Stacy Chan Clutch Bags

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I probably lean towards carrying a clutch bag with me for going out, and favour them over a shoulder bag or a cross body for that little piece of elegance that will elevate an outfit come evening time.  When designer Stacy Chan approached me about reviewing a bag from her collection of exquisitely made clutches, I jumped at the chance to carry a little piece of luxury around with me. Inspired by Chan’s travels around the Mediterranean, this cerise coloured Imogen clutch from her Elaphe collection features a delightful contrasting light turquoise silk satin interior and metal hardware with gold finish.  It is a style that never fails to prompt conversation around a dinner table (“where did you get that bag?”) and its unique style will see you making it your evening staple. 

I spoke with Chan about her design ethos and love of accessories. Read more about Stacy Chan clutch bags, below.

Chan is also offering StyleOnTheCouch readers a special discount if you purchase a bag from her online boutique. Enter the code STYLECOUCH20 at checkout to receive 20% off your order.

What inspired you to move into design?

I have always loved fashion, but given that I worked in the conservative finance industry, I found that I was often looking for unique accessories to add interest and personality to move classic outfits.  Clutch bags became my go to accessories in the evenings, which always seem to elevate any outfit. After working for ten years in finance, I decided that it was time to make a change and bought a sketchbook with the intention of creating clutch bag shapes and styles that were both unique and also timeless.  After finishing the Handbag Designer Course at London College of Fashion, I was completely hooked and there was no turning back!

What are the ingredients of a great bag?

Bags have evolved from convenient carriers to hold items to truly designer pieces that can really add to much to your look. A great clutch bag can be chosen to complement your clothes, or it can be statement piece that elevates a simple dress. In either case, the materials should be of the highest quality and craftsmanship.

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Tell me about your spring summer collection…

All of the bags every season are unique shapes and are inspired by my travels that I show on my website.  My spring/summer collection has something for everyone.  The Gold Cracked Leather bags are perfect for a glam night out while the Elaphe Snakeskin bags add a fun pop of colour to your summer outfits.  The Bloom bags are covered with silk organza flowers and Swarovski crystals for a flirty complement to bring to girly brunch or a spring/summer wedding.

What is your favourite accessory?

Of course, my favourite accessory will be a Stacy Chan clutch bag!  However, it’s not easy to choose among the different styles and I have used them all to match different outfits.  The bag that I have used most the past few months is the Imogen Clutch Bag in Cerise Elaphe Snakeskin.  I love the bright pink colour which I have matched with everything from jeans and a white top to a slinky blue cocktail dress.  I already have a new versatile favourite from the Autumn/Winter collection though, so stay tuned!

What advice do you have for aspiring new designers?

Being a designer is hard work.  I have received a lot of advice from many different people at various stages of business and each person believes they know exactly what you need to do to be successful.  What I have learned is that people have their own path and what works for one business may or may not work for yours.  I listen to as many people’s (often contradicting) advice as possible, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is to find your own way.  Being a designer can be amazing, but there are many ups and downs along the way, so have lots of patience and try to enjoy the ride!

Wearing: ASOS full skirt. Black sheer polka dot top by Amoralle. Bag: Stacy Chan. Photos by Beth Morton shot on location at Camyoga studios.

Don’t forget! To receive a 20% discount on any purchase from Stacy Chan’s online boutique, enter the code STYLECOUCH20 at checkout.

 

Fashion & Fitness: Camyoga (Wolford Body, MICHI NY Leggings)

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Wolford-bodysuit-MichiNY-CamYoga-1I am a true believer that if you love fashion, this sentiment will enter into all aspects of your wardrobe, be it outerwear, underwear, or accessories.  Even fitness wear – I find that the right workout gear can motivate me to get moving, get to my class on time and get me ready for action before I’ve even started.

Here in my new hometown of Cambridge, UK, I’ve signed up with Camyoga to work on my strength and flexibility.  Boasting three yoga studios, a delightful cafe bar and a vibrant community of yoga, pilates and ballet enthusiasts, I’ve been inspired to (re)start Barre Fitness, which I am attending twice a week.  Barre Fitness brings together the best elements of ballet, pilates, sports conditioning and stretching in a one hour full body workout. The moves are fairly low impact but high intensity intervals of strength training followed immediately by deep recovery stretching. More about this method of exercise in my second Fashion & Fitness post (to come…!)

So, I caught up with Rachel Blyth at the studios for a chat about the minefield of different yoga types and the benefits of these, as well as more on the Camyoga philosophy:

I’ve been a member of Camyoga for just a few weeks and I already feel so welcome there. Tell me about the Camyoga community and how it began…

After several years teaching yoga and training yoga teachers in venues around Cambridge, Camyoga’s founder Louise Palmer Masterton recognised that there was a real need for a dedicated yoga centre in the area. Never shy of a challenge, Louise embarked on this rather ambitious project and Camyoga’s first studio opened its doors in Central Cambridge in 2010. The centre was the first of its kind in Cambridge and really tapped into the needs of the city’s population. So much so, that we opened Camyoga Shelford just two years later! We now have both a lively urban centre and our flagship teacher training studio in the tranquil surroundings of South Cambridge…two diverse and state-of-the-art venues.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Wow, where to begin?! A regular yoga practice can have profound benefits, on both body and mind. Physically, you will start to feel more mobile, with a greater range of movement and a certain “comfortableness” that comes from releasing tension.  Breathwork is key to yoga, and learning how to breathe fully can be a life-changer! You’ll gain a whole new tool for increasing your energy and vitality, or calming down when you need to. Depending on the style of yoga practice, yoga can be a full-on cardio workout, or a nourishing, rejuvenating nerve soother. Mentally, regular practitioners report feeling more relaxed, more connected to the present moment, more “in control” of their lives and thoughts, with less mental “chatter”. All this means yoga is brilliant for managing stress and supporting the immune system.

