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August, this month we are loving… Picnics

Posted Yesterday by Fiona

August, this month we are loving… Picnics

There’s much more to eating outside than soggy, sandy sandwiches and being held hostage in the car by the wind and rain blowing horizontally across the car park. The Brits don’t let a little thing like weather spoil a picnic; indeed, nothing gets between us and our commitment to a picnic blanket.

I’m not sure which I love more, the great day out or the picnic itself. For me, the food is part of the adventure, making it, eating it and preferably sharing it. A day packed with friends, family and epic quantities of fun should be interspersed with all hands diving into the picnic basket to discover the delights hidden inside.

At this time of year there isn’t a time of day that doesn’t suit a picnic, breakfast, lunch or a sneaky summer supper all hit the spot when it comes to an Al Fresco adventure.

But what type of ‘picnicker’ are you? The professional, where going all-out on gastro style catering and luxury accessories are merely the bare essentials. Or the artisan, for whom things are a little more handmade, homespun and happily haphazard.

Whichever camp you find yourself falling into, when it comes to the food the general rule of thumb is to choose dishes that are better served cold than they would be hot. You can not go far wrong by following the fine example set by some of the great ‘picnickeers’ of our time, the Famous Five, Ratty, Moley and Mrs Beeton are all experts.

Things ‘not to be forgotten’ should include; rosy apples, a platter of cold meats, cherry cake, ginger beer and if you have a real taste for nostalgia, a stick of horse radish and a bottle of mint sauce – well corked. Real cutlery and plates and a jaunty woollen blanket are lovely for atmosphere. Corkscrews, napkins and a sharp knife also have their uses. However finger foods are a great way to avoid extra baggage, clearing up and minor injuries. For seating there is sure to be a suitable rock/log/bench near by ideal for seamlessly blending into your surroundings whilst admiring the wildlife.

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St. Albans

Posted 14th August 2014 by Fiona

St. Albans

With its colourful history (think rotten Romans and terrible Tudors), beautiful parks and cosmopolitan centre, St. Albans is certainly city for a great day out. It’s one of those places where you can find something for everyone; Historians, festival goers and fashionistas alike could happily while away the hours in this hidden haven of Hertfordshire.

Any budding historian would be in his element here, an original Roman city and road, Battle sites from the War of the Roses and home to the first British Saint – The city's namesake, Alban.

If you are more of a free spirit and would prefer to wander some of the less bustling corners of St. Albans you can explore the 100 acres of beautiful parkland in Verulamium Park, the orchard in the Abbey Cathedral or Kingsbury Water Mill.

As for the keen fashionistas amongst us, St. Albans has a buzzing shopping vibe from high street faves to quirky boutiques.  We love Christopher’s Place, home to Shoon, Whistles and French connection to name but a few.  It’s the perfect spot for a little style hunting and trend inspiring browsing. Not forgetting lunch… with Wagamamas, Carluccio’s and Zizzi’s it all feels very European and relaxed, which is just what you need after such a busy morning.

Did we mention pudding? The pudding Stop is an absolute must, dedicated to really good, homemade puddings and inspired by old fashioned, family favourites - what a delicious idea! Often filled with families, Christopher’s Place plays host to family friendly events from children’s petting farms to folk dancing. All in all an easy place to spend a day, or with all that to pack in... maybe two.

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Cool Camping

Posted 6th August 2014 by Fiona

Cool Camping

Ok, so it’s officially now warm enough to dust off and possibly de-mould the camping kit from last summer.  The best thing about camping is that there are so many wonderful places to stay from coast to country, mountains to moor land and they are all great places to escape, discover and do.

Once you’ve picked your pitch, start to visualise your cosy canvas home, the sweet sound of nature and campfires at sunset.  There are several different schools of thought when it comes to camping, those who like to keep it totally wild, the ‘Glamper’ and the all singing all dancing camping complexes. I think I fall into a ‘Wild Glamper’ category, if there is one. I love the thought of fresh filter coffee, solar fairy lights and feather duvets although I concede that fleece is far more practical on a potentially damp summer’s eve. Like anyone seeking a little refuge in nature it’s nice to do it without having to forgo too many of life’s little luxuries. For me that includes bunting, croissants and UGG boots.

There is a lot of effort involved in packing all the paraphernalia that goes with camping and it seems to be the same amount whether its for 24 hours or 2 weeks. It takes a lot of organising to sleep amongst the stars. ALWAYS….. Check your equipment. There is nothing worse than the discovery – on arrival - of a missing tent pole, airbed plug or a complete set of pegs. AND Pack the essentials. Food supplies, especially tea making equipment. Bedding, as warm as possible and lighting, torches, lanterns and lamps to illuminate your way over the guy ropes.

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'A shoe for Shoon' - Competiton Winner

Posted 30th July 2014 by Fiona

A-Shoe-for-Shoon-logo-small
The Winner of our ‘A shoe for SHOON’ competition is, Laura Kerry, fashion design and textiles student.

