In a fashion shoot at the Principal York hotel with Mint Velvet, Stephanie Smith creates beautifully easy looks for the perfect spring city break. Pictures by James Hardisty.
And so it is time, as the first fresh shoots and buds appear, for thoughts to turn to finding respite from the everyday business of life, if only for a short but precious weekend break away.
While the countryside has its own undisputed charms, the city makes for an ideal early season break, not least because it offers entertainment and sights that can be enjoyed whatever the weather. As urban escapes go, York has it all – history and architecture, open spaces, wonderful shops, both High Street and chicly quirky independents, theatre, opera, Jorvik and the Minster, fine dining and atmospheric cafes.
Situated next door to York railway station, the Principal York hotel provided the grand setting for our breakfast to supper fashion shoot.
Formerly the Royal York Hotel, it reopened in November last year, following an impressive restoration project. It began life as the Station Hotel in 1878, built using Scarborough brick and Tadcaster stone to create its Italianate facade. Once a stopover for Queen Victoria en route to Balmoral Castle, it can actually be entered straight from the station platform, so not far to struggle with luggage.
On the subject of luggage, it’s important not to take too much on a short break, or it can be a burden rather than a boon. A small, highly edited, simple mini wardrobe of easy, elegant, co-ordinating pieces is what to aim for.
Easier said than done, of course, so we turned to Mint Velvet, which has a large and beautiful store on Low Petergate in York. With its ethos of relaxed glamour, Mint Velvet has tapped into the psyche of a generation of British women.
It was founded by three friends and working mothers, Liz Houghton, Jane Rawlings and Lisa Aga-Rea, who all worked at Principles before it was sold to Debenhams in 2009, and decided to start their own label offering the sort of fashion they needed in their lives.
Mint Velvet specialises in style that doesn’t try too hard, sophisticated, thoughtful, special – what the brand likes to call an “understated sexiness”. Expect luxurious textures in a rich, neutral colour palette (with the occasional flash of bright), featuring silks and chiffons, leathers and fine wools, plus a sprinkling of embellishment, unusual print and surprising design touches.
For a short two-night trip, the ideal capsule wardrobe might contain a light dress – strappy wrap styles are ideal for layering with a cotton tee or cashmere sweater, or for wearing alone, styled up for dinner. White shirts are making a statement right now for evening dressing, with chic skirt or slim cropped trousers, but work also for day, with jeans. Choose jackets, footwear and bags that will double for night and day too, but keep a little room back for a pair of strappy heels.
The make-up look was created by Ash Fehners and designed to translate easily from day to night with a simple switch of lip colour and deeper toned eyes. Model Matilda’s hair was styled by West Row York’s Daniella Lilliu, starting with soft waves before sweeping into a loose plaited updo. Nothing too intricate or time-consuming. Every moment counts on a mini break.
See behind-the-scenes and get-the-look videos online at YorkshirePost.co.uk
Location: The Principal York hotel, website: PHcompany.com/principal/york-hotel
All clothes and accessories: Mint Velvet, which has stores in York, Harrogate and Ilkley and is stocked at House of Fraser stores in Yorkshire and at John Lewis in Leeds, York and Sheffield, and at MintVelvet.co.uk.
Concept & Styling: Stephanie Smith
Photography: James Hardisty
Hair: Daniella Lilliu at West Row York, website: WestRowHair.com.
Make-up: Ash Fehners, freelance MUA.
Model: Matilda at Boss Model Management in Manchester.
Fashion assistant: Claire Schofield.