Simply You Style - - Contents - WORDS: NA­DINE RU­BIN NATHAN.

– how we’re dress­ing right now – the pop­u­lar art of mix­ing luxury la­bels with high-street brands and vin­tage finds

The supremely stylish don’t sim­ply don ex­pen­sive de­signer la­bels. They use their sharp fash­ion sense to mix luxury and high-street brands – think Prada to Zara – with vin­tage finds.

David Jones has just opened its doors in Welling­ton, of­fer­ing Ba­len­ci­aga, Alexan­der Mcqueen, Valentino, See by Chloe and Saint Laurent for the first time in New Zealand. Mean­while, it’s been a year and a half since Prada joined Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuit­ton on Auck­land’s Queen Street, and H&M (well-known for its high-fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tions) and Zara (which ar­guably pro­duces the best run­way in­ter­pre­ta­tions), will soon launch in Auck­land’s Sylvia Park to com­pete with Top­shop. The Bri­tish re­tail icon un­veiled a multi-level store on Queen Street last year, of­fer­ing full, in-sea­son col­lec­tions. H&M and Zara will fol­low the af­ford­ably stylish Nine West, French Con­nec­tion, Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret and Seed Her­itage, who have all set up shop here in the last 12 months.

No won­der there’s a re­newed fo­cus on high-low dress­ing, the stylist se­cret of mix­ing de­signer items with fash­ion­con­scious mass mar­ket brands and vin­tage finds. With so many in­ter­na­tional high-end and fast fash­ion brands de­scend­ing, and New Zealand de­sign­ers cre­at­ing their own sought-after col­lec­tions at ev­ery price point, know­ing when to splurge and when to save has be­come its own style sta­tus sym­bol.

The high-low trend can be traced back to Pa­tri­cia Field, the New York bou­tique

owner who first styled Sarah Jes­sica Parker and her pals for Sex and the City two decades ago. When Michelle Obama be­came First Lady of the United States, she fol­lowed this fash­ion phi­los­o­phy, of­ten wear­ing kit­ten heels and sparkly belts from J.crew with her high-end lineup of Reed Krakoff or Os­car de la Renta dresses and Nar­ciso Ro­driguez coats, while also sup­port­ing young Amer­i­can de­sign­ers.

Through the Ad­vanced Style blog and 2015 doc­u­men­tary, Iris, the world was in­tro­duced to Iris Apfel, now 94, who has long ex­pressed her style by wear­ing $1 ban­gles with Ba­len­ci­aga. Plus, there’s a laun­dry list of celebs and mod­els who reg­u­larly dip into the bar­gain bin or trawl vin­tage stores for items to wear with Chanel or Ce­line, some­times even on the red car­pet: Char­l­ize Theron, Diane Kruger, Bey­once, Kate Moss and Ken­dall Jen­ner – the lat­ter three all hav­ing de­signed col­lec­tions for Top­shop.

Fi­nally there’s “The Kate Ef­fect.” Kate Mid­dle­ton proves in al­most ev­ery pa­parazzi shot, that hav­ing all the money in the world doesn’t mean you don’t shop in­tel­li­gently. The Duchess of Cam­bridge’s clever finds see women around the world rush­ing out to copy her royal look. Take the $150 Zara blazer that she wore on her re­cent visit to New Zealand, which sold out in a mat­ter of hours.

“This is the way that women shop now,” agrees Kate Ben­son, David Jones’ Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional de­signer buyer, who makes sure the store of­fers a good mix of price points. When it comes to fast fash­ion, stores like Zara, H&M and Top­shop give us the abil­ity to be more ex­per­i­men­tal with the way we are dress­ing. “The price point elim­i­nates that all-too-fa­mil­iar ‘pur­chase hes­i­ta­tion’ and you still have money in the bank for in­vest­ment pieces,” says Top­shop Top­man NZ prod­uct man­ager, Sarah Har­ris.

So how to know when to in­vest and when to rein it in? Sim­ply You ed­i­tor Naomi Larkin says: “My style is about cre­at­ing a look that’s dif­fer­ent, that works with my body type, re­flects my per­son­al­ity and means I have fun with fash­ion.” Larkin of­ten wears Dries van Noten, Yo­hji Ya­mamoto, Marni, Rick Owens, Zambesi and Nom*d with op-shop pieces, on­sale knits from Coun­try Road and items from Zara, Uniqlo, COS and Glas­sons. Vin­tage and de­signer re­cy­cling add another layer. “I’ll buy some­one else’s de­signer cast-offs and when they no longer work for me I’ll put them back into the cy­cle,” she says. Roanne Ja­cob­son, owner and de­signer of Saben hand­bags, who wears merino ba­sics from Max and fash­ion-for­ward pieces from Zara and H&M with Saint Laurent, Chloe, Ce­line, Miu Miu, Comme des Garçons and Zambesi, adds: “Any­thing that makes it eas­ier to ex­press your in­di­vid­u­al­ity with­out hav­ing to break the bank has to be a good thing.” For Ja­cob­son, glasses, hand­bags, jew­ellery, jack­ets and shoes are worth splurg­ing on. “The added ben­e­fit is that you can re­cy­cle them as styles go in and out.”

