Follow Me & My New Project INSPIRED KIDS

In 2006 I opened my store Olive Loves Alfie in colourful contrast to a world that was obsessed with pink and blue gender stereotyping. Through my creative approach to children’s style and my work as a fashion stylist I have been recognised as ‘the non-conformist mum’. This has given me the opportunity to work on some engaging and exciting projects. My first book Creative Family Home published by Ryland Peters & Small allowed me to explore the importance of a child’s environment and to meet some truly inspirational families. Right now I  am really excited about my new project. Inspired Kids is my new blog that has just launched on Red Magazine’s website Red Online.

Kids inspire me everyday with their curiosity and their imagination and that is why I love to work with them. I hope my new blog encourages you to embrace the individuality that you see in your children as much as you possibly can, to encourage them to walk their own path and to make their world and yours as creative and home spun as you can.

I am buzzing with ideas for photo shoots and I am loving working with some really creative and inspirational people. With so much going on I am going to take a break from my blog here but hope that you will follow me on Inspired Kids.

To give you a taste here are a few of my favourite images that I styled for our Christmas launch shoot with bespoke wire crowns, sequins, stars, tartan, angels wings and home-made tutus combined in a modern, almost poetic mix that allows children’s imaginations to soar. Inspired Kids mixes the creative genius of independent and big name designers, my favourite pieces from the high street and vintage pieces topped off with an element of hand-made artistry.

Styling Ashlyn Gibson – Photography Ian Boddy – Hair and Face Deco super star Rachel Jones.

With festive thanks to Pines & Needles for the best Christmas tree in town, Scene Setter for adding some glamour with their wondrous paper decorations, Bonnie & Betty and Happy Feet Models.

If you would be interested in your children taking part in an Inspired Kids shoot I would love to hear from you hello@ashlyngibson.co.uk

 

 

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Cosy Family Christmas – Think Again!

Christmas is the most wonderful time if everything in your life is as you wish but for many people it is the hardest time of the year.

It can be tough enough being a grown up but trying to navigate the “season of goodwill” as a child who perhaps lives in fear, who is neglected and who doesn’t have the support of a loving family is almost too upsetting to imagine – but imagine we must! iIf we don’t how can we begin to help?

Step outside of your own cosy family Christmas for one minute and watch Camila Batmanghelidjh talking about Christmas and then cross one thing off your Christmas shopping list and instead support the work of Kids Company.

See more of the amazing work that Kids Company do here.

If I unwrapped news of a donation on Christmas morning it would please me no end x

You can give online http://www.justgiving.com/KidsCompanyChristmas

or simply text ‘KIDS HELP’ and the amount you want to donate to 70700. For example, to donate £10, text ‘KIDS HELP £10’.

The donation amount will be added to your mobile phone bill.  There are no additional costs, 100% of the donations come to Kids Company and it will not affect any text allowance on your phone plan.

Follow their work on facebook https://www.facebook.com/kidscompany/app_172299912795076

 

 

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A one time New Yorkers guide to NYC.

I had a little sabbatical in the Big Apple before working at Olive Loves Alfie….. lets call it a working holiday. My job was great but make no mistake it really wasn’t what pulled me Stateside. New York felt like a schizophrenic metropolis, infectious with opportunity and optimism and I was desperate to flow through its teeming veins. Electric with it’s challenge that “If you can make it here you can make it anywhere,” it begs for a passionate touche’ to prove you have the kahunas to take it on. Having come through the other end, 18 months in possibly the worlds most magnetic city, there will always be a little bit of my heart taken up by NYC and I hope it will always feel a little bit like home.

So with summer subsiding and the yearning for a dose of Americana multiplying I bit the bullet and booked the flight and with only 5 days to catch up, the to-do list must be very concise and very, very good. So here’s my top 5 recommendations for soaking up abit of NYC…..

