Going from banker to fashion designer isn’t usually the career path of choice for most people (stocks, bonds and Burberry?) but that’s exactly what Emma Roupell did. After years of tirelessly trying to assemble a work outfit that was stylish and office appropriate, she decided to make her own line. LOGUE London is here to bring women something they can be proud to wear in and out of the office, and we thank her for that!

EMMA ROUPELLsq

LF: With such a drastic career change, what did you want to be as a child? Banking followed by fashion ever up there?
ER: No, I can’t say that it was! My mother loved fashion and I caught the bug when I was very young, constantly playing dress up in her clothes. I have always loved the glamour of luxury clothing.

LF: Your clothing was a response to what you felt was a gap in work wear outfits for women. Can you tell us more about what you think the problem with women’s work wear is?
ER: As a working woman, you spend the most part of your life in the clothes you wear to the office – my wardrobe was starting to increasingly fill up with separates and business attire which I did not want to wear in the evenings or at weekends.  So, I created 6 dresses for myself that would make dressing at the godforsaken hour of 5.30am extremely easy.  They were based on the classic shirtdress – a personal favourite. I designed what I called “the luxurious shirtdress with a difference”. Made in soft silks and cashmeres with flashes of colour and complete with leather belts. I literally lived in them for work and play – they became my staple for most occasions.

Delphinium Shirtdress

LF: What inspires your collections?
ER: Having friends that work across such diverse occupations – I like to create collections that form a woman’s wardrobe. There is a piece for everyone – whether you work or don’t work!   The SS13 collection remains true to the “one-stop-shop” concept for luxurious staple shirtdresses but as with each collection the brand introduces new lines of timeless pieces, making dressing effortless.

LF: Style-wise, how would you recommend women dress themselves for work? Androgynous, enhancing one’s feminine side, or something completely different?
ER: I think keeping the base simple and well cut always looks good. The beauty about a shirt dress, depending on how you wear it, is that it can be feminine or androgynous, but always smart.

Navy dress

LF: Do you recommend accessorizing or keeping it simple?
ER: An easy way to accessorize for work is with a belt. Instantly transforms a look without looking overdone.

LF: If we were to splurge on one thing to boost our work outfit, what would you recommend?
ER: A tailored dress complete with textured belt.

LF: It’s a “must-impress” interview, how would you recommend we style our outfit?
ER: Medium height heels, textured belt and a medium sized bag to compliment the belt or shoes. Add one piece of jewellery such as a cuff. Keep it simple and sharp.

LF: What would you say is the biggest no-no for women dressing for work?
ER: Showing too much flesh.

MARINA BLOUSE  (seated)

LF: What are your future plans for LOGUE London?
ER: There are lots of exciting new projects and events planned for 2013. We are continuing to grow our accessories line further and expand in the US market.

 

Follow:

Caroline Stanbury, Fashion Entrepreneur and Founder of Gift Library, opens up her wardrobe and walks us through this season’s must haves.

Outfit 1: Occasionally I will work from home especially if the children are on school holidays; having my own online business allows this flexibility. At home I like to be comfortable and casual, mainly because I need to be prepared to run around after my children! When I am casual I live in black leggings – these ones are from Theory. I buy my basic separates, such as this grey top, from Splendid.

Outfit 2: I love wearing statement colours and cut out shapes. I spotted this coat in the AW12 Dior collection and fell in love. Tailored classic coats with a pop of bright colour feature heavily this season. A mid-length coat is perfect for when the weather starts to get cold and looks great over skinny jeans.

Outfit 3: If I am going out to dinner with friends in London, I like to make an effort. This dress is definitely a mini-dress, but with its round neck and long sleeves isn’t over the top.  Here I have chosen to wear nude pair of shoes from Zanotti.

Outfit 4: I am definitely more of a casual person but when I do have to dress up, I like to make a statement. My favourite designers to wear to events are Vionnet, Pucci and Cavalli. This black, floor-length lace dress from Pucci is one of my favourites. It’s got great detailing, and the scoop back is beautiful.

Outfit 5: I found this on a trip to Celine in Paris. I love the wealth of monochrome this season and colour blocking is another big trend this Autumn. As the top is so bold, I would keep it simple with black trousers and black stilettos to avoid it being overpowering.

Follow:

‘The Queen of Baked Goods’ and a real ‘rock n’ roll baker’ are but to name a few titles that Lily Vanilli has been given in the past year. She is the artisan that has taken baking out of WI meetings and put it on the trendy East London map. We quiz her on her inspiration, unwillingly becoming a poster girl for the cup cake revolution and her ultimate baking tips.