The presentation of Laura’s work is very professional and by creating a mini mood board we were able to clearly picture the style and personality of her customer.

“For the woman with a sense of adventure. For the woman who is constantly on the go.  For the woman who needs comfort and effortless summer style.” Laura

We were also impressed with the level of detail that went into the description.  Her style, intended for SS15, would be made from a soft, blue suede upper with cream leather lining and footbed – all of which would enhance a feeling of super soft comfort and luxury. As well as looking at relevant colours and materials, Laura has also included key features and benefits that are an integral part of good shoe design.

“A great unit, the perfect height.  The colours work well giving a pretty but practical style – very Shoon.”  Lesley.

Shoe-for-Shoon-winner - Laura Kerry

We caught up with Laura to fine out how she came up with her design.

What was the inspiration behind your design?
My shoe design was primarily inspired by flowers and the current trend for cut-out design. I therefore decided to create a heeled sandal with a petal inspired cut-out upper that was both stylish and practical. 

How did you research your style and customer?
Looking at the footwear that ‘Shoon’ already promoted and sold gave me a good insight into the style, colour and height of the shoes that their customers were interested in. Using magazines and fashion journals I was able to take trends into consideration to ensure my design was relevant and in-season.

Have shoes always been a passion for you?
Like most young aspiring designers, shoes are something I have always been passionate about. Wearing a pair of on-trend shoes can update and complete an outfit without the need to buy new clothes!

What are the major trends in footwear at the moment? 
Loafers, mules, chunky cut-out sandals and block heels are huge right now and are absolutely everywhere!

Who is your favourite footwear designer? 
Currently, I’d have to say my favourite footwear designer company would be Vagabond. Their instantly recognisable chunky shoes are stylish yet practical and hardwearing. 

If you could create a range of footwear what would be key to your designs, comfort, value, quality, the environment?
I believe that quality design is key when it comes to footwear. If I was to create a range of shoes I would focus on designing stylish yet comfortable footwear which are good value for money without compromising on quality.

Who are your influences?
My biggest influences when designing shoes are the footwear trends found on the catwalk. The likes of ACNE Studios and Miu Miu are particularly influential to my designs.

Which celebrity would you like to wear your shoes?
As my shoes are designed with the more mature lady in mind, I would like to think someone such as Twiggy, Gwyneth Paltrow or Jennifer Aniston might like my design!

What are your favourite fashion and footwear blogs? 
I am constantly on the look out for inspiring fashion/footwear blogs but my current favourites are Kayla Hadington, The pulse of Fashion  and Things to do and buy

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully working within the fashion/footwear industry. My dream would be to work as part of a design team for a fashion house or independent designer.

Heels or Flats?
Although I almost always wear comfy flats whist at university or on the go, heels are so much more fun to wear and style around! 

What are your 3 essential summer shoes? 
My essential shoes for this summer are chunky, cut-out truckers, jelly shoes and simple sliders for the beach!

What trends would you be working on for AW2014?
A/W 2014 is set to be all about heavy embellishment, snakeskin, colour blocking and geometric print design. These are all things to consider when designing for the season, which is bound to be bright and exciting!

 Well done and thank you Laura. 

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Lesley's thoughts on the season ahead

Posted 23rd July 2014 by Fiona

Lesley's thoughts on the season ahead

With autumn around the corner, and early styles arriving already, we’ve asked Lesley, our Footwear Buyer, for her thoughts on the season ahead...

Q: What excites you about AW14

lesley

A: Boots are at the heart of the range this autumn and with a diverse selection of styling to choose from it’s impossible to choose just one.  Key features are those details that make the difference; zips, buckles, laces, textures and quality of material in both casual and dressier styles.   Ankle boots in particular are a must-have look, everything from Chelsea boots and shoe-boots to urban styles.

Base colours are not simply black for AW14, but with greys ranging from almost black to lighter shades.  All shades of Navy will be popular and dark chocolate brown will take centre stage.  Jewel & bright tones really bring the base palette alive.  I’m going to add teals and berries into my wardrobe.  

You’ll see a lot of gorgeous textures through leather, suede and woven textiles set against one another to create interest.  When you add in the hardware of buckles and zips, in silver or gold tones, it really looks stunning.

Q: What will you be wearing this autumn?

A: I’m mad on boots so I’ll be wearing U.S Polo Assn (an exciting new brand launching this autumn) Jessica for a touch of western.  I also love the double buckle on Shoon Wickstead.  For casual days Shoon Track is a cool little boot.  For dressing up, Gerry Weber (another new brand for us this autumn) are just lovely.

Lesley's Favourites

Q; What is your best style tip for the season?

A: My style tip for autumn is using layering and beautiful knits in jumpers, trousers and skirts.  Also, how about an essential Faux-Fur trimmed collar on jackets and coats adding glamour and fun. 

 

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