Posts Categorised: Lifestyle/Fashion

INSPIRE ME – with Beyond Skin

Today I would like to share with you, my interview with Heather Whittle and Natalie Dean, duo behind vegan shoe brand Beyond Skin.

It can be hard to find non leather footwear that is on trend and stylish but Beyond Skin design and produce fashionable, well made shoes – with love …

What inspires your brand, Beyond Skin ?

Beyond Skin is a British, indie, luxury, vegan footwear brand.  Our uniqueness lies as much in our approach as it does in our design aesthetic of dynamic, vintage inspired styling.

Our philosophy creates the opportunity for us to embrace an unusual use of fabrics, prints and weaves within our designs, which has become our signature style.

Although fundamentally we are a cruelty-free brand, sustainability is equally at the core of our philosophy.

Do you work to fashion forecasts or prefer to focus on your own ideas ? 

When we start designing our new collection, we do refer to trends & forecasts, but mainly we are led by our own ideas.  We often find that the two are serendipitously fused.  We believe it’s important to retain a focus on our own ideas & inspiration, as that is what makes each designer different.

We do our trend research at textile tradeshows, like Lineapelle, to source new fabrics & suppliers for our new collections.  Our next step is creating some sketches by hand then translate our finished design to a detailed working drawing.   This is then passed on to our manufacturer to be turned in to a sample.

Is it more challenging to produce vegan and vegetarian shoes i.e. the fabrics etc ?

We believe that the manufacturing process is the main obstacle that we come across producing non-leather shoes.   The textile industry has developed tremendously over the last few years & as demand increases we see that there are more & more incredible alternatives to real leathers available.

The most popular misconceptions of faux leather are that it is not breathable, not eco-friendly and is cheap.  Nowadays most leather skins are super cheap as they are sourced from the developing world where regulations regarding leather production, effluent and environmental policies are virtually non existent.

The technology of synthetics nowadays is super advanced and all our Italian made faux leather and suede’s cost considerably more than most skins and are of remarkable quality.

There are now many companies experimenting with recycled PET plastic so it won’t be long before we are able to use recycled faux leather’s in our line.  Currently each season a large core of our collections are produced in a sustainable faux suede alternative called Dinamica.  This fabric breathable, expensive and made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottletops and has the look and feel of real suede yet unlike its real suede counterpart, can get wet, be cleaned and does not watermark.  Due to it’s incredible durability it is used in the auto-industry by both Jaguar and Mercedes Benz for their high-end interiors.

Beyond Skin is the first footwear label to utilise this incredible, sustainable material, which could potentially, one day replace real suede.

Aside from ensuring your shoes are 100% vegan – what are other important factors in the design of your shoes ?

Our philosophy is that we are a cruelty-free brand, and our styling has a vintage, feminine design.  We want to demonstrate that vegan shoes can be fashionable, and comfortable.

Quality is imperative for us, as we want to provide non-leather shoes, which are well -made, not cheap PVC shoes that are so readily, and cheaply, available on the market.  All of our shoes are currently made in Spain, it’s important to us that our shoes are made by workers who are receiving a fair wage, in decent working conditions.

It is our design, product and brand that makes Beyond Skin unique.

Are the products you use ever evolving ?

Absolutely, there are always new fabrics becoming available to the market, as demand increases and technology advances.

I love your bridal range – which style is most popular ?

We love our range of Bridal Shoes too – it’s incredible how hard it can be to find a delicately designed pair of wedding shoes that are free from leather.  The most popular style has been the ‘Fiona’ style, which is cream faux suede, mid wedge peep toe court shoe with a flower detail on the toe.  We’ve been selling these continually really well this season.

What’s your overall best seller ?

For this season, AW’13, we have launched a new Diffusion Line of more wearable, affordable shoes, which have been very well received.  From this capsule collection, the little flat pumps Joanie have flown out of the window!  We sell plain courts, with vintage silhouettes featuring our key bold use of printed fabrics.  This is a signature look for Beyond Skin.

Which Season are you working on right now ?

We have just finished the selling season of SS’14, and are now designing our Autumn/Winter 2014 collection.  We are using lots of deep & rich autumnal colours & some very tactile textures…

Can you give some advice for someone wanting to start a company selling ethical products ?