Your new book ‘Sweet Tooth’ has been described as an ‘adventure manual for baking’, do you think that is an accurate description?

Yes, I really think it encourages people and gives them the skills and understanding they need to come up with their own creations. It’s a combination of inspiration, history and science of baking – arming you with the tools you need to go on!

It’s a recipe book that shows you how to cook creatively, teaching you skills you need to create your own recipes, where do you look to for inspiration for your creations?

I find inspiration in almost anything, organic things in nature, science, art and even architecture. The beauty of pastry and sweet things is that there is so many different elements that make up your final creation you can find inspiration almost anywhere. I also love researching and looking through old cook books.  

You’ve baked for some big names already but if you were to bake a cake for one person throughout history who would it be for and what would you bake!?

It would have to be for Marie Antoine Careme (one of the earliest celebrity chefs). He was a master of cooking, known as the ‘King of Chefs’. He was an early practitioner of the elaborate style of cooking called haute cuisine –the ‘high art’ of French cooking. I would build some form of cast out of silicone and construct a 3D sculpture.

Your original designs started out very macabre in theme, what made you delve in to the deep realms of the dark side of baking?

I started selling cakes on the cusp of the cupcake explosion and I actually never intended to be a cupcake maker, but that was what people wanted. I unwillingly became the a poster girl for the cupcake revolution. But cupcakes were becoming more about what they looked like and no what they tasted like. So I decided to make something that was ‘ugly’ but tasted delicious. A little rebellion against the trend!

If you’re not eating cakes what are you eating?

I love eating meat, a steak or a burger with amazing salads. Something healthy. Or roast fish – surprisingly I really love fishing!

Please could you share with LUX-FIX your ultimate top baking tip of all time?

The one thing I think you should be conscious of, which often gets overlooked, is to watch the temperature of your ingredients. You might skip that the butter needs to be at room temperature but it is important. You need cold butter for pastry and room temperature for cakes.

You’ve catered for some of the most prestigious fashion parties in the country, is fashion an area you are interested and inspired by?

Occasionally I am inspired by it, it has a dynamic energy about it which I am interested in. It has a new and modern pace that is unique to the industry. Also there are some very talented people out there such as Fred Butler who I have made cakes for in the past. I am interested in the cross pollination of the arts.

You make bespoke cakes for clients – which themed cake has been your favourite so far?

It would have to be making a cake sculpture for the V&A. I had an open brief, which was Royal Wedding!

So Lily if you’re not in your kitchen where would LUX-FIX find you?

Somewhere in the open air, in a park, fishing or on the canal in East London. I also spend a lot of time riding my bike.

If you weren’t living in London where would you live?

I would like to try to go to Mexico. Or maybe it would be Italy.

What’s next for Lily, do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?

I want to see where my new book takes me, I have spent a large chunk of the year working on it. So I want to slow down the pace a little and see what comes from what has been done. But I also want to focus on baking – baking in my bakery in East London and having that as a solid base. Sit back and enjoy what has been done so far! Having said that I have also been doing some consulting in Abu Dhabi to look in to setting up some bakeries!

Visit The Lily Vanilli Bakery every Sunday 8.30am-4pm at 6 The Courtyard, Ezra St. London, E2 7RG.


Words: Grace Knee

Follow:

Acclaimed author, Jennifer Egan, speaks to LUX FIX about her most recent short story Black Box, the mission log of a beautiful futuristic female spy. Delivered by the New Yorker through the medium of Twitter – Jennifer says “This spy story would be boring and clichéd without being written in this format. The entry point to mystery is precisely in the strange way that it is written.”

Picture Credit: Pieter Van Hattem

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, and if not what made you follow that path?

No, originally I wanted to be a doctor! As a kid I was interested in science and was fascinated with seeing what people looked like inside. I used to visit the cemetery with my grandma and ask her if we could dig up a dead body! Her husband was a surgeon and he had a lot of stories he used to tell me.

Then as a teenager I became squeamish, which is hilarious from a Freudian standpoint. I then decided I wanted to become an archaeologist – I loved the thought of digging up old urns and statues. I took a gap year, which was unusual enough in America, and I had the ludicrous idea that I would be able to go on an archaeological dig abroad. I wrote to a bunch of anthropologists proffering my services but no one took me up on my offer. I ended up going on a paid dig in Southern Illinois where the fantasy of archaeology did not live up to reality. It was September 18th and had no plan for the rest of my year out. I worked in a café to earn money and flew to Europe to go inter-railing. It was in the course of those revelatory travels that I decided to become a writer, or I discovered what was always the obvious.