 

THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY

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This was the first thing I did when I arrived in Manhattan and remains my very favourite. Firstly it’s free which, when you have spent the last of your savings (read; overdraft) on a visa, feels practically like a gift from the gods. Then there is the view. It’s truly beautiful. As you pull away from the ferry port, wobbling away on the waves of the Hudson, the New York skyline is a bright reminder of what an incredible place you are in, filled with steel and glass and concrete and people all going about their lives creating this mecca of activity. If you need a slap with abit of perspective this is perfect. And I challenge anyone not to feel emboldened by the sight of Lady Liberty, a testament to the enduring spirit of New York. Get a hotdog, get a beer and enjoy the waves!

 

THE SUBWAY

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I felt a greater sense of achievement on the day I finally worked out the subway than the day I graduated University, scroll in hand. It’s definitely more complicated than the tube….. Express trains, local trains, trains that split off in different directions…. But persevere because it’s completely worth the reward. The busking talent is quite phenomenal, if you are lucky enough to catch the break dancers at Union Square give them at least 5 minutes and if possible a dollar or two. And then just people watch, because this is New York and the Subway is its arteries; All kinds of people flowing through the city in rattling steel train cars, going about their day. It’s quite mesmerising. Who are they? where have they come from? where are they going? Does the wrinkly old guy in the mismatched tweed suit and cravat realise he has just made my day with his ensemble?

 

JOE’S PIZZA

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This isn’t a pizza place it’s an institution. Joe’s has been around for over 35 years and has pictures on the wall of the owner with all sorts of American stars dropping in for a slice of mozzarella goodness, and i’m talking a-list, not a Big Brother contestant in sight. At $2.75 it isn’t the cheapest slice in the city nor is it probably the most delicious (that quest deserves its own blog). However the greatest thing about Joe’s is that it sits opposite the tree lined Father Demo Square, which intersects Bleeker and 6th Avenue……. Time for more people watching! My advice is to get a regular slice and cover it excessively with parmesan then stroll over to the square, grab a bench and watch the world go by. If you finish the slice and don’t have neon orange pizza oil streaming all over your hands you are being too polite, go get another one immediately and repeat the process.

 

WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGE

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The much more manageable little brother to The Brooklyn Bridge. My advice is to sideline the Big Brother, you will get halfway across feeling windblown, knackered and wishing you hadn’t started. So take it easy on yourself, the Williamsburg Bridge feels like half the walk, with equally impressive views and brilliant bars on each end like pots of liquid gold at the end of an impressively graffitied steel rainbow.

 

BRUNCH

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New York really knows how to do brunch!…. and personally I challenge anyone to find a better poached egg than that at Pastis. This is one time I don’t mind being surrounded by tourists. The biggest poached eggs I have ever seen sit atop finely sliced sharp smoked salmon, a fluffy English muffin and crispy home fries…. god bless Yukon gold potatoes! Coupled with the white tiled aesthetic of a chic French bistro this is the place to take your time over breakfast, read a book and sip leisurely on a coffee.  But generally just brunch. Everyday brunch. If you are on holiday preferably brunch with a mimosa or two.

 

 

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Penny For The Boys – Sheena Bose & Ashlyn Gibson

Photography Sheena Bose – Styling Ashlyn Gibson

…with my favourite local Hackney boys Aaron, Luca and Michael – on location in East London.

Clothing from left to right.

Left – jacket and trousers from Marmalade & Mash – hat from Bobo Choses - scarf from Barts – gloves from Molo available from Olive Loves Alfie

Middle – coat from No Added Sugar – Jumper from Bobo Choses – trousers from Mini Rodini available from Olive Loves Alfie – boots from Dr.Martens

Right – hat from Apunktchen – shirt and waistcoat from Marmalade & Mash – trousers from Nixie - boots from Dr.Martens

 

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My Debut Book Launch

I love to throw a party and what better excuse than the launch of my debut book Creative Family Home.  It was an event of huge significance to me and I wanted it to be perfect. This was to be a collaborative time of celebration for all of us. It had to be a family affair. With my mum down from the Hebrides we had three generations to cook up a fabulous party at The Clapton Laundry in East London.