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  We all have ideals and philosophies that we want to work to, but as you & the world changes, it’s good to be open & adaptable. We have had to make compromises along our journey, we first wanted to have all shoes made in the UK as this was a strong USP of our brand.  However, as our business grew, we needed to confront this approach & we ended up moving to Spanish manufacturers.  We would advise to be open to making some compromises and reach new solutions to new problems you may encounter.

We have discovered that as long as you are transparent with your audience about the decisions & changes you have made, that no-one can get frustrated or upset.  Determination & passion go a long way, these are the key ingredients for starting an ethical company.

Thanks Heather and Natalie. Great advice and gorgeous shoes !

To see more of their range, their website is

You can also follow Beyond Skin on twitter – @BeyondSkinTweet or become a fan on facebook.

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INSPIRE ME – with Lucy in Disguise

Sarah-Lily-Rankin-colourAs a vintage clothing lover I have followed the progress of Lucy in Disguise ever since they started out in 2010, especially because the owners of the brand, sisters Lily Allen and Sarah Owen, have created something unique and manage to source the most beautiful pieces.

As well as their online website Lucy in Disguise offers rails of gorgeous items from the 20s right through to the 90s in their Soho Boutique –  there’s also a parlour where you can have your hair and make up styled and they offer ” Events Space ” if you’re looking to hold a truly vintage party. 

Sarah has very kindly shared some of the inspiration behind their brand, how they go about sourcing their garments and plans for the near future … Salon-2-copy

Your Drama Parlour sounds fantastic – what does it offer ?

When we started LiD we really wanted to re – create that experience of getting ready for a big night out at home with your friends, and so it was always part of the plan to have an in store salon where you could complete your look with hair and make up. When I heard that Vicky, who runs the Drama Parlour, was looking for a space for her salon, I knew her team would be the perfect addition to the family. I’ve known Vicky for years and as well as being a fab hairdresser she very much shared my vision for creating a cool environment with good people, good music and good vibes. The Drama Parlour offers contemporary cut and colour, vintage styling and make up looks created by top make up artists.

You stock your own brand of candles amongst other things – what inspired the scents you have chosen ?

We worked together with an amazing scent designer, Azzi Glasser, to come up with the scents. We have three different scents – Rose, Sequoia wood and Fig which are all very different but really represents the diversity of our Lucy customers as they range from a very classical floral scent ( Rose ) to a more subtle one ( Sequoia Wood ) to a punchy, fruity scent ( fig ).

What would you say, differentiates your store from other vintage clothing shops ?

The key thing that makes our store different from your typical vintage shop is that we are extremely particular about our edit and in the way we merchandise our stock. We hand pick each item rather than buying in bulk and consequently we believe every single item on our rails is amazing. We didn’t want it to be the type of shop you had to rummage through rails crammed full of okay clothes to find that one brilliant piece. Its a shop for the busy, modern shopper who might not necessarily have the time to hunt for a good bit of vintage, rather our customer expects to come into our store and find everything cleaned and displayed beautifully with one to one assistance to help them find that perfect piece. lid-shop-at-night

Is there an era or Designer that is most popular with your clothing ? Which is your favourite ?

The 60s is consistently a favourite, but we definitely notice how catwalk trends affect what eras people are looking for. The single most asked for item is a bias cut 30s dress similar to the green silk one Kiera Knightley wore in atonement.

When you are sourcing your vintage pieces – how on earth do you keep focused and choose what is right for your store ?

The buying is the best bit ! It’s so exciting ! When you come across a good haul that you know your customers will love there really is no better feeling. I shop in many different ways – sometimes I’m focused on finding a particular item, other times I’m simply on a treasure hunt. I usually keep one eye on the trends and seasons of the moment, but I’m not bound by it, after all, vintage by its very nature is timeless, so if I see a good quality or unique piece at a good price I will snap it up no matter what time of year or whats going on in the contemporary clothes marketplace.

Which era of fashion do you think is most underrated ? – Why ? MG_1855.e1

I don’t really notice any one era being particularly underrated. I do find though that people tend to not be so keen on the era they were a teenager in; my mother hates 70s fashion, my grandmother shuns the 40s and instead loves the glamour of the 50s, I’m not as in love with the 90’s as the rest of the world seems to be right now. I would put this down to teenage hood being when we start to experiment with fashion, consequently making a few fashion mistakes along the way and when we get to our twenties and are a little bit more settled in terms of the way we dress, we would rather forget the experimental years that preceded it.

