Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Little Red pencil skirt

Hello hello. The weather is still as miserable as ever here, so all shoots have had to be conducted indoors for the time being. But as soon as there is as much as a sliver of sunshine I shall be outside again.
We were predicted to have some of the heaviest snowfall in the country today. What did we get instead? Drizzle! I really want some proper snow to materialise, even if just for a day. Ah well.
As I mentioned in the last post, most of our house has been redecorated and I thought his door to the loft would contrast nicely with the bold red of the skirt.
The red pencil skirt is one I made over the summer at a pattern cutting workshop, and the material is a raw silk. I love the vibrant colour, though unfortunately it's rather tight, meaning I have to stand around in it rather than doing anything active. The blouse used to be my maternal great-grandmother's. (I think I featured it on the blog a very long time ago, as I wore it to a test shoot last easter). I love the flower detail on the cuffs and neckline. The white brogues were from ebay and I love them to bits! Having said that, wearing them all day to travel by train to the Clothes Show (a fashion event in the nearest city- which is still pretty long distance) and back did take its toll on my feet. The socks were for christmas. The two gold watches are vintage ones. I love little dainty watches like these, even if they've stopped working. The blue belt is thrifted and the red hat is a family inherited one. The owl pendant is one of my favourite necklaces, a kind of lucky charm I suppose. And I've had quite a lot of luck wearing it!
The flowery vintage tin sits on my dressing table and is usually filled with with all sorts of oddities and various bits and pieces.

It was fascinating to hear all of your views on the retouching and editing debate on the last post. It really made me think about all the opportunities we have now in this digital age, but I have to admit that I'm probably still very traditional at heart. Like vintage fashion, I love looking at all the old photos taken by the greats such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson etc.
In fact I was looking again today at a book done by a photographer friend of ours, Clive. He produced an exquisite book called 'Covent Garden. The fruit, vegetable and flower markets.' It is full of photos taken in the sixties and seventies of Covent Garden market.  I really recommend it to anyone who's interested in photography of the old London- the portraits of workers and pictures of the market deserted in the early morning are so breathtakingly beautiful. This description in particular really struck me:

"I would have three cameras around my neck, and I became adept at instantly changing from one to another- wide angle or telephoto, then back to 80mm, depending on how I wanted to frame the picture, for I always got the picture I wanted framed in the camera- I never cropped any picture in the dark room or on the lightbox."

It made me think about that real craft of planning and setting up an image, and without the security we now have of knowing that we can change or alter the photo if it isn't perfect. And every image on that roll of film had to count, you couldn't go back to edit what you had on the camera and delete the unsuccessful images. I really want to explore using film cameras, and really wish I had access to a dark room!

I'm off on a short holiday to see friends for a few days now, so a very happy new year to all of you! See you all in 2010.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Alice in the attic

Oh the joys of feeling poorly. I have a sore throat today and am gradually losing my voice- but at least I managed to fit in a shoot before I came down with it.
These photos were taken last night, and were quite impromptu. It's what I had been wearing all day, just with the addition of an extra shirt.

We've recently had most of the upper part of our house redecorated. In fact, we've lived here for most of my life (since I was six months old) so from time to time over the years, bits of the house get changed. A rearrange here, some redecoration there, a bit added on. These images were taken at the top of the stairs in the loft, which doubles up as a bedroom and study, and which is shockingly tidy at the moment! Our house quite literally attracts junk like a magnet, so to have it this organised is amazing...

The blue floral skirt is a one made through a collaboration between me and my mum. The vintage fabric was found in a charity shop, hidden under a pile of curtains. It already had a hem, which suggests that it was originally another garment (there are some unpicking lines too). So it's nice to know it has been remade. Actually, this is quite a DIY outfit. The t-shirt is one that I customised a while ago by taking in the top so it had a tighter fit and then hand sewing the vintage lace on around the neckline. It's now one of my favourites. The blue men's silk shirt is one I picked up at at a clothes swap and the fifties satin shrug used to be my mum's. (See my 'pink silk at dusk' post for more details on it.)
The black lace up shoes were a christmas present, (my mum knows me well!) and the white socks were another gift. The necklace is a vintage one that used to be my great-grandma's, while the buckle bracelet is one I bought at a local antique and vintage stall. (I've often mentioned the wonderful 'Rosie's stall' as a source for accessories and other lovely pieces.) The blue carpet bag used to be filled with my maternal great-grandma's sewing materials and the silk scarf (as a bow) is from a charity shop.

