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Coronation Street’s Kate Ford stuns in ethereal high fashion photo shoot

Becky Freeth for MailOnline



Going from the Rovers Return to high fashion modelling might not seem like the easiest of transitions.

But Kate Ford made it look like light work with a stunning photo shoot that showed her looking barely recognisable in fairytale gowns and ethereal waist length locks.

The brunette beauty, who plays Tracy Barlow in Coronation Street, gets a high fashion makeover for a one-off shoot set in the stunning Cheshire countryside.

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Unrecognisable: Coronation Street's Kate Ford cuts a glamorous figure on high fashion photo shoot in Great Warford, Cheshire

Unrecognisable: Coronation Street’s Kate Ford cuts a glamorous figure on high fashion photo shoot in Great Warford, Cheshire

Kate, who is an ardent horse riding fan, slips into a Maid Marian-esque dress to ride barefoot on a rare, white Spanish horse.

The elegant red gown – cut away to reveal her ample cleavage – shows off the 36-year-old’s enviable physique as she smoulders on the back of the beautiful stallion.

Lengthening her brunette tresses with honeyed tips, Kate’s camera-ready prowess is accentuated with a soft pink hue and dark eye make-up.

Ethereal: The actress goes barefoot on a white horse as she's shot riding through the countryside in an elegant red gown

Ethereal: The actress goes barefoot on a white horse as she’s shot riding through the countryside in an elegant red gown

Natural beauty: Kate is a long way from her character Tracy Barlow, who is currently wrapped up in an intense story involving soon-to-be husband Rob Donovan

Natural beauty: Kate is a long way from her character Tracy Barlow, who is currently wrapped up in an intense story involving soon-to-be husband Rob Donovan

A great departure from her casual cobbles wardrobe, the actress also cuts an elegant figure in a high-neck golden gown.

She poses against a sunlit back drop in a cream tulle skirt – something her character Tracy certainly wouldn’t have picked out. 

The shoot was styled by Lorraine Mcculloch while hairdresser Alex Foden and Collette Casey helped glam up the actress for the shots.

Art Director Laura Graham teamed up with photographer Rosie Hardy for the stunning shot which took place at Penfold Stables in Great Warford, Cheshire.

A nominee for Best Serial Drama Performance at the 2015 National Television Awards, Kate is currently embroiled in one of her most intense soap storylines in her time as Tracy.

The Rovers Return regular is getting set to marry murderer Rob Donovan (played by Marc Bayliss), though it’s not expected to be a fairytale ending for Tracy. 

Riding fan: The brunette, who is an ardent horse rider looked comfortable perched on her stunning white horse

Riding fan: The brunette, who is an ardent horse rider looked comfortable perched on her stunning white horse

Kate has been throwing herself into her acting after her real-life marriage to Jon Connerty hit turmoil.

Speaking to The Sun this week, she said: ‘When Jon and I first parted it was quite hard to put my personal life aside,

‘But then it became therapeutic to concentrate on my job. People call it “Doctor Theatre” – when you’re acting, you can’t worry about things.

‘We really tried hard to make it work. But it came to the point when we knew we had to get a divorce.’ 

To vote for Kate for in the 2015 National Television Awards in the Best Serial Drama Performance category, please go to 

From actress to model: Kate is currently nominated for a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance

From actress to model: Kate is currently nominated for a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance



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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia Street Style

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Fashion archive: Bus Stop reaches its terminus

There was once a golden age when the average working girl shopped every weekend for her groceries and a new dress to wear on Saturday night. For under £5 she kept well in step with fashion, even if the clothes fell apart after two washes.

The sixties saw the burgeoning of many one day wonder boutiques. Few measured up to the appeal of Biba and Bus Stop, which dominated the Kensington High Street/Church Street fashion axis until the overblown Biba closed in 1974.

Bus Stop, opened by Lee Bender and her husband Cecil in 1968, kept a lower profile and has had better staying power. Sad then that after eleven years, and with a cross country chain of eleven branches, they have announced debts of £750,000. Bus Stop is in the hands of the receivers and will soon be sold.

Lee Bender, who is responsible for the bright, glittering Bus Stop ‘look’ and wears it herself with considerable panache, has been living with the news for four weeks. After much heartache and a bad dose of ‘flu, she has decided that the only way to deal with the disaster is to approach it philosophically.

‘My husband rang me while I was in Paris to tell me what had happened. I had no idea things had got so bad; I was knocked for six but now that I’ve had time to think, I’ve decided it’s probably for the best. It seems to me that opening High Street boutiques is no longer the interesting thing to do if you’re in the fashion industry. I am going to have a very long, hard think and come up with something different but I’m not saying what.’

Turning a small, experimental business into a roaring success was easy 10 years ago says Bender. The difficult part was foreseeing problems. That, she says, would have been like peeking at the last page of a novel before reading the second chapter to see if everyone lived happily ever after.

