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Happy New Year to CharityDO readers.

I hope you have had the most wonderful and relaxing holiday season filled with love, family and friends.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions (as I usually break them) but this year I’m doing something new – actually a lot of things news. I’m making 2015 the year for a ‘new me’. A healthier, stronger and braver version who is going to dive out of her comfort zone, face fears and break some rules.

Sounds exhausting! But it’s time for a challenge and a new fashion voice and I’m ready to give 2015 a red-hot go. How about you?

January is not only an exciting time of new beginnings – in the fashion world it’s the much-anticipated time for the Spring-Summer haute couture collections. So to give you some style-inspiration for your upcoming charity events, I’m featuring my favourite collection from fashion week so far and one that signified a ‘new way’ for the designer.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2015 collection – just the sound of it makes me ‘fashion giddy’.

After watching the show I felt amazed and moved in equal measure. Amazed at Karl Lagerfeld’s continued ability to conceptualise his fantasies and dreams in fabric and design, and moved that the beauty and artistry that is haute couture remains, thankfully, still in existence.

A few words here won’t convey the sheer brilliance of this collection. To fully appreciate and understand the essence of the collection, you must view it in its entirety on www.chanel.com.

Here is a snapshot. After nearly a year in the making, the fashion stage is set with a grey and barren tropical garden, origami style, in a futuristic city where the trees and flowers have long died from some apocalyptic event.

The show commences with Chanel’s muse, Baptiste Giabiconi, as a gardener in Tom Sawyer-esque garb who waters the garden from a CC-branded watering can and viola the dead blooms come alive and colour and life burst onto the stage.

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Monsieur Lagerfeld said the show came to him “one morning in bed, I saw it in a second” and from this flash of genius came the futuristic garden that he wove into this stunning collection.

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Instead of Chanel’s usual black and white, Monsieur Lagerfeld said that “something was in the air” and instead he chose strong colours, the colour of flowers, for the collection.

Lagerfeld’s 21st century modern twist on classical Chanel took form with a floral theme in graceful movement.

With an uncanny ability to keep his talented fingers firmly on the modern pulse, Monsieur Lagerfeld gave the collection into a 21st century feel interspersed with the classic Chanel. A stroke of brilliance that will appeal to 20-something It-Girls and to his long-standing clientele.

The classic tweed suit came with a hip twist – lavish fringing, floral trims, shorter jackets that bare the midriff, and slouchy midi skirts.

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It-Girls will love the low-slung belted sequin ballerina skirts (SO beautiful) and his established clients will fight for the pink sequin princess coats. Accessories were hip too with beanies, sock booties and long patent leather belts. A classic shape also got ‘Channeled’ – a wide-brimmed ‘Lady of the Manor’ hat covered with tulle.

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But the best of all were Lagerfeld’s flowers that adorned everything from jackets to skirts, shrugs and beanies. Rich with colour, crystals and sequins, the floral artistry of this show was unbelievable. The wearer will surely feel as if they have shrouded themselves in a beautiful floral garden.

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The finale featured a bride in a dress that takes your breath away. The floral bridal train took 15 seamstresses to make and untold hours. The bride was followed by four ‘gardeners’ (Tom Sawyer again) as bridesmaids carrying tropical bouquets.

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Welcome to Karl Lagerfeld’s world of fashion genius. Breathtaking.

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‘Culottes’ a simple word but which often strikes fear into the hearts of multitudes of women. But fear not. Style culottes correctly and they are a versatile and stylish option that work across the seasons.

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That latest trend to hit the runways for this Spring/Summer is the culotte.

Culottes are usually described as “a split or divided skirt or any garment which hangs like a skirt, but is actually pants”. The fashion-set call them “wide-legged cropped pants” but whichever term you prefer, the culotte is a versatile and flattering option for women of all ages, shapes and sizes and a stylish choice for the many upcoming charity events listed on the CharityDos website.

Here are my style tips for how to wear and style culottes:

  • NO FEAR: Approach wearing culottes like an A-line skirt and wear them that way. Easy.

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  • LENGTH: My most important style tip for ‘real women’ wearing a culotte is the length. The most flattering and versatile style sits on the lower calf which gives the appearance of a slimmer and longer legs.

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  • STYLE: Again for ‘real women’ the most flattering style of culotte is a softer, more voluminous style, like a skirt. If you’re taller and slimmer, various lengths and styles will suit.

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  • HEEL HEIGHT: Yes, the fashion trend for summer is flat sandals and brogues, and for the young and trendy go for it, but for ‘real women’ I recommend wearing your culotte with a mid or high-heeled shoe in softer, feminine styles such as ankle-straps or t-bars.

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  • BALANCE: For most women, the key to wearing a culotte is to balance the volume down below with sleeker top. A slim-fit crisp white shirt, a fitted tee, or a defined jacket is the perfect balance.

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  • STYLING TIPS: With the balance rule in mind, choose a style that suits your lifestyle or event. Are you going to a smart lunch? Opt for a crisper, classic style paired with a fitted jacket or cotton shirt. Attending a friend’s BBQ? A softer, more feminine version in a print or floral is perfect. Do you want to be directional and on-trend? Go for a wider-leg styled with short crop top.

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Wear your culottes with confidence and attitude (like Ms Beckham) and they are a fashionable and functional option for your wardrobe all year round.

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With the advent of hyper-styling and an almost ‘anything goes’ attitude towards fashion, a few occasions remain where certain style edicts still apply, one being the high tea.

High teas conjure images of flowers, frocks and femininity and your look must accompany the occasion and your surrounds and above all choose a style that says ‘elegant chic’.

A high tea provides you with the perfect opportunity to bring on 'the pretty' and the ultimate style accoutrement to champagne and delicate nibbles is a gorgeous frock in a pretty and feminine style.  No other outfit fits the occasion more appropriately and if you choose a ladylike frock with a nipped-in waist, a fitted ‘pencil’ or flowing skirt, delicate neckline and pretty sleeve, you may enter Best Dressed with confidence.

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Soft fabrics of silk, chiffon and lace are best as are beautiful brocades and polished cottons in floral or delicate graphic patterns or pretty pastel hues.  For a little extra chic you may wish to add a few subtle embellishments such as sequins (but beware overkill).

If a 2-piece ensemble is more your style, then apply all the style rules above to your top and skirt and you will be sitting perfectly pretty whilst sipping your Perrier-Jouet.

Pants are also suitable option but strict rules apply, i.e. soft tailoring in fabrics that flow in wider leg or 'palazzo' styles.

4Vintage-fashion is also a popular style for high-teas (think Mad Men) in full-skirted 50's style frocks or figure-hugging “Lana Turner-esque’ styles.  Complete the vintage-look with a string of pearls, dainty gloves and a pretty hat.

High-tea accessories should be elegant; 'delicate' jewellery such as pearls, crystals or fine silver or gold and please leave all chunky, ethnic or boho styles at home.  A hand-held clutch or small envelope-style bag in metallic or embellished finishes add a pretty statement.

5For winter high-teas a classic pump is the perfect piece de resistance or for summer soirees opt for an elegant sandal.

6Beauty rules for high teas are strict; aim for radiance with soft contouring and subtle illumination in soft shades such as nude, pink and apricot.  Finish off high-tea beauty with soft red lips and lots of fluttery lashes.  Avoid overdone makeup and save the glitter and winged eyes for Friday night clubbing.

Hairstyles should be elegant and groomed; a lovely chignon, Veronica Lake waves, or a fashionable pony-tail are perfect choices.

7So what are the fashion faux pas for high teas?  Sharp tailoring, mini skirts, garish satin and too much skin.

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