So many different styles of yoga exist.  Can you give a brief overview of the main ones so beginners (like me!) understand which class to choose based on fitness goals and aims?

Yes we have over 60 classes a week in a whole range of styles, so it can be a little tricky to know where to start! Our classic Yoga Open classes are a great starting point. The best advice is to try a few classes to find out which teachers resonate with you. The same style, taught by different teachers, can offer a very different experience indeed. If you’re looking for an energetic practice which will help you to tone up, get fit and possibly even lose weight, then classes such as Hot Yoga and Hot Power Yoga are for you. If you don’t like the heat but do want to keep things dynamic then Yoga Flow is a beautiful, almost dance-like practice. If you need to rest, renew and nourish yourself then Restorative Yoga or Yin Yoga are great starting points. If you love philosophy, chanting and the history of yoga then Jivamukti is a very integrated practice, whilst Forrest Yoga is a strong, healing practice which emphasises the breath and being fully present to the sensations unfolding in your body. So, there are a few styles to get you heading in the right direction! If you’re still not sure, give us a call or email Izzy our Yoga Advisor  - izzy@camyoga.co.uk. She’s super friendly and really great at matching the right style of yoga to the individuals’ needs!

Camyoga really emphasises the mind-body connection.  What are the benefits of Mindfulness, which seems to be a unique addition to your programme?

Mindfulness has been subject to over 600 scientific research reports, which reveal a really wide range of benefits. Above all, mindfulness is a very simple practice which can be built into your daily life. It can give you the tools to cultivate a high level of attention, to move from being reactive to considered in all of your responses, and to recognise the tricks that our minds can play on us; those tricks which increase stress and anxiety.

How often should you practice yoga?

Ah, well at Camyoga we have a handy saying – Once a week? Good. Twice a week? Great. Three times a week? Amazing! There are no hard and fast rules but when you start to fit a little yoga into your schedule, you’ll find yourself wanting to do more and more naturally. And the more, the better, really!

What should I wear to my first yoga class?

Comfort is paramount, and a little stretchiness always helps too. We’d recommend leggings or jogging bottoms and a tee or tank top. Shorts are fine too, especially for hot practices!

I also love running and pilates. Are some forms of exercise more compatible with yoga than others?

Yoga supports and complements all sports, and can be tailored to suit the individual’s needs. Some of the benefits of sports specific yoga include injury prevention, improved flexibility and movement efficiency, improved breathing and improved awareness. To find out more we’d really recommend An Introduction to Yoga for Sports People, a 2 day course with expert Hayley Winter, later this month. Click HERE to read more.

What are you waiting for, Blog Reader? Get moving!

Photos: Taken by Beth Morton, on location at Camyoga studios. With thanks to Rachel, Chris and Izzy.

Wearing: Michi NY leggings. Bodysuit: Wolford.

Thanks also to A Girl A Style for the yoga studio recommendation!

Collections: Whistles Autumn Winter 2014

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whistles_womens_aw14_look14Shot on location at The Barbican, the creative heartbeat of London’s financial district, Whistles Autumn Winter 2014 collection is full of minimalistic elegance with comforting textural accents (leather, faux fur, sequins, knits). You may even be welcoming the end of summer when you glance upon the full range (savvy shoppers will already have placed their orders – whilst they are not fast fashion, Whistles don’t seem to do huge runs of any styles, so don’t be caught out!)

With a beautiful colour palette close to my own heart: black, navy, and pale lavender, a collection of streamlined yet drape-y jumpsuits, skirts and tops (one is also reminded of the aesthetic of Ellery here,) furry coats and cocktail party dresses is waiting for you.

Lilac is a colour that was really important – it has such connotations of twinset and pearls so making it modern feels exciting. Oversized coats were the perfect shape, as if borrowed from your boyfriend. We love the contrast between the volume of a coat like this and a party dress worn underneath… {It is} A playful collection, shaking off sculptural silhouettes and embracing fluid pieces and fabrics that move. Confidence, comfort and chic come together here – we think you’ll find it’s a desirable combination.”

Whistles is one of those brands who provide middle market store offerings but place an emphasis on real, ‘high’ fashion.  From what I remember as being quite a whimsical, girly offering in my younger years, Whistles appears to be growing into an interesting and contemporary brand.  Cool not conventional is how I prefer you, Whistles, and I’m sending you much love for your stunning AW14 line.

To see more of Whistles AW14 click HERE.