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Belfast Fashion Week 2012 Recap…

I have been struck down with a pointless flu/cold/horrible cough for what feels like forever, and in typical annoying illness fashion, it landed just as a whole host of fab events took place in Belfast…meaning that rather than going out and appreciating all the fashionable happenings that the city has to offer over the past few weeks, I have been running home to work to get straight into my pyjamas and guzzle some lemsip.

One of these events was Belfast Fashion Week, which I was particularly cross to miss as it was celebrating not only fabulous designer fashion, but also wonderful local talent and the best of the high street. My favourite thing about Belfast Fashion Week is that you do not have to wait for months for the clothes you fall in love with on the catwalk to become available, if you love something you can purchase it the next day (or as as soon as your budget allows!) Each of the shows celebrates the trends of the season, meaning that the finest pieces of A/W 2012 were there to be enjoyed by attendees.

Though I was not at the shows, Cathy Martin, Director of Belfast Fashion Week, has talked us through the many highlights of the week…allowing me to fall in love with some spectacular outfits from the comfort of my own sofa!

Enjoy this recap of Belfast Fashion Week!

Cathy Martin said: “Thousands of style spotters were treated to a magnificent display of fashion as some of autumn/winter’s key trends, from Eastern Opulence to Military Magnificence, were put on show during the week-long celebration.

“The catwalks were ablaze with colour featuring royal blue, ravishing reds and burgundies and yell-out yellows; fabrics were luxurious and sumptuous with delicate embellishments adding fabulous flourishes across the boutique, local designer and high street collections.

“Fabrics sported everything from floral to geometric prints – and every style in between – while leather, monochrome dog-tooth and oriental trimmings kept style seekers on their toes.”

The busy programme included the ever-popular catwalk shows, fashion-centric workshops and tasteful afternoon teas, so there was something for fashion lovers of all ages.

“The week started off with a yummy mummy, dashing dads and chic kids fashion show and workshop event at W5 in partnership with The OUTLET. During the fun day children and their parents heard talks by various experts including a Clinique make-up artist who chatted about the science behind make-up; while professional photographer, Khara Pringle showed the children how using different camera settings can help capture striking images. The current Miss Northern Ireland, Tiffany Brien, talked about the importance of a nutritional diet for models and Eve Brannon, stylist at The OUTLET, talked about the educational side of the fashion industry.”

Fashion and furniture collided at the Fashion ReFound Exhibition which featured the talents of local designers on Wednesday, 17 October. Cathy continued: “Eco-conscious and chic-onomic furniture were the stars on Wednesday, featuring bespoke works from some local, up-and-coming designers including Grainne Maher, Jude Cassidy, Mary Murphy, Katie Brown, Larissa Watson, Mary Callan and Lisa Mc Cabe to name just a few.”

Una Rodden Dust Evening Dress £350

On Thursday 18 October it was time for some of Northern Ireland’s most gorgeous designer boutiques to stake their turn on the catwalk. “This popular night gave Blush, Harrison and Jourdan from the Lisburn Road, plus Diamond Dolls in Banbridge, The Snooty Fox in Dungannon and Natoria in Larne their moment of glory with accompanying pieces from designers Una Rodden (such as the gorgeous dress above) and Grainne Maher.

Miss Selfridge at CastleCourt Black Fishtail Dress £37 , Sequin Jacket £49 , Sequin Necklace £18.50, Black and Gold Clutch £22 & Black Lace Bow Boots £55

“Another smash hit of the week was the ever-popular High Street night on Friday 19 October which featured the autumn/winter collections from shopping centre CastleCourt including store Designers at Debenhams, Warehouse, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge (as pictured above), as well as collections from French Connection, Benetton, Marks & Spencer, Exhibit Clothing, Jigsaw and George at Asda. The OUTLET in Banbridge showed a range of brands which included Oasis, Next Clearance, L.K Bennett, Olsen and Stacatto to rapturous applause.”, said Cathy.

The schedule continued on Saturday and Sunday with a weekend of style and glamour that sounds pretty fabulous “Afternoon Teas were also on the menu on Saturday at the Merchant Hotel featuring fashion from Cruise at Victoria Square. Guests were treated to delicious sandwiches, petit pastries and tasty cakes all topped off with a sparkling cocktail courtesy of West Coast Cooler.

