An Interview with Philip Armstrong and Tony Burke Armstrong

Last Friday night was a huge night for Birmingham fashion. Harvey Nichols, in the fabulous Mailbox, hosted a very special fashion show that showcased the amazing talent of the label Philip Armstrong. I was lucky enough to be able to grab a bit of time after the show with Philip and Tony Burke Armstrong, the creative force behind the label, and to ask them a few questions. They proved to be friendly, approachable and funny – as gorgeous as their designs.

Fashion-Mommy with the designers and Emily Jayne, from Emily Jayne Image

Q. You are famous for dressing celebrities, which celebrity have you most enjoyed working with?

A. Alesha Dixon, she’s a real style icon. A lot of designers aspire to dress her and we just love working with her. She’s very easy to relate to and work with and we seem to aspire to the same aesthetic. But saying that, all our good clients are a joy to dress. We treat everyone the same regardless of whether they are a celeb or non celeb and have incredibly loyal clients.

Q. You use lots of unusual fabric combinations, like teaming ultra feminine lace with sporty neoprene – can you talk a little about that?

A. We do a lot of research into fabrics, we just love the idea of contrast. The neoprene style has been so flattering, helps to cinch and stretch the body in. All our fabrics are chosen for a reason and it is something we really work hard on. We tweak the combinations and mixtures of fabrics each year if we think they work, we don’t just abandon concepts and ideas just to move onto the new season – we work with them.

Q You also mix colour combinations like the sleek black dresses with the neon zips that just pop…

A. The neon is funny because you can’t really see the full effect of the colour in the studio, the fluorescence, but then under the lights you get the amazing pop. That said – we love zips – Just zip mad!

Q Who Haven’t you yet dressed who you would love to dress?

A. Blake Lively from Gossip Girl – would love to dress her…and maybe Charlize Theron…

Q I was thinking Kate Middleton would look great in some of your more demure pencil skirt designs?

A Yes, would love to dress Kate Middleton. The designs would need to be demure, longer or 3/4 sleeves, but one of our designs, the Cella does make me think of Kate.

The Cella dress

Q One of your points of difference is your couture service, tell me a little bit about that.

A The couture service is really how we got started, we done this since day 1. If you can build up a customer base, then customers will keep coming back for maybe 2/3 dresses each season. We are hoping to develop this sort of atelier service through Harvey Nichols through the personal shopping option. You will be able to come into the store, have your measurements taken for the dress you choose and then the dresses should be with the customer in a 7-8 day turnaround.

Q The new (resort) collection is amazing, what was the influence behind it?

A Roman Holiday, the Audrey Hepburn film from the 1950s. We imagined the heroine, this Italian Princess travelling around incognito, unidentified. That is why all the dresses have Italian style names. There are lots of references to 1950s style – we were imagining this princess rushing around the city.

Q And finally…You’ve dressed Dannii Minogue, Kelly Rowland, and just last week Tulisa, a lot of the X Factor ladies. Are you a fan of the series?

A Love it! We do a lot of socialising on Thursdays and Fridays, so Saturday night is the night in. We chill out and watch X Factor!

Q…and a winner?

A James Arthur, we really like James Arthur.

With huge thanks to Philip Armstrong and Tony Burke Armstrong, and Harvey Nichols, Birmingham.


X Factor Fash Off Week 6

The latest edition of X Factor proved to be the battle of the boybands, with Union J proving the victor. On the fashion front, the honours were pretty much even again, with Tulisa the clear winner on Saturday night, and Nicole looking wonderful during the live results show.

Saturday saw Tulisa go all Downton Abbey on us with a stunning Art Deco style beaded dress from Alice Temperley. This was a column dress that had previously been worn by Shirley Bassey, but it was a classically beautiful look that gave Tulisa an elegance that she rarely exhibits. She chose an interesting hairstyle with this dress that also had a Lady Mary feel, pinned underneath it gave the impression of a triangular bob. I prefer her long locks, but full marks for experimentation, and overall I thought that the younger lady looked simply divine.

