Grey to day dressing

22.7.18 d (4 of 5)

I’m not a fan of bright colours. And that makes summer dressing hard.

We’re having an unusually hot summer here in Britain and London feels like a sauna underneath all the air pollution. This is causing me considerable problems as pre-heatwave, I owned one midi skirt in navy. Not exactly summer appropriate.

So what am I wearing day to day? Um, grey. Grey t-shirt. Grey jeans.

It’s cooler than black, right?

22.7.18 f (1 of 1)22.7.18 b (1 of 1)

Paul Poiret

There have been some big changes in silhouette over the last century, often switching back and forth each decade. But in Worth’s time, at least in Western Europe, the corset reigned supreme.

It wasn’t until the 1900’s that the that the female silhouette changed for the first time in a couple of hundred years. Two people are most often credited for freeing women from the corset, Coco Chanel – more on her another time – and Paul Poiret.

Paul poiret

Paul Poiret opened his fashion in 1903, after working first for the Jacques Doucet and the house of Worth. He gained popularity for his oriental inspired designs, the opulence appealing to the Belle epoque crowd. This was pre-Wall Street Crash and during the time of the Ballet Russes, a time period when people had money to spend on lavish balls and were being entertained by the delights of the East.

Ironically for a man who eshued corsetry, he shackled women in a different way. Poiret created the hobble skirt, likely inspired by the harem trousers which also gathered in at the ankle. The hobble skirt was a precursor to the long thin line that was to follow in the next decade, though primarily Poiret’s designs were widely draped, with volume and much use of rectangles. It was the technique of draping that allowed him to create such unstructured loose garments and earn him the recognition for his efforts banishing the corset.

paul poiret dress

Recognition that would not last. When he returned from serving in the First World War, he had been succeeded by other new designers, most notably Chanel, who had used the war as the perfect time to push her sportier, younger look. Poiret went bankrupt and closed his house in 1929, spending the rest of his years doing odd jobs and relying on the few friends who had not forgotten him.

With the house of Poiret being closed for almost 90 years, he is not a designer well-known by the public. However, for his contributions to fashion history, he certainly is worth remembering.

Empties

I never thought I’d be able to write an empties post because I just don’t use enough products to run out very often. But this month saw me scraping the bottom of a few tubs, so here are some of the few products I use enough to empty completely.

Lush – Let The Good Times Roll, face cleanser

If I had a desert island beauty product, this would be it. It is the perfect cleanser for my skin and gets rid of even the toughest make up. It has the bonus of being a good exfoliator without using microbeads or other nasties that harm the environment, and it really does smell a-maize-ing.

15.7.18 c (1 of 1)

Boots – Cocoa Butter Sugar Scrub

Another exfoliating cleanser, this was a Christmas present that I’m really sorry to finish. The cocoa butter hydrates your skin removing the need for body lotions, whilst the sugar scrub removes dead skin. Definitely will be replacing this one.

15.7.18 d (1 of 1)

Lush – Rose Jam, body wash

Not a huge fan of this one to be honest. Just a personal preference, I don’t really like floral scents. If you like smelling like Turkish delight, this might be a body wash for you.

Listerine – Advanced White Mouthwash

I bought this because I had toothache and it did help get rid of that. My mouth feels fresher when I use it, but – confession time – I don’t use it consistently enough to say whether it’s had a whitening effect. That said, I probably will buy it again.

15.7.18 a (1 of 1)

Another thing I emptied this month 😉

Essential Fashion History: Charles Frederick Worth

Fashion as we know it – seasons, shows and the all-powerful designer – can largely be attributed to one man. Charles Worth made enormous changes to the 19th Century clothing trade that basically allowed it to become the fashion industry we know today.

Charles Worth began as a fabric salesman. In the 1850’s he was working in Gagelin-Opigez & Cie in Paris where he began to make dresses out of the fabric to better showcase what it could do. This lead the store to open a dress department, and by 1858, he was setting up his own business with a Swedish partner – the House of Worth and Bobergh.

Though he did bring about changes in garment shape and hemline length, it was primarily an economic change, a way of selling and that is what makes such an important starting point for the history of fashion. Previously, those who could afford it hired a dressmaker to come to them, either working on a design together based on what had been popular at court, or for those further away, working from a fashion plate that were distributed in early magazines. Worth brought expertise in tailoring and fabrics to the table and created his own designs, designs that caught the eye of the ultimate trendsetter – the Empress.

