Friday, 24 September 2010

Seeds of Inspiration

So I was talking to my cousin last night about inspiration. He is Big In Advertising and it is his job to understand what makes people desire things. As you can imagine this was a bit of a complex one involving much impassioned gesticulation and basically ended up back at the start of the creative process. 

How does inspiration happen and what starts it off? I was explaining that I don’t actually actively go out looking for inspiration, rather the seeds are sown and at some point they germinate into ideas through a process of living life and looking around.  Sometimes it is frustrating because the ideas are there but just below the surface and something needs to trigger it to let it flow. It is not a process which can be rushed and obviously with a business to run that can be a little unsettling sometimes. However today I found myself at the fabulous Haunch of Venison gallery during a gap between meetings and I must confess that for the first time ever I was inspired by an exhibition. I was lucky enough to catch the Joana Vasconcelos show before it ends this month and for me her work has such strong links to fashion that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it all. The seeds are sown and I am ready to go!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The mysterious incident of the navy tights in the designer's drawer

In the ever changing vortex of taste that is planet fashion there are few truly heinous fashion crimes. Most bad taste can be excused as ‘on trend’ however as with anything in life there are ten comandments which-for the greater good of society and regardless of creative need- should be obeyed. ‘Thou shalt not wear navy tights’ is definitely one of them. Especially if you thought they were black.

Fashion week is an incredibly busy time for us. We are flying madly from appointment to appointment, from launch to dinner to party and somewhere in all that are school runs, parent meetings and tears at bedtime. There is not the necessary time to luxuriate over the choice of ground breaking outfit. The creative dresser within must be reigned in if I am to get anywhere on time and organized the night before. In the dark. Because Ginger #1 is asleep in my bed. And therein lays the problem…. The rogue navy tights luxuriating at the bottom of my drawer undisturbed since last winter have reared their ugly head. Or feet. Whatever.

To be honest it was Amiee that they claimed as their first victim. She rummaged in my drawer shortly before we left for the Value of Fashion launch and she was rocking a beige and black neutrals looks. Except it was beige, black and navy which isn’t a look and in fact an offence and to add insult to injury it only came to light (excuse the pun) under the flash of the photographers camera as her outfit was recorded for Fashion Week posterity. Lets hope they think it’s a new trend.

I was the second victim. Thinking (clearly mistakenly) that the offending item had been taken into fashion custody and were languishing safely in a British Heart Foundation store somewhere I went into the drawer with foolish carelessness. My devil may care attitude was rewarded in the cold light of the taxi cab on route to a charity dinner for HET last night when my vintage Sara Berman lace cocktail dress was ambushed by the surprise appearance of the navy tights. I don’t understand how it happened but I had no choice but to shoulder on, the tights under surveillance. I had a fascinating evening and was enjoying myself greatly until I spotted a fellow fashion body across the room. We did the fashion quick step over to each other and performed the necessary eye sweep and computation. ‘You look fabulous darling! So clever to lift all that lace with navy.’ ‘Oh yes-very next season don’t you think?’

Perhaps I will let the tights out on bail.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Look Show

As you may or may not know I was approached by Look Magazine to design the goody bag for the magazine's London Fashion Week show which took place on Friday (17th September). Of course I was delighted to do so - anything to keep idle creative hands busy and all that...

Friday, 17 September 2010

Fashion Week.... The story so far.

In case you were worried that my world had shrunk as small as my Spanx fear not. My brain is alive and well and juggling the many balls of London Fashion Week. Day one took me to the House of Commons yesterday to pontificate on the Value of British Fashion at the launch of the BFC’s report. Actually this is a subject I know a little about (11 years building a brand and working with UK manufacturers will teach you a thing or two) and have a genuine passion for. Which is probably why the BFC were good enough to invite me. What with my visit back in June I am getting rather blasé about this whole parliament thing and I think this was reflected in my slightly more relaxed sartorial style this time around.

Sorry the image is so fuzzy... Photos were not allowed and there were policemen everywhere. Luckily Amiee managed to befriend one.

My afternoon was spent with the lovely Adam Holdsworth who is the CEO of N.Peal and effectively my boss. Well actually he is totally my boss but I have issues with control so we use that term very carefully. As Creative Director I have the best job ever creatively directing huge amounts of super soft cashmere into sweaters and cardigans. This is A LOT of fun and also means that I am swaddled in N.Peal cashmere all year round. Yesterday was our major review day where we ruthlessly chop through the collection and throw away anything that isn’t ridiculously fabulous. The rest shall mysteriously find its way to my ‘trial’ wardrobe ‘for further review’. The collection does look wonderful and that is always a major rush. I cant wait to have it all!

Not content with the morning in Parliament and the afternoon laying around in cashmere I managed to squeeze in a quick school run, attend a parent teacher talk (what is it about that particular interaction which makes one itch to be naughty? It’s similar to that need to whine in front of your parents no matter how old you are but somehow even more pathetic) and whizz Ginger # 1 home in time to make it to Fenwick Bond St for the opening of their new restaurant Bond and Brook.

