Category Archives: French Connection

Rock The Week: Tobacco Factory Theatre, French Connection and Family

Fashion related (and totally non-fashion related) things that have made my world go round over the last seven fourteen days…

Tobacco Factory Theatre tickets for Twelfth Night

Rock The Week took an unexpected break last Sunday, so this post is a little longer than normal, but that’s because the last couple of weeks have kept me very busy indeed!

Twelfth Night

First up, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to watch Twelfth Night at the Tobacco Factory Theatre, which was just brilliant. The Tobacco Factory is a Southville landmark and boasts vintage fairs, great beer and the theatre space upstairs, which has recently had an upgrade in the seating department. Sound like a big deal this may not, but if you’ve ever seen a play or comedy performance there then you’ll be familiar with the squirming dance about an hour into the night, as the audience collectively shuffles around in a bid to make themselves more comfortable. The new bench-esque seating is not only lower back friendly but also allows for more people to fit into the theatre, too – hurrah!

Unfortunately Twelfth Night, performed by Filter Theatre, finished it’s run in Bristol a couple of weeks ago but it’s coming to theatres in London, Exeter and Aberystwyth in October and is well worth a look. The performance was certainly unique, with gold lamé shorts, tequila, velcro and pizza for the audience all making an appearance!

French Connection A/W clothes


Last week, to coincide with LFW, French Connection in Quakers Friars held their #SketchToStore event, which I popped along to with Beautiful Plumage. It was nice to see so many local bloggers in attendance and ogle over All The Pretty Things, like pony print dresses, satsuma coloured cocoon coats and lace trimmed pleated skirts.

The event was to showcase A/W looks and take part in a style challenge – I fell for a navy chunky knit jumper from the men’s department but sadly it didn’t love my Heidi style braids and got tangled in my hair grips!

Our pet Westie and Golden Retriever

Family time

Last weekend Mr Ship-Shape and I spent the weekend in Dorset catching up with friends and family, including my two long-distance pets, Oscar and Archie, above. It was a well-needed break and one of my favourite parts (aside from eating a ridiculous amount of fish and chips) was a day trip to Hengistbury Head, one of the most picturesque parts of the south coast.


This week I’ve been blogging about The Little Shop on Stokes Croft, cooking curries and playing heated games of Monopoly. Today my friend L  and I went to the Vintage Kilo Fair at the Paintworks – we left with lots of new vintage gems which I’ll be sharing on the blog soon!

What’s been rocking your world this week? Let me know by commenting below…

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Filed under Cabot Circus, French Connection, Rock The Week

Bristol Fashion Week A/W11 at Cribbs Causeway

Mark Heyes and Andrew Barton BFW A/W11

Yesterday I took a bi-annual pilgrimage to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway for Bristol Fashion Week A/W11, eager to how high street brands have reworked this season’s trends. Each season BFW guides shoppers through key trends with the help of catwalk shows, shopping discounts and pampering treats. As always the shows are presented by TV stylist Mark Heyes and celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton, who were on top form again at yesterday’s show.

With retailers including M&S, John Lewis, Republic and Accessorize the catwalk show was packed with style, sass and on-trend outfits. Trends were diverse, including 40s vintage, 70s glamour, colour blocking and even a fetish collection using sheer fabrics and leather dresses from H&M.

French Connection short suit at BFWMarks & Spencer played with vintage, feminine styles and bold polka dot patterns – mimicking Stella McCartney’s now iconic A/W11 dresses  and I fell in love with their black spotty tights. According to those in the know (Heyes) these are an exact match to the ones worn at Stella’s show. Another collection I fell in love with was French Connection. Tailoring, blazers, shorts suits, see left, and sheer blouses all played a part, offset by playful black bowler hats. Gone are the days of suggestive t-shirt slogans and instead the brand continues to do what it does best – sleek lines and grown up cuts.

