Monday, 22 June 2009

Rolo Tomassi

In a year where the quality of mainstream music is hitting a low not seen since the 90's boyband craze, its inspiring to see so many young bands turning the status quo on its head, ripping up the rulebook, doing things on their own terms and to hell with the consequences! Rolo Tomassi, a group of Sheffield upstarts with a nigh-on undefineable sound and more energy than a Highlands windfarm are doing just that. Having released their epic prog/post-hardcore/mathcore mash-up album in late 2008, and following a mammoth tour schedule that took them around the UK, Europe and even to the SXSW festival in Texas, things seem set to go stratospheric for Rolo Tomassi very soon.

Eva Spence, the bands diminutive frontwoman with a shriek that could stop hearts, found time in amongst the bands hectic schedule to talk about her personal style secrets, greatest fashion blunders and Night of the Living Thread, the range of accessories she sells at the bands merch stand. Here's what she had to say...

1) Hello there. How’re things, and what’s new in the world of Rolo Tomassi?
Hello! I'm very well thanks, I've just enjoyed two weeks off from Rolo after a hectic few months which included; a headline tour with Grammatics and Pulled Apart By Horses and some support shows with Gallows. Right now we're just getting ready for the festival season, in which we're doing a bunch of mainland Europe shows as well as Sonisphere and Underage festival in the UK.

2) At your shows you sell a selection of homemade accessories. What’s going on there?
I'd been very interested in textiles and fashion from an early age and had always intended on starting up a company at some point even before i joined the band!
When I was at college I studied an Art and Design, the course covered all the kinds of surface design I use in my designs. We firstly experimented with dressmaking but I realised after doing that aspect that I wanted to concentrate on surface pattern and design rather than actually making clothes.
My materials are sourced from various independent fabric shops across the country. Touring with the band has been an advantage for me because I'm able to find different fabric shops in different cities, and even different countries, which then enables me to make a wide variety of pieces which you can't get anywhere else, then to make my deigns is just a matter of picking fabrics, ribbons and buttons which I think would look good together.
I take my items on tour with me which is cool because I can showcase what I can do to people who might not know about the company otherwise, I get a lot of interest from fans of the band, and has been very popular with girls at shows, but also for guys coming to shows and wanting to bring something back for their girlfriends. Aside from this I am setting up a website but right now you can buy from my myspace page which is
At the moment I sell bags, hairclips, headbands, hairbands and badges and offer a custom made service in which I can make any kind of bag/pillow of the customers designs and ideas.
The bags are between £8 and £12, the hairclips are £3 a pair, headbands are £6, hairbands are £4 and badges are £4. The custom items vary in price so generally people get in touch for a quote.

3)How would you describe your style?
When I'm on stage I'm drawn towards dresses and skirts because I am most comfortable in them when we play instead of jeans. Aside from that I dress quite casually and try to lift my outfit with accessories.

4) If you could trade wardrobes with one person, who would it be and why?
Although there are certain celebrities who I think dress well, there's no one who I think I would want to trade with, I like what I've got!
Maybe someone like Karen O or Katy Perry as they have some pretty interesting stage outfits, I'd love for designers to design things for me to wear on stage.

5)Who are your favourite designers?
Clotheswise I love Fred Perry, I'm not sure if that brand classes as designer but they do the best staple wardrobe pieces which are very classic.
I am generally drawn towards things with cute prints and Lazy Oaf, a London based company make the cutest t shirts I know, I wear a lot of their items.
In terms of more mainstream designers I love Vivienne Westwood accessories, Dior jewelry, and Chanel make the most beautiful dresses if I could ever afford anything like that!
On top of this I find a lot of items online at which is an online marketplace for sellers who specialise in handmade products, there are some really talented designers on this website.

6)What items in your wardrobe hold particular sentimental value to you?
I wear a lot of my mums old clothes from when she was younger, most of them have been taken in and adapted to make completely different items from what they once were, but I really love some of those items as they're one of a kind. Other that that my boyfriend bought me some Burberry head scarves for my birthday which I love!

7) What significance do you think fashion holds to today’s youth?
I think fashion is very important today as it is, like music, a way of expressing yourself. It's a positive way of making a statement to who you are and I feel that where once fashion was something with limits, every rule has been broken. It's a very interesting and wonderful way of showing who you are and defining yourself.

8)Whats your biggest ever fashion mistake?!
Haha! I'm sure before skinny jeans were made available everyone had a pair of ridiculously baggy ones! It'd have to be those.

