I don't find this stuff 'musing no more

That's a sort of Paul Simon reference if you didn't get it. Anyway, I'm currently putting my love and soul into being the Editorial Director of House of Fraser, so not updating this blog as much as before. You can find me at hannah.rand@dazedmedia.com.

Proving that the best songwriters are the daggiest dancers, Sing it Paul...

Mode.com's History of Halloween

I'm doing a lot of research into Christmas campaigns at the moment and was going to post Bruce Webber's super-Xmassy film for Selfridges and Nowness but it seems way too early to actually admit I'm in tinsel heaven already. Especially when there's an opportunity to talk about Mode.com's excellent fashion history videos instead. 

I loved the bridal one when the curated news site released it in September so thrilled they've done a spooky version for Halloween. I think these would have made such an awesome campaign for a heritage underwear brand... Kind of like, "Supporting your fashion choices for 100 years".

Anyway, here you go... and, Boo!

Boden's Clever Content

If you struggle to find your sartorial sweet spot between the high-cost, trend-hungry end of the high street (Whistles) and the too young, too short, not-made-for-boobs (Zara, TopShop), then you may have been paying attention to Boden's recent smoothly-does-it creep up the fashion ladder. 

The weekend papers were full of Johnnie Boden's suddenly-cool clothes. I've seen this image in at least three premium fashion magazines over the last couple of weeks:

Boden's Ella jacket and Alexis boot

Like JCrew, clever styling and a strong POV and voice has turned around a brand that used to be about as cool as LLBean

Based on the direct marketing, catalogue selling model, they were early in catching on to the fact that middle youth women (ahem, 30+) are, for the most part, too busy to shop, and - for the most part - hate shopping. 

And they've always had good content. Even back in the day of jersey dresses and comfortable, school-run ballet flats, they allowed their models to have a personality, a good while before the rise of the Influencer or guest blogger. 

They allowed the lowliest model a voice. Like here, in this 2013 catalogue. Camile tells us her greatest extravagance is a leopard print lead for her cat. Cute. And she's half falling down a wall with one shoe falling off, which is something I can relate too. (That's a vodka and tonic hidden behind her back, isn't it?)

Boden catalogue 2013

Since the success of Boden's global expansion , the conversation with their customer has got stronger and stronger. They are really nailing it at every touchpoint.

The website does seem heavily inspired by JCrew's but it doesn't matter - it's so cute and clever it makes me want to buy the lot. Plus, the clothes don't come with JCrew's excessive UK price point.

If you'd rather eats your A.P.C. T-shirt than wear Boden's stripy tops and animal-print flats, then I'm not sure this site will necessarily drag you away from Liberty, but if you like Boden a little bit (and an awful lot of us do), then with all this clever consumer messaging (and favourble PR), you'll like them even more.

JCrew homepage

And - unlike JCrew - their bloggers don't make me feel like I'm continually underachieving. (Yes, I'm really that susceptible to peer pressure but I'm not the only one.)

Pleasure Not Pressure

The Sanctuary Spa has hit a note with their #LetItGo campaign. Playing on the feminist, nostalgic atmosphere of the original Covent Garden spa, women of a certain age talk about things they would have done more of, rather than worrying about the trivial. 

Obvious suggestions are kissing your baby goodnight for one minute longer (easier to wish for through the rosy glow of retrospect, harder in reality when you have 30 mins to write your work emails before the husband gets home wanting dinner and the baby wants The Dinosaur Who Pooped A Planet read to them for the 5th time), but the sentiment is very watchable.  

I like the quote about burning your bras rather than burning out.

And the idea of stopping everything to hop in a steaming bath, oily with delicious-smelling Sanctuary Spa products, and 'just letting it go' is extremely appealing.

We can all live in hope.


Burn your bras. Don't burn out.

High Design + Breastfeeding - three words that don't often go together

Breastfeeding might be having a moment of fresh air (on Twitter - #Brelfie - and on the cover of Elle Australia), but the real issue for lactating mothers isn't whether to breastfeed or not (presumably they worked that out pretty quick) but where to blooming do it.

None of this silly fuss takes into account just how hard it is to breastfeed in public. In order to stop your offspring from starving (or screaming you out of the cafe), and to not flash your boobs to the staring/tutting public at the same time, mothers have to twist themselves into all sorts of crippling,yogic positions. If you see a woman feeding her bleating kid from a bottle, most likely it's because her osteopaths ordered it, rather than coming from any social embarrassment. (We generally lose any sense of dignity around the 12 week 'internal exam'.)

And, while it may be a bit easier at home, it's no more comfortable. Any nursing chair that resembles anything you'd be happy to have in your front room is outrageously expensive. Try to adapt a normal rocking chair into your Mother Dragon throne, and you are likely to end up with elbows in splints and a permanently hunched back.(New mothers have enough body issues to deal with, thanks).

Which is why I think these chairs from Spanish design agency Alegre Design are so worth a mention. Beautiful to look at and ergonomically designed by two gallant fellas who noticed how uncomfortable their wives were while breastfeeding. "There has always been a huge development of products for the child, but very few for mums," one of the designers told Dezeen. Amen to that.