I’m a big fan of River Island and seeing their interpretation of 70s glamour was exciting as it it ticked so many fashionable boxes; clashing prints, muted tones, shearling coats and Missoni style zig-zag designs. Kimono cover ups extended the oriental theme that carried us through S/S11 and on the menswear front River Island delivered chunky knit jumpers that would look equally at home under a Christmas tree or next to a campfire in the midwest.

I took what felt like a million photos at the show, some of which you can see below, the rest of which I’ll post tomorrow. Did you go to the show? If show share the love by telling me what A/W11 pieces you’re lusting after below…

Shows continue throughout the weekend but spaces are going fast so don’t forget to visit the BFW website for more info on show times and ticket prices. If you can’t make it check back here for more photos from the show.

Autumn colours at John Lewis

Autumn colours at John Lewis

Phase Eight, River Island and Accessorize at BFW

Phase Eight, River Island and Accessorize at BFW

It takes two to tango with Lipsy and H&M

It takes two to tango with Lipsy and H&M

Colour blocking from Fenn Wright Manson at John Lewis

Colour blocking from Fenn Wright Manson at John Lewis

Fetish from H&M, Ann Summers and La Senza

Fetish from H&M, Ann Summers and La Senza at BFW A/W11

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Filed under A/W11, Bristol Fashion Week, catwalk show, Cribbs Causeway, French Connection, H and M, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, River Island

Clothes Swap treasures

Fashion Fair clothes swap dress

Apologies for the slacking that has occurred recently – a freelance project has been taking up a lot of my time and when I’m not working the weather has just been too damn lovely to stay inside and blog!

I thought it was about time that I showed off the treasures I found at last weekend’s Freakin’ Fashion Fair Yeah, using the gorgeous afternoon sunlight as a backdrop. First up is the fantastically kitsch print dress which I think, if the polyester count is anything to go by, is from the 70s. It has a couple of stains and a funky smell to it but is looking much better after a gentle wash.

At present the length is down to my calves, making me look like a midget so I’m planning on chopping off a few inches and using the cut-off as a headband.

Fashion Fair clothes swap vintage dress

Next up is this green woolen shrug from Topshop. This kind of shape isn’t normally my thing but I was drawn to the colour and the random lace patterns, which look rather similar to my own haphazard knitting samples from my time at university.

Fashion Fair green Topshop shrugfashion fair green shrug
The jury is still out on this grey wool round neck jumper from French Connection. There is beading around the neckline and seams which I don’t particularly like but it does fit well and is the perfect shade of grey.

I will take some more photos once I’ve styled each piece up and done a little tweaking…

French Connection grey jumperFrench Connection sequin detail

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Filed under Bristol Fash Pack, clothes swap, French Connection, Topshop, vintage

All the fun of The Fair

Fashpack Fashion Bazaar

What a weekend – yesterday I not only scored some bargains at the Freakin’ Fashion Fair Yeah, but also found a wedding dress the same day (though not at the same event). More on the dress later but here are a few snaps taken from the fair.

Faspack fashion bazaar

Bunting makes everything better. Fact.

fashpack vintage bags

A beautiful selection of vintage beaded bags and a vanity set

Fashpack clothes swap

Raiding the rails - the clothes swap was a little slow to start with but picked up by the afternoon

Hamilton House

The sun was shining at Hamilton House, where the fashionable fair was held

My friend Amy B found a lovely cream dress, originally from Urban Outfitters, for £6 and an awesome vintage white bag for a fiver. A little rough a round the edges, the bag redeemed itself by having lots of little compartments and pockets, perfect for all the highly necessary items us girls carry around with us on a daily basis.

I found some fantastic pieces in the Clothes Swap upstairs, exchanging a vintage blouse, Primark dress and handkerchief skirt for a grey French Connection round neck jumper, a dusty green knit cardie from Topshop and a fantastic vintage polyester floral dress.

The floral pattern is a tiny cluster of purple and blue cornflowers repeated all over the dress. There are pleats running from an empire line. At present it is too long and in need of a wash but after I’ve taken some Persil and a pair of scissors to it I’ll post some pictures.

