Follow@78cobar2019/2/15/judge-barrett">Here Comes the Judge_

Here Comes the Judge_

Last Sunday I presented 5 awards for the best stand display for Pure London at Kensington Olympia. Whilst this was an unexpected opportunity passed on by a very good friend I grabbed it with both hands. I am very much a positive person and grab most opportunities as you never know where things may take you.

My role was to walk round the fair and select my top 3 stands with a winner from 4 categories with one overall winner:


Having worked in visual merchandising for 20 years, I have seen many shop/window displays. I have my own personal preferences and selected favourite stores or windows with colleagues on different levels. To be asked to judge and be a critic of the industry was an honour. 

In the beginning, it was difficult to be critical while looking at the overall picture, being objective and taking consideration of the varying sizes, spend, quality and creativity of each stand. In a time when large stores are closing, retail is struggling, its amazing to see so many brands building there empires and listening to the positivity they have. There is a real sense of passion in each designer/owner

Unfortunately there is still a real disconnect between “creativity” and “business”. You have the majority that understand that without the 2 you cannot survive, if you go too far either way you can slightly lose sight of what your message to the client is. In my opinion there is still a few brands that don’t take Visual Merchandising seriously and just spread product out so that you just cannot see the wood from the trees.

The brands that stood out for me were the ones that clearly found that middle ground and that bit extra. These brands used their space wisely which created a stand that was compelling and stood out above all  by been playful, engaging and on brand. 

The actual presentation was a bit nerve racking if I’m being honest. I thought I’ll have a cheeky glass of wine to settle the nerves.

Julie Driscoll MD of ITE-Experience introduced me to the crowd of 200+ exhibitors. I gave my slight awkward wave to the crowd and we began. Having given my reasons for selecting each winner, they were called up individually handed their cut glass trophy and we had our pictures taken. I began well, stuck to the script a little but as I looked up at the crowd my mouth became drier and drier, it was quite nerve racking standing there in front of people that don’t know who the person is critiquing there hard work.

What  got me back and gave me the confidence to continue was the 20 years experience gained working with great mentors and the strong belief i have in my own ability.

What felt like an hour actually passed quite quickly and afterwards I actually felt very good about my time in the spotlight. It was a great experience and I very much appreciate the opportunity to grow, learn and develop further as an individual. If you are not moving forward then you are standing still.

And I will certainly not be standing still anytime soon.

Thank you to Pure London and Phill Creates

And has a bonus I was able to listen to a true Fashion icon in Katherine Hamnett in conversation Anne Lise Kjaer

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Follow@78cobar2019/1/6/style-studio">Style Studio

I had a call from good friend and client Vincent B who wanted a wardrobe re-fresh. The style studio took place mid December, so post Christmas I sat down with Vincent to reflect on our session and how he felt about the clothes and himself more importantly.

So Vinny,

What did you want to achieve with this styling session?

I wanted a complete overhaul of my wardrobe. I had clothes from years ago and really wanted to restart the base collection and then build on this. And also to get a bit of confidence. There was a lot I wanted to get rid of but in order to this I needed to have enough clothes to replace them with. This would involve a lot of time and research which I wouldn’t be able to do. I also wanted to try to be a little more daring and gain more confidence in what I wear. I appreciate when things look good on people but wouldn’t always be brave enough to do it myself. I was hoping the styling session would make me see that I would too look good in these outfits.

Were you clear in the overall look you wanted to achieve or for me to go a little left field?

A bit of both really. I knew for example that I wanted a couple of new coats, Cory then went and researched lots and sent them to me and I selected the ones I liked and this gave Cory enough to get something like this that sat within my budget. I also asked Cory to suggest something other than Jeans... I only every where jeans. Cory then brought a vast variety of different style pants to the styling session

If so what were the biggest No’s for you?

