Elegance is the watchword for our current decade of style, as fashion experiences a sustained period of polish and grooming. It’s led by the young, as fashion should be. Today’s young people are smart dressers, far more so than their parents and even their grandparents’ generation.
While many 40-somethings to 70-somethings are quite happy to spend their time, certainly off-duty, in a casual blend of jeans, boho-chic pieces, linen and loungewear, today’s style-conscious teens and 20-somethings prefer to keep it sharp – boys in narrow trousers, fitted shirts and jackets with neat knitwear; girls in sleek fitted dresses, minimalist mini skirts, blouses and cropped knits, with statement accessories to admire and covet.
Ted Baker is a brand that captures the stylish elegance of youth with real panache, thanks to a focus on quality tailoring, attention to detail, beautiful fabrics and a quirky sense of humour and individuality, characterised by intriguing prints and textures, clean lines and shapes, plus a penchant for co-ordination without looking overdone. The autumn Curiosities collection is a beautiful blend of artful prints, painterly florals, jacquard and paisleys.
It began as a shirt specialist in Glasgow in 1987 – following an idea Ted had while fishing, or so legend has it – and soon became the place to buy contemporary men’s shirting, with stores opening across the UK including the Leeds VQ in 1993. Ted Baker womenswear launched in 1995. The company branched out across the ocean, with a standalone store in New York in 1998, the same year the website went live (we’ve had websites that long?). Now there are Ted Baker stores throughout the world, with childrenswear, eyewear, fragrance, men’s grooming, watches, homewares – truly a lifestyle brand.
It was the ideal choice for a focus on special occasionwear with a youthful edge, and so for this shoot we chose as models students from the Northern Ballet Academy, to mark their graduation as they leave Leeds to continue their dance studies across the country. The academy, which provides world-class dance training for all ages and abilities, is the only recognised Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) specialising in classical ballet in the UK and it is from this programme that our four model students – all 16 and 17 – have graduated. Young dancers are talent spotted, many while still primary school age, and the academy enables them to live at home, rather than move to London or perhaps even another country, so they can still attend their regular schools but train with Northern Ballet during the evenings and at weekends, keeping up academic studies while pursuing their love of dance.
Our shoot venue was Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, and independent cafe, bar and venue in what has become known as the Northern Quarter of Leeds, offering music, art, film and food across three floors with a fabulous roof terrace.
The building opened in 1934 as Leeds Children’s Palace, a recreation hall and nursery school built to provide childcare support for working families. After years of neglect it was restored and now hosts live music, comedy, film and art exhibitions and serves canteen-style food, cask ales and craft beers, frozen cocktails – or you can just go for coffee.
The hair looks were created by the Sassoon Salon team in Leeds, headed by Gareth Vance, while make-up was by Mel England, a Harrogate-based make-up artist who creates looks for brides and special events and gives make-up classes. As our theme, we looked to the fresh, LA-preppy and co-ordinating styles of the ’90s, as epitomised by the film Clueless (based on Jane Austen’s Emma, in case you didn’t know), with hair for both groomed, sleek and polished, and make-up for the girls defined and glamorous, with pretty in pink tones.
Now, just bring on those weddings, special events, graduation parties and anniversary celebrations. Jeans? Ugh, as if!
There are Ted Baker stores at the Victoria Quarter in Leeds and at Meadowhall in Sheffield, plus concessions in House of Fraser Leeds and Huddersfield.
All clothes and accessories from Ted Baker, www.tedbaker.com.
Location: Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, Belgrave Street, Leeds, on www.belgravemusichall.com
Photographs: Simon Hulme
Styling: Stephanie Smith
Fashion assistants: Susanna Cirulli and Vicki Grattan
Hair: By the Sassoon Salon Leeds team: Gareth Vance, Lee Nunn and Connor Schofield
Make-up: Mel England at www.melenglandmakeup.com
Models: Becky Foster, Bethany Turner, Jake Davies and Rhys Thomas, all graduates of the Academy of Northern Ballet. With thanks to Catherine Worthington, Cara O’Shea and Yasmin Delves. For information on the CAT Programme, or recreational classes (the academy offers open classes and Associate and Graduate training programmes), email: firstname.lastname@example.org