‘I looked at the Biba operation and saw that, instead of specialising in one thing which is what designers had done until then, the thing to do was to concentrate on a total look. My husband and I had a manufacturing business at the time called Lee Cecil, so we relied on that and I designed a small collection on the side. My husband found and rented the old Oakeshotts in Kensington Church Street complete with Victorian fittings and the thing took off like a rocket.

‘The night before we opened I was up till four in the morning painting the shop and when I went in before nine to Hoover the carpets, there were girls queueing up outside. It was quite incredible. I had made about a dozen of everything and we sold out in hours. We were a mad, glorious success.’

What had begun as a sideline mushroomed and took over. Lee Cecil became smaller and smaller and after a year, Cecil Bender began looking for shops throughout the country to convert into Bus Stop boutiques. Lee designed two big collections a year and filled in the gaps with smaller ranges. The clothes sold as soon as they were put on the rails. The latest Bus Stop suit or dress took a weekly slice out of wage packets from Bristol to Newcastle and Southampton to Edinburgh.

Interview with Lee Bender, founder of Bus Stop, Observer 21 October 1979
Observer, 21 October 1979.

They continued to expand until three years ago. ‘When we started we were on our own except for Biba,’ says Bender. ‘Girls were hungry for cheap, pretty, trendy clothes, and it cost the same to make them as it cost to produce cheap, nasty clothes so we couldn’t lose. I design for a particular kind of young girl who earns her living and likes to look good and have a good time. She could afford, in those days, to blow part of her weekly wages on clothes. Now she is the girl who has been hit hardest by inflation.’

With prices rising rapidly over the past three years, nice clothes could no longer be cheap, but the girl she designs for was still walking into Bus Stop expecting to be able to buy nice – and cheap. ‘This girl can now go into one of a dozen shops to buy something she needs or wants. Once upon a time we were very special, we were innovators but all that has gone by the board because there are small, trendy boutiques in every High Street in the country.’

The weather has also contributed to the demise of Bus Stop. A lousy summer and a late winter means low turnover, means disaster. ‘We shifted garments last summer but not enough of them. Other boutiques buy in their stuff. If the weather is preventing people from buying new clothes, the buyers will be told to order smaller quantities and they can ride out those problems. But when you’re designing the entire stock yourself you can’t do that because you have to think ahead and you can’t predict a bad summer or a warm autumn.’

1979 has been a dead year, says Bender, and it’s going to be a difficult winter for everyone. ‘Looking at my situation in retrospect, I suppose what we should have done was buy in a lot of stuff, and I should have turned out very small collections. In that way we could have played it by ear. But it would have been very hard to sacrifice the individuality of the operation. The whole Bus Stop look is my handwriting and I know my girl. I know how to keep one step ahead of her. I think if I’m being really honest, I’m glad we didn’t compromise.’

Bender reckons that young people haven’t changed in the past 11 years. ‘Their desire to spend hasn’t declined; they just can’t afford to buy as much. I think this phase will last for about two years, and then something new and exciting will emerge and I will be part of it, whatever it is.’

This period of ‘leisure,’ constructive though it may be, is driving Mrs Bender to distraction. ‘I love to leave the house every morning and go to work. I never take half days off to go shopping or sit in the hairdresser so I must get back to work soon. I’ve been offered jobs as a consultant, so I’ll do that until I’ve decided on the next campaign.’ Ambition, she says, is the driving force of her life; success is compulsory so whatever she takes on, if you’re her girl, you’ll be hearing about it.

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High street fashions on the catwalk

High street favourites showcased the latest trends during a free and interactive fashion event at a south east Northumberland shopping centre.

Models took to the stage at Manor Walks in Cramlington at the weekend to strut this season’s fashion offerings from the centre’s retailers as part of a series of ‘Style Wise Fashion Fix’ sessions.

The north east’s style guru Jenny B hosted the sessions, which focused on this season’s new fashion choices and helped shoppers to discover the best ways to dress for their shape, height, size and age.

To celebrate the arrival of Manor Walks’ first Style Wise Fashion Fix, two lucky shoppers were given the all-star treatment and enjoyed a makeover from Jenny B, including 49-year-old Bridget Yhearm, from Seaton Delaval.

Bridget said: “The Style Wise Fashion Fix event was a brilliant day out and I came away feeling much more confident.

“It was fantastic to be selected for a Jenny B makeover. She showed me how to put different pieces together to make a complete outfit and taught me about upcoming trends.

“It was an added bonus to find out I could keep the clothes.”

