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This week I found myself pondering on the transformative power of accessories… I have talked about statement necklaces (which, by now, you probably know how much I love …) but in this moment of Pause, when we have a chance to reflect and get ourselves organised (more of that later) I was sorting through some handbags and remembered the very first designer bag that I bought. I had saved and saved from numerous days working in a very chic menswear store during the school holidays… and in the pre-internet world (meaning masses of pages torn out of Vogue and Harpers for inspiration) I had decided THE bag for me was going to be a Dior signature canvas clutch trimmed with navy leather…more than half of my wardrobe at that time was navy (before I discovered black) not to mention this was probably the most accessibly priced designer handbag available …anyway I will never forget how good it felt to go into the beautiful dove grey Dior store on Conduit St, browse through the exquisite bags before settling on my longed for clutch which became my Transformative Accessory …elevating my teenage wardrobe, and me in the process, to a far more sophisticated place... the early part of the journey to understanding the transformative power of feeling like you are wearing the right thing and the power that that gives…
I still feel that a bag has the power to transform what you are wearing and how you are feeling …it’s something I feel really passionate about… When I set out on my bag journey I wanted to create pieces that would have longevity, be friends for life but also that would be respectfully priced… I believe that with clever design and beautiful craftsmanship, this is possible. We collaborate with the tanneries to create beautiful exclusive leathers…every piece of hardware is custom designed by us and work closely with our factories on every tiny detail of the design and construction…so that we end up with luxurious pieces that don’t cost the earth… I do sometimes find myself questioning the ridiculous price tags attached to some of the It Bags… How much of what we are paying for is brand perception and advertising? Above all, design and craftsmanship have to come first… I have had the privilege to witness manufacturing in the best ateliers in Italy (our Legend Bags are all made in Italy) and I love the passion and the artisanal skills… the family knowledge that is passed down…it is a beautiful sight to see 3 generations of one family working together in a factory…
I often talk about how clothes make us feel…but in reality we “wear” a bag as much as we wear, let’s say, a jacket or a sweater, so I think about it as an extension of our look and, as such, equal, if not more important …and on those days when our clothes aren’t fitting us quite the way we want them to …yes, I don’t care how disciplined you are, its how you FEEL…we all have those days…and on those days beautiful accessories always “fit” us perfectly and should always be uplifting …so I thought it would be funny to talk about how those different bag shapes in our Bag Wardrobe make us feel?
Shoulder – sophisticated/grown up/timeless…a good shoulder bag really is your “starter” bag
Tote/Shopper – in control/can do/conquer the world…travel the world (how much are we looking forward to doing that again) …its an ultra chic beach bag/indulgent gym bag
Oversized Hobo – bohemian cool… everything is a little more relaxed… a slouchy pant or an oversized coat to balance the look… …with the added bonus that you can be discreetly disorganised
Clutch – Cool used during the day with the bare essentials in…graceful and refined in the evening
Cross body – a bit Boho…a bit Rock chick…
Belt bag - Sporty, retro-chic…urban cool
Now that we have our bag wardrobe sorted … I have so enjoyed pulling out all my bags and making sure they are given a little TLC, stuffed correctly and tucked up in their dust bags…but the process of doing that for the rest of the wardrobe can be a little more overwhelming so I thought I would share some tips from a great friend of mine Ann Lightfoot (we met when I launched my first collection 30 years ago and she was a young American corporate wife, new to London, trying to navigate the vagaries of British style and our crazy Summer social season …we have remained close despite having The Atlantic separating us ☹) but she and her daughter have created a brilliant home organising business and this is what she says about de-cluttering your wardrobe and it’s SO true… “The biggest mistake people make is not allocating enough time for the task at hand. It can be stressful to sort through all your clothes because whether or not an item currently works for you has nothing to do with what you paid for it. Each item should be tried on, which also takes time, which means coming to terms with the current fit and style. Many women's closets are difficult to navigate because they are full of sentimental holds. If we all had only what we actually wear, getting dressed each day or for any event would be a breeze”…oh, if only, I can hear you all saying … she has a great, easy to follow system…
1. Allot enough time for each section you intend to tackle - be realistic. Trying on, thinking and then rehanging or refolding all take time. An hour may be enough to do a few drawers but it is not enough time to your wardrobe.
2. Cover your bed with a sheet and empty everything from the area you are going to sort through
3. Section everything "like with like" and then make subcategories. This means all sweaters on the bed at the same time and the subcategories can be cardigans, turtle necks, and further subcategories can be merino, cashmere and colors. NYC women tend to have large stacks of black sweaters and not much else!
4. Take a first pass and take away everything that's a definite no. It could be going to donation or going to a friend or your sister but it's leaving your wardrobe. Move those stacks into preset bags.
5. Next, try on what you believe to be the absolute keeps - you might be surprised.
6. Return the items that make the cut back to the closet.
7. Now go through the remaining items - these are the most time consuming because you didn't have a definite feeling about them. Often our clients get to this point and talk themselves into keeping things because they feel guilty letting them go even if they don't fit perfectly or even if they don't feel wonderful wearing them. Guess what? Women always choose items to wear that make them feel confident and beautiful. The items that aren't usually chosen can almost always go.
There will be things that are infrequently worn or never worn but aren't in the donation pile. Sentimental clothing happens - think wedding dresses - but they don't belong in your everyday wardrobe. If they must stay there it's best to put them up above and out of the way so the clothing you see everyday is the clothing you are currently wearing.
Finally a little tip for weekend indulgence…coming from a total chocaholic…and with a surfeit of home-laid eggs (yes the 20 chickens continue to surprise and delight me on a daily basis…I can feel a new feather print coming on) … what is better than homemade chocolate mousse for a treat this weekend? Now I am no great chef but Hugh has taught me this one (although I prefer it when he makes it)
8 eggs (freshly laid if poss)
250 grms of dark cooking chocolate … I am particularly partial to the Valrhona 70%
Knob of salted butter
Double cream…if you are going to splurge then do it in style…
Separate the whites from the yolks making sure there is not a scrap of yolk with the whites (any sign of grease in your bowl, on your whisk or even a spec of yolk will stop your whites whisking into lovely stiff peaks)
Create a Bain Marie – place a clean, dry bowl over a pan of hot water (the bowl shouldn’t be touching the water), break the chocolate into small chunks and allow to melt with the butter very slowly… stir occasionally and don’t overheat red emoji
While the chocolate is melting whisk your egg whites into stiff peaks
Add the egg yolks to the molten chocolate, stir in gently until all the ingredients have blended
Now this is where the magic is done…carefully FOLD the molten chocolate into the egg whites (if you haven’t done this before I suggest you take 5 minutes and just Google the technique as this is make or break time)
Once completely blended, having been careful not to let all the “air” out of the egg whites, pour into your choice of dishes…I love using a selection of vintage cut glasses in a variety of sizes…Fill ¾ full to allow room for lashings of double cream when served.
Place carefully on a tray and in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours
Enjoy every spoonful of indulgence…
A & H xx
Have a wonderful weekend…I hope the sun shines and you get to feel its warmth on your back…
Sending love, stay well and stay safe
PS – if you are inspired by stories of bags but are feeling a little less …lets say, self indulgent …you may want to check out The Loft for some cheeky additional steals that we have just added as we “Spring Clean” our warehouse…hurry as in many cases there is only one left. View the Loft here.