I only really asked Cory to avoid making it obvious that I’d literally replaced my wardrobe in one day to something completely different. Therefore I didn’t want everything hugely different from what I’d wear before, I wanted to try say a new pair of pants with an existing top to see how they were received rather than a complete new outfit that would look like I was just wearing someone else’s clothes. Cory helped to use some of my existing wardrobe with the new items so I could test the waters with a particular piece whilst improving my confidence.

Were you happy with the service and kept upto date?

Cory was phenomenal, frequent updates (in fact it was me often apologising for not replying promptly). It was clear how much research he was putting In and I was frequently being sent emails with more images and pieces for me to say yes or no to which would help him with the vision. I was genuinely overwhelmed by how much time he put in for me, it really made me feel special and that I was a main priority. Cory came all the way to my house to carry out the styling session which really helped as I have a newborn. He managed to fit in a time and date that was convenient for me.

How did you feel during the style studio?

At first I was a little awkward as it’s not something I’m used to but Cory was very professional and put my mind at ease very quickly. Watching him work his magic putting pieces together and then putting them on and looking in the mirror. He was constantly asking what I thought and giving his opinion. After I’d tried on a few outfits I felt my confidence and body language improving.

Did I listen to you and your concerns or ideas?

100%. There were some of my current items I wanted upgrading (better quality), this was done. I wanted two coats (one more formal, one very warm), this was done. I cannot believe how he managed to get everything so right with the little information I gave him. I don’t usually shop online as I like to try things on so I was expecting lots of things not to fit, this was not the case, one shirt didn’t fit and he had another size which did.

My only real concern I had was with shorter length of trousers, I’ve never been comfortable with them but I did ask him to get a few pairs. When I put them on with the others pieces to complete the outfit he asked what I thought and gave his opinion. His explanations on how to make each piece of an outfit compliment another, layering all to make you look in proportion was something I’d never thought about. I’m a tall man, with very long legs so I’ve always just purchased the longest pants possible but Cory showed me how this could be achieved in other ways like by having a longer top.

Did you set a budget and was this met?

Yes. Cory asked initially what my budget was. As I wanted a lot of clothes I understood that I’d need to spend a fair amount. I gave a lower budget and top budget and it came considerably under the top budget (which I was very surprised at when I saw how many items there were). It was clear that he’d shopped around for the best prices and really tried to make my budget go as far as I could.

Would you tell us about the process?

We started with an initial consultation over the phone where I told Cory what I was after, he asked a bit about my current wardrobe and we discussed budget, sizes etc. This was very much just like a normal conversation but I was amazed at how much he could extract from the conversation. Over the next week or so Cory sent me a number of emails with a lot of styles, looks and single pieces. I simply returned the emails with things I like circled and this would help him see through my eyes I guess. The next thing was to arrange a date and location. Cory had ordered all of the clothes and arranged them to re sent to my house. On the day of the styling session Cory arrived when he said he was going to and seemed to have as much time as I needed. The actual session took around 3 hours but this time flew by for me and it seemed he was enjoying it also which really did help. Someone actually doing all of this to make me look better and more confident whilst enjoying it and showing a sense of pride is honourable. It didn’t feel like he was here to work it felt like he was here to create and inspire... Which he ultimately did.

Are you happy with your wardrobe pieces and would you use a service like this again?

There were only two items that I didn’t take and this was down to size, everything that was picked I kept. Cory took care of the returns so it really was a specialist service. It’s not if it’s when, I am already giving some thought as to what I would like to do next with my wardrobe and I know who I will call first


It is rare these days to get a sense of happiness from someone who is working. Cory is clearly proud of what he does and the magic he creates

Was there a favourite piece?

I really liked the grey overcoat. I told Cory that I had one like this years ago that I loved and he managed to get one similar that was of much better quality

  • Arket

  • Dover st Market

  • Zara

For more information on any of the clothes or services click here

London Fashion Awards 2018

The idea was simple, fix up, look sharp, and enjoy the event.