Guests also had the opportunity to ask Cruise stylists about any fashion-related dilemmas as well as getting to take a closer look at designers such as Victoria Beckham and Armani.

Stephen Mageean Bespoke 40′s Caramel And Damson Block Stripe Noreen Dress

“Then on Saturday night the stage was set for one of the biggest nights in fashion in Northern Ireland. The local designer catwalk show and Diet Coke design award allowed local designers a fantastic platform to showcase their collections to a keen fashion audience. Those whose collections and design ranges were on show included milliners Grainne Maher and John-Paul from Derry; renowned Belfast designer Una Rodden plus independents Nor Lisa, Jude Cassidy, Katie Wilson, Mary Callan, Ruedi Maguire, Stephen Mageean (pictured above) and from Unify Collective Fashion Studio, Sean Fitzimmon’s with his Van der Simon Knitwear label, Shauna Fay and David Henderson.”, said Cathy.

The week was rounded off with Style Sunday at James Street South. Cathy continued: “Fashion Week’s hair partner Andrew Mulvenna Hairdressing – executed a masterclass in professionalism as they turned six of Belfast’s top models into style divas. The make up team from Benefit – helped along by European make up champion Paddy McGurgan wowed the guests with top tips on how to look bang up to date and eternally chic at the same time.

“Stephen Mageean and the best fashions from across the whole week were also on show and experts on hand to answer any beauty questions from the sold out audience. Guests enjoyed a beautiful 3-course lunch prepared by chef, Niall McKenna as well as a delicious West Coast Cooler cocktail – all in aid of Mencap.”

Every show at this season’s series of events was completely sold-out proving that when it comes to fashion – Northern Ireland audiences just can’t get enough.

“I have been astounded by the success of this season’s shows – we are proud to be Northern Ireland’s premiere style event and will continue to fly the flag for local fashion outlets and designers and provide a platform for lovers of style to enjoy a slice of fashion in the city.”, said Cathy.

Preparations have already begun on the spring summer West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK shows – for further information on West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK log onto or

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Pretty? Ugly? Pretty Ugly?

I do love a heated fashion debate…recent arguments have included whether or not it is ok to wear nude heels? (I think so, my mum gave me fab LK Bennet pair that have been perfect for spring/summer weddings) Or when you should abandon fake tan in favour of tan tights (I say quite often, my attempts at fake tan have been pretty hilarious so far…tights are yet to let me down).

Few things will be as divisive as this season’s footwear, which straddles the line between pretty and ugly…whether it is embellishment, colour combinations, chunky heels, patterns, designers have been very brave in their decision making! It is to know whether to fall in love with these shoes, or to walk very quickly away and embrace nude heels again!

I think that this is the very essence of this kind of footwear…fashion has been embracing a pared down, simple mode for so long that now tables are turning…who cares if the colours don’t match, or if the heels are so high that you will have to take a taxi everywhere, or if they are so heavily embellished that it will be hard to make out that they are actually a shoe! It is time to forget the simple life and embrace the reality that some times things are pretty ugly!

All of the shoes pictured below are available from net-a-porter

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Today I went browsing…

Today was a very lazy (and slightly hungover) day for me…After a lovely breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup, I headed into town with some friends for a browse through the accessories and make up on offer in House of Fraser.

I didn’t buy anything….but that was not due to lack of temptation. In fact, I could have spent a lot of money very quickly if I had the chance! Sadly, due to a lack of funds, I left the shops empty handed, but with a head full of ideas about what I will be buying in the future, or adding to my Christmas list!

Here are my longed for items, all of which are available from House of Fraser


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This week’s column….pink is the new white?

Jessica Biel’s bold pink wedding dress may have divided opinion…but she is not the first star to have chosen the hue for her big day. Three other stars have walked down the aisle in blush shades this year, including Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon and Margherita Missoni. This indicates that big name brides are setting trends in moving away from the traditional white dress, in a bid to stand out from the crowd.