As mentioned, I'm stuck in bed at the moment slowly coughing my voice away. And you can probably tell from my close up that I was already coming down with something here. But I have a rule that I never edit or retouch the photos I put on my blog. They are purely me, natural skin and all! I also only ever wear lip and eye make-up, meaning that I don't own any foundation or anything that I could have used to cover up the shadows under my eyes.

So this leads on to a small debate. (I have another one too, but I'm saving that for the next post.)
Do you prefer photographers who concentrate more on the original composition and lighting or do you appreciate how modern technology can enhance a photo?
I personally like to keep my photos un-edited and admire traditional methods, much like my preference towards fashion. I love looking at how a photo, or a dress is planned, crafted and put together. But having said that, I went to the Rankin exhibition in London a few months ago and was so impressed with his photography. He is someone who is renowned for his retouching and editing his work, and this does give an interesting look to the photos. Using a computer can really open up a new world for photography.

And then of course there is the whole issue in the fashion industry of retouching pictures to make models look slimmer or bigger, or to remove any blemishes. Now I'm all for having a few spots removed on a bad day if I was going to be in a magazine, but I just feel that this excessive editing can create an unrealistic impression of what people are 'meant' to look like. We get bombarded every day on the 'perfect shape', what we should be wearing, how we should look etc by the media. So I feel that if the images we are shown aren't actually true to life, then this is just going to be all the more pressurising. We aren't meant to look like anyone but ourselves.Who else could we be? Unrealisitc images create unrealistic expectations. Having said that, I know that fashion magazines are a kind of fantasy version of things, but not everyone is going to realise that.
Why can't we embrace ourselves as we are and appreciate that? And I feel it is sometimes the flaws that make us look so unique. My teeth have quite big gap, and aren't very straight but I like them!

So what do you think about this? Do you agree with the retouching in magazines, or do you like unchanged photos? I would really love to hear your views.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing day brooches & baubles

Hello to everyone, and a (belated) happy Christmas to everyone celebrating it!
I particularly enjoy this time of year because we celebrate on Christmas Eve in addition to Christmas day. My dad is half Czech (which makes me quarter Czech, quarter North American and half English), so we follow the east european traditions too.
Another great family tradition of ours is to use the same decorations on the tree that we've been hanging up since I was little. We have  homemade angels, lopsided, cross-eyed reindeer, traditional czech figures, tacky icicles etc.. But what inspired this particular post is the copious amount of glitterballs we have dangling on the branches. This inspired me to dig out all the diamante brooches I could find, to shoot in front of the christmas tree.
This grey jumper is a wool Jaeger one I found in a local charity shop. I seem to keep coming across beautiful vintage Jaeger pieces, it really is one of my favourite british design makes. Most of the very sparkly diamante brooches belonged to my maternal great-granny. She collected costume jewellery as well as some spectacularly awful plastic beads and brooches! (Though even they have their own nostalgia value in their own sweet way.) So I have her to thank for my absolutely massive accessories collection. The earrings were part of a set given to me for christmas.
I also got a few other vintage bits and pieces that I'm looking forward to sharing on this blog as soon as possible. As well as some amazing books on fashion, including one showing all the drawn vogue covers from 1910 to the 1940s, I'm also starting to make my way through the classic films I received. The Red Shoes is a cinematic masterpiece that I recommend to everyone. It may sound cliched, but it is completely breathtaking- especially the 17 minute ballet sequence.
I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. I know I'm trying to make them last as long as possible! I'm filling up as much time as I can with drawing, making and customising, including having made my mum's christmas present (I customised a t-shirt with green and cream buttons and an appliqued felt and silk pocket.)
I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who commentedon my last post, I really appreciated it! I'm so sorry that I haven't replied to many people recently, but I'm working on it..
I'm off to watch The Duchess, so goodbye!

