It’s an old-fashioned word – glamour. The dictionary describes it as “an attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing”, which seems a little vague. It came via Scots in the early 18th century, meaning “enchantment” or “magic”, and is related to “grammar”, meaning “scholarship”, which maybe gives slightly more insight.
We know glamour when we see it, but we find it hard to pinpoint or describe exactly what it is. All ages can have it, male and female, and it is not restricted to those considered beautiful, nor does it refer only to formal, dressy style. It is perfectly possible to be glamorous in jeans and a simple sweater.
But whatever it is, glamour is back, and we celebrate it here with a special Christmas fashion shoot with John Lewis Leeds, which opened in the Victoria Gate shopping centre in the middle of October. We want statement pieces, we want polish, we want grooming. We also want more than a touch of high/low dressing – for example, chiffon skirts and slouchy sweaters – because this is a perfectly glamorous look for Christmas Day, Boxing Day… any day, actually.
John Lewis – which opened as a drapery shop in 1864, named after its founder, on the very site where the flagship store on Oxford Street in London still stands – is unusual in the current economic climate because it is actually investing in its fashion and aims to grow its womenswear.
It brings together an eclectic fashion offer from selected high-quality external brands, alongside its own designs, with pieces to please a wide range of ages, attitudes and tastes, but all underpinned by quality of form, fabric and manufacture (all of which are very glamorous). John Lewis intends to be the authority on British fashion. For many, it already is, not least because it is superb at finding and giving floor space to exactly the right brands, reassuring, seriously stylish, yet with plenty of room for surprise.
The new Leeds store features a Loved & Found section, a vintage-style boutique that brings together and showcases a selection of smaller, quirkier, fashion-forward brands including Minimum, Des Petits Hauts and Darling London. Whether you want a slouchy embellished jumper or an exquisite prom dress, you’ll find it here.
It’s all edited – curated, I should say – in such a way that lots of the pieces work well together, and accessories have been picked out and placed handily close by. The feather skirt, chiffon skirt, black prom dress, gold blouse and shaggy faux fur jacket were all selected from Loved & Found.
Meanwhile, the Kin by John Lewis collection is designed in-house but also collaborates with other creatives. This season, it has partnered with Norwich University fashion graduates on a range of dresses that highlight their expertise in pattern cutting and design, focusing on structure and form. The black one-shoulder dress is an inspirational example of a glamorous statement piece that could work for all ages.
Texture, shine and silhouette – these are the keys to glamour for the festive season. Think of them and you won’t go far wrong. Not that there is a wrong way to achieve glamour. It’s about making a style statement in your own way, and being bold enough to take the odd risk. Glamour is always just a little bit daring, after all.
All clothes and accessories from John Lewis Leeds
Styling: Stephanie Smith
Photographs: Simon Hulme
Location: Leeds Kirkgate Market - With thanks to R Bethell Fishmongers, Caravanserai Street Food, and Bryan’s Florists. Leeds Kirkgate Market also has an events space hosting live music, vintage fashion fairs, plays and food & drink festivals. See www.leedsmarkets.co.uk, for more information.
Model: Grace Elms at Boss Model Management
Hair: Claire Saville and Lauren Parkin at &Beauty in John Lewis Leeds, the beauty salon on the fourth floor at the Leeds store, where a suite of rooms offers facials, massages, waxing, brows, lashes, manicures and hairdressing (a shampoo, cut and finish starts at £35).
Make-up: Hannah Edwards at Bobbi Brown, John Lewis Leeds
Fashion assistant: Rukaiyah Dadhiwala
With thanks to Caitlyn Linskey, Molly Jewitt and Sophie Atkinson