Lovecrumbs Beercake Tasting

Lovecrumbs Beer and Cake Night

Lovecrumbs Beer and Cake Night

I’ve spoken at length before about the cakefest that is Lovecrumbs, one of my all time Edinburgh favourites. It’s somewhere I delight in introducing friends and family to, and top of my list of Edinburgh recommendations whenever I’m asked (mixed with the slight begrudging that comes with sharing somewhere you really love and secretly wouldn’t mind keeping to yourself). But Lovecrumbs is just too good not to bang on about. Now that I’m back in Scotland it’s going be hard to keep me away.

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Orla Kiely Sample Sale: Grey Wool Dress

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely does whimsical, ultra-feminine dressing like nobody else. Floaty frocks, retro prints, girly collars… you get the picture. On the other hand, this grey wool dress shows just how Kiely has got immaculately cut feminine tailoring down to a tee as well.

Perfectly fitted with its carefully placed darts and nipped-in waist, this dress does all the work. The weight of the wool hangs just so, and the full skirt, collar and oversized buttons give an ultra-feminine spin to clever cutting – power dressing for the retro-loving girly girl.

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

This dress was another bargain from the sample sale I went to back in February and has quickly become one of my top go-to dresses, a dress that you can throw on and instantly feel ‘done’. Doing up the zip is an instant boost, making you sit up straighter and put your shoulders back. It has served me well – perfect for work as well as play.

Here I paired it with my tweed Crombie coat (Next), tartan scarf (Urban Outfitters), heeled ankle boots (Clarks) and beloved oxblood Cambridge Satchel, and finished off the look with ruby lips and Heidi hair.

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Clarks Macay Holly

If you want to get your mitts on an Orla Kiely bargain yourself, their latest sample sale kicked off today and runs until Saturday. Hotfoot it to The Music Rooms in Mayfair for abundant pretty dresses and ladylike bags (I’m drooling over their Facebook and Twitter previews). I’m no longer in London, so make sure you do some serious shopping for me!

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

These shots were taken a few weeks ago during one of the first, albeit short-lived, ‘Golden Hours’ of the year. Sundays are made for baking, blogging and strolling somewhere leafy, and on this particular Sunday, Highgate Wood beckoned. We had been before, but only in driving sleet and a howling gale; the sunshine-dappled leaves and snowdrops peeping tentatively from the undergrowth made for a lovely Spring walk.

Orla Kiely grey wool dress with collar

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LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

Last Friday, the British Library donned its gladrags for a dazzling evening of fashion. Part of the British Library’s series of after-hours events, ‘LATE’, as well as the Spring Festival, ‘Fashion Flashback’ was a true celebration of style past, present and future. Curated by students from the world-renowned Central Saint Martins, this special fashion-themed LATE was inspired by the British Library’s extensive archive of design resources. One of the main themes of the night was the role of resources – whether that of information or inspiration – and their part in the world of fashion.

There was plenty to see and do, with demonstrators by collectors, hands-on workshops, a history of British fashion press display, pop-up stalls and talks (my personal highlight – more on that later), all inspired by the library’s collection of magazines, books, postcards, photo books, and prints. It was a real testament to the variety and depth of the British Library’s fashion-focused collections.

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

The climax of the evening was the spectacular ‘Paper Fashion’ show, which featured second year fashion print students’ work, inspired by the Library’s images, Japanese and Russian collections. The show saw models strut the staircases and glide up and down escalators in the British Museum’s iconic entrance hall to the sounds of the legendary DJ Princess Julia and Jeffrey Hinton. The space was packed with fashion-lovers keen to see a piece of design history in the making and there was a tangible murmur of anticipation as the designs were unveiled.

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

For me, the talks were the highlight of the evening. GQ editor-in-chief Dylan Jones, fashion illustrator Tanya Ling, fashion academic Iain R Webb and writer Camilla Morton were interviewed by CSM tutors Hywell Davies and Cally Blackman. The speakers offered an intriguing insight into the inner-workings of the fashion world, an industry often considered to be exclusive, aloof and notoriously difficult to ‘crack’, it was a breath of fresh air to have such characters sharing their experiences in such an open, candid fashion. The reality of fashion isn’t all glamour, freebies and fashion shows, but rather a fast-paced, ever-evolving and challenging environment. The talks made some progress to dispel this mystique, showing ‘fashion people’ are still a mostly normal bunch!

