Design Inspo: The Book Edition


If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from one year at FCP (and a few more as an attempting, but still budding, creative), is that ideas can come from anywhere. In the words of dear old Paul Smith: You Can Find Inspiration in Everything (And If You Can't, Look Again).

Which is what brings me to this blog post. As a lover of all things paperback, I tend to navigate towards book shops in pretty much any place I visit, and somehow, whenever I end up in one, I seem to hit some kind of time-distortion gate, as I lose touch with how much time has passed. As a bookworm, I enjoy browsing titles and taking sneak peeks at the first few pages of this or that novel or essay that catches my attention; as a visually-driven creative student, I can’t refrain from being drawn towards all kinds of amazing covers: be it watercolour-ed and whimsical, striking and minimalistic, bold and colourful – I just can’t help picking them up and, more often than not, snap a photo. They say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but how could you not when presented with such amazing artworks?

FLIP - FCP Degree Show 2016


As the deadline for my last uni piece of coursework of the semester approached, I managed to squeeze in some time to visit the degree show. The whole campus was buzzing with excitement as students and visitors alike crawled through the various buildings, the ones I had grown so accustomed to seeing after all these months, and which now looked almost unrecognisable as they were filled and clad and painted with all sorts of different art & design pieces made by the final year students, the graduates.

Of course, I couldn’t not pay a visit to my own course, the FCP show, and take a sneak peek of what my fellow colleagues had been up to, and what the future would hold for me. I was not disappointed!

The show was called FLIP, and it featured a large variety of creative talent. Not going to deny it, I was quite impressed with quite a few of the works on display! I cannot count the time I spent there flicking through the glossy pages of their dissertations. Similar feelings to when I first had a look at past year’s works during my first week at NTU washed over me, as I sat both in awe and amazement at the amount of detail and research that had gone into some of those works. I don’t know whether to be more excited or panicked to think that I’ll soon be working on my own dissertation!

I ended up taking quite a few pictures of different layouts and graphic solutions which I found particularly interesting and/or inspiring, to store away in one of my countless inspiration folders. Here are just a few:

I also went and took a look at one of our “sister courses”, Fashion Marketing and Branding. They are a smaller course, so all their work could fit in one rather small room. While I know I’ve made the right choice for me in picking the more creative and visually-driven course of the two, I quite liked their subdued but striking setup, which gave way to some rather pleasing light and shadow effects.

You can look at more of FLIP’s graduate showcase over at their Instagram page!

Till next time,

First Year FCP


Photo art by Annaleena Leino Karlsson

It feels crazy to think about, but my first year at FCP has just ended! I can't believe how fast it went by, and the realisation of it makes me both excited for second year and terrified of how quickly I will find myself dishing out ideas for my final year dissertation – yikes! On one hand I feel pretty impatient to make such a big step, especially when most of my friends who are my age have just finished their third year at uni whereas I'm just starting (because of travelling and gap year abroad and yada yada). On the other one, though, I don't know if I'm ready to leave the safe academic setting and make the big leap of faith into official adult world – not the make-believe adult world-limbo that students live in.

Either way, I thought I would share with you my first year portfolio which includes a selection and summary of what I've been up to this year. I have been uploading most of my work on my Issuu account throughout the year anyway, so if you'd like to see and/or read some of those works more in detail, you're welcome to do it there. In the meantime, here's an overview of what Fashion Communication & Promotion students can do here at Nottingham Trent – a combination of photography, trend research, street style, PowerPoints, InDesign reports, packaging mock-ups, and lots of Big Ideas (or find it at this link):

Hope you enjoy that while I sit here drowning in boxes and suitcases as I pack up all my stuff to leave Nottingham and the UK for the summer. I am flying back to Italy this Sunday to go back to my family (whom I haven't seen since Easter break!) and actually have an internship waiting for me at an amazing fashion company near where I live. More on that soon!

Top 5 Instagram follows: brands

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A while ago I made a post about some of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow. I mentioned how hard it was to pick only 5, which is why I'm back with some more lovely feeds for you! This time I'll be focusing on a few brands accounts which I still find so incredibly pleasing to the eye, I can't but mentally congratulate their social media teams.