Your most successful novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, is essentially about the passage of time itself and although there is no way of avoiding becoming part of the past there are certainly ways of being remembered…

A Visit From The Goon Squad is actually written in response to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. It was in my late 30’s that I finally finished reading it all the way through to the end. I think that is the right age to be reading a book about time, I was interested in obsessive love at the age of 21 and was systematically unable to believe that I would ever be interested in anything else and found it difficult to engage with a sense of nostalgia. Time is a fantastic subject – it is so abstract. All novels are essentially about time for they are about change. Poetry or the visual arts are not as reliant on the trajectory of time passing.

Where do you look to in life for inspiration for your work?

I don’t necessarily look anywhere and I try not to use my own life experience directly. I don’t feel like I have exact access to my actual life. I have an intuitive blind way of writing, when I start out I have only a vague sense of what is going to happen and I am always looking to be surprised. I think planning presents the obvious. I am looking for the unexpected and this come to me by the actual physical act of writing by hand. Writing becomes a form of escapism.

Can you please give a brief description of what your new short story  is about?

It is about a woman who has been recruited by the US government to spy on powerful men who have terrorist intentions. Her cover is what she calls a ‘beauty’ – a pretty girl who has been imported, not for money, but to be a part of the mix of pretty girls who are on site for the men’s entertainment. She is designated a mate and gathers information using recording devices in her body, for example there is a camera in her eye.

I know this all sounds like James Bond, but the critical point is that the action is not directly narrated – ‘I’ is not used. Instead she compiles a mental list of directions that she has been told to do – a log mission for reflections and a guidebook for similar work. I was interested in creating a piece of fiction that would require a telling in short structural lists – it has been serialized on Twitter. This voice seemed like it would thrive in this structure.

As you said it has been delivered through the medium of twitter, surely a writer’s worst nightmare due to its character restrictions, what inspired you to use this process?

Most literary genres have restrictions, just look at sonnets and plays. I was looking to let convention unlock something that couldn’t be done otherwise. The trick was to find work that can only be written in that way. This spy story would be boring and clichéd without being written in this format. The entry point to mystery is precisely in the strange way that it is written.

I joined Twitter wondering what I could do with this. Facebook is far blander and has a Big Brother feel, it’s not a place to make creativity happen, whereas Twitter has its own mode of discourse. I don’t like tweeting about myself for the same reasons as to why I find it difficult to write a personal essay and so I thought that there must be a voice or a way of delivering a story somehow. It was truly experimental having the New Yorker tweet the story, allowing people to experience this piece of fiction in the mix and in real time.

Some people were turned off when it was delivered in it’s ‘real time’ Twitter format and claim it works better in its printed format – was this an underlying aim, to show that the printed word still holds power over the realm of social media?

When writing it I had no idea if it would ever be printed let alone tweeted. It is real form serialized and anatomized in this way. I originally never told the New Yorker that I wanted it to be tweeted and then I made it a condition that it was not to be printed unless is was tweeted. No, it’s not a plot to show print is stronger, it’s not my job to make that point. I am open to anything that makes fiction interesting. I thought what have we got to lose? If it gets people talking about fiction and what makes it good then that is enough for there is not enough of that in America. The biggest surprise has been how positive the reaction to it has been!

You ask a lot of trust from the reader as it will be hard to get in to it straight away, was this something you were concerned about?

This is always a concern to some degree. It actually originally began very differently, there was a lot of chaos and confusion as I am always concerned about trying to drop the reader through the trap door immediately so to speak. The reader has to feel immediately located in world they want to belong in to read on.

And finally, what is the latest book you have read?

I have been reading more conventional fiction lately and the latest book is The Town and The City by Jack Kerouac. It is a novel about the 1930’s and 1940’s New York and creates a context for On The Road. You can feel the ways in which America grew out of the disruptions the war created.

Published by Corsair as ebook only

Written by Grace Knee

Follow:


Steak tacos, mushroom quesadillas and sautéed ants’ eggs…?! OH MY!! Master chef winner and owner of Wahaca, Thomasina Miers, speaks to LUX FIX about her passion for street food and the best places to spend happy hour!

 

Thomasina Miers (photograph by Karolina Webb)

Where did your love of Mexico and its cuisine come from? 

From early travels when I was 18 and stumbled upon the country, and its amazing food, for the first time.  I was blown away.

