Nichole de Carle: Undercover Luxury

A couple of weeks ago I became very popular with a number of my male friends.

The reason for this sudden interest was not, as you’d expect, due to my general fabulousness (shock, horror!), but because I’d been invited to the press launch for the new collection from top lingerie designer Nichole de Carle.

'Westminster' bra, brief and braces

Nichole’s high-concept, beautifully constructed designs caught my attention when I first saw them featured by Queen Michelle on the Kingdom of Style blog. Featuring braces, curves and bold cuts, the underwear seemed to achieve something in lingerie that I’d not come across before; stunning, daring underwear that felt feminine in its complexity rather than fetishist.

The past twelve months have been incredibly exciting for the label and the future is looking even brighter. The designs have appeared on many a famous figure, including Nicole Scherzinger and the girls from The Saturdays, and on the day I visited the pop up store at The Lingerie Collective, one basque was being borrowed for a shoot for an international superstar – I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say who, but rack your brains and you might be able to guess, the label is a perfect match for her.

Emily of Nichole de Carle teams her Westminster braces with simple daywear for a quirky edge

Nichole’s also become a familiar face on British television, having had her work featured on the E4 shows Great British Hairdresser and the recent Dirty Sexy Things. Her sister, the lovely Charlotte de Carle (and arguably the breakout female star of the latter show), serves of the face of the brand. Nichole is now  venturing overseas and will soon be featured on the Dutch version of Great British Hairdresser and Russia’s Next Top Model.

Charlotte wears the Chateau Villette

The label gained favourable press attention earlier this year after it was featured in a list of Selfridges’ must-have Christmas gifts for 2011. The product that hit the headlines back in July is  The Diamond Brief Collection; several different shapes of knickers featuring a Coster-produced ‘Brilliant Cut’ diamond set in sold sterling silver by Salima Hughes Jewellery.

The Diamond Brief

The party invite I received to celebrate the launch of the latest luxury Nichole de Carle pieces took place on the eve of London Fashion Week at The Lingerie Collective in central London. Feeling I should embrace my feminine side in celebration of the brand, I donned a pencil skirt and abandoned my usual massive choice of bag for a vintage market find, my lucky housemate Simen in tow.

Going Underground: Skirt by Zara, top by Forever 21

The party itself was packed full of fashiony types (that I always feel slightly hopeless around!) Lucky there Jude’s Icecream and amazing Iceberg Vodka to keep my confidence crisis underwraps and my focus elsewhere! It was also brilliant to catch up with Charlotte, having produced the E4 site for Dirty Sexy Things and to meet brilliant bloggers and photographers such as the stunning Emily of Fashion Politics and the very talented Poppie Ellis Clinch (whose portfolio is truly stunning).

It’s enough to make me want to compete on The Apprentice and get a high powered job… be still my empty underwear drawer!

Making like a model… sort of

The other day I bumped into Claire from luxury hair accessories brand, Stone Bridge.

I volunteered my hair for their website but didn’t think I’d actually end up being needed however a couple of months later I was asked to pop down to Tonbridge in Kent to lend myself to shooting pictures for their latest batch of hair clips, bands, barrettes and slides.

Shooting some 'hard profile' product images with photographer Neal

Despite getting up at 6.30 am Claire, who’s not only a hair styling maestro but a trained makeup artist, managed to make me look like I’d had a generous lie in with her box of tricks, and company founder Melissa managed to keep my hair looking fluff-free for the majority of the shoot. In fact, I loved the ‘messy chignon’ she teased my hair into so much that I wore it out that evening. (When I took it out finally about 22 hairpins emerged from my barnet!)

Melissa put a proper spread on!

The day before the shoot, Melissa popped over to Bluewater and bought some a-may-zing cupcakes from Buttercup. I love cupcakes that actually taste of something other than sponge – the coffee and caramel flavour was especially spectacular.

Possibly the only time I'll rest my hands on the steering wheel of a sports car... but at least I got to do it wearing my favourite piece; a leather hair band

As well as the more traditional product shots (mostly shot in a dead-on profile), we popped outside to take advantage of the fabulous weather. The only downside to shooting outside (which involved posing with Chester the dog, ‘driving’ an Audi and nearly breaking a china cup) was the bright rays that nearly blinded me via the silver and white reflectors. Hopefully the final shots will be worth the squinting discomfort!