Monday, 21 December 2009

In The Bleak Midwinter- Silk layering

It's finally snowed here in the Midlands, although there has only been a sprinkling over the gardens and nearby hills. But there was enough to get outside with a camera!
So, now to the title. Today is the 21st of December, making it exactly midwinter. Or the winter solstice, whatever you want to call it. And it was certainly the weather for the day.
Not too far away are two beautiful lakes that make for a wonderful walk. And on a day such as today, we had to take advantage of the amazing conditions. Though just for the record, no, I don't actually tramp around the countryside in high heels and floor length dresses! My trusty rucksack filled with vintage goodies and other niceties is dragged along too.
The particular things taken along today were lots of lovely silk items. The cream dress is silk (I think) from a flea market, the long shirt dress is a silk Laura Ashley piece that my mum found in a charity shop ages ago. The cream blouse was my 92 year old great grandma's which she had when she was young. It was then passed on to my mum when she was in her late teens, and then it finally found its way to me about 2 years ago. The brown leather belt is a Hilfiger found in a charity shop a couple of days ago- I love the stitching detail around the edge.The boots are brown suede ones that used to be my mum's. The furry hat is making another guest appearance after featuring in my coats post. The necklace is a thrifted one, the silk scarf too. I know that these layers of silk don't look very warm. But underneath that I had another 4 layers, including skinny trousers and tights!
The lake was completely frozen over apart from a patch where all the swans were happily sitting so I managed to got some lovely pictures of them afterwards.

I realised its been a while since I last started a debate, so I've decided to start one inspired by a question posed by Tavi from Style Rookie. She asked about what kept you inspired and made you love fashion.
This started me thinking. I feel that being more confident in fashion has made me an all round more confident person. That's one of the reasons (among many) that I feel that fashion, in its many forms is a definite and strong part of my life. I have no problem walking down a rural high street in a fifties tea dress, a vintage coat and a big floppy hat. I don't mind what people think of the fact that I read classics, spend my spare time doing creative projects and don't watch TV very often. Being confident in one area of life has increased more confidence in others.
I also realised that fashion is something that can let you blend in with the crowd or completely stand out. And for some people, either approach can give them more confidence.
So what do you think? Has fashion increased your confidence or taught you something? What's your general opinion on this topic? I'd love to hear about your views and ideas.

Thanks to dad for wielding the camera.
And a final thanks to those who commented and responded to my latest installment of blogger designs, I really appreciated it!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Winter blogger capsule collection 09/10

I love the classic styles that Judy wears. So I wanted two timeless designs that also reflected her eye for detail. And like her daughter, the shoes had to be a big focus point! The checkered dress is cotton with the boots being leather. The grey trousers are silk and the green cardigan cashmere.
I only discovered Style Bubble recently, but it has quickly become one of my daily reads. I love that she updates her blog so often, and she's a fellow British blogger! I was inspired by the quirkiness and whimsy of the way she puts her outfits together. The pleated t-shirt is silk and the layered pencil skirt is cotton poplin. On the other design, the cardigan is a chunky knit wool piece with silk screen printed dress.
Another recent find, 4th and Bleeker's blog is very interesting. Although not clothes I would wear, still ones to appreciate and admire. The shorts are silk and the t-shirt is jersey with lace collar and pocket. The cardigan is finelycrocheted with a green felt bowler hat. The pink dress is flannel with a drawstring waist and the tights are lace.
Natalie wears a lot of tailoring and classic shapes, which I hope is reflected here! The red cardigan is cashmere with the pinstripe skinny trousers being cotton. The shoes with cuff detail are leather. The blue shirtdress is silk (yes! I love this fabric) with stitching detail and the Chelsea boots are leather.