Many of the discussions returned to the changing face of the industry, particularly the role of digital platforms. It’s a debate that fashion is obsessed with – and I don’t see that changing any time soon! Dylan Jones made an important point about quality – he thinks there shouldn’t be a different ‘way’ of writing for digital and that good writing will shine in whatever medium. Tanya Ling echoed this sentiment with regards to imagery, describing the huge amount of ‘visual vomit’ online, and the necessity of passion and determination to stand out. The sheer volume of information can be a good and a bad thing, but the joy of research is the unexpected places it can take you – that much the speakers agreed on.

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

Iain R Webb offered a fascinating insight into the process of fashion research and writing, presenting a selection of his research material, sources and notes. He spoke extensively about the editing process and having the confidence to not write something. ‘You have to have passion to survive in this ruthless industry’ he added. I thought this was interesting, as there seems to be the idea that you have to be ruthless to survive it. Camilla Morton definitely showed her passion while highlighting the importance of not over-thinking everything and seeing opportunities in the unexpected. She shared many hilarious anecdotes and her approach to research/ writing seemed less cerebral and more to do with feeling.

In short, there’s no right or wrong answer! What I took from the evening was that three main things are key: (self-)editing, quality writing and the free flow of ideas – in whatever context or format. Research can come from the heart or the head, but often the most engaging results combine the two.

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

LATE at the Library: Fashion Flashback

Chanel Métiers d’Art 2012: Linlithgow Palace

ChanelChanel reaffirmed the Auld Alliance tonight with the stunning autumn/winter 2012-13 Métiers d’Art collection.

The ruins of Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian formed a dazzling backdrop to Chanel’s opulent Métiers d’Art show. The historic location – birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots – provided the perfect romantic setting for a collection inspired by Caledonia, featuring tartan, tweed, Fair Isle and some rather fetching tartan blankets to keep the front row cosy.

The annual Ready-to-Wear collection showcases specialist craftsmanship, honouring the talents of the ten expert artisan manufacturers housed under the label’s Paraffection umbrella. In the past, the Métiers d’Art show has taken place in Paris, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai and London. Each collection is a celebration of the fashion house’s incredible ateliers, including costume jeweller Desrues, embroider Maison Lesage, goldsmith Goosens, shoemaker Massaro, milliner Michel, floral finery maker Guilllet, embroiderer Atelier Montex and glove maker Causse.

The skilled craftsmanship of Scottish tweed and cashmere still form an integral part of Chanel’s collections today. Just last month, the fashion brand acquired cashmere mill Barrie Knitwear in Hawick after its owner went into administration, securing the jobs of its 176 staff.

There is always a clear theme to the Métiers d’Art show, such as autumn/winter 2012-13’s Bombay-inspired opulence, or pre-autumn/winter 2011-12’s Turkish tea shop.  This year, creative director Karl Lagerfeld was inspired by the fashion house’s rich – and perhaps less widely publicised – heritage in Scotland. Chanel’s love affair with Caledonia was born of a real life love affair: that of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and the (then) Duke of Westminster. They spent a lot of time together in the Sutherland region of the Highlands on the Duke’s estate, Reay Forest, as well as the neighbouring lairds’ estates in the 1920s.

Chanel already used Scottish wool in her atelier prior to meeting the Duke, but the relationship certainly gave her time to appreciate the advantages of Scottish materials (and traditions) – most notably tweed. After seeing the Duke wearing the traditional handwoven woollen cloth whilst hunting and fishing, she began to use the fabric to make suits, coats and sporting attire. Chanel’s iconic bouclé tweed was the result of Coco’s experimentation with the cloth, much to the dismay of her French weavers who criticised its tendency to pull and buckle. Coco loved its imperfection and the fashion house’s signature tweed was born. Chanel also introduced the use of tartan and classic Fair Isle into her collections. All three have continued to be used by Karl Lagerfeld, and featured in the autumn/winter 2012-13 show tonight.

The Métiers d’Art show tonight was truly a love letter to Alba, and all it represents to the fashion house.

Here’s a video of last year’s Métiers d’Art show – as soon as this year’s has been uploaded I will post it too! Edit – see below:

 

Image: Chanel Twitter

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair – September’s Top Affordable Sellers

In recent years, as vintage has evolved into a mainstream phenomenon there has been a commensurate premium placed on the price of what many would view as second hand clothes.

Of course, high prices can sometimes reflect the rare, iconic or collectable status of an item, but more often than not, ten-a-penny tea dresses, poor quality polyester blouses and barely ‘vintage’ items are still demanding big bucks.

Enter Judy’s. When I went to my first fair back in 2011 in St Andrews, if I’m being honest I was a little sceptical. How “affordable” would affordable be? But my cynicism proved to be totally unfounded – vintage dresses for under £30, jumpers for under £20 and handbags and jewellery for under a fiver! I was sold.

