A little window into my world

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A cute night's sleep

For all you high street lovers I seriously suggest you take some time to look at the cute pyjamas hitting the high street at the moment. I just picked up this cute pyjama playsuit....

£16 from Dorothy Perkins also available in a black paisley print. Perfect for a hot summers night sleep.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

London Calling..

When I was studying for my degree I made almost weekly trips to London for fabric sourcing, exhibitions, and to generally gather inspiration of sorts. Since moving home I have been busy juggling work and other commitments making it hard for me to go. This past weekend I had free so made a desperate dash to my favourite place to do a spot of fabric sourcing and take in that city atmosphere.

I was really looking for some Lycras to make some toiles of new swimsuit designs I have. There were three colour pallets I was looking for. One was smokey greys, dusky pinks, dirty lilacs balanced out with nude tones. The second was candy pinks, powder blues and candyfloss tones of rainbow colours. The final one was vibrant juicy, summery colours. I have a number of difference ranges that I have been working on and want to create some toiles in order to visualise them more, and develop shapes and features on a technical level.

Aside from fabric shopping in Berwick street and Goldhawk Road, I really wanted to visit some of my favourite places in London for a bit of inspiration. Dover street market is a really inspirational concept store that has some fabulous fashion pieces that you would not be able to get on the high street. It is like taking the catwalk home with you every time you shop. But it isn't just the clothes that are so lovely. The store itself is put together so well with it's exposed floors, and walk around different sections. The way the clothes are presented make it feel like a completely different shopping experience. It is by far my favourite concept store, even compared to the famous Colette store in Paris which I have visited a number of times. Dover street market is one of those places I always visit, again and again.

Next on the hit list was a general stroll of Soho and past the Royal academy of art to Burlington Gardens and then off to Old Bond Street. I love this area of London, there is something so quaint about it, and it feels like a small area despite being in the centre of the city. There are some quirky little shops, and lovely little pubs for a cheeky drink or two. Of course Old Bond Street provides that bit of wishing window shopping. I can only dream about shopping in the designer stores here.

No trip to London is complete without a visit to Selfridges to take in the window and in store displays. Having completed a placement in the Visual Merchandise department here it's so fascinating seeing the finished concepts having seen how they research and come up with ideas. The visual merchandising here is definitely amongst the best in London for creativity and innovative design. The art teams spend hours working on them, and spend the summer sale weeks putting together the outcomes. I love reminding myself of things I have achieved and this is definitely a lovely reminder of the placement I did here.

To finish a cold and rainy day in London we headed for a bit of dining in my favourite restaurant, Wagamamas. Japanese food is something I have grown to love, and their philosophy of healthy and tasty cuisine makes this a must. I am so boring and always have the same meal, number 71 Chicken Katzu Curry with a fresh fruit juice, yummy. I love the way the restaurant works, fast passed, meals come when they are ready, you can see them cooking and preparing the food. If you have not been before, it is definitely worth a visit.

I loved my day in London, and can't wait to go back again soon. This is definitely where I hope to end up living. The city is so vibrant and it always gives me a little push in the right direction when I feel a little lost. Discover your own London. Just get a train to the city, and walk to see what you find. There are so many little hidden gems away from this mainstream London, it is well worth a visit to find your own inspiration.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Wardrobe restoration

Last summer my grandparents passed away, leaving behind many treasures from the past. As well as a new understanding of my family history they left lots of trinkets, antiques and a lifetime of possessions that took months to sort through. We found camp beds from the 60's, games and toys from years passed, as well as Victorian irons and letter presses. Coasters, lampshades, coins, medals, trophy's, ornaments, collections of china and crystal, stamp books, photos, and much much more. But it was also the wardrobes of my grandparents we started to sort through and it made me think about how wonderfully they always dresses and presented themselves.

My grandmother always loved to dress up and look her best. I remember her mainly in dresses and skirts, but even when she wore trousers she knew how to add that feminine touch. The last outfit i saw her in is one that I would rock myself, lovely 'peg' trousers, a white silk blouse with a beautiful pink cardigan topped with a navy blazer and gold jewellery. While sorting through her wardrobe, I found dresses from the 30's, coats from the 50's and all sorts of random one off pieces. Jewellery collected from years ago including some hideous 70's pieces and beautiful lockets. She truly had developed a lifetime of style and her wardrobe was just beautiful. She made a lot of her own clothes and used to make them for me too. I thought it was fabulous, and when sorting through her wardrobe I found a lot of her hand made dresses. It is really this that got me into fashion and all creative per suits in the first place.

My grandfather had that brilliant style that old men do. Bow ties, and tweed jackets with braces and polished shoes. Boater hats, and briefcases from years gone were amongst the treasures I found that belonged to him. He never failed to get dressed properly. His jackets still have that tobacco smell that I always associate with him also. I found photos from when he was young and its clear that this way of dressing is something he had developed. I know that when he was young all guys dressed that way but the dress so well for so many years is something I love.

