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February Freeze

Being typically British my blog would not be complete without a good old discussion about the weather. It feels like a lot of the winter has been mild but windy and wet, however I did buy an exquisite umbrella, that almost, and I stress almost made me look forward to a wet day. It is by Lulu Guinness and has a birdcage design on it.

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One morning this week as I stepped out early to walk to the station, my breath visible in the air, morning was starting to light the street, which makes a pleasant change from going to work and coming home in the dark. The fingers of Jack Frost had lightly caressed everything, from the early daffodils to the wine bottles left out for recycling. That time of the morning is incredibly peaceful with just the sweet melodious chorus of the birds and the milkman going about his round. The winter sun eventually breaks through and burns away the frost after bathing everything in a beautiful golden glow when the frost twinkles like diamonds.

So February has brought winter with it which pleases me immensely as I can wear the rather expensive pompom hat, which I purchased from a stall in London’s Hayes Galleria the last time it got a bit cold; only for it to warm up again a few days later!

Bobble hat

Pompoms have been big this season, with a real peak at Christmas, although the trend has continued into 2016. Many fashion writers have said they represent the ‘fun’ element that has been missing from fashion. There are some lovely pompom shoes available, especially this pair by Aquazzura which are sadly way beyond my budget.

Aquazzura shoesI couldn’t resist the hat as well as getting a bag charm. Fendi was the first to showcase the pompom bag charm with its ‘bag bug’ which was a pompom with eyes; and other designers and retailers have been quick to follow suit. A pompom bag charm can instantly update any bag for the season, which saves our pockets when we are still paying for the expenses of Christmas.

This pompom I bought from Asos is designed to look like a rabbit rather than being made of rabbit fur as some pompoms and other clothes are.

Rabbit pompom

Fashion and Fur has had a long and turbulent history.  Back in the Stone Age furs were worn for warmth. In the middle ages, fur was generally used to line garments but the Victorians brought about the change of wearing it on the outside, with the fur coat as we know it. Fur has long been seen as a status symbol with the more exclusive furs being reserved for the upper classes. Fashion designers widely embraced fur in their collections and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that real opposition to it began. Activists would throw red paint at people in fur as seen in the Sex and the City movie when an activist throws paint at Samantha whilst shouting ‘fur is murder’.  PETA have done various prominent advertising campaigns against the use of fur in fashion including the 1991 campaign ‘rather go naked than wear fur’ which numerous celebrities took part in, including Kate Moss.

About a billion rabbits are slaughtered every year for their fur. This is an issue particularly close to my heart, mainly due to the fact I have kept rabbits as pets for most of my life.

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My wonderful rabbit Rufus

I would never eat rabbit and have even boycotted a restaurant because it is on their menu. I realise however that this is a small stand to make considering I still wear leather shoes and eat meat and other animal products, something Karl Lagerfeld was quick to come back with to the critics of Fendi’s use of fur.

I think the key is that animals should be treated humanely whether they are being used for food or fur and many so called fur farms just don’t do this and of course that is wrong. It seems abhorrent that an animal should suffer in the name of fashion; especially as faux fur has come on so much.  Some would argue against the use of the faux fur though as it is made from an oil base which is not a sustainable resource.

Britain and the USA have quite stringent rules on the treatment of the animals used to produce their fur but other countries are unfortunately not so scrupulous and many of their exports are not clearly labelled so you may well be buying their products unwittingly.

It is a shame that in recent years fur has become more popular in fashion again and even some of the models who opposed it in that 1991 PETA campaign have since been seen wearing it.

Everyone is of course entitled to their own views and as I say unless you are a vegan being against fur does have some sense of hypocrisy to it but in my mind, cruelty to animals is never ok and I am quite happy to wear faux fur.  I think that it should be law that things are explicitly labelled so that the consumer can make an informed choice about what they buy, whether it be food, clothes or cosmetics.

Political rant over, I shall get back to the weather and what I have been doing, whilst staying in the warm and the dry has appeared to be the better option.

