There’s a Bike in It: 5 Tenets of Bike Pretty, as seen in recent press

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Karlie Kloss & Liu Wen for Coach, S/S 14 ad campaign, New York.

“Wait, what’s that in the corner there?  It looks like a wheel…the wheel of a bicycle! Mere inches away from a seriously pulchritudinous situation…”

This happened so frequently during my recent life *ahem* perusals of the early Spring magazines that my natural bike pretty antennae went into high alert mode.  I starting keeping a mental note of the bike pretty-ness of it all, figuring I’d share once I had a sizeable list en tête, or when a truly “ah-ha!” moment struck me. Well.  Lucky for you guys, that moment arrived last Friday, returning on the London overground with a flat tire, a tired boyfriend, & no patch kit (grrrr) after a trip to the deep east to watch dogs run around in circles (don’t ask).

Let’s be real: it’s not often that I find myself on public transportation.  So it was with palpable delight that I found myself rewarded for my flat tire with a shot of retired Olympic track cyclist Victoria Pendleton on the front page of the London Evening Standard, a copy of which lay discarded on an adjacent seat.  Grinning ear-to-ear atop an upright bicycle in a white lace dress, matching brogues and boater hat – e.g., epitomizing the bike pretty ethos if ever - Victoria seemed to be saying “….WEEEE, BIKES!!” er, “Kelly, get to it.”

And when you start hearing voices when you read the newspaper an Olympic champion stares back at you in fashion-earnest, one sculpted track-cyclist leg revealed and ready to kick your butt, you do what your gut tells you. So. 

5 Tenets of Bike Pretty, as seen in recent International press:

1. Don’t be afraid to Cycle in a Maxi-dress.  Via Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton, on the cover of the London Evening Standard, 21 March 2014.

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A promotion for UK charity Sport Relief, the shoot aimed to recreate the bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), with a bit of a role reversal.

Pendleton plays both Katherine Ross and Paul Newman in one as she tows Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev through a lush English idyll.  And in a maxi-dress, no less, one lacking the functional thigh-high slit of Ross’ original.  Skills, people.  BP skills, to be precise.

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Photos: Rupert Peace.  Want Pendleton’s outfit credits? Scroll to the bottom here.

2. Never underestimate the power of a versatile Printed TrenchVia leggy all-American model Karlie Kloss in Coach’s S/S 14 ad campaign.

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Like Miu Miu and Sonia Rykiel before them (#respect), Coach boosted their spring campaign by putting Kloss on a bike.  She’s basically perfection in a reptile-print wisp of a trench, the styling incorporating a signature-yet-subtle bike pretty coordination move matching the eyewear frames to the bicycle [frame], and bag.  Win win, Reed Krakoff.  Way to leave on a high note.

The Bonnie Cashin era excluded (gah, double-kisslock pockets!), I had heretofore never been much of a Coach fan.  This shot of Karlie wiped any suburban mall-bred memory of khaki C-logo jacquard from the proverbial slate, however, and I found myself scoping out the latest bags (#dangerous) and imagining outfits in my head around several styles.

Converted, for sure.

3. DUDE, definitely Bike in Heels.  It’s so much easier than walking.  Via Coach (again!), and their rather brilliant #coachfromabove social media campaign, featuring their recent footwear collections.

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Clockwise from upper left: Coach S/S 14 | Coach’s F/W 14 Ophelia heel via @jenpinkston of The Effortless Chic | Coach’s Marah flat  | Coach via Andy of Style Scrapbook

Hmm, the marketing team over at Coach must include a Bike Pretty fan (or several), amirite? Or maybe they’re tapping into the bike pretty inclinations of an ever-increasing number of stylish NYers, braving the streets on wheels via the Citi bike program…or maybe both.

Either way, their footwear campaign shots, surreptitiously planted on the website amongst customer-generated media of fans sharing shots of their Coach footwear from above, feature the label’s more practical yet pretty styles perched on pedals.  Pretty preening footwear perched on pedals. Say that three times fast.

Scoping the #coachfromabove hashtag also led to this lovely post on the same topic…and this fun if gratuitous shot below. What, there’s bikes in it, ok?  Via Style Scrapbook.  Trip to Amsterdam, anyone?

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4. Ride a Bike in Paris. At least once in your life.  Via Vogue Paris, February 2014, Sur les Quais editorial, styling: Claire Dhelens, photography: Lachlan Bailey. 

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“I own the île Saint-Louis.” Photo: Lachlan Bailey.

Admittedly, this is not exactly a BP tenet.  But certainly something to add to the bucket list, if you haven’t done so already.  As a longtime resident and now frequent visitor to the city of lights, I can say with conviction that cycling in Paris is a wonder.  Riding around London, I often fantasize about her lorry*-less streets, and manageable number of buses to circumvent.

Really, it feels just like this.  And at BP HQ we love a bike in editorial, so had to share these shots from Vogue Paris’ February 2014 issue.

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“Don’t mess with my dog. Or my wheels.”  Photo: Lachlan Bailey.

5. Embrace Bike-Commuting and its unique style challenges.  Via everyday London commuter Jess Bowie in The New Review magazine’s Cycling Issue, 23 March 2014.
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Photo: Immo Klink.