The patronage of Empress Eugenie cannot be understated. Her adoption of Worth as her official dressmaker was an enormous boost for his publicity and what allowed his name to travel. He took innovative steps such as sewing labels into his dresses, but he likely wouldn’t have gained as much attention without support from the Empress. It also allowed him charge far more for his designs, which must have helped grow all aspects of his business – the House of Worth employed 1,200 people at the end of Charles Frederick’s career.

Another change he brought about was using live models to show off the dresses. His wife is sometimes credited as the first supermodel – they met at Gagelin and married in 1851. She was his first model and another key figure in early fashion history. Jeanne Paquin would take this a step further by sending models to events such as horse racing in her designs, but the House of Paquin would not open until 1890. It was Worth who introduced models to the world.

Worth split from Bobergh during the Franco-Prussian war, when Bobergh left for his native Sweden. Worth himself continued working and designing up until his death in 1895, though his two sons took on greater responsibility in later years. He had, by this time, established the two seasonal collections that the fashion calendar is largely based around and created the role of a designer – one who ‘advised’ women on what they should wear, different from dressmakers who made what the women wanted. Live model shows, the fashion calendar and the character of the designer, all come from Worth which is why he is often called the father of haute couture.

Why I want to take OOTDs

DSC_0046

Who doesn’t want to live the beautifully curated life of a fashion blog?

Not the life of a blogger, although yes, I would like that too. But for the perfectly edited and posed photographs to really be my life.

DSC_0042

It’s easy when looking at those photos, to forget how much effort went into staging them and even though we all know, I think we want to forget. For a minute we want to believe that it’s possible to live that life, and that maybe, just maybe we could achieve that lifestyle too, with just a little more planning (and perhaps hairdresser on call?)

DSC_0065

DSC_0073

At least that is what the ‘dress well’ books will tell you. With a bit more effort and some super-human organisation, you too can dress well on a budget even if you have no clothes, a pot-belly, three kids and a full time job!

I exaggerate, but only because I crave that photo-perfect life and it still seems so far away, no matter how many books I read or wardrobe clear-outs I do. So, I figure, why wait for life to be photo-perfect, why not just take the photos now?

DSC_0041

 

What to do with old craft projects

I have enough yarn to clad an acrylic sheep. Well, had enough.

mde

It’s like a patchwork Christmas

Spring cleaning, along with plans to move house, had me clearing through boxes that have been unopened for four years and through at least as many moves. It struck me as inefficient, to use the wording of my favourite Borg (I’ve been watching Star Trek, it’s surprisingly inspiring), to carry these bags and boxes of miscellaneous craft products from place to place if I’m never going to use them.

So I threw them away.

Well, some of them. Not without a heavy dose of nostalgia at the project I started when I was seventeen. And not without a heavy dose of guilt as I hate throwing things into the bin, but you can’t recycle odd ends of acrylic yarn. I did check.

DSC_0094

Living in London, where space is a premium, it’s a luxury to keep hold of things you don’t regularly use. But though I often take a bag of clothes to charity shops, this the first time I’ve done a big clear out of things I’ve made. It’s an odd feeling.

What do you do with old craft projects? Do you keep them and look back at a portfolio of all the work you’ve made? Or are similarly ruthless?

 

nor

Good bye cardigan

Burberry AW18 Show Review

Starting with a tense, almost creepy moving light display and ending with rainbow lasers, Burberry’s AW18/19 show covered all the emotions of someone leaving an institution they’ve been part of for so long. Trepidation, nostalgia but ultimately excitement for the future – they were all there in the spectacle that was Christopher Bailey’s last show for Burberry.

dav

The clothes themselves referenced past collections (remember that aviator jacket?) but also showed how far Burberry has moved as a brand since Bailey took the helm. The heavily street wear inspired pieces aren’t designed for the same clientele that buy the classic trench coat. Oversized hoodies are meant for a younger market, an almost cult following. The Nova check tracksuit had inserts of a floral pattern that wouldn’t look out of place on your grandmother’s sofa. But hey, when a model wears it down a catwalk, somehow it becomes…cool?

Burberry aw18

Recontextualisation is a key theme in this collection. Snap back caps which used to be a hallmark of a chav have been appropriated by the fashion conscious youth. Pieces from the 80’s and 90’s gain an ironic sense of cool in the same way a vintage B-movie might.

810

When a show focuses so much on the past, it’s hard to know where it’s future lies – especially as his successor is still unknown. But one thing is for certain, Bailey went out with a bang.

Designer Crib Sheet: Dior

Dior’s autobiography begins, “I am convinced my finest memories are still to come.” The book was published in 1957. In 1958, Christian Dior died of a heart attack, ending the career of one of the most revolutionary designers in the twentieth century after only eleven years.

