Friday, 30 September 2016

The #BestVersionOfYou With Lloyds Pharmacy

A week ago I spent the morning breakfasting with Lloyds Pharmacy as they explained their new #BestVersionofYou campaign. We walked around chatting to reps from the retailers that will be stocked in store, took in some personalised advice and had the campaign and its message explained to us by Maeve Madden, face of the initiative and model and personal trainer.

What really pleased me, in particular, is that the campaign is not only relevant and something many of us worry about, but the way it's being discussed is much healthier and positive than the message that we are receiving from all angles. This campaign is not about being skinny or just losing a lot of weight. It is about being the best version of you, about being healthier, happier, about having more energy and enjoying your life.

Earlier this month, Lloyds actually surveyed 1,000 Irish adults about health and wellbeing and found the only 18% felt that they eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise. And, with Ireland set to be the fattest nation in Europe by 2030, health  and a balanced lifestyle are obviously a concern for most of us.

In the face of this, however, Lloyds don't just want to sell us some "detox" teas that cost several times more than they should, they want to engage more fully with the public and help us figure out dietary plans, supplements and methods to make our lifestyles healthier. There are a number of healthcare testing services in-store such as Body-Mass-Index, blood pressure and cholesterol testing and ongoing advice from in-house pharmacists. In addition to this, there will be dedicated Health and Wellness stores across their network of pharmacies around the country - initially being available in 25 of their branches.

The emphasis here is taking your health in your own hands and improving your life, not worrying about numbers on a scale or a label inside a garment. While I'm inherently skeptical of anytime health is sold on the back of profit and marketing campaigns, at least the sentiment here is a lot more positive. And in a world of dizzying mixed messages and varying reports, it's always good to be able to have ready access to experts willing to help tailor advice to you about what you actually need.

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

LFW SS17 - Day V

The final day of LFW was relatively quiet for me and it was necessary! I had never attended for the full five days before and keeping up the pace of seeing shows, navigating the city and meeting friends was quite intense.

After saying goodbye to my lovely friend and host, Nez, I headed in to Brewer Street Carpark, the LFW hub, for a hair appointment with Toni and Guy. Lucy, who did my hair, was incredibly sweet and the whole experience was a nice foil to the sweaty, tiring trip I'd had in to Central London that morning. We decided to cut a proper fringe in, instead of the cautious, half-there one I'd had done before. I'm still getting used to the finished product and, as it's the first time I've had a fringe since I was ten or eleven, it kind of feels like I'm wearing a wig every time I look in the mirror. I have to learn how to style it properly but I really like the result.

Once I'd had my hair done, I made my way over to the Aspinal of London store on Bond Street to have the notebook I'd been gifted personalised with my initials and, on the way back, went in search of the Supreme store in Soho. Sadly, the store and its stock was small and limited and the search prolonged - it is rather hard to find on the map.

At this point I was starving and it was getting on in the day so I headed back to Brewer Street and had lunch in the press area before heading up to the Sid Neigum show, my last of the season. Neigum presented a lovely palate cleanser to finish things off and the press packs featured a note that proclaimed "less is always more". In terms of palette, this was definitely the case, largely being monochrome, with the odd pop of vibrant colour. Restraint vibrated off the entire collection. Draping, a-symmetry, pulling, nipping, tucking and exaggerating all transformed basic shirts and dresses into something a little fresher, while remaining wearable and easy. This easiness translated to a certain sexiness - a girl not trying too hard, relaxed and luxurious. The collection as a whole was something I could get down with but there were moments that made me a little dubious - a shapeless jumpsuit in a fabric that resembled a softer, metallic burlap and a black jacket that bore an uncanny likeness to melted plastic. If we overlook these moments, however, Neigum gave us an offering that was much more minimalist and restrained than most of what went down runways this season and stuck out amid all of the sporty, throwback, vibrant noise elsewhere. And, much as I like a lot of that noise, I can't deny that it was a pleasant break.

After that I took a bus to Victoria, a train to Gatwick and spent my evening eating a leisurely dinner in Wagamama before hopping on my flight home where I'm very much glad to be. I love Fashion Week but being in London always reminds me of how much I love the relatively quieter and calmer pace of life and intimate atmosphere of Dublin. Until next season!