Despite its late-to-the-game title, writer Simon Usborn’s “The Rise of the Female Cyclist” piece in last weekend’s issue of The New Review magazine (The Independent on Sunday) proved an inclusive read, chock-full of insightful quotes by Caz Nicklin of Cycle Chic fame, London Mayor Boris Johnson “[we need to] de-Lycrafy the bicycle” and this food for thought from everyday commuter Jess Bowie, 29, pictured above;

“I’m loathe to say it but often women care more about how they look, so might think cycling will make them a bit more disheveled.  But if more of us do it, and female commuters look out the bus window and see women like them on bikes, it would definitely help.” 

Which is a pretty good segway: don’t miss Melissa’s upcoming post on ModCloth about stylish bike-commuting.  Watch this space!

…and Happy Weekend!  I’m off to stylishly lean against my handlebars like so SPIN London. See you soon!

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S/S 14 campaign, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand® Venezia (I know: Geese? Venice? Whaat? Alas). 

*Lorry = British parlance for what is referred to in American English as a semi-truck.

London Bike Fashion

The top five cities for bike fashion are New York, San Francisco, Melbourne, and Sydney, with London at the head of the peloton pack.

London Bike Fashion

How do I know? Because this blog receives more visitors from London than any other city.

I’m not the least bit surprised that Londoners are so adept at cycle chic. It’s the home of Bike Pretty contributor Kelly and the original Tweed Run. And when I visited the fashion capital, I could barely turn a corner without bumping into some stylishly-clad hipster on two wheels.

London Bike Fashion

As the Northern Hemisphere* creeps into the warm seasons, get inspired by these street style shots I took while in London last Summer. I even put together a few style guides so you can get the look in your hometown.

London Bike Fashion ⬆︎ Doesn’t this remind you of this?

Get the look:London Bike Fashion

Kelly Brook Black Lace Bow Front Longline Bra | Davines Momo Anti- Frizz Fluid |
MINKPINK ‘Cah Ching’ Sunglasses | Kate Spade New York ‘Polka Dot’ Reusable Shopping Tote | Desigual Dress from ZalandoMartone Cycling Co. Women’s Mercer Bike | Even&Odd Ballet Pumps Silver | DKNY ‘Lace Curves’ Shaping Brief

London Bike Fashion
London Bike Fashion

London Bike FashionGet the look:

London Bike Fashion for SpringMarni Top | Desigual Mirror Paulina | Ray-Ban Large Metal Aviator | Aerie Mia Eyelet Pushup Bra | bareMinerals Lasting Line Long-Wearing Eyeliner | Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect SPF 30 | Josie Maran Magic Marker Lip & Cheek Stain | Spankie Low Rise PADDED Bike Short | Jason Wu + Melissa Shoes | Bobbin Bicycles Birdie Hybrid Bike | Forever New Alyssa Aztec Jacquard Skirt

London Bike Fashion
London Bike Fashion
Get the look:
The London Look: Cycle Chic

Desigual clothes from Zalando | Giro Surface Urban Helmet | Pashley Princess Sovereign | Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Platform Plus | McQ Alexander McQueen Razor Blade Leather Triple-Wrap Bracelet

*Shout out to my readers in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane! You’re all in the top ten Bike Pretty Cities.

San Francisco Bike Fashion

Photos by Russell Yip for The San Francisco Chronicle

I know you’re into bike fashion. But do you follow me on Instagram and Facebook?

Melissa Davies, bicycle handbag designer, San Melissa Davies, 32, Handbag Designer

Last week, I mentioned that the San Francisco Chronicle put out an open call for stylish San Francisco bike riders of all stripes. Of course I bunny-hopped at the chance to take part.

A diverse crew of pedal pushers made their ways to the downtown photo studio and had their portraits made. Here are a few of my favorite looks.

Dad bikes in a suitMiles Cooper, 40, lawyer

A girl and her bike, san franciscoCasey Zandona, 28, social work student

I know I’m [riding] in San Francisco when: “There is a naked man walking next to me up a steep hill and we are going the same speed.”

Bicycle Lovers ♥Nadia Soedira, 31, jewelry maker and fiancé Mario Tanev, 32, software engineer

Silicon Valley Bike Fashion BlogJanet Lafleur, 49, high-tech marketing and fashion/cycling blogger

Favorite gear: The perfect (bike) bag, of course

Bike in a skirt + Vintage Schwinn step-throughZoe Hoster, 26, business development

Bike: 1975 vintage Schwinn Suburban (from her mother)

Kevin C. Smith San Francico Bike FashionKevin C. Smith, 42, data analyst

I know I’m riding in S.F. when: “I’m hot and cold at the same time.”

Check out the rest of the series here and look for the print feature in the Style Section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle.

(Can I just say how weird it was to visit the offices of a print media publication?)

Oh hey, so, Vivienne Westwood Rides a Bike

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“Hey, Viv!” She’s read the gospel (she wrote it), and she knows that cycling in heels is The Only Way.  