While I love these beautiful pieces, and have happily adopted them into my wardrobe some of them need to be altered in order to fit, or just to modernise them and make them fit my style. This is going to be an ongoing process but hopefully will mean I can enjoy combining these styles with my own. I will upload photos of each piece of clothing before and after as and when I complete them. Below are some of my favourite pieces....

1954 Farthing necklace with elizabeth second on the back

Red patterned silk blouse

Black lace top dress

Various patterned skirts

Floral scarfe

Black dress with pearl sleeve detail

Cream pinstripe jacket

Boater hat belonging to R.J. Thornhill, possibly bought from my great great grandfather's shop

More images will be added soon including beautiful fur coats, silk blouses, and tweed jackets.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Is e-tail killing the high street?

Murder on the high street

The business of fashion retail gross' billions of £ annually, and it is estimated that it employs over three million people to run its stores. It is one of the largest industries in the UK, however the face of the high street is changing. Thanks to the development on technology, social networking sites, and our busy life styles, a huge percentage of our spending is now done online to fit around our busy lifestyles. It is predicted that by 2011 32m UK customers will shop online, which makes you wonder what will happen to the face of the high street?

Over the past 10 years e-tail has become a major part of the fashion industry and introduced consumers to a whole new shopping experience. Online stores such as boohoo.com and asos.com are providing exciting, up to the minute fashion with just a few clicks. For us ever busy working girls this has become an easy way to shop. No sweating it out in the lunch break to dig for that last size 10, must have lace jumpsuit or endless queuing. You can shop for everything from the comfort of our own desk. While we are enjoying the luxury of online shopping, perhaps we should spare a thought for what this is doing to the face of the high street.

Some shops are embracing this trend in e-tailing and opening up their own online stores. Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and new look at the click of a button, yes please?! They are using both stores and their websites to promote all of their services, catering for all customer needs. In a way they are using e-tail to make their stores more accessible for people, but could it be that the online shopping trend is taking away from good old fashion shopping. Could there eventually be no need for high street stores as we know them?!

Other stores and retail groups that are less mainstream then those of Arcadia could be considered outed by the new trend of online shopping. As e-tail is slowly become the norm people want to be able to access things online rather then having to go to the shops. If you can find similar products to the ones you want and can order them simply online why would you bother making an unnecessary trip?! As well as this business' will make less profit without online stores too. Trading hours restrict the amount of time a retail store can stay open for, but you can make purchases online 24/7. This means people can shop around the clock giving companies higher profit margins and putting other retailers under pressure to do well. Stores must meet the needs of their customers and keep them loyal. We can be fickle at times, and brand loyalty isn't such a major thing these days. By making it easier to shop with a specific shop they are more likely to see customers spend more with them.

For new designers the Internet is an easier market to break then that of the high street itself. with everyone looking for that unique show stopping dress, or those rare heels that make your legs look skinny we are ever more turning to online boutiques for the answers. I myself have looked into setting up an online store. Social networking sites make it easier to reach more people without the need for marketing and I could work from home reaching people with the click of a few buttons. A classic example of this is my friend Cat. For her final major project in uni she set up her business catrionarose.com selling beautiful scarf dresses online. She managed to reach hundreds of people just by forming a group on facebook. Once people started buying and reviewing, the business took off and has now launched in Ibiza and Australia as well as here in the UK. She has had magazines reviews and been featured in cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar. So perhaps e-tail is the way forward.

While it may be killing the need for retail stores e-tail is certainly opening up a new market, and perhaps is encouraging us to spend more. With evenings to browse the Internet for clothes, we are being more exposed to the high street and what it has to offer. Only time will tell if this growing trend will change the face of the high street and whether it will be for good or bad, but in the meantime we should all enjoy a little bit of e-tail therapy.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Family History

I have been looking through some very old family photos that we found while clearing out my grandparents house and it has made me want to trace my family history. I can identify some of the people in them, but want to know more about some of the photos, as well as the people in them. I am going to begin the process by visiting other family members and seeing who they can identify and if they can relate the people. I hope to slowly build up a fuller understanding of my family so expect lots of updates. Here are some of the photos that I particularly like.


Monday, 8 March 2010

A Shaded View on Fashion

London Fashion week is one of the most important weeks in each annual calender. For us who are aspiring to do well in fashion it is a prime placement opportunity and a chance to network with the elite of the fashion world. It certainly has provided me with many an amazing moment. From watching the likes of daisy Lowe walk for Pam Hogg, to working at the On/Off 10th season celebrating party. But there is one moment for me that really makes me think about how lucky I am to have had such amazing opportunities.

Diane Pernet is a prominent figure in the fashion world. Someone once said, "Whats an event without Diane? Nothing". This is very true. The fashion critic and video journalist could be seen all over London fashion week while I worked there. Perhaps at the time I was a little naive as to the significance she has and the amazing opportunity I had to take a short walk with her and talk to her on a one to one basis.