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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

LFW SS17 - Day IV

Day four of LFW SS17 kicked off with a rather luxurious start. My first presentation of the day was for Aspinal of London and was being housed in Claridge's. The setting was incredible, the attention to detail impeccable and the bags were beautiful. And they absolutely spoiled the attendees. Cakes floated around the room, Champagne was flowing and we were each gifted a beautiful leather-bound notebook as we left. The highlight of the collection, for me, has to be the pastel section. Bags, clutches and accessories in mint, baby blue and pale pink shades were set against a Barbie Dreamhouse backdrop and were every inch the kind of elegance that the brand is known for, just given a particularly pretty and summery vibe for the season that was in it.

After the presentation I had to dash off to meet friends for lunch at Ten Ten Tei, a little Japanese place with charmingly grumpy staff and delicious food - I'd highly recommend it. Once lunch and coffees had been had, I brought Matthew with me to the Fyodor Golan presentation. Last season, I wasn't really feeling the overwhelmingly neon collection and, while there was neon present this season, I found the overall direction a lot more cohesive and pleasing. Golan's love for bright hues, metallics and clubwear was given a cyber punk makeover that reminded a little of a noughties sci-fi drama in the best possible way. Think goggles, a-symmetry, distressed denim, holographic fabrics and elaborate hairstyles.

Three days in a pair of beloved ankle boots that barely had an insole left meant that, after Fyodor Golan, I dragged Matthew to the Primark on Oxford Street (i.e. Hell on Earth) to find something I could bear hobbling around in.

Then we said our goodbyes and I hobbled right on to the Ashish show, delighted for myself and trying to ignore the burning pain. I missed the show last season because of my flight which devastated me because of my absolute grĂ¡ for the brand. Thankfully, this season more than made up for it. Ashish Gupta, in the face of Brexit and the rumblings of intolerance that followed it, brought India to the catwalk and embraced the diversity that makes the capital great. The Delhi-born designer personally sported a sweatshirt that simply stated "Immigrant" and boldly showed just how vital being multicultural is to fashion. "Old Bollywood" was the inspiration and a sitar player filled the packed room with music as a canopy of fairy lights glittered overhead and an incredibly (and importantly) diverse procession of models in elaborate gilded headpieces, embroidered and vibrant garments, painted faces resembling gods and goddesses and accessorised with live flowers and even a live snake, floated by. By far, it was one of the most exhilarating and beautiful collections of the season with a depth to it that is often absent and shows exactly why fashion is about so much more than clothes draped over flesh.

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Monday, 19 September 2016

LFW SS17 - Day III

Day three was like the inversion of day two. It was a lazy Sunday in the truest sense and, like the day before, I had just one show to attend but this time it was an evening show.

The day was spent brunching in my friend Nez's house with old housemates and once again being blown away by her exceptional cooking and hosting skills as we all caught up and dug into scrambled eggs, sourdough bread, avocados, butterbeans in a tomato sauce, fried spiralised potatoes, ginger and orange juice and pancakes - a stack of which were decorated with candles as everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

Then I went to the Brick Lane Market with another bunch of pals and spent the day browsing through clothes, being weirded out by a taxidermied mouse in a nurse costume, eating lots, hanging out in coffee shops that were way too loud and randomly really getting into MotoGP in a pub.

It was at this point that I had to excuse myself, say goodbye and head to my show. Cue several Underground stations being located, manic running around London with a map, sweating on the Underground and arriving a half hour late. Luckily the show was also running a half hour late.

Kristian Aadnevik showcased a collection that was sure to please his clientele. I have no doubt that, as per, supermodels will be photographed in his garmemts and they'll look every inch of the goddesses that he sent down the runway last night. Pretty, dramatic, sexy, eye-catching, they are clothes for confident women and it is apparent that the designer loves and admires women and wants to make them shine.

Are they entirely to my personal taste? Not as such but, then again, my red carpet moments are few and nonexistent.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

LFW SS17 - Day II

I only had one show to attend on day two of LFW this time around and it meant visiting my first strip club and doing so before 11am - what is my life?

Dilara Findikoglu showcased her excellent SS17 womenswear collection in a Soho strip club and the unusual choice was indicative of the desinger's tongue-in-cheek and rebellious nature. The clothes themselves stayed true to her distinct punky, rock and roll aesthetic but also paid particular homage to the female form in the play of conceal and reveal. Both sexy and pretty, the collection was immediately to my taste if not something I'd be far too shy (and fond of comfort) to personally don.

The rest of the day was spent writing up show reviews back at my friend and incredibly kind host's house and admiring her dog before meeting friends for dinner, then a giant gang for birthday drinks (a week early but I've decided to have parties in both London and Dublin this year) and a dubious night thereafter that will probably be funny someday....someday.

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