I completed my first shabby chic project, following a course I did last year which you can read about here.  My husband inherited a rather ornate but very old fashioned cabinet in a dark wood from his Grandfather.  I must admit that it wasn’t something I was that keen on in its original state but was the perfect canvas for shabby chic.  I used Autentico Vanille paint for the base and then used Autentico Pitch Green to paint the panels on the doors and bring out the detail on the drawers.  I finished it off with Autentico clear wax and put new drawer pulls on.  I was quite pleased with the finished result in the end but I did learn a few lessons for the next project.

Shoe Cabinet

This weekend I braved the weather and headed up to London for the Vogue 100 – A Century of Style exhibition which you can read all about in my next blog.  In the meantime try and keep warm and dry and roll on summer!

 

 

New Season Trends

In September I attended London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House with a friend. It was the second year I had been and is a great opportunity for anyone to experience the excitement of the exclusive fashion week that proceeds it, attended by over 5000 press and buyers. There are trend and designer catwalk shows. We attended the trend show which was presented by Angela Scanlon, the presenter, fashion writer and stylist. The trend show was styled by the outnet.com, founded in 2009 by the NET-A-PORTER group and selling over 250 designers at up to 75% off. We arrived early to join the queue and managed to get second row seats for the catwalk show. The first trend was ‘One and Only’ and this trend explores wearing colour head to toe and mixing textures such as velvet and leather.

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Then it was ‘Candy Crush’ – no longer do pastel shades have to be exclusive to summer – this trend shows how to work it into your autumn/winter wardrobe.

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Next up was ‘Jungle Fever’ embracing all sorts of animal prints, some more subtle than others and earthy tones.

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The final trend was probably my favourite ‘Fairytale’. Designers have taken inspiration from their favourite fairytales and experimented with chiffon, lace and embellishment. The cape seems to be the coat to go for again this winter.  The show closed with a stunning red dress by Oscar de la Renta.

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Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

Hair for the show was styled by Toni&Guy and Make up was by Maybelline. The hair trend was the slick backed ponytail.

Lulu Guinness who was presented an OBE in 2006; celebrates 25 years of design this year so it seemed fitting that the free tote bag this year was designed by her.  Lips have long been her trade mark with a special edition silver lips clutch being released for her anniversary but this year it’s all about hands.  The bag was full of some great goodies including an Essie nail varnish and a Maybelline mascara.

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Speaking of the fairytale theme – I couldn’t resist these cinderella pyjamas – they were simply made for me.

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Some of my first autumn purchases took inspiration from both one and only and fairytale – a burgundy lace dress from New Look and some burgundy suede shoes also  from New Look.

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Now the weather is getting cooler it will soon be time to invest in some cosy knitwear and possibly a new coat.  Don’t you just love a new season?  Happy shopping!

Reliving the 80’s and 90’s

One of my close friends had an 80’s fancy dress party last month.  I went as a Rubik cube whilst my partner went as the karate kid.  The Rubik’s cube is a 3D combination puzzle originally invented in 1974 and sold to Rubik in 1980.  Although the hey day of the cube was the 1980s it remains popular today and in January 2009 350 million had been sold worldwide.  Often thought of as an impossible puzzle, the record for a single solving is 5.66 seconds!  Solvers of the puzzle are often seen as highly intelligent hence it featuring in films in order to portray this trait in a character, for example Armageddon.  Other costumes at the party included a storm trooper, Madonna, Jessica Rabbit, Prince and Disco divas.  I often think of life as being a bit like a Rubik’s cube; just as one side falls into place another becomes a muddle.

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I got thinking about what the 80’s mean to me.  I was born in 1983 when the prime minister was Margaret Thatcher, ‘Wherever I Lay my Hat’ by Paul Young was No 1 in the singles chart, the rave culture was in full swing and a first class stamp cost less than 20p.  There was still a £1 note in existence and the trains were the slam door variety.  Newly released was the CD format for music as opposed to tapes.  The 30 years of my life have seen a great many rapid changes not least the internet, DVDs and mobile phones.  Growing up my favourite toys were the Sylvanian Families and my brothers were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The toy to have Christmas 1983 was the cabbage patch doll.  I bought my niece her first Slyvanian’s this year, hoping she would get as much enjoyment out of them as I did when they first arrived in Britain in my local toy shop in 1988.  Who can forget the TV shows we watched such as Rainbow, Raggy Dolls and Wacaday?

