Cavan Mahony recently launched lifestyle site cavan.com after working for Missoni and Andrew Gn in Spain. The Harvard Business graduate has set up something that offers a more curated selection than your average retail site. With a mix of homeware and fashion it will totally appeal to a slightly older woman (read 30+) who doesn’t want to trawl through a sea of items before finding something she loves. I asked Cavan a few questions about the launch and her approach to style.
What inspired you to launch Cavan.com? Was it a particular shopping or online experience?
I have always been interested in and inspired by the client experience when shopping. A beautiful well-managed boutique with great fashion advisors can be a wonderful place to go and transformational when one discovers that special piece. We hope to provide an edited selection of great pieces that fit into a wardrobe and lifestyle.
Who is the cavan.com woman?
The cavan.com woman is engaged with life. She is busy with many interests and commitments. She is stretched for time and looks for real solutions to a fashion crisis and intelligent ways to build a wardrobe or style her home. She is looking for fashion and also for practical solutions.
Do you think that coming from a fashion background provides a better insight into knowing what clothes women want to wear?
My background of selling to a customer has given me a great insight into what women are looking for and the cuts and designs that work for different body types.
How has your previous experience designing for and working with premium high street brands informed the concept of cavan.com?
My previous experience is as a co-founder of a skin care brand called Sundari with Christy Turlington Burns and Ayla Farnos. I have since worked with Missoni as the Franchise owner of boutiques in Spain and London as well the representative of Andrew Gn for Spain. I have been incredibly fortunate to know and work with such talented people as Angela Missoni and Andrew Gn. My work experience has been fundamental to the concept of cavan.com because of understanding first-hand the customer experience on the ground and in a retail environment. I also believe that years of work in cosmetics and fashion has given me a good understanding of the market and the confidence to believe in new platforms and a new business model.
Who is your style inspiration?
Without a doubt the designers I work with and I am passionate about such as Angela Missoni, Andrew Gn, and Bella Freud. I also admire my friend Carolina Herrera’s style [daughter of the designer]. She has an incredible way of mixing brands you would have never heard about with her mother’s stunning designs. She has truly created her own style and does not look like a copy of what is ïn¨at a moment.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My own personal style has everything to do with the purpose of the outfit. I love to play with looks and to adapt. for day for example 70s look with jeans, blouse and a vest and then change to a dramatic, glamorous dress for a cocktail. I love to live in the ¨movie´ of the cloths and adapt it to my own look.
What are your top 3 key styling tips?
Only buy and wear what you feel good in not what is on trend at the moment.
Invest in one key piece a season that can be worn in four or five different ways.
Love it and wear it as much as you can.
Breakfast is one of my favourite meals, there’s no nicer way to kick off the weekend than inviting some friends over for mid-morning food and an increasingly animated chat as the coffee levs increase. Weekend breakfasts are the best because you can take your time, I usually make something like huevos rancheros or skillet eggs but baked eggs -my new favourite- are so simple and ready in about 15 minutes. Once you’ve done the prep you can just let the eggs cook, shoot the breeze and brew up some coffee. This makes enough for four.
One/two eggs per person
Chorizo, cut into small chunks
One pepper, cut into small chunks
Two tins of tomatoes
Garlic, smoked paprika, s&p
You can experiment with different meats and veg and you can leave the tomatoes out and put in a bit of cream, it’s kind of a ‘whatever’s in the fridge’ kind of thing which is part of the beauty.
Cook off the chorizo and once it’s started to give off some oil add in the pepper and stir occasionally. Chuck in the tomatoes, some garlic and the seasonings and let bubble for a bit. Preheat your oven to about 150C and run some butter along the inside of a baking dish paying more attention the the sides -where the eggs will stick. When the tomatoes have cooked down a little, stir through the spinach and keep on the heat until it just wilts as it will cook more in the oven. Transfer the lot to the baking dish and crack in an egg or two per person, add more seasoning. Put the dsh in the oven for about 15 mins, you want to check that the eggs are done. While this is cooking put on whatever carby accompaniment you want, toast is great or try muffins or tortillas.
This blank and white check edit perhaps says more about my obsession with Just Good Friends than spotting trends. The boxset of the will-they-wont-they 80s Brit sitcom, starring Jan Francis and Paul ‘Candyfloss Clown’ Nicholas was a birthday gift and I’ve just finished ploughing through it. Three seasons and a really weird Christmas special of jokes about electric cigarettes, mother-in-laws, class clashes and heady 80s fashion is much more up my street than Game of Thrones. Soz.
With her cute feather crop and endearingly mumsy layers Jan Francis is the epitome of early 80s demure, before the decade bloated out into big shoulder pads and even bigger hair. Who knew that her look above would be so BOT for SS13?
