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Bag Heaven: An Afternoon With Osprey London

Bags for me are the ultimate fashion accessory, I think it is because you don’t have to be a size zero to pull them off, they come in a multitude of styles, colours and sizes, and most of all they are the easiest way to instantly add your personality and mood to an outfit. I am sure some people will say the same about shoes, and I do have a lot of those as well, but for me handbags are the ultimate fashion treats.

Like with boots I always say buy a quality handbag and it will last you years to a lifetime dependant on where you buy it. For me I do love a leather bag, I love a splash of colour, I love a classic shape, and I adore one with lots of room. Imagine how excited I was when I was introduced to the Osprey London showroom, I felt like a kid in a candy shop, they were so many gorgeous pieces.

This was more than just a press day visit, this was a one-on-one tour with the brand’s designer and MD, Graeme Ellisdon. It was such an enjoyable afternoon, finding out more about this iconic British label, which just so happened to be born the same year as me, as well as learning about Graeme’s inspirations and design processes.

First up, I have to say what an inspiration Graeme is, I was completely honoured that he took time out of his busy schedule to chat to me. We touched on how the brand started as a belt company, working with the likes of Ralph Lauren, as well as how his design process is more hands-on with the material than sketching.

“I love working with natural materials like leather, I work with the fabrics rather than sketch,” Graeme commented. “The process of how the leather responds, reminds me of my father who was a carpenter.”

I think it is because of his hands-on approach that the label has so many gorgeous classics that are timeless in their design. One of the brand’s best seller, the Audrey, an elegant vintage-inspired bag was one of my favourites and that isn’t just because The Queen has one. I absolutely adore the polished finish of this calf leather bag with a croc print, oh and the striking orange shade helps – how perfect is that.

The orange is coming for spring/summer 2012, but can’t wait that long, then you can indulge in either a black or purple one on the brand’s website. Another amazing thing about this bag, for a classic shape, which I lovingly call the Granny bag it is reasonably priced at £225, and trust me the leather on this beauty makes this a bargain!!

Colour is a big part of Osprey London, I think that is why I am drawn to the brand, it cleverly works the British heritage label, while still being contemporary and cool, and that is a hard task.

“If I believe in something, I make it, and I commit to it,” Graeme added when telling me how he decides on which styles to produce, he generally doesn’t have orders from his stockists before he produces them as he likes to make the decisions. I love how bold that is, and so respect that as a brand they know exactly what their customer wants, and that is great quality, gorgeous styles, at the best price they can offer.

I have to admit I was completely fascinated with Graeme, I love his approach to designing, one of the bags I fell completely in love with had to be this one. Not only is it a gorgeous colour, I think everything in this orange hue I was completely blown away by, but I loved that this piece was inspired by a vintage 40s handbag that he found. What he did was take the basis of the original design and mix it with the contemporary look of Osprey London, it so works and all these vintage pieces make the collection really strong, I really do love a nod to the past.

One of the strongest lines in the collection and so on trend at the moment had to be the equestrian-inspired pieces in black and tan, all created using traditional saddlery techniques in the most gorgeous soft Spanish calf leather. My favourite had to be The Hickstead above, I just love the way the bucket-shaped bag has been given a saddle make-over, and also it would fit everything in, while still being stylist.

The range has something for everyone though, from cross body bags and weekend holdalls to large totes. Trust me these bags have to be touch to believe how incredibly soft they are – I loved them.

Another big theme in the collection had to be the luxuriously glamorous jaguar print. I am not normally a lover of animal print but I fell in love with the strokeable The Kariba grab bag with its chocolate leather trim. Not only does this handbag make a statement but it is also practical as it is a great size and shape, my guide is if it will fit a magazine in and this beauty sure will!!!

I also quite liked The Zambezi below, a gorgeous bag which can be worn across the body. Also if like me you love to coordinate your handbag with a matching purse Osprey really has thought of everything.

What I love most about these sort of visits is finding out new things about the brand, and I think every knows that Osprey London produces high quality classics but did you all know about their diffusion line, O.S.P Osprey? No, didn’t think so, well you need to get yourself down to John Lewis or check out the pieces on Osprey’s website as they are gorgeous handbags at a cheaper price point, which still have the high quality feel of the mainline.

I like the quirky shape of the O.S.P Osprey The Helsinki shoulder bag at the front in red, the pebble grain hide is unbelievable and at £125 it is such great value. The Vienna grab bags are also so reasonable at £115, and like with the mainline colour features throughout with the purple shade making a great alternative to black.

I could go on and on about how many standout pieces, seriously lots, but what I will say is that I love brands which cross age generations, I could see teenagers carrying some of these bags as well as the more mature lady, more so as vintage-inspired looks are so on trend.

As well as showing me round the showroom Graeme also discussed the future plans for Osprey London, including how they are adding a workbench area into the head-quarter’s restored hat factory to start doing personalised pieces as well as repairs. This will be perfect for all the stocking-filler type pieces they do, including these key-rings, which do look ideal for my Barbies!!

Want to see more from my visit? Well head on over to my Facebook page where I have a whole album dedicated to Osprey London.