For Auck­land-based stylist Kylie Cooke it’s about the hunt, re­gard­less of the price

As Sim­ply You ed­i­tor Naomi Larkin notes, “there’s joy in see­ing the po­ten­tial an item – cheap or ex­pen­sive – has when put to­gether with some­thing I al­ready own.”

tag. She lists Dries Van Noten, Jill San­der, Rochas, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Miss Crabb, Zambesi and Trelise Cooper as high-end favourites and Top­shop, op­shops or even Kmart as venues for great finds. “I have a Vic­to­rian lace blouse that I bought years ago at the Aotea mar­kets that I still wear to­day. It’s clas­sic and won’t ever date – prob­a­bly the best $30 I’ve ever spent.” But, she adds, “as my style and taste has de­vel­oped I’ve learnt the value an in­vest­ment piece can give me. It’s about know­ing I can get the wear out of a pair of shoes, like the Gucci sneak­ers I re­cently bought.”

Imo­gene Be­van, the owner of Pop Nails who reg­u­larly com­bines Top­shop, COS and vin­tage pieces with Karen Walker, Saint Laurent and Ba­len­ci­aga, also tends to splurge on ac­ces­sories more than cloth­ing. “My in­ter­nal ‘cost per wear’ cal­cu­la­tor lets me feel more at ease with a $4,000 bag than it would if I spent the same on a skirt,” she ex­plains.

Still, high-low can work the other way round. “I love bags, but I’ll buy a de­signer one that’s pre-loved or some­thing quirky that’s vin­tage, rather than buy a brand new one each sea­son,” says Larkin, ad­mit­ting that New Zealand-made brand Deadly Ponies is the ex­cep­tion. Shoe de­signer Kathryn Wil­son agrees: “I like to in­vest in clas­sic pieces for my wardrobe, like the Juli­ette Ho­gan leather tu­nic dress that I have in three colours, and have fun with ac­ces­sories that are more on-trend and di­rec­tional.” To that end, she launched a more af­ford­able range, Miss Wil­son, in 2011.

So where do you draw the line when it comes to cheap-chic? David Jones’ Kate Ben­son warns: “Be mind­ful of fab­rics. You can find great qual­ity, nat­u­ral fi­bres at a cheaper price point, but in­vest a bit more in the more tai­lored pieces such as jack­ets or trousers as you will re­ally be able to see the qual­ity.” Imo­gene says: “Dodgy sun­glasses are al­ways a dead give­away.” Mean­while, faux luxury hand­bags are a deal breaker for Kylie. “They never quite cut it. Some­how you can al­ways see the lack of qual­ity,” she says. Roanne agrees: “I am very wary if some­thing is so cheap that you can’t be­lieve it was made for that price. Be aware some­one is los­ing out, and most likely it’s the peo­ple mak­ing the items.”

Street style, from left: Di­enna, from Por­tu­gal, wears a trench coat by H&M, vest by Max Mara and dress by Mis­soni, with a clutch and flats by Chiara Fer­ragni. Vivi­enna Ma­ga­lence, also from Por­tu­gal, wears a vest by Mango with cu­lottes and clutch by Zara and wedges by Ser­gio Rossi.

Above: style icon Iris Apfel, known for team­ing dis­count ban­gles with de­signer brands. Right, from left: Ken­dall and Kylie Jen­ner in the cam­paign for their Top­shop col­lec­tion.

Kate Mid­dle­ton.

Sarah Har­ris.

Above, from left: Ce­line Aa­gaard wears Top­shop with sun­glasses by Ce­line, bag by Valentino and boots by Alexan­der Wang. Olivia Palermo in Zara with Fendi sun­glasses. Poppy Delevingne glams it up in French Con­nec­tion.

Roanne Ja­cob­son.

Left: Bey­once in Ivy Park, the ac­tivewear brand co-founded by the singer for Top­shop.

Above: shoes by Miss Wil­son, Kathryn Wil­son’s dif­fu­sion range.

Kathryn Wil­son.

Imo­gene Be­van.

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