Clockwise from left: Marni cotton dress, £1230, Farfetch. Pencil skirt, £45, M&S. Silk quilted coat, £250, Topshop Unique. Jumpsuit, £38, Dorothy Perkins. Sophie D’hoore dress, £395, Farfetch. Silk trousers, £150, Topshop Unique.
Friday is traditionally UK Garage day and it has been for a long time, chair dancing with my headphones to a selection of garage playlists which has seen me through the toughest (read most hungover) of work days. Listening to the clicky, offset upbeat tunes also seems to magically help squeeze out words late at night when I’m staring at a screen. It’s only recently that UK garage nights started reappearing, as the fun, sexy, older sister of chin-stroking dubstep.
Ewen Spencer documented the garage scene first time round, before Artful Dodger, before Shanks and Bigfoot in his new book Brandy and Coke. Only recently I mourned the demise of a familiar sight in 90s UK, young lads at bus stops at the weekend, in puffy-backed YSL pastel shirt, pie-crust black loafers (most probably a Patrick Cox Wannabe ripoff), and black ‘smart’ trousers.
Spencer’s people are a slightly more refined and stylish customer than your average bus stop lad, look at dat shirt in the first picture. This only fuels my obsession with all things 90s and you can guarantee I’m listening to some UKG today. I can’t wait to read the book and get a proper fashion flashback although you know I was wearing flared cords at the time.
Get in the mood with some of my favourite garage mixes at the moment:
DJ EZ Boiler Room x RBMA DJ Set
DJ DC and Kifa – @FeelingLDN
My classic all LOLs UK garage spotify playlist
Destination Skin‘s Dermaquest Stem Cell Facial is a treatment that promises to repair, restore and rejuvenate your skin. It’s a serious treatment to improve the condition of your skin and bring about collagen repair, results are proven with skin biopsy results. Their foaming wash removes all makeup and products and then a series of masks designed to firm up and brighten the skin. While they work away you’re left to relax with some pads over your eyes and let the masks do the hard work. The first one is a hardening mask, like an egg-white consistency that ‘sets’, then you get an enzyme mask to gently remove dead skin cells and brighten. Skin looks firmer and younger, and the treatment process is so relaxing I nodded off!
I also grilled the Destination Skin experts on the best way to keep your skin looking good and prolong your facial.
They say the two best ways to keep your skin looking good are hydrate and exfoliate. Before a facial the DS team say you should be in a good cleansing routine to remove any build-up of cells or dirt. Cleansing and exfoliating, and always making sure to drink plenty of water. Here are their tips to get the most from your treatment:
On the day
1) Don’t apply make-up on the day of your treatment. Even if its in the afternoon, even if you have to take the bus, even if you have to go to work first – DONT! It will only clog your pores, encourage your skin to produce oil and attract particulates (dirt).
2) Keep hair off your face all day, this is a great time to try a french plait, a wraparound braid or the high-fashion-high-pony! It’s important to keep your hair back as every strand is covered in natural oils which will clog pores, especially a heavy fringe.
1) The best way to maintain your glow after a facial is to simplify your routine, this leaves the professional products alone to work and will allow your skin an extended break from product overload. Leave out exfoliation, self-tanning and tinted moisturisers for a while.
2) Look after your skin by replacing any scented moisturisers for a perfume-free product with sun protection, the alcohol in scented products dries out the skin. UV protection (SPF15 will do) prevents sun damage which can cause wrinkles and discolourations on your complexion!
J Crew held a launch party last night for their pop-up store which heralds the arrival of the brand in the uk before they take up permanent residence in Regent St. It was a total fashion party, Patrick Grant was wearing trainers, Caroline Issa looked like a movie star, the waiters all had Thom Browne-style jacked-up trousers and brogues and Jenna Lyons was apparently chatting it up with everyone at the party, making all attendees fall in love with her.
The pop-up store is in King’s Cross, near the new St Martins campus. I’m interested to see what it will look like without the hordes of fashion people in it, how they will divide out the space into womens, mens and kids. The AW13 collection they had for launch was the trademark preppy with a twist that we’ve come to know from the brand. Which shows you just how far Jenna Lyons & co have come, to most yank expats J Crew is a memory of a classic, slightly fusty brand for khakis and shirts. They’ve now carved out such a niche for themselves that you can define the J Crew style, breton stripes with chunky blingy necklaces, large scale prints, clashing colours, it’s all a breath of fresh air for the relatively conservative American market and looks set for success when they hit the UK.
You can visit the J Crew pop up shop on the 24th and 25th of May ahead of the flagship store opening in November.