Top of my wish list was a supply of Prosecco and simple, honest organic tasty food .  Olive had her eye on a miniature presses with paper straws and her own bookshop. My mum bless her was totally thrilled to be here and proved to be the hostess with the mostest on my big evening.

Borough Wines generously delivered a keg of divine Prosecco.  A supply of award-winning hand-made cheddar was sent all the way from Quicke’s in Devon. We served it on artisan bread from The Spence Bakery topped with daubs of chutney and lashings of membrillo. Olive’s favourite Lime and Lemongrass Presse turned up with a mouthwatering selection of flavours from Belvoir Fruit Farms. One of my huge gilt frames was just crying out to be turned into a sign for Olive’s Bookshop, school shirts were sprayed with fluorescent paint and turned into bookshop uniforms. A heap of brown paper carrier bags were ready for the kids to decorate and Olive dug out her vintage toy cash register and piled up the books in readiness.

It was a great night, “hell, what a party”, ” a rip-roaring success”  and I had an absolute ball.  Olive sold books way beyond my expectations and the touching speech by my dear friend Sarah Bailey, the editor of Red Magazine gave the evening a sense of magic and occasion that I will never forget.

10% of the sales from the evening were donated to The Big House Theatre.

If you haven’t got yourself a copy of the book it has been heralded “a new interior bible” , “a real triumph” and “a visionary approach”.

But it was this review that appeared on Amazon a few weeks ago that speaks volumes and says to me a job well done….

I got this book as a present. It is GORGEOUS! I am really enjoying leafing through it. It’s very beautiful and accessible and not too daunting. I am usually scared of design, not to mention not being able to afford very much! This is just what I need for inspiring me to create an imaginative space for my young son and I. I think quite a few of my friends will be getting it from me as xmas presents too. It’s just so up lifting. Massive thanks to the author!

Photography by http://www.kristinasalgvik.com on location at The Clapton Laundry.

 

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From Papier Mache A New Destination

I have been watching Papier Mache Magazine since it’s first digital issue went live in 2009.  It captures a spirit that chimes with my store and with my own approach and values of childhood. And it strives in all of the areas that I do – to push the boundaries of creativity and originality.

Issue no 3 was the debut platform for my art direction and styling.  The brief was to capture a portrait – in words and images of my daughter Olive. I have worked on numerous shoots since but there was something curiously beguiling about the shoot for Papier Mache Magazine. I have a beautiful photographic images of Olive growing up before my very eyes.  I don’t imagine that I will ever tire of looking at them.  Whenever I travel without Olive the picture below is the first thing that I pack.  I love the thought that it travelled around Europe with me when I was writing my book Creative Family Home.  I have to say she looked most at home in Soho House in Berlin where I slept in a bed with a blue velvet scalloped headboard.

 

styling and art direction – Ashlyn Gibson

photography – Suula 

hair – Jody Hyams

Fast forward to 2013 and Olive is 10. She still balances on the back of sofas, wears my sweaters and she still spends as much time in the air as she does down on the ground. Papier Mache Magazine has become the ultimate platform for some of the best creatives in the world of children’s design. Destination was a clever pull-out that focused on children and travel. Very soon it is being released as it’s own magazine and I can’t wait to see a copy.  I am not a fan of advertising but sometimes there is a destination that you just can’t ignore. And so I enlisted the help of 2 of my favourite creatives, photographer Nerys Jones, hair stylist Dina Catchpole to help me to produce an ad showcasing our own label collection.

styling and art direction – Ashlyn Gibson

photography – Nerys Jones

hair and face deco – Dina Catchpole

model – Coco

on location at the Clapton Laundry

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Inspiration for Children’s Spaces

My new book Creative Family Home published earlier this month by Ryland Peters & Small is sitting in the style/deco hit parade on Amazon in the top 10.  This weekend The Telegraph Magazine are publishing an extract from my book with a focus on children’s bedrooms. Exploring the heart and soul of 13 homes around Europe was the dream job for me.  I met creative families whose kids exude confidence and individuality that backed up my theory.  By encouraging creativity and by giving children some metaphorical and physical space  you nuture the unique and magical spirit of children.