The Nana Chair by Alegre Design. Almost worth getting pregnant again for. Almost.

Alegre Design Nana Chair
Alegre Design Nana Chair
Alegre Design Nana Chair

Even if the arm rest does look like a banana.

Nana chair by Allegre Design. Read more on Dezeen.

Say Oui - Cartier's Proposal video

French luxury jewellery house Cartier released The Proposal short film for Valentines Day this year but since wedding season is almost on us, why not get a little romantic and look at it again.

The film, shot by Sean Ellis, is super elegant (naturellement), set in Paris (idem) and follows three ladies, each impeccably dressed with enviable hair, as they are about to be surprised with very expensive rings by handsome men who have thought up original and thoughtful ways to woo their women. 

Product placement is minimal - apart from the big red ring boxes. Although the scene where one woman frantically looks through her Cartier bag for a lost passport, bringing out several Cartier accessories and cosmetics one by one, must have kept the marketing department happy. (The British version would have had her riffling through old tissues, breath mints and a half-eaten Special K cereal bar.)

It's so stylish and romantic it made even an old ball-and-chain like me watch the six minute film twice (take that SnapChat). And if that isn't enough of your lunch hour taken up, there's an interactive version too.

The video currently has 6.2 million views on YouTube.

Benefit's guide to beautiful social media

How do you create a beauty brand that can muscle its way through the big-budget powerhouses like Lancome, Clarins and Clinique? Create one that is more interesting, has more personality and has something to say to its customer. 

Benefit have done this through happy packaging, personality-laden copywriting and a massive investment of time, energy and (wo)man power in their social media. They are a great example of a brand who understands that making their customer happy is key to success. By using words and images that are supportive, inclusive and funny, Benefit have jumped to the front of the crowd, particularly on social media.

On Instagram they are particularly successful, with Benefit scoring 1.6m followers, compared to Lancome Official's 64.6k and Clinique's 193k. On Facebook, the bigger brands do better (Lancome 6m, Clinique 7.7m and Benefit 1.7m), but Facebook works well with discount and loyalty vouchers, which big brands can afford to do by the load. You can't get away with such bribery on Instagram - you actually have to be interesting.

Benefit Cosmetics have created a refreshing alternative to dominant cosmetics brands' overly-airbrushed, one-look-fits-all approach to female beauty. Even if you don't buy into the retro, kiss-me-quick, supercharged pink packaging, it's hard not to laugh at product names like Puff Off eye gel and Hello Gorgeous Oxygen Wow foundation. 


This Instagram pic acknowledges that their customers like wine (shock!) and cheese (double shock!!) and care more about eating it then what it might do to their skin. 

That's more appealing than a close-up of a girl with unbelievably good (because it's fake) skin. Long-term brand loyalty might be a thing of the past, but something like this would get my vote next time I'm looking to spend a few quid on a mascara or foundation. And, if I liked the product, it would keep me coming back for more.

Oh, and Benefit don't just post their funny stories and then forget about them. They read and engage in what's being said. Take this Instagram of blogger Mrs Bianca Locke. Obviously, some nasty comments have been posted and rightly removed by the brand. But Benefit didn't stop there. Like any smart lady friend, they killed the bullies with kindness and highlighted their silly bitchiness by encouraging everyone to get along. 










Dove's #OneBeautifulThought

Back in 2004, Dove came up with what is probably the best female-focused campaign of the noughties. The Campaign for Real Beauty by Ogilvy & Mather was a total game changer and its impact can be felt in other movements from anti-photoshopping, the skinny model debate to the recirculation of Lego's 1981 What Is Beautiful? ad of the cute, but not Disney pretty, ginger-haired girl. (Though wouldn't you rather be her than, say, Elsa from Frozen?)

Since 2004, Dove continued with the Real Beauty concept, releasing the mega viral Real Beauty Sketches - some of which have been ace, some of which have been painfully set up and therefore bad.

But the soap brand has come up with a corker with this french video. I wish they hadn't use models (or model-grade women) but the overheard concept is genius (and more believable). Women are so hard on themselves and that bitchy internal voice is something we can all relate to. 

Salvation Army SA's brilliant #TheDress hack

I was left completely cold by the 'is it blue, is it gold?' #dressgate. WHO CARES?, I shouted voicelessly at Twitter. But over 10 million people did. An astonishing reach but, much more impressive, is the South African Salvation Army's clever leveraging of the phenomenal buzz to shout loudly about a much more important message.

The copy reads: 'Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” ... “One in six women are victims of abuse. That’s no illusion.

Super smart, super shocking.

Sophia Webster uses Instagram for new shoe line ideas

Shoesmithstress Sophia Webster has launched a line of yawn-free wedding shoes after cues from her Instagram feed. Savvy Ms Webster decided to create the line after noticing how often her footwear was tagged in her followers' bridal shots.

As a fan of riotous betrothal accessories (my shoes had more studded rhinestone than Dolly Parton on a girl's night out), I say, bye bye boring beige, ahem, pale gold, satin D'Orsey pumps. (Blergh.)

How about these sweethearts to fancify your nuptials?