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Woman Crush Wednesday #WCW: The Uber Stylish and Inspiring Mercy Ogole of MERCI ME London

Mercy Ogole, founder of  MERCI ME London, is the stuff girl crushes are made of.  

Mercy is the type of person you meet and want to her friend instantly.  After I met her, I unashamedly friended her on every form of social media.  The moment I tagged her photo on Facebook, another friend declared her instantaneous girlcrushness on this perfect stranger.  Mercy Ogole has that effect.  

In my books, a true girlcrush should possess talent, intelligence, style, depth and a generous spirit.  Here are five reasons why Mercy Ogole is the perfect culmination of style and substance: 

Talent: Mercy is bursting with talent. Mercy is a fashion designer and founder of MERCI ME London, a bespoke and ready to wear bespoke label.  I met her at the press launch of her first fashion show in Soho a few weeks ago.  I was simply blown away by her talent, her guts, the concept and her designs.

imageMercy draws her inspiration from strong women; she wants her clothes to have a visual impact.  She makes clothes that aim to make women feel better about themselves; clothes that encourage them to know themselves, embrace their sensuality and approach life in a bold way.  imageThe collection was a healthy mix of strong and delicate; stiff fabrics combined with flowery ruffles and vibrant colours.  The collection was tremendously wearable and any one of those dresses could have gone straight from the catwalk to the wardrobe.  imageWith Adonica Simmons, Annaliese Dayes and Kui Bodes at the MERCI ME Launch  

The fashion launch was an incredible achievement for a first time fashion designer.  Of course, there were some delays and one or two misplaced items but I cannot berate Mercy for that.  All in all, Mercy produced a fabulous show; if you would like to see a snapshot of it you can watch it here.  I should mention that had I not sat next to the lovely Petronille Ekindi at a women’s event by The Fold, perhaps I would not have discovered MERCI ME when I did- a very huge thank you indeed! 

Depth: Mercy generously chatted with me at a time when everyone wanted a piece of her (i.e. just after her successful fashion show).  I was touched by her softness and wistfulness when she spoke about her late sister, Eunice Aceng Ogole, to whom the ACENG collection is dedicated.  In this collection you can sense Aceng’s positive and energetic spirit.  Aceng would be very proud indeed of her little sister.  

Generosity: To top it all off, it turns out that Mercy is a volunteer at Smart Works, a charity that helps women get into employment by providing them with clothing, interview training and mentorship.  

I asked Mercy how her collection would translate to those women who are simply looking for something to wear to work.  Isn’t this collection too edgy for your average professional women?   Mercy took me back to one of her favourite designs- her Rose Jacket.  In black it would be the perfect finishing touch in combination with a sleek pair of trousers and I was inclined to agree. 

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Left to Right: Mercy with Alicja Sobczak (an amazing jewellery designer who I hope to feature soon!)

Style: Mercy oozes style.  Her Instagram feed is a stream of fashion consciousness and every time she posts a picture on Facebook I want to run home and change what I am wearing.   Added to her innate sense of style, you have modelesque looks and a well-refined edginess.  

Girl crushes of the world, watch out! 

Check out brand new MERCIME Website here and you can shop the collection at Paradise by way of Kensal Green on Saturday the 12th of July 2014. 

Photo Credits:  A big thanks goes out to Kayode Fashola for the photos

wmagazine:

Who’s the Boss?
Photograph by Steven Klein; styled by Edward Enninful; W magazine August 2014. 

Love it! jasonwustudio

wmagazine:

Who’s the Boss?

Photograph by Steven Klein; styled by Edward Enninful; W magazine August 2014. 

Love it! jasonwustudio

Woman Crush Wednesday: Kerry Washington, Lyn Paolo and ‘The Limited Scandal Collection’

It might as well be Christmas.

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My brain exploded when I read that we will soon be able to wear some of Olivia Pope’s clothes.  Not the actual clothes of course, us mere mortals will have to settle for The Limited Scandal Collection, which (I hope) will be a genius three-way collaboration between Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope), Lyn Paolo (Costume Designer, Scandal) and The Limited (Fashion Retailer).  The line is coming out in September and all fashionistas who know their stuff will be sharpening their elbows to get their hands on the goodies.  

Scandal is an American political thriller series starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope.  Olivia is a fixer, sorter-outer and all round gladiator.  Every woman who watches the show admires some of the more positive attributes of Olivia Pope; there is nothing more thrilling than a woman who is at the top of her professional game with a stunning wardrobe to boot.  Olivia Pope truly embodies ‘The Power of Style at Work’ 

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The idea that we can all own a little piece of Olivia Pope and fire up our work wardrobes is thrilling.  Not only is the concept brilliant, but the pricing strategy is cleverly targeted at the right market; namely the gladiators who might occasionally treat themselves to a designer pair of shoes but often shop at HnM or Target.

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A couple of sketches have been released and I cannot wait to see the entire collection.  I will be interested to see whether they successfully execute designer-like-items at high-street-like prices.  The sketches got me thinking about my favourite Olivia Pope looks and I would love to see some of these recreated at a price I can afford. 

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Olivia’s coats are always off the chain and I had all sorts of lusty thoughts about the Ferragamo coat on the right.  While we are on the subject of coats, this Dior Coat made me want to sell my kidney…

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What about Olivia’s magnificent arm candy?  She has more Prada handbags than anyone is legally allowed to own.  I particularly love this grey Prada bag which would work with everything in my wardrobe and would accommodate my iPad, keyboard and the kitchen sink.

