Goodbye from HBAFH….

Click the picture to see HBAFH @ LFW on the Guardian site....

And so, 194 posts, 137 comments and 147 followers down the line, I have decided to close the cupboard door on Handbags and Fag Hags and set up a brand new blog,  Electric Dress. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to delete the page – the chronicling of  my ventures or a whole month in a single dress, escapades at fashion week and thrashing out various feminist issues with my own skewed perspective were a great learning curve and worth keeping somewhere in cyberspace for passing interest. Above is a screenshot of a personal highlight from my adventures here, that will be hard to beat; getting talent spotted by my favourite broadsheet the Guardian at London Fashion Week in February 2011.

Yet having graduated in the summer from scruffy student to bona fide working member of the vast fashion industry, I have been given a sense of perspective. Without detracting from the work I’ve done, HBAFH had begun to feel old, too childish in name and too scatty in nature, as I struggled to keep up with my self-imposed brief of “Online Style Magazine”.

On to pastures new; I very much hope to see you all my brand spanking new site, Electric Dress! Retaining the best elements of HBAFH, I will be blogging Electric Dresses, as in fashion fragments I love, and Electric Issues, conundrums that confront the fashionable feminist. Adding to this, I’ll be capturing street style in my Electric Dressers tag, as well as the totally new dimension of my personal fashion escapades – although this crept in towards the end of my two-and-a-half year stint blogging here, I will be newly focusing on what I get up to in a way many other bloggers have done very well before me.

Thank you for watching, and a final au revoir from Handbags and Fag Hags….

Rena ❤ x x x


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Women Win at the British Fashion Awards


Kate Moss and Stella McCartney


London can be seen as the wild child of the fashion map. Notoriously, designers cutting their teeth start out in this city known for eccentricity and edginess before graduating to Paris, New York or Milan, where the fashion industry is part of the fabric of the establishment. Yet with Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen houses announcing a return to the British capital this spring and the premier’s wife amongst industry heavy-weights fronting the glitzy British Fashion Awards, you’d be forgiven for thinking the UK is beginning to take its glad rag credentials seriously.

Seemingly, building a reputable fashion industry from the ground up in the 21st century is paying off. The clutch of top awards at the British Fashion Awards last night went to women, and rightly so. Stella McCartney picked up the Red Carpet Award, winning over Antonio Beradi; Victoria Beckham trumped Tom Ford and Burberry to win the Best Designer Brand Award and Best Designer went to Sarah Burton over Erdem or Christopher Kane.

Burton, taking over from deceased label founder Lee McQueen, designing the wedding dress of the decade and helming the brand as it reaches mass appeal, is hardly a surprising choice, but it’s great to see female achievement recognised so thoroughly. Beckham may be bona fide A-lister in her own right, but Kanye West’s over-the-top show with underwhelming, ill-fitting clothes in September reminded all of Beckham’s comparative humility and skill. A fabulous face to her own brand, the huge commercial success it has enjoyed must be attributed to her understanding of womens’ bodies and needs.

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New Beginnings….


HBAFH has moved location! Having got an internship in Dublin, I moved over two weeks ago and although the bitter winter bites and the dark talk of economics looms on everyone’s minds, its no less exciting to be here. I’m working for Irish fashion label Helen McAlinden and after slogging my guts out for, ahem, a high street giant all summer with next to no thanks, I’m loving being back with the underdogs who specialize in quality not quantity. Dublin girls are super glam and the hipster crowd ain’t bad – I can’t wait to grab a street style opportunity one lunch time soon…. I also did some freelance styling work for The Secret Sell Off, a designer bargain treasure trove in what looks like a meat-packing unit. From coats to suits to evening gowns to easy dresses, they had a fantastic range and prices you genuinely dropped your jaw at. With a few more projects in the pipeline, it looks like my time in the Irish capital is going to better spent than the Irish budget…….

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Fag Hag of the Month: November