They have done a wonderful job of making this into a stylish and rather cool eaterie but to be honest there were so many people jostling for canapés and champagne (I love a traditional ‘do’! Nothing like a bellini to take the edge off) that the restaurant was entirely obscured by outfits. I am sure that the charming Mark Fenwick wouldn’t have it any other way.

Day one done. Not bad!

Monday, 13 September 2010

A Weekend On Rations

Well kind of. A friend celebrated her 40th birthday in style this weekend in the wonderful setting of the Cabinet War Rooms for an appropriately themed 1940s evening complete with ration book. Thankfully the ration book was merely for effect and the food and drink wasn't actually rationed for the evening! So of course a 1940s ensemble was absolutely essential (it even said so on the invite)...

Friday, 10 September 2010

She’s Back!

Amiee is back and all is right in my world! Yes - I can go back to my reclusive ways as she is staying with me for the 5 weeks she is here… It’s all good. Actually it is all hilarious… She brought back a whole load of bad habits from L.A the very worst of which has to be top to toe Spanx.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

DIY Rocks

Another eventful night in the life of Sara Berman except this time it was spent in my living room assembling a bed for Amiee who arrives from LA today. Now you need to understand that Jews and DIY are not often found in the same sentence. Try to imagine Woody Allen dealing with a hammer and know that certain things should never happen. However for some reason I love DIY (surely this indicates rogue blood? As well as my surprisingly aryan looking children) and nothing makes me happier than an evening assembling cheap furniture.

Over the years I have somehow managed to transfer if not a love of DIY then most definitely an appreciation of the achievement of making something out of substandard plywood and (not quite enough) screws to my husband who now takes it upon himself to project manage these endeavours. This generally means that he comes over all OCD and takes all the components out of the packet, lines them up in groups, counts them all out and gets very over excited and self righteous when he (inevitably) finds shortages and omissions. And last night was no different. To be fair, and thanks to Handsome’s meticulous system, we were aware from the off that a vital screw was missing. We just were not entirely clear on where it was missing from. 

Unfortunately and after several hours assembling our master piece it became apparent that it was the Big Daddy of screws-the one that should run through the centre of the bed holding the cross bars together. Hmmm. No bouncing!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Party Party

Last night kicked off the first of the London Fashion Party Season in spectacular style with Elle magazine’s 25th anniversary party. I had a particularly busy day at the studio implementing last minute changes to our Spring Summer collection brought on by inspiration borne of insecurity which resulted in a rethink of an entire story 3 days before we start our London sales. This meant I rushed home to the kids (feeling slightly high as one does after trashing 6 months work and stating afresh with 3 days to go) and allowed myself to get smeared in Bolognese kisses before dashing upstairs to adorn myself in my new Dan Baldwin Candice Dress and Alba Clutch which I have been itching to wear since we designed it way back in Feb.

I also convinced Handsome to come along with me which should be noted as a major feat of marital point scoring. Although I am not sure if I get the points for negotiating attendance or if he gets the points for coming. The great irony is that he is the party animal whereas I am usually the one that needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into any gathering of more than 5 close friends (I am sure there is a complicated phobia word for that but let’s just put it down to early attachment from my mother’s breast and leave it at that).

Anyway, I digress because for once this was an invite I was thrilled to accept for a number of reasons: 1- I do rather love Elle and was quietly rather gratified to be invited. 2 - It was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery where there is currently an exhibition of works by Alice Neel that I have been meaning to see since it opened in July and 3 - There was also a talk with Dame Viv of Westwood who I love and consider a true great (someone who worked for her once told me that they thought Sara Berman was the next VW and I have been hugging that misguided but utterly wonderful compliment close to my heart ever since). So there we found ourselves, Handsome and I jostling for champagne with the great and the good of British fashion. Blast and a half.

Well the exhibition was truly excellent and VW was truly hilarious. The people were fabulous and I bumped into a whole load of the usual suspects getting into their stride for the season. The outfits were fabulous and I spotted no less than 3 Sara Berman bags being toted by the mavens of fashion (always a good sign). I was pleased to have gone for bold with my Dan dress. As my mother always says - Better to be looked over than overlooked. Indeed.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sara and the BFC/Elle Talent Launch pad

Call me a do-gooder or simply a fashion busy-body but I can't help but be excited about being involved in the British Fashion Council's new and exciting venture in collaboration with Elle Magazine which will give new young designers a stylish leg up the fashion ladder. I have been very lucky in my own career and it is a privilege to be asked to contribute to the success of these up and coming talents.

The BFC / ELLE Magazine Talent Launch Pad 2010 Selection Panel

Actually the judging day for this was waaaaaay back in June but we were all sworn to secrecy in case a leak of the shortlisted winners might cause a threat to public security. It was a really fun day as my fellow judges were people I have had the pleasure of knowing and often working with over a number of years – planet fashion is rather a small place. It was pretty tough call to select the best of the bunch not least because sometimes a great designer might simply not fit the criteria of the award which makes it difficult if you believe in someone but on the whole I think we did well. I can't tell you who my personal favorites are but I am very much looking forward to helping them develop and grow their businesses. I have no doubt these guys are the future.