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What are your favourite Olivia Pope looks?  What would you like to see in the collection?  Post your links below…

Arlissa Rupert in @Armani & @BottegaVeneta for @Instyle_UK. @ArlissaXX #WorkWear #WishList

Arlissa Rupert in @Armani & @BottegaVeneta for @Instyle_UK. @ArlissaXX #WorkWear #WishList

Stylist Magazine Book Club: 5 Reasons Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the Personification of Style and Substance

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the person I want to be when I grow up. 

When Stylist Magazine advertised their first book club featuring Chimamanda, I keyed in those digits faster than you could say ‘Americanah’.  I also took a screenshot and sent it to my girlfriends without further explanation; no explanation was needed. Such is Chimamanda’s universal appeal that the Stylist Book Club waiting list had 500 names!  For those of us who were fortunate to attend, it was an excellent experience.  The crowd was as diverse as it gets and there were even a few men in the audience!

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Image from www.ynaija.com

Like Beyonce and Oprah, I predict that Chimamanda is heading towards first name status.  Here are five reasons why:

1) Her intelligent award winning books straddle subjects such as feminism, sexism, race and hair. ‘Americanah’ won the best novel at the National Critics Book Circle and she won the Orange Prize for Fiction for ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.’ Add to that list a TEDx Talk with over 1 million views.  All this, Chimamanda has achieved at the tender age of 36.  It is not easy to find words to describe Chimamanda’s  genuine interest in people; she is the ‘realest.’  Watching her in interviews, it is evident that she brings her most authentic self to each situation, she does not try to alter or mute her responses.  At the Stylist book signing, Chimamanda treated each person like they were special; listening to their stories, laughing with them and not batting an eyelid when one woman unleashed seven books from her handbag for signing. 

2) Chimamanda is a bona-fide rockstar. When is the last time you heard a serious writer bringing feminism to the masses by way of a Beyonce song? If your brain did not explode when you heard her verse in Beyonce’s ‘***FLAWLESS’ then few things will excite you in life. Chimamanda was asked why she lent her voice to a song that is somewhat contradictory in places (‘…bow down bitches…’ vs Feminist verse).  By pointing out that her collaboration with Beyonce brought feminism to a much wider, unlikely, audience (including her 11 year old niece) Chimamanda nailed that challenging question.  

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Photo credit: @GarconneLondon

3) When Beyonce wrote the song ***FLAWLESS she must have had Chimamanda in mind.  Chimamanda is the perfect culmination of style and substance.  How many people manage to dispense such useful life advice whilst fronting the most spectacular pair of blue heels?  You could listen to her intelligent conversation all day including gems such as ‘…Strong women are not remarkable to me. They are normal…”. Or even ‘I don’t mind my own business ever!’ Chimamanda teaches us that there is no need to choose between style and substance; each of us can cultivate our own unique styles without detracting from our professionalism and expertise. 

4) Even with her perfection, Chimamanda is not afraid to confront and discuss her personal challenges. At the Stylist book club event, Chimamanda said: ‘…life would be better if we talked about many things and one of them is depression.” It was refreshing to hear her touch on this difficult subject and place it in the context of her upbringing, where mental illness is downplayed and not given the attention it deserves.

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5) “…It is such an honour to have the opportunity to bring Ms Adichie’s brilliant book to the screen… 

In the right circumstances, Chimamanda is willing to take her writing in a different direction.  When I heard that Lupita Nyong’o, my other ‘most-perfect-woman-of-all-time’ had optioned the rights to Chimamanda’s book ‘Americanah’ I was blinded by the sheer brilliance of this meeting of minds.  When you think about it, the first notion is obvious.  Lupita IS Ifemelu and she will be sublime in that role.  The second notion, that Lupita would option the rights and produce the film is sheer genius; and is a valuable example of what Sheryl Sandberg described (paraphrased) as building a better table instead of sitting at the table’  I cannot wait for this film to be made but I would be more interested in the process of making ‘Americanah’ the film.  Afterall, who would not want to see Chimamanda and Lupita in action?  Documentary anyone…

On my #workwear #wishlist this week… This green bag from @linea and this orange beauty from @warehouse. In at under £45 and just the right size for iPad, scarf and all other bits and pieces.

Cannes 2014: From the Red Carpet to the Boardroom.

Festival de Cannes is synonymous with spectacular frocks, dripping jewels and the heady whiff of glamour and glitz.  Over and above the red carpet fashion moments, day-time photo calls at Cannes are an excellent starting point t if you are seeking inspiration for your day-to-day working wardrobe.

First up… Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska at the photo call for Map to the Stars.  Julianne looks stunning in a Nina Ricci frock that would be perfect for a work meeting with on a hot day.  Swap the strappy heels for courts and her look would go straight from the red carpet to boardroom.  Mia’s outfit is also office friendly and can be worn straight into work just as it is! 

Next up is Spanish actress Paz Vega and I am obsessed with this Zuhair Murad dress she wore to the Grace of Monaco photo call in combination with her stunning pink courts.  I would wear the look as it is.  If you are worried about the low neck and/or the side panels, a simple trick is to wear a same colour/black slip underneath and you are good to go!

How adorable does Anais Demoustier look in her patterned shirt and nude skirt and heels? Or Sarah Gadon in her white shirt and flowery skirt?  Yes to both of these looks. 

(Pic from Just Jared) 

Please, clap for Alba Rohrwacher, who is winning the price for the coolest red-carpet-to-office look.  Even if I drank a whole litre of cool, I would never be able to muster such insouciance.

Finally, let us bow down to the one and only Nicole Kidman who steadfastly brings it when it comes to red carpet fashion.  

She is stunning in a white Altuzarra dress and Elie Saab heels.  Not only does it look comfortable and relaxed, there is a hint of interest with the slightly bared upper arms.  I love it.  

 Red carpet to boardroom, here we come! 

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