13 December 2013

And You’re Dressed In That Dress I Like; Love Is Swinging In The Air Tonight

This review also appears in VIVA Magazine.
Imagine this: bright, almost neon flower headbands, nautical hats perfect for San Trope, quirky ugly-doll phone cases, retro, Audrey-like sunglasses — essentially, all the things you need for a fashionable few months of spring and summer, whether you’re jet-setting to Ibiza, planning garden parties in the country or on a night out in the Northern Quarter… and in one place. Few brands offer the kind of variety that’d cater to the chic, punker girl, the ’40s-inspired vintage queen, the bohemian fashionista. Cue Claire’s.
Yesterday afternoon, Claire’s UK hosted a holiday party at the luxe Rosso Restaurant here in Manchester to showcase part one of its 2014 spring/summer collection, and they had all the aforementioned accessories plus some. I confess, I was something of a Claire’s slut through my youth, but as I aged (keeping in mind I’m only a 20-something here) I sort of outgrew the brand. I started finding Claire’s products a bit too young and teeny-bopper esque. But this new collection is changing my mind, and fast.
Personally, I always have trouble defining my style. I love experimenting with different genres of apparel, so some days I may be on the ’90s grunge side of things, but the next day I will be rocking my Marilyn Monroe dress (yes, I have one). Ultimately, I am probably most inspired by the fashion of the ’20s, ’40s and ’50s, and this new collection by Claire’s actually has something reminiscent of all those decades. Where it previously seemed Claire’s was all about the modern, in-the-moment trends, now it seems they’re expanding to fit women of more ages and more unique tastes.
The Claire’s PR team, headed by Maiden of Wood fashion blogger Carmen Wood and Jodie May Smith, really went all out for this blogger/press event. We were treated to complementary manicures, for one, which I took advantage of as soon as I felt was appropriate. The new Claire’s nail polishes are gorgeous. There are sparkles. There are antler and mistletoe decals. There is serious bedazzle. As someone who is minimally skilled with polish, this was just delightful. But what I most fell in love with was this nautical-themed hat. It complemented my love of 1940′s millinery and made me feel like I should be lying on a beach in Barcelona (can you tell I want to escape the perpetual English rain?). The rebel in me almost stole it, but instead, I just made a note of it in my mental wish list for next season.
As though manicures and a behind-the-scenes look at the new collection weren’t enough, we were absolutely spoiled by an amazing thee-course meal filled with starters like butternut squash soup and fried mozzarella, mains such as prime rib and honey-roasted pork, and of course, a three-part dessert tray of ice cream, sponge cake and a fruit in chocolate. See what I mean about being spoiled? After this feast, I would recommend Rosso Restaurant to anyone who has never been. The portions are just amazing and the taste of literally everything is exquisite.
Moving from the states earlier this year, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the fashion blogging scene in Manchester, and to be honest, I’ve remained sort of naive to it. So I really appreciated that Claire’s took this opportunity to bring together an array of northern bloggers, Mancunian and otherwise. Among them were Victoria of In the Frow, Joanna of Minty Essence, Sindy of Article 21, Maria of Miss Drifted Snow White and Lily of Lily Kitten. It was such a pleasure to meet these unbelievably talented young women, especially after having felt totally estranged from the blogosphere since my trans-Atlantic move. Claire’s is totally in tune with the importance and influence of fashion bloggers today, and you could just tell that the organizers were really appreciative of the positive responses that I think all the bloggers were having toward the new collection.
All in all, I’m definitely excited to see more of what Claire’s has in store for us next year. I’ve definitely re-evaluated my thoughts on the brand. Obviously, Claire’s will always maintain their youthful feel, and this collection is no different. But something about it seems re-vamped enough to cater to the 11-year-old going to her first boy-girl party and the 21-year-old meeting up with some stylish Mancunian fashion bloggers for Prosecco and ice cream.

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