NYC Adventure: HTC Launches Rhyme Smartphone

Last week I had the pleasure of flying to New York for the launch of HTC’s latest smartphone, HTC Rhyme, which was held at a rather cool warehouse studio the High Line Stages, just round the corner from the redeveloped High Line railway walk network.

I have to own up I am a Blackberry girl, my last three mobiles have been of the qwerty variety and I have had a strictly no touch screen policy, well that is until now. The iPhone as appealing as it is with all its applications, I completely despise something that doesn’t allow me to change the battery; yes I am an over-user of my mobile and sometimes I need to re-juice it with a spare battery, I am not one for struggling to find a plug socket. Trust me I was the only one during London Fashion Week not suffering from battery fatigue.

I have always heard good things about HTC and Android its operating system, mainly from men to be honest, and the Taiwanese company have a knack for developing great looking phones, but nothing purely driven at the lifestyle market. It seems that HTC Rhyme is set to remedy all this with a cool smartphone aimed at us girlies. I know many brands have done this before, and most of them have been a hue of pink, do you remember the Samsung E530 or how about the Nokia 7373, or they’ve featured a calorie-counting app pre-installed or adorned with diamantes, or maybe you were one of those women who bought the LG mobile complete with a mirror to re-apply your lippie?

Well trust me the HTC Rhyme maybe be plum in colouring but that I think that is where the girlie-specific characteristics stop. Yes it is feminine it in its appeal, as it is slightly smaller than the norm for HTC, the screen is 3.7 inches rather than the 4.3 inches seen on the HTC 3D Evo, but saying that still bigger than the iPhone screen.

It has a sleek interface called HTC Sense, which includes a quick menu on the front that shows your most used applications, for me it would have to be email, Twitter, text messaging, and contacts. Talking about contacts, one of the things I love with my BB is that if I go to contacts it shows my recent activity with that person, well HTC have gone one step further as well as emails, phone and text it also features social media conversations. Just testing out the phone I loved the interface and can’t wait to see how it copes with my over-use when it launches here in the UK next month.

As well as being a great mobile, HTC have considered all those little things that you normally buy separately and combined it in the same set-up box. So as well as the Rhyme, you will get a dock, tangle-free headphones, and trust me they are tangle-free I tested them out much to the amusement of the HTC demonstrator, and a cute bag charm that clicks into the headphone socket and clips to your bag strap; so when you receive a call, text, email for instance it flashes, great idea for people like me who have huge bags and are prone to losing them inside!!

In the development of the Rhyme it seems that HTC did a lot of ‘people watching’ and researched how people use their mobiles, and apparently most people take their phone to bed with them *I must be the only one who doesn’t*. So to make this easier the mobile comes complete with a dock in the box, which means no-wires-required charging and it makes a great alarm clock. I told you this smartphone was nifty. They’ve also developed other accessories like bluetooth headsets, and something that I was very excited about, like with your iPod or iPhone there is going to be an exercise accessory that can be strapped to your arm. Seriously LOVE this phone!!

As well as being available in Plum, the handset will also come in Clearwater, a gold hue, a step away from the classic black or iPhone white. But as you can see above you can make it any colour you want as you can buy covers.

If like me you’ve never gone for touch screen, or maybe you also don’t want an iPhone the HTC Rhyme will surprise you. This little beauty is sleek in its design, features a sexy interface that caters to your needs, and best of all it is super light, I always worry about touch screens being heavy but this one was about the same as my Blackberry Bold. If anything can get me to step away from the qwerty keys it is this mobile, I know I have gushed about it, but at heart I am a geek and I love gadgets and this one has gone to the top of my wish list.

So far only O2 have released the launch date of October 17, sadly with no price points as yet, but trust me if you are due an upgrade soon and you want something a little different then please try this out before going with the norm.

Also did I mention HTC also has a mirror app!!!

**Disclaimer: HTC paid for my trip to New York, but didn’t influence my review of the launch, they were impeccable hosts who opened my eyes to more than just my Blackberry or my friends iPhones.**

HTC Rhyme: Leighton Meester In Marios Schwab and Burberry

Who: Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester

Where: At the HTC Rhyme launch party held at the Highline Stages in New York

Wearing: A gorgeous long-sleeve black dress from Marios Schwab’s Resort 2012 collection, which had an ‘under-the-sea’ graphic print to the skirt, paired with Burberry Prorsum heels

Verdict: It isn’t often that I am at a party that I actually get to speak to the celebrity about what they are wearing. This week thanks to my HTC Adventure to New York I actually spoke to Leighton Meester about her fab look, which I loved. The dress was amazing, I loved the print on the skirt it really did stand out, but for me and it seemed everyone at the party Leighton’s look was all about those to-die-for heels. I just loved the tribal-vibe they have going on with the draped beaded detail to the front.

Not only was Leighton completely stunning, I have to admit I did fall in love with her more when I saw her in Harrods a few months back, but speaking to her and having my pic with her was cool. Granted not an amazing pic, iPhones really do suck *joking*, but hey it is a great keep sake from a fabulous night!!

More to come from my amazing HTC Adventure in New York, just editing pics and finishing up all my copy.