As usual, in no particular order:

@thefuturekept (link)

The Future Kept are a team of husband and wife who collaborate and work in the fields of interior, graphic and product design, styling, photography, writing, and brand development. Their online shop offers a selection of some amazingly-designed, beautiful objects for the home, which they design and source from independent designers, artists and artisans. I am big on this recent and upcoming trend of buying less and buying better, and their business values are rooted in exactly that belief. They write on their website: "Our primary goal with The Future Kept is to inspire more people to think carefully about the items they have in their lives, by putting together a collection of best in class products all with a story to tell." They also donate a percentage of all their profits at the end of each year. What's not to love?

@noatpaper (link)

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for stationery, especially when extremely pretty such as the one by Noat Paper. I love their icy pastel colour palette and thin, modern and scandi-minimalist lines. I wish all my cards looked like theirs and I'm always happy to see a new post by them whilst scrolling down my feed. Their website also features some amazing imagery in their "Mood" section, which perfectly encapsulates their philosophy.
"Sharing a quiet sense of style and nostalgia, with simple pleasures that deepen senses."

@bullettmagazine (link)

Am I cheating for bringing in a magazine? It is still a brand after all in a way. Either way, Bullett Magazine's Instagram feed is without a doubt one of my favourites. They are a print and interactive "transmedia" company that curates bold, engaging fashion, art, film and music for young, international tastemakers, who isn’t afraid to write articles that spark discussion, with editorials calling out the skinny model debate and how to write about fashion intellectually. Their feed is but a reflection of their eclectic and curious taste. They always manage to find such amazing and inspiring images which span from illustration, to fashion photography, to anything artsy and creative in general. Another thing I love is that they always credit the creator's Instagrams, allowing me to often wander off on a social media rabbit hole of artistic discovery.

@danielwellington (link)

“Minimalistic and unpretentious. A timeless classic”. One of my favourite Instagram feeds, it features minimalistic and often artistic shots of the watch, often in very creative settings which can appeal to a wide range of audience, especially since a lot of the photos are sent in by actual buyers. Some of the pictures are so clever and creative, and others just plan beautiful. Amazing product placement!

@geo_fleur (link)

Yes, I love cacti and general succulenta, could I be any more boring? What can I do, I've been hooked. I know that once I have my own place I won't be able to keep myself and will want to fill the house with these green beauties. Geo Fleur is one of the few cactus-Instagrams I follow, and they are by far one of my favourites. If you also like adorable aggregations of these mini-potted beauties then I suggest you give them a follow!

So here they are, my top 5 Instagram brands' feeds. Hope you found some inspiration in these and don't be surprised if I make another one of these soon enough!

Over and out,
B. x

What's with Lancôme's Unstoppable Energy?


Having only recently completed the third part of my fragrance brand launch project at uni, I can honestly say I have been looking at perfume and, in general, beauty brands with a different perspective. I can especially appreciate how difficult it can be to try and keep every single element of a launch campaign on brand, from the name, the logo and the strapline, to the colour palette, the symbols, the fonts, the online presence, and, of course, the various forms of advertisement, including print and video. Which is why I found the recent Lancôme "Energie de vie" commercial quite intriguing.

It is a pretty striking video whose intention appears quite clear to me: it is bold, it is engaging, it is inspirational and aspirational. The powerful voiceover features strong words and the footage itself is fast-paced, wild, adventurous, set in an urbanised nature and with a Thelma and Louise road trip vibe.

Still from Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise (1991).

The first thing that caught my attention was how different the tone of voice of the video was from Lancôme's overall brand identity. Thinking I might have missed some pivotal change in consumer base or brand identity, I searched for other recent campaigns by the French luxury beauty house, but they only confirmed my intuition.

Lancôme's previous ad campaigns.

Lancôme is a high-end perfume and cosmetics brand with over 75 years on its back and known for its refined, French luxury and this is consistently weaved through their products, in-store and online experiences, and ad campaigns. They target mainly women in their 40s whose focus is to keep looking healthy and young.

And it's not even to do with their "new face". Lily Collins, the face of the Énergie de Vie video ad, is certainly an unusual spokeswoman for the French brand, whose campaigns usually feature Hollywood stars the likes of Kate Winslet (40), Penelope Cruz (42) and Julia Roberts (48), all actresses and women of a quite higher caliber than Collins as well as, naturally, higher age (Collins has just turned 27 in March). However, other previous Lancôme campaigns which featured the young British-American actress clearly conformed to the brand's usual approach to ads:

Lily Collins in other Lancôme's campaigns.

