Tuesday, 12 December 2017
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February 2017

February at last – Woo-hoo! Yes it might still be cold, wet and not-quite-spring-yet, but this month has so many good things going for it…

For example: January is over! I can officially ditch the diet and get back to eating warming winter pies and slow-cooked stews; I feel like a queen being paid for the first time since December, the world of taxis and cocktails is mine for a few days once again; being a short month, I won’t be nearly as skint in the last week as I usually am (I hope) and Easter may not arrive for a few months yet, but Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs have officially hit the shelves so it’s time for my annual chocolate-egg love affair.

Speaking of love affairs, 50 Shades Darker will finally get its long awaited cinema release – Jamie Dornan on the big screen – need I say more? And on that note, after the Globes and SAGs, the awards season is in full flow which means it’s time to perv over something other than Mr Dornan… all the Oscar and BAFTA fashions.

How could I forget that this month brings Valentine’s Day? But let’s be real here, most men dislike Valentine’s Day. They probably think it’s a silly, made up holiday like ‘Wear Your Christmas Jumper to Work Day’ (which, incidentally, I LOVE). It’s not. Blame it on marketing, or the chocolate industry, or Hallmark, or Cupid. We all want that feeling that we are loved and cared for and needed. That’s it. That’s the reason, and as stupid as you might think it is, every woman, regardless of her level of independence and shunning of gender norms, wants it. So gentlemen, this doesn’t necessarily mean a dozen overpriced roses or (God forbid) a padded card but just do something – anything – for the lady in your life.

My Valentine’s gift from Jim last year was a monochromatic phone cover emblazoned with my initials from Willow of London. Okay, so maybe I did drop a few hints (and a link to the website to order it) but this £39 accessory has been my wardrobe staple over the past 12 months along with my Prada 170S Swing sunnies and Mulberry Bayswater. Simple, slick and stylish, I’m not alone in my love of this cover as celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Caroline Stanbury, Calum Best, Elle McPherson and TOWIE’s Megan McKenna are all over Instagram sporting their monogrammed cases from this London-based company. Cheaper than a Rolex and easier to buy than a Birkin, this must-have accessory is one trend that can give you A-List style without needing an A-List budget! Find at willowoflondon.co.uk

So the days are getting longer, the evenings lighter, and before you know it, it will be spring. Speaking of which, with the dregs of the January sales finally gone, it’s time for local fashion fans to spring into action and welcome back the 23rd season of Belfast Fashionweek from March 23-26, 2017.

At the recent BFW press launch held at Robinson & Cleaver, bloggers, vloggers and the fashion old guard were treated to a well needed display of sunshine with candy colours and candy stripes courtesy of the BFW dream team, letting us see spring 2017 through rose-coloured spectacles. A packed schedule awaits, promising a celebration of sartorial chic showcasing the latest ranges from local designers and designer boutiques, high street haunts and savvy stylists in the best venues around Belfast. With names like Nor Lisa, Blush Boutique and Italian design house Max Mara mixing with ASOS, Topshop and River Island, Belfast Fashionweek has grown into an established part of the new fashion week circuit. With a mixture of public and private shows, from high concept to haute couture, Belfast Fashionweek never fails to deliver spectacular style and memorable moments. For shows and tickets visit belfastfashionweek.com

And if this wasn’t enough for you style lovers, Max Mara will be bringing its full Spring/Summer 2017 collection from the catwalks of Milan to Belfast City Hall on March 10 in support of leading learning disability charity Positive Futures. Positive Futures operates across Northern Ireland and provides support to people with a learning disability, acquired brain injury or autistic spectrum condition and their carers. In the words of Nina Walls, franchise owner of the Max Mara store in Belfast, this is a must-see for the modern women with big ideas and ‘proposes a new blend of voluptuous modernity – intelligent, audacious, sexy fashion’. Tickets for this spectacular start at £35 and are available online from positive-futures.net

With a new season of style, colours and endless fashion inspiration right on our doorstep, spring 2017 promises pretty, edgy, groundbreaking and totally wearable looks that I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on. So what are you waiting for? Start planning and plotting your style.

Stephanie Berkeley
Willow of London
BFW launch at Robinson & Cleaver Sunshine Yellow
Narah and Co. Pink ruffle top at Belfast Fashionweek launch
Bella Hadid in Max Mara

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