Can you tell me what plans you have for Lucy in Disguise ?

The next 12 months for us will be focused on expanding our online business. Our e – comm shop is still very young and we’re learning more and more about it everyday. Its so important in todays marketplace to have a strong online presence, and this is no less true for us than anyone else. We’ll definitely do another Lucy in Disguise range in the future and also have plans to delve further into the beauty world, but you’ll just have to watch this space on that one !

Thanks Sarah, looking forward to it. :)

You can follow Lucy in Disguise London on twitter @lucyin_Disguise and become a fan on facebook. If you want to have a look at their online vintage clothing, book an appointment in the Drama Parlour or enquire about Event Space – go to

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All images copyright Lucy in Disguise London 2013.

Geisha girls jumper LOVE

Having written about Markus Lupfer before – I don’t want to repeat myself too much on how much I love this brand.

Then he puts Japanese Blossom and Geisha girls on his jumpers and I have no choice in the matter ! These are for sale exclusively on the Net a Porter website.

His pieces are always so distinctive and well made too in my opinion. I have spotted Zoe Ball wearing them a fair bit so she must be a fan.

What would be really appreciated ;) is a slightly more affordable line to make these beauties available to all. I know that there was a Topshop one a while ago and everything sold really quickly.

Can we have some more please, Markus Lupfer ?

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Vintage Venture at The Corn Exchange

IMG_2188Just recently, my friend Sarah Belinda and I took some space at The Corn Exchange in Harleston, Norfolk, selling our dresses, bags and cushions. Sarah is a very talented dressmaker who has taught me so much – she also stocks a gorgeous collection of vintage frocks and scarves. IMG_2181


The place itself is an absolute dreamy haven for vintage lovers and open 7 days a week. I feel like I have stepped back in time when I walk through the doors. There’s a tea room and even an old fashioned pub along with lots of retro finds – I also spotted some perfectly kitsch pieces. With various shops to peruse – it’s well worth a visit and Harleston is a very pretty town with a real sense of creativity.

Andy and I have got our eye on some of the vintage music items – but this vinyl musical jewellery box is my favourite thing so far. Excuse the slight glint but I took the photo through the glass. :) Corn

If you can’t make it to the Corn Exchange at the moment then there’s always my Etsy shop for now ;) …

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My new Crayons print dress – fabric from Minerva Crafts


The lovely people at online craft store Minerva Crafts got in touch to ask if I would like to pick a dress fabric of theirs to use in a project which gave me the opportunity to make something for myself – always a treat :) There were loads to choose from but I plumped for the Pencil Crayons by Timeless Treasures. It’s bold and kitsch and exactly my kind of print.

As I didn’t want to lose the print in gathers or panels, I thought a simple skirt part which I drew up myself – and for the top just a few darts and also lined it ( but not the skirt ). It sits just under the knee and I will probably wear this dress in the Autumn with a top underneath and leggings. IMG_2087


It was a nice fabric to work with – good quality cotton … and I have a little bit left over so might make my girls a little skirt each too :) I will definitely be using more of their fabrics and they have a whole host of other items for knitting, sewing and crafts  – have a look if you fancy – – fab shop !

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May the glory of Hi Tops be with you …

Maybe it’s because she was my childhood Super heroine but I became unreasonably excited when I spotted these Wonder Woman Converse recently. You may already know that I have a slightly out of control collection of hi tops that has grown a little more since the last blog post ( I blame it on being a vegetarian hence most shoe ranges are annoyingly limited ). So it was no bother convincing myself that I needed them. In my life. Immediately.






The rest is history. They’re here in my grasp and I will cherish and love them forever more !

Who was your childhood hero / heroine ?

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Teacher Gift Ideas !

Teacher gifts flowers plantsFinally, the Summer holidays are upon us. Woo flippin’ hoo ! It’s helpful being able to focus on sewing when the kiddies are at School but the best thing ever is just spending time with the girls and hanging out. So far I’ve completed my second 5k this weekend with my bro ( they were brilliant supporters, cheering at the side lines along with my Mum and Sister ! ) and we’ve painted the new Summer house in the garden. It was my youngest daughters last day at Pre School on Friday – a very bitter sweet milestone. She has had the most amazing, lovely teachers and has really flourished there. She’s ready though to move on so it’s all good.