Is it street food or gourmet cuisine that ultimately lies in your heart of hearts?

The street food of any country always gets me every time.  It is the way to see inside the heart and soul of a country, or a people.  Looking at what people eat everyday, how much importance they attach to food, where it all comes from and how it is prepared by guys who have been perfecting the same dishes sometimes for decades; I find it fun, inspirational and delicious!

Where is the best street food to be found in London?

I think one of the few positives of this recession that we are in has been the rise of street food in London.  All over the capital you can find streets dedicated to housing the mobile units of young, dedicated professionals who are all working hard at producing a commodity to sell. 

It is capitalism at its best, but what’s more it is providing hugely creative, varied food for Londoners to eat.  I think it is fantastic. 

If the Government and local councils could spend more time supporting covered markets like in Brixton Village, we would see even more amazing food and even more creation of jobs.

When you land in Mexico what is the first thing you eat?

I go to the streets!  Always, always I go to the streets and choose the most tempting things on display, whether steak tacos, mushroom quesadillas, or courgette flower empanadas.

If you could have one ingredient delivered fresh to your door every day what would it be? 

Ripe, juicy tropical fruit.  When I am in Mexico I gorge myself on mangos, sweet pineapples, guava and papaya.  It is the biggest treat to being there.  I always feel blooming in health by the time I come back.

What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?

Mexico has a history of eating insects, which more and more countries might be adopting as food prices soar.  The most delicious ones I’ve ever tried are escamoles, or Mexican caviar.  These ants’ eggs are sautéed in butter, shallots, garlic and a fresh herb called epazote and rolled into soft corn tortillas.  They are exquisite.  I also love roast grasshoppers ground into a punch salsa and drizzled into quesadillas and am working on putting this onto our menu at the moment.  Most recently I tried chicatanas for the first time, an ant variety that is roasted and eaten with drinks.

If there was one person throughout history who you could cook for who would it be and why?

I’d love to have all my grandparents to dinner with my family who are still around.  I know so much more about food now than when they were alive and I think they’d be amazed by what I could cook for them.  I’d spend days preparing a huge feast for them so that we could all sit around a table together for just one night, eating, laughing and chatting about what we’d all been up to over the years.

LUX-FIX super jet at your service – If you could have breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different countries around the world which ones would they be?

I’d have breakfast in Mexico, lunch in Vietnam and dinner in New York!

It’s happy hour, where would you find your favourite cocktails in London? 

Caloo Calay, Hix Bar, The Wahaca Mezcal Bar, Lounge Lovers, Quo Vadis.  A good cocktail makes a good night out.  It is an amazing thing that we have so many amazing cocktail shakers lighting up the London night scene now.

Finally, talk us through your last supper?

There would have to be live music, great friends and extremely good food.  Lots of cheese and wine, cocktails, debauchery and dancing.  We’d have fun!

Baked sea bream a la Veracruzana


 

Feeds 4–6

Time: 50 minutes

1 or more sea bream (1.4kg in total), gutted and de-scaled

sprigs of thyme

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

50g butter

150ml dry white wine

150ml mezcal, or reposado tequila

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2–3 bay leaves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

sprigs of marjoram, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons small capers

50g pickled jalapeño chillies

2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes

This is a beautifully simple recipe that you can put together at the weekend for friends or family, and tastes so good that it will be long remembered. In fact it has now become a staple recipe when I am entertaining: the smoky mezcal, sweet tomatoes and light spice of the jalapeños make a really spectacular marriage of flavours. If you can’t get hold of sea bream, use any white-fleshed fish.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/gas 6. Wash the sea bream inside and out and pat dry. Fold a large piece of foil in half to make a generous, double layered wrapping for the fish inside a baking tray. Lay the bream on top, stuff with the thyme and season generously, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Dot with the butter, pour over the white wine and 50ml of the mezcal, then wrap up the fish, tightly sealing the edges of the foil. Bake for 25–35 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil and onions. Turn the heat down a touch and sweat the onions until they turn soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, allspice,

marjoram, capers and chillies, season with plenty of salt and pepper and cook for a further 10–15 minutes, by which time the onions will taste incredibly sweet. Add the tomatoes, simmer for another 10 minutes and season to taste.

Once the fish is cooked, pour its juices into the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Serve chunks of the fish with spoonfuls of the sauce. This is delicious with very simply cooked long-grain rice.

 © Thomasina Miers, 2012

Recipe from Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home by Thomasina Miers, published by Hodder & Stoughton, £20.

Follow: