to stay true to your brands ethos, and take small elements of a trend to look new”.

Next AW12/13 Campaign

Next AW12/13 Campaign

 According to Isham Sardouk, trend forecasters really can’t get it wrong. “It’s not so black and white. If you look carefully at the runway or even retail, you realize that every trend imaginable appears all in one season”. Think about it: tribal, floral and pastels are spring/summer wardrobe favourites, yet every year the trends are embraced as if they’re revolutionary. Is trend forecasting just a case of the Emperor’s new clothes? (Pun intended).

 Derek Carter, chief executive of EMAP’s communications division hints that the increasing popularity of trend forecasting may be a growing paranoia instilled in designers, and fast fashion may be to blame. Many of us are guilty of buying a cheap Zara dress or Topshop skirt and wearing them once. “The trouble with fashion, which is good news for all of us forecasters, is it changes so rapidly so these things become incredibly disposable and really, really fast,” says Carter. However Cher Potter says forecasting has moved on from fast fashion and it’s more about helping businesses to be current, “We’re living in an information age, where knowing what is happening in your industry is a kind of necessary power…[forecasting] has moved beyond the production of constant newness and into the field of cultural research”. Carter and Potter both describe trend forecasting as a “must-have”, “To get a season wrong as a designer is cataclysmic”, says Carter.

Nevertheless, trend forecasting may just be a time saver to assist with the growing demands of the information age. Sardouk states the fashion industry needs trend forecasters because they are “simply a great way to kick start the season with lots and lots of tools and inspiration… it’s a breath of fresh air for designers who have been entrenched in the process of developing the previous season’s collections and have little time to research.” WGSN’s Cher Potter agrees, “Trend forecasting is a full-time job! Companies and brands do not have the time to look as deeply as we do into what is happening in design, fashion and arts – so we give them an edited version of what is happening in the world”. Julie Anne Sloan, a buyer at Next plc seems to be pleased with Potter’s expertise, “Without WGSN, we would have a limited view of the world,” she says. “I can see what’s happening from LA to Sao Paulo without leaving the office.”

So, are trend forecasters almost doing the designers job for them? According to Sardouk, this is not the case, “We trust our clients to use our content to adapt our message and make it their own”. Martin Raymond of The Future Laboratory states “we make two promises – to innovate and to inspire”. WGSN’s Cher Potter believes “a designer’s job is really about clothing, the details, feel and uniqueness of each garment and about knowing the messages of your own brand”.

 The impact these Prada wearing prophets have on designers seems undeniable. Almost like what black shades are to Karl Lagerfeld. Forecasting is becoming a mega-buck business, and with the chance to travel and sip coffee whilst observing street style and partying in wealthy Kazakhstan nightclubs, we doubt they’ll be short of employees. This is the business sector to watch, and it can only go up from here. As Stylesight’s Frank Bober puts it, “The fashion industry always needs feeding. I don’t see anybody naked”.

Deluxe Doomsday Dwelling

In case of potential apocalypse, some of our neighbours across the pond have already started planning their refuge. But, we’re not talking dull and dreary war-like shelters – these bunkers are for chic, yet fearful fashionistas.

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What would you do if you knew the world was going to end? Say your goodbyes and marvel at blue skies and blades of grass? Or, would you fight it? There is a growing amount of ‘preppers’ in society today who won’t answer to any doomsday doubts – they have a plan. And they have fat wallets. From abandoned underground missile silos to tailor made bunkers under gardens, there are business developers and constructors in the US creating modern day Noah’s Arcs and cashing in on the fear instilled in the more paranoid members of society. These fears range from pandemics to solar flares and even the 2012 Mayan prophesy which has been plugged into people’s minds due to movies such as Prometheus, and 2012. But these developers know that buyers don’t want war-like tin huts, they want luxury.

Luxury and safety combined is definitely what Larry Hall is providing. He has converted an abandoned Kansas missile silo into a state of the art survival complex for up to 70 people. And these condos aren’t just to ride out an epidemic that lasts a few days. Hall has thought of everything, including a 5 years supply of long-life foods and an indoor farm which will provide fish and vegetables for 70 people for as long as they live.

Entertainment wise, Larry has installed an indoor beach-like pool, a library, a movie theatre, a spa, an arcade, and a gym. Plasma screen walls will show various views such as the Paris skyline or a beach in the Maldives. The condos are fitted with numerous televisions and Hall has installed a system which stores thousands of movies. There will also be a school to educate children and a hospital. The vast and deep unit will be donned with top-end appliances, walk-in closets, a kitchen and dining room and two living rooms to avoid arguments about what to watch on television. If you’re a smoker, forget it. Hall states he cannot make the condos a smoking environment (the tobacco factories will all be down anyways).

State of the art life support systems will provide Hall’s condos with energy from sources of conventional power, as well as windmill power and generators. As well as this, giant underground water tanks will hold water pre-filtered through sand and carbon.  What about waste you ask? According to Hall, “Human waste goes through a state-of-the-art environmentally aerobic filtration system”. Not sure what that means, but it sounds trustworthy enough.