How do you say thank you ? I’m sure they receive lots of choccies and wine so I got them some plants and put them in teeny terracotta pots. It was nice to get everyone a little something and it didn’t cost too much. kid sewing patterns

It’s scary how fast the years pass – I can’t believe both my Daughters are so grown up now. I was having a little sort out of their clothes recently and found the first dresses that I ever made them when I was learning to sew – McCall’s M5033 and Simplicity 3510 patterns – they were huge a few years ago and now they’ve pretty much grown out of them !

That’s why we’re going to make the most of the next few weeks  – quality time and we’ll make sure we enjoy every moment !

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A little bit of a bling.

blueThere are some really simple things that you can do to up – cycle your clothing and it doesn’t have to cost anything or at least very little. In this case I spent £1.05 in total on some new red heart buttons.

This cardigan was okay, nothing particularly wrong with it –  it just needed a few things doing to it so that I felt happy wearing it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I bought it originally to jazz it up a bit but it got neglected… Awww.

The alterations were so simple. I just marked on the arms, the length I wanted them to be adding the seam allowance and chopped off the rest. If you do this – I find it easier and quicker to measure from the cuffs upwards. I then used some of the arm remnants – folded them over and pressed to make the cuffs which I then sewed back on and overlocked.

Then I snipped off the original buttons and put them in my stash for something else – and sewed on the heart ones which are lovely and shiny. :) It only took half an hour so very quick too. :)

Because the pictures are inside and outside, the colour of the cardigan looks quite different. It’s more the top picture and the bright red heart buttons look very pretty against it.

Do you alter your clothes or do you have something lurking in the cupboard that you want to up – cycle ? Leave me a comment if you do. :)

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Don’t forget my Nikki Strange iPhone 5 case giveaway ! Enter HERE.

Harry Duley Top and my home made Colette Clover Pants…

This is the first time I have used a Colette pattern and although I had to fiddle about a bit with it – I’m really pleased with how these pants turned out. I say pants, but to me they are trousers. But .. I’ll go with the original. :)

I don’t know if it’s just me but I cut out the pattern using my measurements and the pants were massive on me ! So I shaved off a lot of fabric from inside and outside leg ( naughty me, should’ve made up a toile first ) and some from the crotch – too much information ? :) Obviously, I had to make the waistband length shorter too which took no time. I used version 1 of the 2 but took out the front pockets.









When I make some more ( which I definitely will because they are so comfortable ) they will be much more fitted and 50s – probably in a gingham fabric.  I’ve cut the pattern to a size 0 now because with stretchy fabric it seems this is the size for me with these … ( not usually the case ! ) My only other observation is that the back waistband sits lower than the front but not a problem – it works.

British Clothing brand Harry Duley very kindly sent me the low cowl neckline, capped sleeve top that I am wearing with the trousers – it was so beautifully wrapped when it arrived. It felt like a real treat opening it up. All of their items are designed and made in the UK – and feel really soft !

I do love a t – shirt and needed a bit more colour in my wardrobe. I’ll wear it for Summer, then layer it up for the colder months. The draped front works on most shapes, I think. It’s good for me as I am quite large busted with a smallish frame and it feels nice to wear.

They also do an item called The Tube which looks interesting, it’s essentially a band of versatile fabric shaped from waist to hem that gives the effect of wearing lots of top layers, without having to actually wear lots of clothes. There’s also one for Mums to Be. Great idea, don’t you think ? :)

Have a look at their site – to see more.

Have you tried using Colette patterns before ? How did it work out for you ?

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Feel free to use my images – please just ping a link back to me here at LucyLovesYa.

I have received no payment for this post from Harry Duley. Just the lovely top to review !

INSPIRE ME – with Zoe McConnell

As someone who uses the point and shoot technique when it comes to taking photo’s  – I grabbed the opportunity recently to ask celebrity and fashion photographer, Zoe McConnell some advice… and then I sneaked in some questions about her recent work…. ;)

How did you get into photography?

My venture into photography was an unexpected one – I was a model for quite a few years and had always been intrigued by the other side of the lens. I was on a modelling assignment in Majorca and the client asked me if I would be interested in shooting for them. I jumped at the chance – straight away I was calling up model friends and inviting myself to their houses to do shoots with them, learning as I went, building up my portfolio and developing my style. It felt right. I started out in the mens lifestyle market and had a very clear idea of how I thought the girls should be portrayed – I wanted to bring out their personality as well as making them look sexy. I was lucky as my style seemed to hit a cord and I was very soon published and things moved on from there!