All of the kids rooms that are in my book had one thing in common, they all felt like expressions of the children who slept and played there, and not soulless spaces that are a cliche formula or an adult expression of childhood. Most of my creative kids chose the colour for their own rooms.  And if you ask me the result is far more exciting and inspiring that most adults would give kids credit for.

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Inspired by the kids rooms in my book we have put together a new selection of home wares that has been given the thumbs up by the kids in our lives.

multi  utopia hanger  purple magnet boardby_nord_21SWO10014GR secretman rose yellow pom 2 MESPL-BIRXC_6  baltahzar

 

 

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Creative Family Home – Dedicated feature in You Magazine – Sunday 6 October 2013

YOU magazine published a stunning dedicated interior feature this weekend to our founder Ashlyn Gibson and new book Creative Family Home.

The book has flown into the top 10 of the hit parade for style and deco books on Amazon.   If you are looking inspiration for a creative and original present this Christmas you could pick up a copy with a personalised dedication inside from Olive Loves Alfie.

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Turning Japanese

I was obsessed with the 80‘s band Japan in my youth. I wore chopsticks in my hair, stretched out a kimono on a bamboo cane on my bedroom wall like a giant butterfly and was a dab hand at painting flicky bits of eye liner all in a bid to make myself look oriental.  I dreamt of visiting the land of the rising sun and put it out there as a place I wanted to feature in my grown up life. Fast forward almost 2 decades and I found myself flying to Tokyo twice a year to take pictures of Tokyo street style researching for the next shoe collection that I was designing. I loved the flamboyant fashion, the culture, the food and the cherry blossom. I found a tiny shop selling vintage kimonos and each trip I picked out a new one to take home with me.

                             

These images are taken from my new book Creative Family Home – Nadine Richter’s Home in Berlin – co founder of Noe & Zoe 

“the image captures the spirit of Hanami, the tradition of picnicking beneath the cherry blossom trees in Japan”

above photography Rachel Whiting – words Ashlyn Gibson – copyright Ryland Peters & Small

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above photography Julia Bostock for Milk Magazine

Olive grew up wearing kimonos and sleeping under a cherry blossom mural. She recently grew out of her bedroom and we had all change at home. I lucked out and ended up with putting my desk under the sakura tree and that is where I sat and wrote my new book Creative Family Home. Japan in all her beauty and her quirkiness had become a fundamental part of my style. Trips to beautifully curated, individual independent stores gave me a yearning to open my own shop – a mix of japanese, vintage and scandinavian style.  Fast forward a decade and Olive Loves Alfie was born.

This season we have introduced our own range of limited edition printed kimonos.  Boys and girls can rock them in equal measures. Wearing a kimono creates a sense of fun and dressing up.  They are the cool equivalent of a sensible little shirt that shout out “ninja”. Made in the East End of London in support of a fair trade project.

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photography Fern Berresford

kimono £34.99

woodland leggings £24.99

fringed desert boots £45

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Made In Britain

At Olive Loves Alfie we have an affinity with vintage style as much as we do with home-grown British production.

CERYS our own label signature coat is inspired by the fit and flare silhouette of the 1950’s swing back coats. The voluminous shape and wide hem make them the definitive happy coat for twirling in.  The generous proportions give the coat a practical edge making it the perfect shape for comfortable layering of winter woolies underneath.

Each coat has been hand-finished with a unique selection of treasured and authentic vintage buttons.

‘Cerys’ has been lovingly made in the UK.

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Florence from AlphabetKidz is wearing Cerys in Emerald

Tilly from Happy Feet Models is wearing Cerys in Russet

Erin from Happy Feet Models is wearing Cerys in Turquoise

0-6 months to 3-4 years

£49.99

photography by Nerys Jones.

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