Labels such as Elie Saab, Chanel, Giambattista Valli and Valentino catered to the trend, previewing a selection of pink creations at the couture shows in Paris this spring. (photos from

Gwen Stefani was one of the first celebrities to move away from the all white bridal look, when she married Gavin Rossdale in 2002, wearing a unique pink and white dress. Talking about her one of a kind Christian Dior gown, which was created by John Galliano, she told Elle: “I said I wanted it to be over the top, but not traditional – I wanted it to be everything. He was, like, OK, and sent me these drawings of this unbelievable, perfect dress.”

Now, almost a decade later, it seems that pink has become the hottest shade to hit the wedding world. Last year Reese Witherspoon wore a pale pink Monique Lhuillier dress for her wedding to Jim Toth. And this spring – while she chose to wed her beau, Eugenio Amos, in a cream Giambattista Valli creation –  Missoni heiress Margherita Missoni slipped into an identical blush version for the reception. Her bridesmaids also wore maxidresses in a palette of pinks.

Anne Hathaway was deemed the ultimate blushing bride in September as she wed Adam Shulman in a couture gown by Valentino, which had been hand painted pink and topped with an embroidered train.

A representative for the label revealed that the dress was made from ‘ivory silk point d’esprit tulle’. The train was ‘hand painted’ and ‘embroidered with satin flowers’.

Jessica Biel has been the latest star bride to tap into this trend, and she selected a candy-coloured Giambattista Valli dress when she married Justin Timberlake.

She accessorised the custom made strapless gown, which featured light pink floral motifs and ruffles, with a long veil decorated with pearls, and a pink pearl bracelet belonging to her mother.

Jessica told People magazine: “I actually surprised myself when I chose my dress. It’s a style I will only ever wear that one day…It was very feminine and fun”.

And it seems that Justin was a fan of Jessica’s unusual choice of gown, revealing that his bride was “the most beautiful thing I have ever seen”.

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FABB for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For those of you who are not aware, (and equally those who are!), October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The value of spending a month highlighting this disease cannot be understated, statistics show that 1 in 3 of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lifetime and so making the most of this month can really make a big difference!

Also making a big difference is NI charity pretty n pink, a charity who do wonderful work in offering practical support to those who are suffering from breast cancer.

“Founded in 2006 by Noleen Adair, Pretty n Pink is the only registered Breast Cancer charity in Northern Ireland. It is run by a very small team of people including a breast cancer survivor and local volunteers from across the province. All the funds raised go directly back to Breast Cancer patients and their families in Northern Ireland. “

Pretty n Pink provides a vital service here in Northern Ireland, and needs lots of support to do so. My fellow FABB bloggers (who you can read about here) have put together an amazing hamper of gorgeous goodies to raffle in aid of this brilliant charity.

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?! And it could not be easier to take part…no cryptic questions, no challenges, just a simple donation via the justgiving page and you could be in with a chance of winning everything that you see above! A donation of £5 = 1 entry, £10 = 2 entries and so on. You can enter as many times as you like!

Goodies include: Stella and Dot by Grainne Maskey- Rose gold HOPE bracelet, Urban Decay Prime, Makeup application tutorial in a personal setting with our qualified MUA,  A pamper date for you +1 at Bliss Nails in Belfast (this includes Gel Pedicure and Manicure for both and champagne and cupcakes!), A £10 voucher for the Door to Beauty and much, much more!

Here are all of the links you need again:

Pretty n Pink:

FABB bloggers:

JustGiving page:

Good luck!

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(images from

I wish I was had to a unicorn to go and feed!

I am really off on holiday for 10 days, to see some wonderful people marry each other in beautiful locations and generally have a great time…I will be back soon!

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Style Stories Saturday

This year’s Belfast Fashion Week schedule includes events dedicated to the next generation of potential fashion designers and their yummy mummies – Style Stories Saturday brought to you by The Outlet and W5.  The two events – which include catwalk shows and workshops – happen on Saturday, October 13  in W5’s Atrium, the first at 2pm and the second at 3.30pm.

Organisers hope to inspire young people with an interest in fashion and beauty here by giving them access to some of the best professionals working in the industry.

