Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blogger (C)RUSH // An interview with Michelle Haswell of Kingdom of Style

How would you describe your own personal style?

Changeable. I continually find myself immersed in 'phases'. They arrive, stick around for a while, then move along to make way for a new phase.

When did you start your blog Kingdom of Style and what was the main aim?

We started the blog back in 2006. At the time, Marie and I (my blogging partner) kept fashion diaries and scrapbooks, which we used for inspiration. There wasn't very many blogs around at that time, and certainly none that catered to our style, so we decided to take the things we were already writing and thinking about and put them online. It was primarily a place for us to share those things with each other.

What are some of your favourite pieces you cannot live without?

My very first Balenciaga bag, which I bought way back in 2004. It's as beautiful now as the day I bought it, my Ash studded biker boots, which are a god-send in rainy Glasgow and my collection of vintage band tees.

Where are your favourite places to shop and who are some of your favourite brands that you continue to revisit?

I love ASOS for their mix of designer and affordable ranges and COS for basics. The only brand I am consistently loyal to is Underground England. I have a large collection of Underground footwear. If I need a shoe fix, I always head there.

Who are some of your style icons?

I love the uncompromising style of women like Joan Jett and Vivienne Westwood. Joan Jett always refused to play up to her sexuality and obvious good looks and Vivienne Westwood is a lesson in how to age disgracefully!

Where do you draw your influences and inspirations from?

Music and counter-culture are probably my two biggest inspirations. That's where you find all the rebellious souls; those people that don't quite fit in anywhere else and carve their own niche. I entirely understand that and know how that feels, so that's what I'm naturally drawn to.

The fashion and style content on the site are very eclectic but also very signature to you.What is it you love so much about fashion and aesthetics? And how do you decide what is worth of Kingdom of Style?

Fashion and aesthetics are a way to turn yourself into a canvas on which to build a little piece of art. It's exciting bringing colour, print and texture to life. If I'm clashing up a ton of prints and colour in an outfit, it makes me physically happy to look down and see all those colours and patterns right there. It's fun! When I'm deciding who or what to feature on the blog, I tend to chose things that spark off an idea or inspires me to create a fun outfit, or at least explore a way of dressing I hadn't before. And if I'm inspired by a collection, a brand or an item then perhaps other people will be too.

What are some of the key things to remember when putting together winning 'outfits' or looks?

I always find the best looks happen when you try pairing things together that you wouldn't normally. That kind of experimenting has lead me to many happy style accidents. But confidence is probably the most key thing to a successful outfit. No sense in wearing leather leggings under a tulle tutu if you are going to feel like dick every time you step outside. You need to believe that what you're wearing is a true representation of some part of your personality. If someone put me in a pencil skirt and tailored white shirt, I'd be utterly miserable as no part of me is that girl.

As a style blogger you are quite respected by fashionaries and bloggers alike. Have you thought about doing work with specific sites and/or brands and has Kingdom of Style opened up new opportunities to you professionally?

We have worked closely with lots of brands over the years but we are incredibly picky about who we work with. They need to either have fun ideas on how to collaborate or have an amazing product we are excited about. We have worked with huge labels like Chloe, Commes de Garcons and Louis Vuitton, which might seem very un-KOS labels but they had some really innovative ideas and fresh thinking in terms of ways to collaborate with bloggers. As a creative, I appreciate brands who try to bring something new to the table. To be honest though, we turn away vast amounts of collaboration offers every week.

I'm a graphic designer so there aren't many cross-over opportunities with my real life and my blog life, however there have been some. For example, I am currently designing a new website for shoe label, Miista and I branded Australian label Black Milk. I'm also currently designing the website for new label Dusturbance and also co-designing a new range of ballet-wear with the designer from Dusturbance. Those are definitely exciting opportunities brought about by the blog. It's allowed us to meet lots of creative, talented people.

What are some of your favourite websites and blogs that you frequent?

Most fashion blogs don't cater for me stylistically so any blogs I do look at it tends to be to admire their photography skills. For that reason I love 'Wish Wish Wish'. Her photography is just so pretty and she seems like such a nice young lady. I visit 'Stop It Right Now' of an occasion because she makes me laugh and when I want a fix of 'proper' fashion news I head to 'Style Bubble'. I also visit lots of graphic design related sites such as SiteInspire, AWWWards and Designspiration. Mostly though, you'll find me hawking ballet related sites and blogs.

What can we expect from you and Kingdom of Style in the next twelve months?

We don't plan ahead, ever. Because we don't do this for a living we are able to take it entirely at our own pace, which suits us perfectly. Who knows what will happen!