9)What are your three golden style rules?
For me as I wear kind of plain clothes I love to dress things up.
Hair accessories can really bring out an outfit, I have hairclips and headbands to go with every outfit I own!
As well as that I'd have to say jewelry, I have a big necklace collection and I love jewelry which stands out and looks original, I get a lot of compliments about various necklaces which I've collected from from my mum, vintage shops and charity shops. Again, jewelry is something which can drastically change the look of any outfit.
Finally I'd have to say that thrift/charity shops have some incredible finds in them. Again, it's about finding things that no one else has and wearing things that are truly original, since I've been young I've been buying things that are £1 and £2 and customizing them into something completely different. Some of the fabrics I use are from recycled clothes because you can get something completely different to anything anywhere else which are one of a kind vintage prints and they cost you practically nothing!

If you're feeling generous and would like to vote for Rolo Tomassi as Kerrang! Best British Newcomers, simply follow this link and type Rolo Tomassi in block capitals...
© Copyright Betti Hunter 2009

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Kardiff Kool Kats

Monday night was the album launch of hot-tips Viva Machine at Globe bar, so I shuffled along and decided it would be a killer opportunity to have a look at what Cardiffs kool kidzzz are wearing. High street reigned supreme, which is hardly surprising in a small city with a student population of about a zillion and a disappointing lack of independent retailers (srsly, you can pretty much count them all on one hand). Topshop, H&M and Primark were favourites, but not content with wearing high street straight off the hanger, clothes were cut, pinned, sewn, ripped, and sprinkled with avant garde accessories from the likes of PopSugar, Rocket Dog and Tatty Devine. Colourful shifts, jeans and prints teamed with classic cut polo shirts and statement hair suggests that in terms of style, Cardiffs key words are fun, fun and more FUN!

© Copyright Betti Hunter 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Emma Jane Clothing

Three weeks ago I got cabin fever and decided to escape to London. So I hot-footed it to the train station, shelled out £60 for a one way ticket, and headed off to the Big Smoke. And once I was there, where’s the first place I went? Why, Camden of course! Shopping Mecca. So after buying a pair of killer heels and meeting my friend for a Kopparberg, I wandered off to the Electric Ballroom in search of a bargain.

That’s where I first discovered Emma-Jane. Tucked away on a tiny stall in the Ballrooms corner was the most fantastic selection of repro boudoir lingerie I’d ever seen. I bought some black and white stripy knickers, took Emma-Janes card and promised to get in touch. I caught up with her a couple of weeks later to find out more about a fashion renegade who eschews style rules and icons in favour of spontaneity and a DIY ethic. In her own words, “I just wear whatever I like, whenever I like!”
Based in East London, Emma Jane started out when her mother used to teach her to embroider and sew from an early age. Various attempts (some successful!) at making her own clothes led to her taking an O.N.D & H.N.D in Fashion Design when she left school, but from there the path wasn’t so smooth, as EJ explained:

I found it hard to get into Fashion Design when I left college so worked in various shops for years! I got married a few years back & my husband was going to open a shop so I stayed at home sewing/designing clothes with the aim of selling the clothes when we had the shop! The shop never happened & I still had all the clothes I'd made, so eventually I decided to try to sell them at Spitalfields market as I discovered I loved being at home & making clothes! It was a success & I'm now selling my clothes from my website ( & from Camden's 'The Electric Ballroom', London!.”

Emma-Jane now has an impressive catalogue of beautiful home-made items ranging from baby-doll lingerie sets to gingham dresses and mens dungarees, all of which are one-off pieces made by the lady herself, dreamed up and bought to reality as she goes along:

“I design my collection spontaneously. I get the idea of what I'm going to make just by seeing the fabric, usually! I get inspiration from the fabric type/colour etc. & the design just comes to me from there!”

Despite the massive amounts of interest people have in her designs and the success of the business so far, Emma Jane has no plans to expand, claiming autonomy as her reason;

"I do everything myself,the designing, fabric buying,making etc..I don't want to employ anyone else!"

So for now, it seems, Emma Jane Clothing is going to remain the Electric Ballrooms best kept secret... - check it out ASAP!

© Copyright Betti Hunter 2009

Monday, 15 June 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever...

The hotter than hells mouth weather in Cardiff is prevailing, so today my thoughts were less on fashion, more on how to keep cool without being carted off in a paddywagon for indecent exposure.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm always wired for costume over comfort. Still, I decided to keep it minimal today, opting for this cute-as-a-kitten-in-a-sock sundress that I found in a little boutique in Cardiff called @Fab. Its got a darling Cath Kidston-esque print with a magenta waistband and buttons, and I swear the uber-flattering 50's high-school sweetheart cut is capable of giving anyone who wears it the figure and proportions of Cheryl Cole. No lie, its magic, and was ridiculously cheap, putting me only £25 out of pocket.