Siobhan McKeown, Marketing Manager at The Outlet hopes it will be a fun day out for all the family: “An interest in fashion and the creative industries is something that can be nurtured.  By creating this experience we hope to inspire children to develop their interest further whilst giving mums the chance to relax and enjoy the latest autumn/winter fashions during the catwalk show.”

The fun event, which kick starts the autumn/winter season of Fashion Week, will see The Outlet and W5 produce a stylish and exciting event that introduces yummy mummies and their chic kids to the latest trends available from the designer stores at The Outlet Village, where discounts are always between 30% and 70%.

Industry experts including award winning make up artist, Paddy McGurgan, leading photographer Khara Pringle, creative hair stylists from Andrew Mulvenna and fashion stylist, Eve Brannon will share their very own style stories, explaining how they got to where they are today.  They will also talk visitors through this season’s hair, makeup, nutrition, styling and photography.

“Northern Ireland has produced some truly inspiring and talented people – we want to show the children that by following your dreams they too can achieve their goals, with the right direction,” explains Stephanie Berkeley, Marketing Manager at W5. “Our expert panel hope to inspire young visitors, highlighting the importance of what they are learning in the classroom right now and how it will come into play in the future; whether it’s the chemistry knowhow in hair and make-up products, the numeracy skills needed to measure fabrics and make garments, or the creativity and technology behind photography.

“The children and their mums will get a taste of star treatment as the coveted “front row” will be reserved especially for our youngest visitors, allowing them to get up close and personal with the action.  One lucky mum will even be chosen for a mini-makeover by our premiere style team on the day!”

The two shows, at 2pm and 3.30pm, are free with admission to W5.  Tickets will be allocated on the day on a first-come-first-served basis so if you have a budding Stella McCartney or Vidal Sassoon at home the advice is get there early to avoid disappointment.  There will also be a range of mini workshops throughout the building on the day.

W5 is located at The Odyssey, Queens Quay, and entry is priced as £7.90 for Adults, Children are £5.90 and Students £6.40.  For more information on the event visit and and to view the full Fashion Week schedule visit

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This week’s column…more Rosie for M&S

In case you hadn’t already noticed, winter is firmly on it’s way, and even supermodels are seeking cosy cover-ups to wrap their bikini bodies in.

Perfect timing then, for British model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to launch her latest Rosie for Autograph designs for Marks & Spencer. Her debut in August was the high street retailer’s fastest-selling lingerie collection; the vintage-inspired underwear sets, silk teddys and lacy wraps proved an instant hit with four pieces sold every minute on the day it launched.

Some of the most popular pieces from the Twenties-inspired collection almost sold out after just one day of sales – specifically the light taupe silk pad bra and the floral kimono.

The 25-year-old’s latest offering was planned to go in stores mid-October but has been brought forward to the end of September to meet demand and features taupe cashmere trousers (£99), long silk and lace night dresses (£45) and long-sleeved silk wraps (£59).

The new drop of underwear sets also have a distinctly festive feel to them: silk camisoles, bras, briefs and nighties come in black or are adorned with the line’s signature rose print in a vampish red hue.

Devon-born Rosie has collected underwear ever since she began jet-setting across the globe on assignments, and has used her first-hand experiences of modelling for Victoria’s Secret and Agent Provocateur to inspire her Rosie for Autograph collection.

“Following the launch in stores and online, we are delighted with the overwhelming positive reaction that the Rosie for Autograph collection has received,” said Soozie Jenkinson, head of lingerie design at Marks & Spencer. “We can’t wait to share the next collection,

In a recent interview with VOGUE.COM, Huntington-Whiteley described launching her lingerie range as “a dream come true”.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of work and research that goes into each piece,” she told us. “For me that was just fascinating. I loved being up to my neck in design swatches and fabrics, and the girls in the lingerie department were all great – we had a really good time exploring it together.”

“My goal was to create a luxurious collection which could flatter women of all ages and sizes, inspiring confidence and making women feel gorgeous in their lingerie” she says.

“I made sure each design incorporated different shapes of bra and knicker together with camis and kimonos to complement the figure.”

Bra sizes range from 30-40, with cup-sizes from A to E and selected styles available up to G. Knickers and sleepwear sizes are available from 8 to 20.

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