We attended the London Fashion Awards 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall. Even though we were not part of the A list set with the grand steps and THE Red carpet it was incredible to see. We were seated at door 3 which was not as glamorous but we were greeted also with red carpet and photo op which was a hive of activity. The sparkle shining off the flash photography was blinding.

It was everything you could expect. The A list celebs were on the tables by the stage, we were a couple of tiers up, and had an exceptional view of everything going on. The outfits on some of the attendees were stunning, the women were glamorous, the men dapper, tux’s, velvet suits, it was impressive. 

The awards are celebration of not just London or British fashion, it was a celebration FASHION. 

There were awards for the most iconic designers in Dame Vivienne Westwood, and awards for new emerging talents. The whole reason for the event was to support the next generation of designers/creators and to build for the future. This was visible in the range of people in the audience, from A list celebrities to students from fashion schools, it felt inclusive to all levels of the industry. 

We need to keep inspiring and supporting the next wave of talent…

To understand a little more about what the British Fashion Council can do for you, click on the link here. There are many other organisations that can support you to help follow your dream. And if you need support please contact BFC or contact me.

The party season is well under way and you don’t have to dress head to toe glamour. The Tuxedo is a classic piece so by adding your personal style to the garments and building your confidence you can create something traditional feel modern and elevated. Play with textures, have fun and just be yourself. I love the idea of dressing up.  I wore a Cos Tuxedo style suit with classic white shirt, Dior Homme bow tie, which I actually wore for my wedding 12 years ago, Zara shoes with high patent gloss and black faux mohair details. I then added my touch, my rings which added the final twist to my uniform, and I felt good. You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve the look you want, mixing and matching different styles and brands will elevate any look. 

The fashion and Christmas season is in full effect and we cannot wait to get dressed up even if its just popping to the club. 


Fix up look sharp!! 

Beautiful wife wearing  Halston

Beautiful wife wearing Halston

Follow@78cobar2018/9/20/the-journey-so-far">The Journey so far...

New Creative Leaders_

Creativity is my new energy!

Seeing, hearing, feeling something, anything that can just make your mind explode is better than any drug. It feels like we are in the time of the creative. With all the negative press and state of the economy and our New World Leaders and then we can all unite and stand together as creatives - for now is our time. Not everyone has the budget of the LVMH’s and Off-white but you can still create.

Go create, go inspire and don’t be afraid to put something out there.

Creatively Being Confident!!!

W E T H E C U R I O U S 

The One that Got Away

RAF SIMONS sample sale in Antwerp. Are you kidding me. 

I must go, the flights are ridiculously expensive and the kids need picking up from school. Sorry kids but I must see Raf and buy some archive pieces that I can't afford. I can't remember when my fascination started but I think it was around 2001, when I moved to London with my then girlfriend, the bright lights and the big city drawer was too much, the designer clothes, luxury events. It was a fashion boys dream!!! and we really lived the dream. 

My first Raf Simons purchase was sweatshirt, it was an accessible price point and just beautiful, I still keep it safe and wear on the odd occasion to this day. It was a charcoal grey with graphic patches of the same grey, giving you the mix of texture, tone and statement! classic Raf as I've come to learn. my collection came to grow from suits, shirts, tees, sneakers, coats and The Book - RAF SIMONS REDUX

The classic aesthetic always with a twist an edge, these were not just items of clothes but pieces of art and I LOVE the attention to detail on the elaborate pieces to the cleaner pieces. Everything has a purpose, a meaning, a quality that no-one will replicate.

Nothing would stop me going to the sale but alas reality kicks in, the expensive flights, accommodation, and medical appointments scheduled on the day I wanted to travel  not forgetting my responsibilty as a parent. I couldn't go, I needed (I thought) to go to this appointment with the NHS you never know when you might get another one. so it was a choice between health and RAF.

Sadly Health won!

Devastated is an understatement so I get out my Raf clothes and wear them proudly/sadly knowing that I missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Antwerp will have to wait, but my love for RAF SIMONS continues.