Fashion in the 80’s was a mixture of punk, neon, shoulder pads, leggings, leotards, leg warmers, perms and crimping.  Many of these fashions have seen revivals and neon continues to be a trend for this coming spring season as well as hair crimping being seen on the Moschino catwalk.

I guess though the 90s left more of an imprint on me as I was only 6 at the end of the 80s.  This year as my friends and I all turn 30, I suspect there will be lots of reminiscing back to the 80s.

Last month Britain saw its first flurries of snow for this winter and March has brought more still – I’m so grateful for my Ugg boots – this is not the weather for stilettos!  Snow rarely has its imagined romance unless you are a child with a sledge; cold fingers and toes along with thwarted journeys are not pleasant.  It is a good excuse however to showcase some of the wonderful woollies out there at the moment; I love the woollen headbands, perfect to wear out when I am doing my training walks for Moonwalk.

Definitely time to ditch that New Year diet and relax in front of the TV enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate topped with cream and marshmallows in your cosy onsie next to an open fire.  Not quite sure why grown adults have started wearing hats with animal ears on though, can anyone shed any light on this?

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My Cath Kidston knitting book and supplies arrived the other week so I will be teaching myself how to knit as per my bucket list and should have a nice warm scarf at the end of it.  I’m hoping to add to my list learning to crochet so I can knit a lovely blanket for my partner’s sister’s new arrival.  I may even move on to quilting – all great activities to do whilst it’s cold outside.  Rufus the rabbit certainly enjoyed the snow; perhaps I should knit him an ear warmer!

Despite it feeling nothing like spring outside; I have been giving some thought to spring fashions.  Talking of revivals, there seems to be somewhat of a 90s feel this season with scrunches being seen on the Ashish catwalk, a Bewitched style double denim resurgence and programmes such as My Mad Fat Diary and The Reunion.  Monochrome appears to be big again and I love this dress from Boohoo which I will pair with a coral belt from New Look and coral shoes from last year to give it more of a spring feel.  I also couldn’t resist this fun comic strip dress.

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Last month was of course Valentines Day and my partner and I went for a lovely meal at The Barn restaurant near us.

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Valentines always brings a surge on the market for underwear and perhaps as fashionistas we often ignore these largely unseen items.  We should give it greater attention however as like a good pair of shoes – good underwear has the power to make us feel sexy and instantly lift our mood.

Anyway I shall sign off now.  Just before I go though I want to share with you another DIY makeover – our dining room.  When the ceiling fell down back in the summer due to being the old Victorian lathe and plaster, we were devastated but we turned it round to a positive by using it as an opportunity to install an open fire and redecorate.

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After the ceiling fell down

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We have gone for a North African theme whilst incorporating a traditional Victorian feel.  The fireplace whilst not original to the house, we believe to be an original from the period and the kind of style that would have appeared in our house of our type.  The companion set was a vintage find given as a Christmas present and the kettle was my maternal grandmothers.  Besides the usual photos the mantel piece is also adorned with a camel picked up in Morocco and a souvenir pyramid from Egypt.

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The light is a Moroccan lantern from Moroccan Bazaar and conjures up fond memories of the bustling souks in Marrakech.  The main canvas was purchased during our trip to Egypt.  There is also a piece of papyrus with my name in hieroglyphics which was picked up in Sharm El Sheik.  The smaller canvases – two are shots my paternal grandfather who I never met took when he was posted out to Egypt with the army and the third is him washing up after Christmas dinner in Jamaica.

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The red adds to the North African feel as well as adding warmth to the room.  If my sewing skills improve I would also like to make a window seat.

Look out for my next home feature and wrap up warm.  Until next time………