Check out the official press release and find out who the winners are for the BFC/ELLE Magazine Talent Launch Pad 2010 here.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

A Hair Raising Tale

So following on from my wax lyrical on the Italian hairdresser I now need to expand on subsequent events. I went to said hairdresser because since the birth of my youngest one my hair has started to turn grey. Not too much but enough that my vanity be offended and I need to address matters. Generally speaking  this can be done out of a packet and in the privacy of my own bathroom but now that my shaven locks have started to grow back, I can no longer take a back seat in the grooming stakes and I revert to the professionals. So when I found myself in Italy with time on my hands and a fabulous local salon no doubt practiced in dealing with colouring like mine (I might be of Polski/Russki origins but the Egyptian in me mixes it all up and I have the hair of a latino) I jumped right in. I emerged a woman transformed. Not only was my hair a glossy dark brown in all the right places, but it was also hanging straight and in my trademark bob.  Now this may not seem like a big deal but please remember that I was a skinhead in December and it has been growing vertically in a number of ill considered directions up until now. In fact I had gotten so used to my unruly mop that I had not even bothered to think about whether it might possibly be at the stage where I could shape it into something vaguely chic. So when I walked out of the Parrucchiere like a butterfly from a chrysalis I realised I was ‘back’ and not one further moment could be wasted on bad hair days. I poste haste booked myself an appointment for straightening at Daniel Hersheson and that was where I was returning from yesterday afternoon in all my newly polished glory when I bump into Alexandra Shulman outside Vogue House.

In my world Alex Shulman is about as cool as they come. Number one - she is the editor of Vogue. Number two – she is the editor of Vogue.  She is uber smart, she is loved and respected by all who work for her and she has done it all whilst building a family and having her life. In my eyes - she rocks. She is also very nice so I stopped for a brief chat feeling rather pleased with myself for controlling my urge to grab her and grill her on exactly how she does it whilst at the same time managing my nerves. ALEX SHULMAN!!!! I did notice that her eyes were tending to travel up to my head  slightly in the manner of someone checking over someone’s shoulder for a better prospect but unless she was hoping to see the BFG it was an unlikely social tic and I put it down to the sun being in her eyes. It wasn’t until I got in the car and checked in the rear view mirror to inspect my newly straightened locks that I realized that my hair was literally standing on end and waving gently in the breeze as though I had been electrocuted! Nooooooooo! Alex Shulman!!!!!!!!!!!!

Picture courtesy of

Of course I hot footed it back to the salon who (rightly) assured me that the product needed a couple of hours to settle. But why oh why did my hair have to misbehave in front of Alex Shulman. It is nearly as shaming as the time I went to the Elle Style Awards in a see through dress and last season’s knickers.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The good life

I have just spent a blissful week in a little village near Rimini on the Italian Adriatic. I have been going there forever - since I was a little girl and now I take my kids to enjoy a little retro chic bucket and spade-ing.  And it really is so chic. I honestly don’t think the town or the hotel that we stay in have changed in 40 years and I find it utterly charming. From the canopied bikes we ride into town to the ice cream parlour which really is the smartest, most elaborate venue in town (30 flavours, leather booths and absolutely no clue about portion control). 

The local hairdresser is hands down the best I have ever been to for a good blow dry and I love the fact that I get to sit under one of those ancient blow dry bubble things which make me feel like an extra in Corrie and pretend to listen to the local gossip bouncing around.

I love the whole small town mentality of it all. I always come home thinking I would love nothing more than to buy a little house in this most beautiful of spots and settle down to making my own pasta.  Imagine the lifestyle porn…  Quaint 1950’s village…  The dramatic costal shoreline on the one side with its wonderfully bleached  hues, the rural countryside on the other and in the middle the best that Italian fashion has to offer open till 11.30pm EVERY NIGHT!!!!  I jest you not- all the big boys are there as well as smaller exciting brands all jostling for well merchandised space in the multitude of boutiques that the Italians do so well. But enough of this blatant consumerism and cut to me in my Italian villa dream, children running happily outside (no tears, tantrums or traumas because I am Italiano mama perfecto) whilst I am busy kneading pasta dough (or whatever it is)  wearing a floral tea dress - my hair suddenly long and layered, tied loosely in a pony tail and a year long tan. A bit like Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona but more Jewish.  You feeling it yet? Or should I tell you about my daily walks down the country lanes, my perfect expresso macchiato in the little café on the corner, the dappled light as it falls through the worn wooden slats of the canopy I am having my siesta under.

And all the while my business is running itself, fashion week is taken care of and I don’t have to give a moments consideration to the pressure looming as we prepare to present our new (but rather fabulous) collection to the fashion world. Well… It was good whilst it lasted!