Judy’s ethos of affordability is unmatched on the vintage scene – you can’t argue with prices cheaper than the high street. I’ve found some real gems there in the past, such as this necklace, this Laura Ashley dress and this jumper. All excellent quality, all bargains, and all items that I have worn again and again.

This weekend at Spitalfields, my challenge was to seek out the most affordable sellers at the fair. A tricky challenge to choose just three if you ask me! Here are my winning stalls, who were all awarded a yummy cupcake from Flavourtown bakery (thanks again Flavourtown!) and a wee medal for their dedication to affordable vintage.

Vintage Freak Clothing

This stall Vintage Freak caught my eye immediately – jumpers at 2 for £15 and shorts 2 for £8! These items of clothing are probably two of the most sought-after vintage items so I think store owner Michael Campos was onto a really good thing here. We chatted about vintage and how much of what’s classed as ‘vintage’ is often overpriced. Michael was clearly passionate about keeping his wares affordable – whilst maintaining a high quality – and luckily for us this meant bargains a-plenty! Vintage Freak is a Judy’s stalwart and also sell on ASOS marketplace and are prolific tweeters – well worth checking out.

Vintage Reclaimed

I must admit I was drawn like a magpie (some things never change) to the beautiful vintage jewellery of Vintage Reclaimed. Gorgeous beads, rings, earrings and watches covered the two tables held by vintage trader Liam Woodgates, who has worked closely with Judy’s from the outset. I especially loved the little collectable pieces – such as teaspoons, dressing table trinkets and even delicate watch faces. What was even more impressive were the prices: rings at two for £5, earrings for £3 – definitely less than the high street, and the real deal vintage item rather than something cheap and disposable. I kept returning to this stall again and again; original, affordable and witty. They also sell on ASOS Marketplace and are well worth a visit at the next market.

Rare and Racy

Maybe it’s because I’m moving into my new flat soon and my head is full of ideas of how to fill it with pretty things, but I have recently developed an obsession with retro crockery. However, it can be an expensive habit… If you go to one of the big markets such as Portobello Rd market, then you might find some bargains, but more often than not the prices are sky high – think £30+ for a set of four cups and saucers. Charlie Wills from Rare and Racy agrees that this is madness, and she sells beautiful vintage china at bargain prices – £1 each for cups and saucers. There were even a few full sets! I particularly liked the idea of getting a few different odd pieces and having mix and match crockery… watch this space at the next fair once we’ve moved into our new flat! I loved the French glass pudding bowls and these pink retro print tins above. Charlie has been with Judy’s right from the very start and is passionate about keeping vintage affordable. An incredibly deserving medal winner!

What do you think about vintage pricing? Is it really a reflection of the objects’ true value? Answers on a (vintage) postcard…

The Sunday Strut – Part Two

As I said in my previous post about the Sunday Strut, everyone had made a real effort with their outfits and looked so glamorous, even though it was one of the hottest days of the year and we had a long way to walk in the heat! Here are some street style shots I took…

This was one of the standout outfits for me. This stylish Sunday strutter wore a vintage Biba dress with metallic detailing, co-ordinating metallic YSL clutch and sky-high wooden platforms. Along with Ossie Clark, Biba has to be one of the most sought-after vintage labels. This dress has a really unique print and cut and is in perfect condition – it immediately caught my eye. I love the retro styling of the dress too.

This retro-inspired outfit caught my eye, especially the use of print and colour. Extra style points for clashing horizontal and vertical stripes, and I applaud the use of contrasting primary colours – tricky to pull off! I loved the gorgeous stacked bangles too.

This outfit balances girly and grunge to perfection – rock ‘n’ roll cut-off shorts are given the girly treatment with a delicate crochet crop top. I especially loved the (much coveted) studded boots from Zara and this lucky Sunday strutter even had the red version in her bag!

This gorgeous green jumpsuit caught my eye – I love the colour and the ‘seventies-style cut. The deep V-neck, wrap cut and floaty sleeves are really flattering and this Sunday strutter look effortlessly chic and summery.

Tie-die prints are a big trend this summer. This one is given a bit of an edge with stud detailing and a spiked necklace. I love how this Strutter has paired her elegant maxi dress with casual Converse. Comfy and stylish!

Sunday strutter and fellow-blogger Gem looked gorgeous in a bright blue dip-hem maxi dress. The vibrant hue really suits her skin tone and hair colour. I love how she has paired her dress with a pair of chic metallic sandals and a statement beaded necklace for a really summery look. A pop of red lipstick is the perfect finishing touch.

What would you wear for the Sunday Strut?