Nicole went all androgynous in a white trouser suit by Jean Pierre Braganza. Now this look is iconic and has been worn with immense style by the likes of Angelina Jolie, but on Nicole it just didn’t appeal. I think it was all the layers – the shirt, what looked like a waistcoat and then the Tux. Maybe if she had just worn the tuxedo Bianca Jagger style, this would’ve worked, but the trousers also seemed a little on the large size for the svelte Miss Scherzinger, so maybe not.

Vero Moda LULIX – Blazer – white 


White Lux Twill Slouch Blazer £24.99 

Somerset by Alice Temperley Mesh Beaded Long Dress, Black £299 

Untold Beaded maxi dress £144 

Petra Lace Beaded Maxi Dress £300.00 


Sunday results show

You really can’t beat a bit of McQueen, and the vintage McQueen gown worn by Nicole on the Sunday results show was super stunning, if not a little beachy. I seem to recall a pregnant Angelina Jolie (yes, again!) wearing a green version of this dress when she was pregnant, but the soft grey was a really great colour for Nicole, and with loose hair this was a very romantic look that I just adored.

Tulisa so nearly got it right on Sunday night. The black dress by Forever Unique is beautiful, with stunning embellished detail across the top and back. But this dress is better suited to a nightclub or party than to the X Factor, being a little too short. Also, this dress has already been worn by TOWIE’s Lucy Mecklenburgh and widely photographed, so it was a bit of a faux pas to wear this on prime time television.

KENNETH COLE Safari bandeau maxi dress 

Jane Norman Beaded maxi dress £25 

FOREVER UNIQUE Lisa embellished dress £410.00 


Layla Long Sleeved Lace Midi Dress

Did you have a preference for a particular outfit this week? Let me know who you think is winning the fashion battle.

Celebrity Style spots featuring Kate Beckinsale, Fearne Cotton and Pippa Middleton

So much fab celebrity style on show at the moment. Everything from warm winter looks from Fearne Cotton who I think is giving a masterclass in maternity style, to Ella Henderson, showing us how to look young and fresh without resorting to showing the flesh.  The Kardashian’s have taken London and are currently showing us how to wear their new collection for Dorothy Perkins (how amazing does Kim look in that form fitting red dress) whilst Kate Beckinsale adds a bit of Hollywood style in one of my absolute favourite labels – Preen.

How are some of the hottest looks from the pages of the glossies…and a bit of cute courtesy of new dad Robbie Williams.

Fearne Cotton wears Benetton


BENETTON MOHAIR COCOON COAT £139.90 click to visit Benetton

Robbie Williams receives baby gifts from My 1st years

Pink High Top Trainers £20 click to visit My 1st Years

Sheepskin Booties £30 click to visit My Ist Years

Ashley 6" Bear with Cream Jumper £14 click to visit My 1st Years

Pink Fleece Blanket £20 click to visit My Ist Years

Jess Wright wears AX Paris


Lace Kick Out Dress Price: £40.00 click to visit AX Paris

Animal Sequin Skirt Price: £27.00 click to visit AX Paris


Tina I Brian wears In Love with Fashion

LOVE Ox Blood Mesh Pleat Maxi Skirt £30 click to visit Love

Kate Beckinsale in Preen

Preen Sara Leopard Jacquard Dress £743.00 click to visit my-wardrobe

Pippa Middleton in Beulah London

Shibani Scarf £80.00 click to visit Beulah London

Tulisa and Nica bags

Nica Koper foldover tote £47.20 click to visit House of Fraser

Kim Kardashian in The Kardashian collection

Kardashian red goldbar dress Price: £40.00 click to visit Dorothy Perkins

Ella Henderson wears Lashes and Boohoo

Lashes Gold skater skirt Now £ 31.50 click to visit House of Fraser


Sheila Polka Dot Flock Skater Skirt with Belt £18 click to visit Boohoo