You work with lots of high profile singers, actors and models – Did this come about quite early on in your career or did it take time to get so many good gigs ?

It took a few years to build up to celebrity work – At the beginning I was shooting friends and models, shooting a lot for myself and exploring my style and establishing relationships with clients. It takes time to build up trust and get yourself known. I was fortunate to have a two day shoot with Rihanna recently, which was a real pleasure as her energy and vibe are right up my street.

What kind of qualities are important to have if you want to be a successful photographer ?

Before doing photography professionally myself, I thought it was as simple as pressing a button and being creative – as it turns out that is a very basic part of it !

Patience, energy, the ability to problem solve, people skills – it’s important to be able to lift people’s spirits and keep your team motivated. On a shoot, as well as being photographer, I am a clown – I’m not sure that makes me successful, but it helps the day and it gets the models laughing !

What do you love most about your job ?

Being able to express myself creatively and more often than not, getting paid to do so! I love to make people look good, making them feel good about themselves.

After a good shoot you get a rush of adrenalin and want to do it all again, much like a performer leaving the stage – that feeling is addictive and motivates you on to the next one. Travel. There isn’t much I don’t like really – that in itself is a great and rare thing.

Where do you find most of your inspiration for your work ?

Inspiration comes from all around – clothing and how clothes can be used in a sexy way is a big one for me.

I search the internet and magazines for visual references on a daily basis, it’s important to know what other people are doing and inspire new ideas, but overall the inspiration comes from the people I shoot. For my personal work, I style a lot of my own shoots as I love to tailor the looks to the subject and my idea of how they should be seen for that particular shoot.

Two ends of the spectrum … What’s the most lavish photo shoot you have found yourself on and the… erm, most challenging… ?

My most challenging photo-shoot was an advertising shoot with a famous face. I will avoid naming names, but there wasn’t much about the shoot that wasn’t a stress. We had travelled to an old vintage location in the middle of no-where to do the shoot and even though it provided some cool backdrops it was freezing cold – add to this a very grouchy, unwilling model, we were never going to be in for a good day !

I’m not sure if lavish is the correct term for any of my shoots, I tend to find myself in East end studios that are lit like airports or waiting around for celebrities – but I love it and the outcome is lavish to the viewer and that is what matters ! It’s all smoke and mirrors and very bright lights !

Your photo’s always looks beautifully lit – is this an important factor in your work ?

Thankyou! : ) I’m all about immediacy and high impact, so high powered flash is the way I go – it’s also incredibly flattering in most cases which never gets complaints. I like my lighting to be very bright and punchy, with the odd exception. I like to keep it simple, raw, but polished.

What kind of first camera would you recommend to someone wanting to become a fashion or portrait photographer ?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it professionally, but the Canon Powershot series are great little cameras and come in at an affordable price – I have a g12 that I use regularly and it’s great in both manual and auto modes. Also, never cut out the possibility of using film – play around with lomography and vintage cameras to work out the look that is right for you and sees out your vision.

I started out with a Canon 1DS Markii – it was a fab camera and really allowed me to work how I wanted to. I still work with Canon (now a 1DS Markiii) and also a Hasselblad which are truly beautiful cameras – perfect for crisp portraits with lots of detail and integrity, but rather pricey – so something to build up to !

Can you offer some advice on how to have a long career in the media industry ?

Work hard, keep learning and moving on in what you do – don’t stand still as no -one will wait for you. Meeting people and self promotion are really important – although the latter is the one thing I really struggle with !

Is this year going to be a busy one for you ? What’s coming up ?  

This year is looking positive so far – I’m looking forward to a couple of trips to Ibiza this month ( one for a fashion campaign and the other a celebrity cover shoot ) – it’s always great to explore new locations, get out of the studio and get some sunshine !

There are few more cover shoots on the horizon and this year I am keen to shoot a great deal more for myself – expanding the portfolio. Things tend to come up last minute, so you never know what could be round the corner…

Thanks so much, Zoe. So nice to learn more about someone with such passion for their work. Her energy is very inspiring.

I recently went for a Canon Powershot too – glad it was a good choice … just got to learn how to use it well now !

If you’d like to see more of Zoe’s photography, she has a website or follow her on Twitter – @ZOEMCCONNELL

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All images copyright of Zoe McConnell.