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Street Style: Paris

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What We Wore: vintage British street styles – in pictures

The What We Wore blog collects old photos of people snapped wearing their coolest gear. As a book is published of its best submissions, we remember the days before technology changed fashion and photography for ever

What We Wore (Prestel £22.50) is out now. To order it for £16.88 go to or call 0330 333 6846

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Fashion rocked as warm weather cools footfall on the high street

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British street style before the age of the selfie

Before I meet Nina Manandhar, the founder of the blog What We Wore, I’m determined to dig out a picture of myself as a teenager, so she might add an image of my own highly flammable hairstyle to her growing archive of street style. Only then I remember: no such image exists. That miraculous moment when my carefully constructed look – the frosted lips and the shimmering eyelids, the scratchy winklepickers and the ankle-flapping duster coat – finally came together was never going to be captured for posterity in my case. Even if any of my friends had owned a camera, they were hardly going to lug it with them to Barry Noble’s Roxy Nite Spot.

Manandhar, a Shoreditch-based photographer, laughs. This isn’t the first time she’s heard a story like this. In the days before camera phones, photographs were relatively rare: film was expensive, flashbulbs unreliable. Plus, people seemed to live for the moment, rather than for the moment when they could stick the moment on Instagram. “Selfies are such a part of our lives now,” she says. “It’s as if we feel we don’t exist unless we’re constantly documenting ourselves. But go back a bit and it gets harder and harder to find pictures of street style. People will often say, ‘I didn’t think about getting my photo taken; I was too busy enjoying myself.’”

The images she has gathered in the two years since she established What We Wore – they cover the period 1950 to 2000 – are, then, both precious and touching. They are precious because they’re not the kind of thing you see every day. They are touching because, before digital, we had to take people as they came, the pose not always being just so.

Manandhar’s new book of the blog, a kind of greatest hits, reminds the reader how pragmatic and cobbled together street fashion used to be. Turning its pages leaves you feeling wistful and nostalgic. Brands were not yet dominant; the statement handbag, whether real or knockoff, was still far in the future; the insidious link between celebrity and fashion was not yet fully established; the only people whose style we wanted to ape were pop stars, and not a single one the product of a TV talent show; Primark and Zara, so cheap and ridiculously speedy, did not yet exist.

“There used to be an element of quest involved in style,” she says. “You had to really go out and find the things you wanted.” Manandhar is 33. Her appearance as a teenager, part goth and part punk, owed a lot to London’s long-dismantled Kensington Market and was about both difference and belonging. She and her friends hated the idea of looking like everyone else, but wanted to look the same as each other.

For a few moments, we leaf through the book in search of our favourite pictures (What We Wore relies on submissions from the public, which always rise after Christmas, when people go home and raid their parents’ attics). I’m drawn to a photograph of Jerina Philips, a retired PA, taken in Birmingham in 1975, who is showing off her flares as wide as sails. It’s impossible not to smile at the exuberant kick she’s performing for the camera.

Manandhar picks out a photograph from 1983 of an artist, Paul Dyson, who was then deeply into Tik and Tok, the robotic mime duo. It’s the inadvertent contrast between his Steve Strange makeup and the shiny Formica of his parents’ kitchen that she cherishes, the one so earnestly futuristic, the other so irredeemably homely.

But look more closely. Perhaps this wasn’t unintentional. Perhaps Dyson chose this backdrop quite deliberately. It’s an undeniable fact that next to his mother’s flowery tiles and cluttered cupboard tops, his carefully shaded cheekbones look all the sharper, his painted lips all the more startlingly black.

What We Wore is published by Prestel (£22.50) on 3 Nov. Click here to order it for £16.88

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Men’s Fashion: Street meets suit

With their choice of adjectives, fashion insiders pushed the distinctive look to the side. It was the purview of black kids, Latino teens and other young folks who commuted through their world. Though the aesthetic had been born on America’s vibrant streets and among its aspiring youth, it was not deemed “Americana.” That term was reserved for field jackets and buffalo plaid shirts.

Times have changed. The country is more diverse. Cities are ascendant. Washington, above them all, is a magnet for a new generation seeking density, walkability, vibrancy. And in response, designers are redefining the rules of dress so that the old ways and old terms no longer apply. Or at least their meaning has drastically changed. “Street” and “urban” “were bad words to use,” says designer Maxwell Osborne. Today, however, “street” simply means “it’s made for a big city.”

The direct descendants of that earlier aesthetic are more luxurious and higher priced — much higher. For fall 2014, Givenchy created printed sweatshirts that sell for well over $1,000. Sneakers modeled after classic Vans, which are about $55, are reimagined by Givenchy in embossed leather and carry a $750 price tag. High-top sneakers that, at a glance by the uninitiated, might be mistaken for old-school Air Jordans, are instead by Saint Laurent and will set a shopper back $675.

What’s the logic in this? A generation of men, who are excelling professionally and have significant financial resources, have no desire to spend their money on $6,000 Brioni suits because they simply do not wear suits, explained Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus. Nonetheless, they want to express their prosperity through their clothes. What they love and what they wear are sneakers, sweats and other casual gear. So they seek out the most luxurious versions of their favorites.

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