Photo: Lauren Dukoff

Girl crush of the moment finds us worshipping at the feet of emerging poplette Natalia Kills, whose album Perfection is currently on general release. She’s everything a hag could wish for in a pop star, and commands a hella glam bad girl presence. She has an attitude-heavy sound is matched perfectly with a vampish look. The video for Wonderland, a catchy bass-heavy electro-influenced track, sees her throwing a nightmarish dinner party wearing a bunny mask, before a masochistic tussle with riot police and execution by a man in a white suit and mask. Bizarre, yes, but fabulous. Signed to the same label as Gaga herself, she has certain parallels with the Mother of Pop in the realms of the surreal, yet she is entirely her own woman in sass and style. Unearthed by Pea Will.I.Am, they dueted on Free which sees hers explore wardrobe that’s both more typically sexy and out-there ecclectic than before. While the leotard and those strappy boots are pin up material, she slips efortlessly into high-waisted pants and bra or puff-sleeved blouse with a waterfall of a statement necklace. Will.I.Am isn’t our favourite artist; he has a slightly weird, try-hard vision (see the body-builder bits in Free) and makes predictable, low-quality pop. But what we love about Natalia is the exact opposite; though clearly a pop product, she’s believable, with genuine attitude and talent to back up her packaging. We even loved her when she was a record-label puppet as Verbalicious back in 2005, (should we be embarrassed or her?) but luckily she sacked that deal for the pressure to release predictable, cheesy rubbish. Will.I.Am, we reckon,can personally be accredited with the awful direction that Chezza’s album took, which only suggests further that Kills is a girl who stands up for herself. Or do we just want her wardrobe?

For pics, news and all that, see the official web presence; for a great fan site, see

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Movember Moment

Photo: Terry Richardson

It’s Movember, month of moustaches and money-grubbing for the worthy cause of prostate cancer research. Are you sporting some extra fluff on your upper lip this season? Or are you simply a fan of making a little difference? Earlier this year I wore One Dress for One Month to raise money for domestic violence. It made daily life a great adventure, but raising the cash was the big point, so if any of your friends, family or colleagues are forgoing the razor for the duration of this month, give whatever you can, if not for them, but the millions who suffer every year. In the meantime, check out this HBAFH selection of ways to wear your tache:

1. Large and in charge. Colin Farrell here models the fullest moustache model. Keep it trimmed to control shape and compliment with a full head of unruly locks.

Colin Farrell Photo: Vogue

2. Needle pointers. Salvador Dali rocks this extra-eccentric version. Simply grow hairs to a decent length, then wax to dramatic effect.

Salvador Dali. Photo:

3. Oil slick. Brad Pitt goes for some retro cool with this suave 40s number. Thin, trim; tuxedo and side-parting essential.

Brad Pitt Photo:

4. Stubble trouble. When tache duty gets rough around the edges: David Gandy pulls off the perfect integrated moustache and stubble experience. Leave it long on top to avoid straying into general beard territory.

David Gandy. Photo:

5. Smoke screen. This is a new thing they call the Smoke Tache – designed as a quick fix for the tache-less among us. Simply exhale through your nose on a very, very cold day.

Photo: brassknuckles

That’s all folks. Any Movember participants, feel free to comment with fund-raising sites, and good luck to you all!


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Kurt Geiger for Elle


Buy this month’s issue of British Elle and receive a £20 Kurt Geiger voucher! As well as a collector’s edition, subscribers get £25 off, and we’re looking forward to using ours to update our seriously depleted shoe collection. We need something warm, comfy and classic, and a proper winter shoe is a essential investment for the coming months. Only hard bit is what to settle for; flat ankle boots for versatility and comfort, funky androgynous winklepickers, sky-high-but-sturdy hiking boot hybrids – or throw caution to the wind and get these stripper-tastic party shoes ready for the tinsel season!?

Spense ankle boots in black, by KG. £140

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HBAFH @ Julie Verhoeven x Susie Bubble

Photo: RNS

My lovely and talented friend Sara Arnesen invited me to join her at the Susie Bubble conversation with Julie Verhoeven, fashion illustrator-turned-designer, at the David David pop-up store on Monmouth Street. Held in the tiny basement room where  illustrations adorned the wall, it was an intimate setting that matched Bubble’s giggly approach and Verhoeven’s apparent shyness.  She spoke about taking inspiration from unusual places  – a first college project was a “Pylon dress” – and how initial ambitions for St Martin’s saw her land an assistant role to then bright young thing John Galliano. She later launched her own line, Gibo, as she was “frustrated” by consultancy work.

Yet it seemed her niche came in the collaborations line – she produced stellar collections in conjunction with Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Versace and Loewe. For these, she was allowed to simply do the drawing, leaving the marketing and admin to others. She confessed that she finds much of fashion is “dull”, full for protocol and show production is often simply too stressful to enjoy. The financial insecurity of a creative job like her own was another focus of the discussion; there ws clearly a pragmatism behind her move in getting together with world-renowned names. It was clear that such overwhelming and unrelenting concerns was a frustration that tests her ambition on a daily basis. However, she spoke with passion and tenderness about her wok and the projects she’s been involved in in the past, which include art exhibitions and music videos too. Continue reading

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