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Filed under Bristol Fash Pack, clothes swap, French Connection, Stokes Croft, Topshop, vintage

When Ship-Shape met… ELLE’s Natalie Wansborough-Jones

Natalie Wansborough-Jones

As promised, here is my interview with ELLE’s Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones, who was in Bristol on Thursday to promote ELLE’s new competition, Shopgirl to Stylist.

Nestled in the corner of French Connection in Quakers Friars, we chatted about the influence of shop assistants, the must-read fashion blogs of the moment and style tips for S/S 2010…

SSBF: So Natalie, could you tell us a bit more about the concept behind the Shopgirl to Stylist competition?

NW-J: Our editor, Lorraine, went to New York and basically in New York there’s this whole big thing with shop assistants there – they are almost like celebrities there so she absorbed this kind of power.

The high street is very important to Elle. It’s all very well us shooting high-end designers like YSL, which I don’t actually think is affordable to everyone at the moment, but there are really strong mid-range and high street brands out there so its important to us to push that. I guess that all kind of mixed together to inspire us to find a great shop girl on the high street that wants to be a stylist and give them the opportunity to do that.

SSBF: There is so much information and inspiration available to consumers now, such as window displays, magazine spreads etc. How do you think shopgirls and guys have an influence in the way people dress?

NW-J: I think its not just in the shop either, I think that what is fantastic now is that, and I’m already starting to see developments having only been to French Connection in Bristol and Whistles in London so far, is that the people that work in these shops already have their own identity.

The Whistles girls all looked so incredibly chic, obviously dressed in Whistles, and the French Connection gang here are really, really cool, and they all have this identity, almost like its affiliated to their shop. Whether we find that regionally, I’m not too sure yet but seeing them out on the streets, they are almost setting a trend – I think that’s very true of the Topshop staff in London, they’re all almost part of a little gang in a way and they’re literally pioneering what [clothes] they have in the shop by simply being out and about in it themselves.

I’m constantly impressed by young people that I see on the street that put together high street in a really intelligent and cool way. I look at them and think ‘that’s amazing’, and I absorb that information and it influences me. I think as an outside thing it draws people into the store that can take inspiration from [the shop staff].

French Connection style-challenge

Above: Natalie critiques an outfit put together by French Connection staff

SSBF: There are many websites and blogs out there, such as and The Satorialist, which focus on street style and real people. What do you think of those kinds of blogs, ‘cause to me it feels like a revolution, making people a lot more aware what they put on their backs…

NW-J: I think you’re totally right, I think its fantastic. I actually just did a shoot with Garance Doré, who I think is a fantastic blogger and not only was she really cool to shoot with because her perspective, the way she looks at things is really new to us in a sense: its not a very controlled studio environment necessarily, it’s a bit more free, a bit more natural. We had many, many chats about fashion and she’s looking at it from a really intelligent point of view, not necessarily having this enormous background, she almost fell into it in a way and she’s and incredibly talented illustrator.

She has all of this going about and I think actually yeah you’re right – [bloggers] are pioneering a new moment in fashion for us and I think that’s why people are really recognising them and giving them a fashion status so to speak; Dolce & Gabbana putting them in the front row at their show for example. ELLE actually used Scott (Schuman, of The Satorialist) for a photo shoot a few years ago, before my time there, but this has been happening for a while and now its suddenly exploded and its almost like they have a certain amount of respectability.

SSBF: I guess that ties in with the Shopgirl to Stylist competition in that very few of the numerous fashion and style bloggers out there are in the business – they might have previously been in the business or are aspiring to get into the business but many of them have just fallen into it because they love fashion and now they’re seen themselves as fashion icons in a way. Do you have any particular websites or blogs that you like reading?

NW-J: Garance’s blog, I love her blog, Scott’s blog – I love his work too… I have to say I love the Purple blog by Olivier Zahm – I get huge pleasure out of looking at that – those are the three that my main focus is on.