Squinting and bearing the September sunshine with Neal, Melissa and Chester

I definitely enjoyed the experience more than I expected to – and it’s something I think others should try. Why not go out with friends and snap some portraits – whether for a direct purpose or not? As well as helping out a great new company, I got the experience of being in front of the camera for once rather than being behind it (or writing about it). I’ve never seen myself as particularly photogenic so it’s nice when something like this comes along and gives a bit of a confidence boost. Aside from managing the sunlight, I actually found the most difficult element of the shoot was allowing myself to smile fully (I’ve seen rather unflattering photos of myself laughing so was a tad paranoid), but I think I got there in the end!

Find out more about Stone Bridge and their range on their website – and I’ll let you know when the proper photos are unveiled! Also, don’t forget to check out photographer Neal’s site too – he’s a genius!

Head flower

Stone Bridge, the Kent-based luxury hair accessories company have come up trumps again by sending me another fabulous hair clip.

Knowing I love hair flowers and anything borderline quirky, Melissa and Claire decided to send me the biggest hair flower I have ever seen…

Hair flower by Stone Bridge

When it was delivered, lovingly wrapped in luxurious layers of tissue paper (held together by a signature claret red ribbon), I couldn’t quite believe my eyes – it’s the size of a small dinner plate!

Photo by Alex

Whilst I’ve decided I’m not quite ready to venture out with the beautiful chiffon clip on my head without an occasion worthy of its presence (such as a wedding or Ladies’ Day at Ascot!), it does make me think of something Patricia Field might pin onto a Carrie Bradshaw costume. I’m definitely going to pin it onto one of my shift or swing dresses next time I head to a gig or feel like the day deserves more glamour.

As I live a minute away from Columbia road I thought it would be silly to miss the famous flower market yet again, and the lovely corsage gave me yet another excuse to venture out. So, armed with a camera and Alex, I squeezed my way through the throng of people, corsage boldly pinned to my shirt.

Blending in with the merchandise

Strangely enough, despite Alex thinking I was self conscious of my ‘fashion statement’, I was actually just aware of having my photo taken amongst to many people (although I needn’t have worried as there were so many tourists around!). I love the fact that a corsage is an unusual choice to chose as the focal piece of an outfit, but feels apt due to the amazing weather we’ve experienced recently. I’ve seen a few girls wearing beautifully simple swing dresses recently and I’m desperate to get my hands on the perfect one, so as always I’d appreciate any recommendations!

How would you style the huge hair flower up?

Hair-y goodness!

I arrived at a flu-stricken Amazing Radio office yesterday to discover a surprise parcel on my desk.

The contents didn’t remain a mystery for long, however, as the box had a tell-tale Stone Bridge sticker adorning it.

The signature Stone Bridge sticker

 

From the perfect brown paper packaging, to the generous layers of crease free tissue paper inside, Stone Bridge clearly doesn’t believe that online shopping should mean a lack of customer service. There’s even a little red ribbon that keeps the parcel in one neat place.

Some of you might remember the Rose Silk Alice Headband that I received late last year. The deceptively large box contained another beautiful headband, and a crystal feather hair slide.

Crystal feather hair slide, £14 by Stone Bridge

I’ll be posting a bit more about the indulgently girly hair slide above later this week, and I’m hoping to ‘borrow’ my friend Anna’s hair too, in order to see what it looks like on shorter hair than my own.

Satin rose corsage headband by Stone Bridge

This satin rose corsage headband is a beautiful Cadbury shade of purple. It reminds me of a rose on a hat we once randomly had in the dressing up box of my younger years. Usefully, the rose can we adjusted around the headband so that it’s easy to sit on the right place on your head!

The alice band in action!

Evidently, I was so excited by this headband that once I had fitted it onto my head, I couldn’t resist taking it off. It certainly livened by my jeans and Created in Birmingham T-Shirt combo! Like all Stone Bridge products claim, the band is incredibly comfortable, meaning that my voluptuous head doesn’t get sore behind the ears. I’m definitely looking forward to wearing it with this Topshop dress (that looks like a recycled net curtain!)

I’ll post more pictures of the crystal feather hair clip shortly, but for now I’m going to swan around the house like the cat who got the er… headband!