Hall, 55, claims the Kansas silo can withstand an atomic blast due to walls that are nine feet thick and stretch 53 metres underground. Hall’s main fears are solar flares and global warming, but he also states “The current worldwide economic situation is cause for concern”. Hall holds 2 masters degrees, in business administration and in computer software engineering. He has experience in building houses, working on complex government contracts such as NASA, and he has built an internet service provider from the ground up. Too good to be true? Well, you can trust Hall’s judgement and quality, as he’s bought one of the condos for himself and his family.

Interested? You can purchase some of Larry’s condo space for $2million a floor, or $1million for a half floor. But hurry, because they’re selling fast. Not got the funds? Don’t expect to get to sleep on your mates couch if they’re wealthy enough. Elevators are complete with fingerprint recognition and trespassers will be got rid of. “If they try to climb the fence we can stun them, if they want to break into the system, we can put an end to that”, says Hall. Seems like it really will be every man for himself.

elite-daily-luxury-shelter

But is this taking things a bit too far? Are these ‘preppers’ too full of fear, and have more money than sense? According to John Hoopes, a professor in the anthropology department at the University of Kansas, “Fear sells even better than sex”.  And recent disasters such as the Japan tsunami and the Mexican earthquake have roused suspicions that Mother Nature isn’t exactly our best friend.

Brian Camden, 57, started Hardened Structures around 20 years ago, a Virginia Beach company that has constructed and sold over 1,000 shelters for homes, institutions and the military. Camden states about 30% of his clients are scared of “2012 stuff, I’d say at least half, if not 55%, is all geared for economic collapse.”

Interestingly, Camden’s business has grown by 40% since 2005, and Larry Hall’s missile silo is expected to be filled well before December, could this be the growing fear of the Mayan prophesy? Maybe not, Hall states “I believe that is an “attention getter” but not a sole reason. Many of the concerns people have will exist long past 2012”. Camden says he does not discuss whether these hypothetical nightmares are likely to develop. “We don’t subscribe to any world-ending scenario…The client’s priorities are our priorities. It’s that simple: You try to give them peace of mind and you design a facility that mitigates specific threats.”

In previous years, Camden’s firm has worked on properties ranging from a $14,000 storm shelter to a $60 million survival community in West America’s mountains. However, he states he has subcontractors who can build any form of shelter the well heeled client asks for, even an arc similar to that from the movie 2012. Although, he denies building such a structure.

So who actually is investing in these properties? According to Camden “Our typical client is a wealthy white republican, usually with a minimum of a master’s degree” These clients, he says, fear that economic collapse is near. But he’s not saying any more. “One of the first things you learn in this industry is never to reveal the location of a client’s shelter.” Owners don’t want neighbours or strangers pounding on the entry hatch in the event of an emergency, he explains. Although the shelter business is very secretive, Camden does offer media the chance to tour one of his projects in North Carolina. However, they are driven there blindfolded and any tracking devices are forbidden.

Hall’s mouth is zipped just as much as Camden’s. Interested buyers have included an NFL player, a racing car driver, and famous politicians, but he’s not giving any names. “I am under Non-Disclosure Agreements and cannot respond to who the buyers are… The only thing I can say is we have a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, a mechanic, a professional chef, and a few with military experience.”

larry

Hall’s buyers seem to have skills to assist the continuation of the human race. Is it this, along with money that secures you a shelter from the apocalypse? When asked if you need to have money to survive the apocalypse Hall stated “People should decide their protection level within their means”. Great, so if you have no money, your protection level is basically zero. Perhaps they can let you in if you encompass an invincible life saving skill?

Interestingly, American firm Vivos is building 20 underground “assurance of life” homes across the USA, able of sustaining 4,000 people for a year. The cost? A little over £32,000 a head, plus a demeaning screening test that assesses whether you are able to offer meaningful contribution to the continuation of the human race. It has already received over 1,000 applicants.

It is unknown whether this level of protective real estate is emerging in the UK. However, underground homes for aesthetic reasons are growing in popularity. Subterranean mansions seem to be on the shopping list for numerous footballers such as Gary Neville, who made plans to build an underground eco-friendly pad last year. However, protection is wanted from paparazzi, not the end-of-the-world.

But are these shelters really necessary? According to Steve Davis, president of All Hands Global Emergency Management Consulting, “We support reasonable preparedness. We don’t think it’s necessary to burrow into the desert.” Camden states he doesn’t want to be known as a fear monger, “I’m a family man…I sincerely hope nothing ever happens.” However, if it does, Camden is ready. Somewhere out in Western Tidewater, America is his own safe area – a bunker which he calls “the farm”. Unsurprisingly, he’s not saying where.

It may be time to start preparing, as according to a Vivos spokesperson  “Doomsday may be closer than many would otherwise like to believe” But nevertheless, even if you believe our Earth is safe, it may be nice to splurge out on one of Larry’s underground condos across the pond. A spa and an indoor beach? Who knows, it may be nice to escape from the world for a few days…