Teamed with an oversized pearl and ribbon necklace from one of Camden Stable Markets myriad stalls, plus a pair of cream loafers from H&M, it was the perfect ensemble for an afternoon of strawberry picking with Father Dearest =) Bliss

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Anna Sui

As she's been my favourite designer since I can remember, i thought it would be fitting to kickstart this blog with a quick biography of Ms Sui, and a look at her new collection.

Anna Sui
b.1964, Detroit, Michigan
Moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design.
After leaving Parsons,she worked for a variety of junior sportswear companies whilst designing clothes from her apartment which went on to retail at etseemed New York department stores Macy's and Bloomingdales. Encouragement came from supermodel friends Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell, and in 1991 she launched her first catwalk show to astounding success. Following the impressive reception her first collection received, she opened her own boutique at 113 Greene Street in Soho, New York. As word spread, Sui's reputation flew to stratospheric heights, and now her runway shows are world reknowned and anticipated for their unique music selection, background designs, and of course, the jaw-dropping designs themselves.
During her time as a designer she has won countless awards and accolades, most notably the CFDA Geoffrey Beeny Lifetime Achievement Award (past winners have included Ralph Lauren, Yves St Laurent and Diane Von Furstenburg. She was also recently named in Time magazines 'Top Five Fashion Icons'. She's built her career on "never pander[ing]" (attrib. New York Times)to the media and her critics, a strategy thats seen her profile expanding beyond all belief. In 2007 she launched a more youthful range, Dolly Girl, and in 2009 debuted a childrens line called Anna Sui Mini.
Her other ventures also include designing a line of mobile phones for Samsung, releasing a collection of 12 perfumes (my personal favourite being Secret Wish with the little fairy on the cap!) and for her fall collection premiered a line of exquisite Anna Sui shoes. What next?!

"If you're going to have a show, then have a show." - Anna Sui, 2009

Proust and the 'Paris of the Gay Nineties' were key inspirations for this collection. I've picked out four of my favourite ensembles, the best of which (in my humble opinion) being the insanely nu-dandy brocade jacket (almost a smoking jacket, to my eyes - not too sure on the mad-crow headgear, mind) modelled by the divine Agyness Deyn, which looks like its been pulled straight out of the wardrobes of one of Oscar Wildes hangers-on. Aapart from the standard Autumn-Winter monochrome affairs, there were some beautiful peacock and cerulean blue shades on show, embellished wonderfully with all sorts of brocade, embroidery and beading, and emitting a gloriously decadent vibe. Rose prints, soutache trims and black velvet were also sprinkled liberally throughout the collection, and in my opinion its beaten her slightly 'safe' spring summer collection hands down. Opinions/constructive criticism welcome =)
The yellow light of an opal
on the white-walled houses dies,
the roadway beyond my garden
it glimmers with gloden eyes.
Alone in the faint spring twilight
The crepuscle vague and blue,
Every beat of my pulses
Is quickened by dreams of you.
You whom I know and know not,
You come as you came before,
Here in the misty quiet,
I greet you again once more.
The dim grass stirs with your footstep,
The blue dusk throbs with your smile;
I and the world of glory
are one for a little while.
The spring sun shows me your shadow,
the spring wind bears me your breath,
you are mine for a passing moment
but I am yours to the death.
- Rosamund Marriott Watson
(I thought a nice poem by one of the reknowned 18th century decadents fitted the theme of this post rather well!)

Intro, one-two...

So hi.

I came up with this idea a few months ago, but have only recently decided to bring it to fruition.
The idea: A girl with a passion for fashion so strong that she's willing to dedicate most of her day and a whole blog to it. I'm no stranger to the blogosphere, having written a whole load of teenage-angsty livejournal entries in the past, but I decided that at the grand old age of 21 I should give the self-indulgence a rest and get started on something people may actually want to read.
Hence Le Freak, C'est Chic. A series of blogs forthcoming, if you will, about every aspect of fashions present and past that interest and inspire me. Here, you can expect to find blogs and articles from across the fashion spectrum. I aim to bring to you, dear reader, some or all of the following:
  • Features and Articles about a huge range of designers, whether mainstream, indie, up-and-coming, amateur or otherwise.
  • Personal style updates, documenting my precarious tip-toeing through the world of style.
  • Fashion shoots featuring the cream of the crop from my local indepedent retailers.
  • Lady-on-the-street interviews, real fashion from and for real people.
  • Articles about fads and fashions from the past, present, and even the future! (If I can get access to a ruddy time machine, that is)
  • Interviews with various low-key fashionista rockstars to get their take on what is hotter than hells mouth right now.

So here we go. Lets get this started. Are you with me?