Corolle - The New Look

His first collection set the bar for a career that would rise like hemlines a decade later. Christened the ‘New Look’ by then-editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow, the Corolle collection was an exaggeration of a silhouette that had been developing since the end of World War 2. Dior himself admits it was a reaction against the utilitarian fashion of the time. Whilst Balmain presented a collection with small waists and big skirts in 1945, it is Dior’s New Look that we remember.

Subsequent collection turned the silhouette on its head and inside out. Spring 1955 saw the A-line, with narrow shoulders and wide skirts. Fall 1955 showed the opposite – Vogue called the Y line ‘Bulk against slimness’.

 

He shook up more than just the clothes. Dior introduced stockings and other small goods at a lower price point, allowing more people to buy into the Dior name, effectively inventing the practice of licensing. He is also a strong example for how important the press is within fashion. Compared to other designers of his era, Dior was known for courting publicity. This may be why his brand endured, whereas Balenciaga, though hailed as the greatest couturier by his contemporaries (Dior called him the master of all, even Chanel regarded him highly), is less well-known today. Dior already had the modern principles that allowed his brand to flourish today, and had the timing to create a collection that has secured him a place in history.

 

Happy New Hair!

New Year’s Eve. A time to reflect on the passing year, on all the things done, learnt and experienced over the past 12 months. Compared to last year, when I was traveling, I’ve done quite little… except dye my hair.

I mean yes, there was a job, a couple of short internships. I worked backstage for a LFW show again, dressed trunk shows for Valentino and was a wardrobe mistress’ assistant. But the biggest change and most regular, had to be my hair.

Jan

January started with almost-natural hair, the result of traveling and letting it grow out. That wouldn’t last. In February, missing darkness around my face I went back to black, a colour I’ve toyed with since I was able to dye my own hair.

It felt too dark though. I’m no longer eighteen – gothic black didn’t suit me any more. So after an undercut (which I loved) I asked a hairdresser the impossible. Could she take me blonde?

May

She could. In the first salon session, lasting seven hours, she lifted the black dye out of my hair and took it to a dark honey blonde. As the first time with light hair, it felt very weird, like I was a different person. I think a hair colour can change how you see yourself, and therefore how you act. Blonde me was more sociable, another big change, although when I took it lighter again in July to a white blonde, I felt a bit more normal. White blonde was unnatural and took a lot of upkeep, but it was almost alternative. Though at the opposite end of the colour spectrum, it had the comfort of being as unusual as black.

July

Other perks of white hair? It’s easy to paint pastels on top. I tried purple, then turquoise underneath, then split my head in half with pink and purple. I can only find a photo with purple – no colour lasted long.

By October light hair was starting to feel wrong. Winter is a time for darkness, which prompted an impulsive self-dyeing in red. So impulsive that I only bought one bottle. I had red roots and pink hair for almost a month before doing the ends in what I thought was a temporary blue.

So temporary that I still can’t cover it. I’ll be greeting the New Year with brown hair, though the undertones of blue and red are showing through, in the same way that what happened last year will have an effect on the coming year. How you choose to deal with it is what will make the difference. I hope you can all make the changes you want to and continue with the things you like. Happy New Year!

Harlequin Sundays

What to do on a Sunday afternoon when you have nothing essential planned? Perhaps put the time to good use, learning a language, reading something stimulating or watching a foreign film… or painting your face.

20170723_194818 (2)

I will defend the practice of make up as both fun and something a little more serious. Even spiritual. Sometimes self-reflection comes from the outside (staring at my blotchy skin, I realised I haven’t been taking care of myself. Stress shows, plus I need to drink more water).

Obvious revelations aside, I decided to spend this afternoon playing with a Harley Quin look, only to discover I don’t own any eyeshadow. Luckily I own quite a lot of lipstick so blue and red was achievable after all.

20170723_194409Anyone interested in recreating this look, its a simple wing eyeliner (I use Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner and Benefit they’re real! push up liner, both of which last forever), a highlighter crayon across my cheekbones and after much deliberation, two lipsticks. One of my favourites, another Illamasqua, in Disciple for the blue-black and a (possibly fake) Lime Crime in Wicked for the red. Oh, and Illamasqua’s Eye Brow cake in Thunder. Do you think I have a favourite brand? #notanad

I also discovered the portrait features on my phone camera which are slightly scaring me. You can slim your face. Slim your face. That’s beyond airbrushing and filters, that’s sneaky Snapchat-level of alterations (you know how the puppy face gives you bigger eyes but no one really talks about that? It’s the same kind of thing. Which incidentally, there is also an option for).

 

Screenshot_20170723-200929

Not the most productive Sunday ever, but we need one day a week off right?