SSBF: Do you have any favourite stylists?

NW-J: I do, I think that Melanie Ward is a fantastic, hugely influential stylist, I think Jane Howe was a massive stylist when I started assisting, I mean, she was the one who I found huge inspiration from. I think there are some amazing, hugely iconic stylists out there.

SSBF: Thanks to two universities Bristol has a huge population of students, many of whom will be graduating this year – do you have any tips on how they can break into the fashion industry?

NW-J: Perseverance; do as much work experience as you can. Every job for me, climbing the ladder to where I am now, has been through working for free and being in the right place at the right time but doing as much work experience as possible I know its hard when you’re not always being paid but do as much experience as you can and hopefully you’ll just get that moment when someone wants to employ you then it all sort of goes from there.

SSBF: So, so much of it can come down to timing then?

NW-J: It does, and that’s why this competition is so fantastic actually because to give you an indication, I will probably start to get CVs and applications on my desk around January from people asking me for internships and we don’t even start to look at anything till July. So you can imagine the amount of applications we get and a lot of them just get filed away unless there’s something like ‘friend of a friend’ situation, which does happen.

So with this competition the winner is being fast-tracked right to the front of that enormous queue and even if you enter and don’t necessarily win, you still get the chance to come and be with us in the office and spend some time with us. So to have that connection – if people come back to us in two years we’ll know who you are – and I think its simply being able to put a face to a name is really helpful and not just reading a CV that gets filed away somewhere.

SSBF: One final question: what would your best tip for Spring/Summer 2010 be for ELLE girls on a budget? Is there one particular piece or trend that they should look out for?

NW-J: I think keep it simple and keep it chic. There’s definitely a sort of French feel in the air so I’d have to say a really great trench coat.

Thanks so much to Natalie for the interview, the lovely staff at French Connection and Arabella from Talk PR for contributing to this interview.

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Filed under blogs, Elle, fashion magazines, French Connection

Bristol launch for ELLE’s Shopgirl to Stylist competition


The winning team: French Connection staff with judge and Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones

Ship-Shape had an early start this morning, arriving at French Connection in Quakers Friars at 9am for the launch of ELLE magazine’s styling competition Shopgirl to Stylist.

‘Fashion’s answer to the x-Factor’ was launched at the beginning of March but over the next four weeks the ELLE team are hitting the high streets of the UK to promote the competition, which would see the winner receiving a coveted six month internship at ELLE HQ in London. This morning was a chance for Bristol to flex it’s fashion muscles as French Connection staff were given the challenge of styling a mannequin in a S/S 10 trend using items from the shop floor.

The team’s efforts were judged by ELLE’s Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones, who was on hand to offer style tips and to encourage shopgirls – and boys – to enter the unique competition. Today the three teams came up with festival, floral and city chic looks and speaking of the winning team, pictured above, Wansborough-Jones applauded the use of accessories and said the look was “very ELLE”.

Wannabe stylists have until 4th June 2010 to send in their entries to the website, where readers can comment on and ‘love’ their favourite looks. After that the finalists will have the opportunity to be mentored by by ELLE’s infamous Fashion Director, Anne-Marie Curtis before the winner is announced in the October 25th anniversary issue of ELLE. So what are you waiting for? If you’re aged 18 or over and currently work for a fashion retailer then send in your entries and represent Bristol while you’re at it! For more details on how to apply and to see all the entries click here.

Ship-Shape was lucky enough to interview Natalie Wansborough-Jones about this competition, life as a stylist and the fashion blogs she can’t live without so keep your eyes peeled for the post, coming shortly.

French Connection in Quakers Friars, where the event took place

French Connection in Quakers Friars, where the event took place

Staff team up to put together a S/S 10 look for the styling competition

A team dresses their mannequin in a bid to win an ELLE subscription for a year

 Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones tweeting from the store

Senior Fashion Editor Natalie Wansborough-Jones tweeting from the store

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Filed under Elle, fashion magazines, French Connection