It’s no lie that some women -and men- are deterred from cycling for vanity reasons. Bike riding is great, for many reasons, but it’s not always compatible with my life as a ~glamorous~ fashion writer (lol, jk). Ever arrived at a press day or a meeting with a designer rocking a triple threat of waxen sweaty face, streaming nose and bloodshot eyes? It’s not a good look let me tell you. Here’s my non-exhaustive list of what I rely on to look semi-decent while cycling:
Sunscreen. If there’s one beauty tip I’d give to anyone it’s sunscreen, always. I’ve sung the praises of Alpha-H’s factor 50 but at the moment I’m using Anthelios by Laroche Posay, a liquid, ultra-fine veil that protect your face from
the lovely gorgeous sun evil rays.
Face mask. All that dust and pollution means I’ll often cleanse my face as soon as I get home to get rid of the grime. Ultra-rich oily cleansers are great for getting deep down into the dirt but sometimes you can’t beat an old-fashioned clay mask to get a real clean feel. A’Kin’s Express Purifying Facial Masque is a real treat, drawing out all the day’s gunk without leaving your face feeling dry or super tight, my pores feel like Kim & Aggie have been round, smaller, tighter, better. Plus it’s quick!
Hand cream. Bike-riding exposes you to the wind, so carrying around a nourishing hand cream is a great idea if you don’t want to look down and find your hands have turned into scabby claws. I love Bliss’ Lemon & Sage Body Butter, because it smells amazing and it reminds me of when I was YOUNG & interning in New York years and years ago.
Good Mascara. Benefit’s They’re Real mascara is great for extended lashes, it also sets quite ‘hard’ if that makes sense, so you can put on a few coats without worrying about getting streaming panda eyes in the wind. It also does some magical lengthening business to your lashes so
Hair shiz. I love Goody’s griptastic hair elastics, they wont budge no matter how hard you ride. Bikes and fringes are not friends, especially if you’re a member of the frizz brigade like me, I keep mine out of harm’s way with a sectioning clip. Lastly, a mini can of Batiste stashed in your bag is great for a sneaky spray to cure flat helmet hair or a sweaty fringe.
I was invited into the Daks studio to meet designer Sheila McKain Waid and talk through the brand and their SS13 collection. Sheila comes across as really un-fashiony, in flat sandals, minimal makeup and a lovely Marni top. Sheila likes to bake when she can’t sleep, so come fashion season the Daks office is filled with homemade cookies and banana bread. We start off the interview talking folk art…
Sheila: I was looking at your blog and the Shell House in Margate, it’s amazing. I love crazy folk artists like that, near my family’s home there’s this and he made the whole garden of Eden out of cement. That weird obsessive quality, it must have taken him 30 years to complete.
If you have a job and you’re creative, someone who’s obsessive and creative is just amazing
I loved the Museum of Everything, weird people making things out of tinfoil and every year they’d have a different exhibition. This guy made a whole world of circuses and moving trains and parts, it was all out of components, it was so crazy and brilliant. Can you imagine going to someone’s basement and discovering a whole world? Or just the fact that they did it their whole lives and nobody knows about it.
That’s the thing, doing it for yourself because you want to and not because you want to tell anyone about it. So how long have you been at Daks for?
Two and a half years. Before I was at Daks, I moved to London in 2004 and when I first came here I was freelancing so I did two years at Jaeger and then I did two more years, well I took time off to have a baby. I went to work at Jasper Conran for a year and a half and had another baby.
After that I did lots of freelance projects for people, various design houses. I did that for almost two years, the kids were quite small and I didn’t want something full-on.
It’s hard to give up that freedom
It was good for my psyche because it’s different when you get out of that world, it’s also quite intimidating to step back in. I think a lot of working women you have to take time off to have babies and you sort of lose confidence in a way. You need to rebuild it back up.
Especially fashion moves so quickly, you miss out a couple of seasons.
I had imagined a lovely life, painting by the sea, and then you get back and you realise oh I do love it, the clothes, the process.
It’s important when you do something creative.
At least enough of an element so that is kind of where it has the same feeling. Especially at the moment where the last couple of years we’ve focused making people rethink what we are as a brand. We are a heritage brand, when I started for me it was really exciting because you have all this heritage and you have an archive, it’s a lot to build on and a lot to work with. But then you’re also laboured with everybody’s perception for the last 125 years, everybody has a thought. Every single person I meet, you say where you do work and they have a story. Somebody bought something, I mean it’s nice, someone will tell you about their grandmother’s favourite raincoat but we’ve been pigeonholed in a certain way and people are looking for directional fashion have thought of us as traditional outerwear.
What proportion of the collections do you think comes from the archive and what proportion is more your creative taking things forward?
It might be hard to say X amount, maybe 5-10%, sometimes you’re in the archive and you’ll see a great stitch on a jumper on a picture from wherever, one year we fell in love with all these pictures we have of the queen in her shoes she was wearing so we did a version of that. One year we were looking at this racing driver, we used to dress the Daks racing team, so it’s great doing things like that.