Oh the joys of the Christmas holidays. Spare time galore, creative projects to do, blogging more frequently. As due my promise, I'm going to try to post more frequently over the next two weeks to make up for the very sporadic postings over the last few weeks.
Some of you may remember the last time I did a blogger designs project (see autumn blogger designs- it won't bring up the link for some reason.)
I had the idea to repeat this project about a month ago, with the original intention of doing designs for another ten bloggers. However, being very busy got in the way, so instead I thought I'd just post the four managed so far, otherwise they'll never end up being posted here


The first four I chose were:
Alexandra (? I'm not sure of her name, hope this is right!) of
I really enjoyed working out and drawing these designs. I think getting inspiration from other bloggers is very interesting, but I'm being inspired by so much at the moment!
My list of things/ people that are inspiring my designs and style at the moment are:

- Stella McCartney for her flawless tailoring
- Any old (i.e. classic) film including Audrey Hepburn. I want her entire wardrobe, especially those immaculate Givenchy pieces.. Speaking of which, that Audrey Hepburn auction sounded like my dream event, just to get to see them!  But being at school and living a few hundred miles away from London does have it's drawbacks.
- Edge Of Love style. All those floral skirts and big jumpers= what I could quite happily live in during winter
- Vintage issues of Vogue. I am currently collecting these, and the breathtaking images are worth every penny.
- Old books. I would also happily live as Alice in Wonderland.. I'm always getting inspiration for designs from fairy tales.
- Nature. It's surprising how much inspiration one can get from a tree or the colours of autumn!
- Old photos. Now what happened to that coat that my grandma was wearing in that snapshot I have of her?
- Tim Walker's photography. One of my favourite modern photographers, his fantastical shoots are so inspiring. I'd love to be able to do photography like that for a living! His recycled shoot for British Vogue including a bolero made from washing up gloves was brilliant.
- Vintage clothes. Definitely the biggest influence over my designs.
- Anything that could have been worn by an elderly relative!
- Silk. Probably my favourte fabric ever. My wardrobe is being take over by silk shirts, slips, knickerbockers etc..

Yes, I could blather on…and on... about my inspiration, but I'll stop here before I get carried away.
So what are your inspirations at the moment? I'd love to hear yours.

PS- Does anyone know how I could contact 4th and Bleeker to tell her I did some designs based on her style? I couldn't find an email or anything..

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter Wrapping

For starters, an explanation for the very long space inbetween blog posts recently- I've been quite literally rushed off my high heel clad feet (only around the house of course- what better way to do homework than when you're in a fifties tea dresses and huge cardigans?) in the past two weeks. Christmas is looming its festive head, and the pressure of making presents and typing up tedious essays and end of term assignments has grabbed all my time.. But I'm back, for at least today! And hopefully once the holidays start then there'll be lots more blogging to be done.

Last weekend I found this great faux fur hat in one of my favourite charity shops, which gave me the perfect justification to lug around two big coats and some heels on a family walk in the hills... This is a spot that has been frequented by us many times over the years, and what I love about it is how one minute you are following a path in the middle of nowhere and the next you are confronted by a TV mast towering on the crown of a hill. What a great contrast.

The vintage black coat was bought at a flea market stall, and is the only real winter coat I am willing to wear all the time for actual warmth. The trapeze shape is beautiful and I love the detailing of the wool. The matching hat was given to me by my paternal Grandmother. Who doesn't love a floppy hat? The brooch was also hers.
The rusty red coat is my 92 year old great-grandma's and is the last truly vintage item she had in her wardrobe. Just donated to me. I believe it was worn at my mother's christening. Again, very warm- the way coats used to be made to last (though the sleeves are far too short for me). The shoes are from a charity shop. Unfortunately, they look fantastic but are the most uncomfortable things to walk in ever! Both pairs of gloves are family donated. (Another great-granny's, along with the brooch) The dress in both of them is from Beyond Retro. I've just re-discovered it for the second time as it was skulking in the back of my wardrobe for about 3 months.

I'm now off to finish off my art project due in tomorrow (textiles of course!), so good night!
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