Yet this video's aesthetics and tone of voice seem to completely overturn these values. I honestly would never have guessed it was Lancôme hadn't there been a hovering logo on the top left throughout the whole thing! This ad is grungy, gritty, rebellious, it has attitude, it has spirit, it tastes of leather jackets and car tires on sand and urban streets. It has a decisive Millennial appeal, the sort of motivational "no-bullshit" type of narrative that this younger, but somewhat more cynical generation is attracted to like bees to honey. The style of it actually really reminded me of Baz Luhrmann's 1999 "Sunscreen" video. Both the music and script add to this feel, reaching their climax in a freedom-claiming and strongly feminist statement:

"you can do this, you can own this, you'll be proud
show the world what we're made of (...)
my energy is unstoppable
i'll show you what i'm made of"

There's nothing wrong with attempting to rejuvenate one's consumer base and to reach to a wider target audience by tweaking and matching one's brand's values to the aspirations of a new segment. As Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme’s CEO, explained, “The goal is not to rejuvenate the brand, only to target a wider population of women”. However, even the print ads for this same product which I found online seem to be completely clashing against the attitude of this video, maintaining instead Lancôme's traditional clean, fresh and organic feel which appeals to a sense of quality, trust and honesty in their products.

So my question is: what's your plan, Lancôme? You gotta make up your mind and pull all your strings together if you want your message to come through. As a matter of fact, I found it pretty hard to find a full version of the video, and none completely in English without subtitles: it has 4,000 views on Lancome Österreich (Austria), 2,193 in Lancome Suisse (Switzerland) and not even 1,000 on Lancome France YouTube channel. It looks good, so why hasn't it gone viral yet? Maybe because no one has got a clue what you've been up to with your campaigns.

Over and out,
B. x

Film review: God Help The Girl


Eve: "I think you just hate people."
James: "I don't mind people, I just can't stand collective idiocy."

What do you think would come out of a collaboration between Stuart Murdoch – the chief songwriter and lead singer for Belle and Sebastian – and the producers of Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums?

God Help the Girl is a coming-of-age story centred around Eve (Emily Browning). Eve is a catastrophe: at the start of the movie, she runs away from a eating disorders recovery clinic and wanders off into a candy-coloured and sun-dappled Glasgow holding nothing but a backpack and a tape, in which her dreams of becoming a recognised pop singer are enclosed. There she meets James (Olly Alexander), a cynical and awkward young guitarist, and Cass (Hannah Murray), a dreamy and kind of posh who wants to write songs. Three seemingly disparate souls, but brought together by their love for pop music and ideas about the role of musicians and the aspirations of today's songwriters. They are an improbable and yet perfectly put-together trio, just like their outfits, selected by costume designer Denise Coombes.

The dreamy and idyllic Glasgow scenes are marked by an undertone of dark psychological problems addressed to some too lightly, but to me it's sort of refreshing to see a movie with a character whose eating disorder isn't the main protagonist of the story, nor is it her defining characteristic, but something that creeps up at the worst times, unexpected, uninvited, and taking everything with it, but still something she can keep at bay.

God Help the Girl is, essentially, a 2-hour long Belle and Sebastian music video filled with charming little dialogues and sharp but casual retro-chic outfits. For me, it was a bit of a guilty pleasure: yes, the plot was definitely secondary if not non-existent and the characters have little real development; but the thinness of the story and the characters is what makes the movie pull out wings and fly high, dazzling you with a pinch of fairy dust, with a daintiness only possible thanks to Belle and Sebastian's lyricism and Emily Browning's amazing dream waif performance.

It is a movie about aspirations and goals, musical or otherwise.

“If you want to hear your voice floating in the middle of a beautiful tapestry of frequencies, you’re going to need a pop group.”

Needless to say, I was a huge fan of the soundtrack (it does help that I'm rather fond of Belle & Sebastian music), so if you want to take a tiny step into the twee and whimsical world of God Help the Girl, wait no further and let this one hour of delicious arrangements and uplifting choruses:


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