Grande dame Vivienne Westwood (DBE) in her own designs, photographed by Alasdair McLellan for The Gentlewoman, Issue no. 9, Spring and Summer 2014.

They say you should never meet your heroes.

Impossibly mammoth expectations, coupled with the inevitable bumbling awkwardness of it all converge into a monster that will forever haunt you, an experience you’ll relive time and again both in your own head and aloud with others.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, David Bowie encounters, and general declarations of Bowie-hero-love seem, to this writer at least, cited more often in the press than any other.  Marilyn Manson once said something along the lines of meeting Mr. Stardust, a personal hero, “He complemented my suit, and I felt like a little schoolboy.” There was artist Dawn Kasper’s brush-with-Bowie experience (read ’til pg. 3) at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.  And painter Elizabeth Peyton spoke of Bowie and his accompanying 2013 V&A retrospective, “…I thought the tone of the show echoed how we all feel about him – total love and gratitude for his existence.” (The Gentlewoman, Issue no. 8, Autumn and Winter 2013)

Cue Vivienne Westwood.  I have never met the woman per se, but the first thing I did when I moved to London was buy tickets to hear her speak at an event late 2012.  And it totally effed with my head.

Total love and gratitude for her existence is a sentiment I could get down with.

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Vivienne Westwood, off the bike. And effing with my head. An expert model of her own designs. #Winning 

Total love and gratitude is something I felt when, as a fashion design student at FIT with @bikepretty, I saw an exhibit devoted to her footwear designs in Italy, circa 2007.

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Footwear from the exhibit.  Naomi Campbell, watch out. 

Total love and gratitude is something I feel every time I scour ebay for secondhand castoffs of her designs, my heart swelling with every poorly-photographed asymmetrical seam, every oddball corset, every wonky tartan jacket that graces my search results, their many peplum hems draped just so.  In short, I’ve always looked up to the woman.  After that event however, I feared my opinion forever changed.

She ignored the moderator’s questions, choosing instead to speak about topics that she found more interesting, which included everything from saving the environment to making disparaging comments about her own design team – “They just copy designs from my archive” – or, my favorite – “They spend all their wages on childcare, which doesn’t make any sense to me.  Why not just quit work and stay home with the children?” Maybe you should pay them more, I thought. She proclaimed herself less interested in her line, and in fashion, than ever.  All artists today are crap. No one has any sense of history. And here’s my charity that you should all donate to, we’re saving the rainforest and it’s Really Important.

Several people got up and left the room.  My boyfriend cast a pained look at me and whispered, “Mais…elle est folle!” (he’s French) and said he’d wait for me in the lobby. I remained in my seat until the bitter end, and left feeling cheated, a bit dejected.  Folle, indeed.

Was this really the woman behind all those whimsically anarchic fashions of my dreams?  She seemed so graceless and arrogant.

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*Sigh.* Ms. Westwood on the cover of The Gentlewoman, issue no. 9, Spring and Summer 2014. 

In the intervening time since, I have often parsed the many alarming diatribes that surfaced that evening- and so it was with mixed feelings that I saw her as the cover choice for the latest issue of The Gentlewoman,* my favorite magazine.  I now take my Westwood with a grain of salt, thankyouverymuch.

But as I read through the interview, I found myself chuckling, gradually recognizing in Deborah Orr’s words what had eluded me those many months prior. The interview- *spoiler alert* – nearly mirrors my above experience.  Living through it again was like a cheerful slap in the face:

Vivienne Westwood is a punk! One of the originals!  And what could be more punk  than doing whatever the bloody hell you want?  E.g., subverting international press opportunities and public speaking events to serve as a platform for something you think the world really needs to hear about!

As Orr points out, Vivienne’s life and career “are already well documented, and she doesn’t need the publicity,” further noting “Westwood is not without arrogance, but that’s OK, because her high opinion of herself is backed up by her achievements, the mark she’s made on the world.”

Mmmm don’t get me wrong.  I don’t need to go hear her speak again.  But I will continue to stalk her work on ebay.  And ok Viv, you got me: that shot on the bike, in your own designs, in your own heels, with that plucky, smug environmentalist’s smile on your face, and at age 72 to boot?  That’s pretty punk rock, too.  Something to aspire to.

#BikeWestwood, I think I’m into it.

Turns out the Dame Commander even sent a model down the runway on a bike back in F/W 12. Check out these internet (#bikewestwood) diamonds:

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Vivienne Westwood’s F/W 12 runway show, Paris. Looks like she needs a seat adjustment, and the rest of us need some metallic silver opera gloves.

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Viv & model in a blurry campaign shot.  Anyone know what season this is?

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Stripes & stripes, a winning combination. Circa 2011.

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In London, January 2013, at a press conference to ban ecocide.

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With husband and design partner Andreas Kronthaler, at the 2009 film premiere of “The Age of Stupid.” She rode her bike down the red carpet, and in what looks to be an asymmetrical peg-skirted dress, no less.  So take that.

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*The Gentlewoman is a brilliant biannual publication that is probably the only fashion magazine worth reading, or anyhow, the only one that is refreshingly manageable to keep up with. They once put Inez van Lamsweerde on the cover in a fake beard. ‘Nuff said.