It must be amazing to have that resource source of inspiration.
Right now it’s all being digitised, so you can go on and look things up at any point. Looking at a lot for Spring Summer 13, it’s always good to think, obviously everybody knows what’s happening in the world of fashion and there’s a movement and a feeling about what’s trending right now, what you feel, but also how do I make it relevant to the brand? There’s always that moment in the season where I stop myself and think, ok, what is Daks, is this right? Does this really make sense for us? Does this stay true to the brand?
It’s always a process of expanding out and taking it back in.
We have our check and I think that’s the big question for me every season, what do I do with it, how do I make people want to continue to buy it or look at it in a new way or rediscover it? Obviously it’s probably the most iconic feature of our brand. It’s about reinvention. It’s on everything from the huge quilted ball skirt, to covering it in plastic to creating it out of rope.
It’s a little bit like how menswear can really exciting, because of those parameters.
It’s funny we just did a project with CSM for the students to rethink our house check and how would they treat it, it was interesting to see how different people reconfigure it. Everyone who comes in here. After two weeks you’re seeing house check in your dreams, somehow there’s always an idea that floats to the surface so you’re always inspired by something. I tend to look at art, to go out and look at markets, there’s always something.
Filtering what’s in the air through a lens that’s already Daks and established and has a signature, rather than if you’re doing something for yourself, how do I want to represent what’s floating around?
I think I might borrow that line! Filtering it through my Daks lens.
That is what you want to do as a designer, you want to catch what’s floating around in the breeze.
And make it interesting to buyers and press and everything. It’s been a great challenge for me, sometimes [people say] how can you design for a British brand, you’re American?
That hadn’t even crossed my mind, because fashion labels are so international.
I think sometimes when you live in a culture or a country… I was back in America and I hadn’t been back, and I think looking at your country and they way people dress, the food they eat, particularly American, I felt like I was seeing it as a foreigner for the first time because I’ve been here so long now. I think that’s maybe true about British style, sometimes when a foreigner comes in you can see things that, for people who grew up here or have lived here their whole life it just becomes routine because you’re used to it. I remember the Guernsey sweater we did a couple of seasons ago, it was such a novelty to me, I had never seen it before. It was such a great look, an iconic British thing.
Continue reading Studio Visit: Daks’ Sheila McKain Waid
Apparently the internet is saying today is Grilled Cheese Day. So I’m doing a recipe for grilled cheese, aka a cheese toastie if you’re from the UK. If the internet told me it was International Jump Off A Cliff Day you’d probs see my Instagrams of the nearing coastline.
Cheese toasties are the numero uno treat lunch as a freelancer but most people make the mistake of doing them in a toastie machine. Wrong! If there’s one thing I learnt working in a fish and chip shop as a teen -apart from how to rock a foundation stained baseball cap- it’s that a cheese toastie made on a hotplate or in a frying pan beats any trad toastie hands down. Delicious dry crispness, even cooking and the contents don’t turn into that scary Brevillecano that has ruined many a student’s mouth-roof. Another tip is to quarantine your wet ingredients like tomato in ham or cheese to stop them leaking through and making the bread soggy.
Now that I’m deffo not a student I’ve moved on from your trad chedds and breads toastie, one of my faves is artichoke hearts, ham, mozzarella and comte for a weekday treat. It’s gooey, cheesy salty double cheese combo and the artichoke hearts make it feel a bit healthier. Gussy up a trad cheese and tom toastie with some spinach and basil and it’s a far cry from the snack that once accompanied a daytime TV marathon in uni halls. One problem with the toastie, one is never enough, but two is too much. Tough times.
Artichoke hearts, ham, mozzarella and comte on sourdough
3-4 artichoke hearts, sliced in half and drained
honey roast ham, 2 slices
1/2 mozzarella ball
Gail’s Sanetra sourdough
thyme, smoked paprika
Layer the comte on your slice of bread, then arrange the artichoke hearts and mozzarella. Add the ham, some thyme and smoky paps and more comte.
Super Winner Toastie Method
Heat up a half/half mix of veg oil and butter in a frying pan, until starts to brown. On a high heat chuck in the sandwich and let fry until it begins to engolden itself. Yeah that’s a word. Then you want to put a big lid over the pan, for a few minutes to help the cheese melt. Not too long otherwise it’ll burn. Then just flip the sandwich and let fry lid-less for a another minute or two. Cut in two cause it tastes better that way and serve with a dressed green salad or a beer depending on your FML levs.
If you’re not in fancyland, try a supermarket seeded with blanched, chopped spinach, basil, tomato and cheddar, toasties are also amazing with any old rubbish from the fridge which is why they’re the ultimate wfh lunch.