It was only a block or two that we walked, but there was something about her that was so inviting and warm. She spoke so openly to me stopping many times along the way when she ran into people she knew from the industry. It was apparent me to how well known and liked she was. She was on the way to a friends fashion show, saying that while she would usually go to the Jaeger show with a crowd, it was important to support someone she believed in. She spoke of living in Paris and an accident she had once had. She was so grateful for me taking the time to walk her to the show she was looking for. You expect people of such importance to be self contained but she was so open. Even her voice had something about it, a husky quiet that said she was a fashion veteran with out her saying anything at all.

Her style is truly individual and her career vast. I can only hope that I become even a tiny bit as successful as her. She has a degree in Film making and communication, but ran her own successful fashion brand 'Diane Pernet' for 13 years before moving to Paris. She held positions such as editor for Joyce magazine, worked for Elle.com and vogueparis.com, and then in 2005 launched her weblog, A shaded view on fashion. This is followed world wide by people wanting a window into the fashion world. She has also worked as Co-editor-in-chief for Zoo magazine. To have met someone with such an amazing body of work is so inspiring.

It was probably one of the most insignificant events in her life but something i will remember for a long time. I seriously recommend everyone take a look at www.ashadedviewonfashion.com


Sunday, 7 March 2010

Artful Volume

In my final year at Uni we were set a group project to design a collection of jackets. This was the first time we had collaborated with other students, and I guess while some of us found it a boost, some people really struggled to work within a team. I personally love collaboration. While compromise is a big part of it, it also means that you can bounce ideas off each other and inspire each other creatively. It was actually because of this project that I found my promoter for my final major project.

To begin with we all had different design aesthetics and ideas about what we wanted to do. Our promoter Abby managed to pull together all our ideas under one trend branch. We debated between a number of trends, but landed on the idea of artful volume. There was so many avenues of visual research and we were able to explore our own concepts and bring them together base don the idea of our designs having at least one voluminous aspect.

I decided to base the main body of my research on architecture with secondary research looking at product design, and random images that incorporate volume. Taking shapes from my research i focused on making my designs voluminous in different ways. Over sized collars, cape like designs, pulled in waistlines with flared out skirts are developed through out my design work. We decided to use berry and plumb colours, with pine greens and greys to create a warm colour scheme for Autumn/Winter 09/10.

We developed a strong target market for our collection and aimed it at an e-tail easy access market. These jackets are for the professional city girl to go from office to evening. They are high fashion and unique pieces made using the finest wools, and silk linings.

I love the way our collection turned out. I will try and find my line up photos soon to show you the overall collection, but for the moment these shots we used for our marketing work will have to do. Hope you like them.


I Love Mara

I am such a Mara Hoffman perve. Not literally on Mara herself, just on her collections. I really admire what she does, and can relate my brand 'Out of the water' to it. I have been recently been eyeing up her 2010 collections, and getting soo excited about summer. Just wanted to share a few of my favourites with you. Hope you love them as much as I do.


The big 21

In my first blog on here I said about how I was hoping to move to NYC this year to persue a career in fashion. Sinse I posted this I have had a massive change of heart and done a complete 180. I am now in the process of applying to go back to university to do my top-up year. While I still really would love to go and work in NYC i just feel that now is not the right time and want to explore my creative side more and continue to develop my out of the water brand. Once I have completed my studies I will look to make the leap and go to work abroad.

While I am not looking to move there this year, I would still love to go and get a feel for the city. What better reason to go then for my 21st birthday?! Me and my boyfriend found a bargain deal and are flying out for 5 days in June to celebrate in style. I am sooo excited not only for a much needed holoiday, but also to visit what I imagine to be a busy and inspiring city. A city inspired swimwear collection would be so interesting for Autumn/Winter 2010. The 'volume' and colour of the city, and city scape would be soo visually inspiring.

I know its months away but I am sooo excited. For now I guess perving on images online will have to do.


P.s. Andy if you read this the perfect birthday gift for the perfect birthday trip....


Out of the Water

So perhaps the name of my blog seems rather random as I haven't really spoken about water all that much. I haven't really spoken about much to be honest, but that is not the point. This will probably turn into a long babbly post but hopefully will make the blog name make more sense.

While at university I spent alot of time focused on my career path. There was nothing else I wanted to do apart from fashion show production, and the fire I had was literally scalding. I worked myself into the ground in order to do well and progress, making some ridiculous sacrifices along the way. To think about something 24/7 is to drive one mad. No matter what I was doing, how busy I was with life, there was this niggle in my brain constantly thinking about the future. It was purely by accident that I stumbled across my interest in sportswear and particularly swimwear.

For our final major project we were set 5 live briefs on which to base our collection. They really pushed us toward one in particular, but it could not have disinterested me more. Only one caught my eye and one made it seem like there was breathing room and opportunity in it. It was for a new swimwear company founded by Godfrey who originally invented the swimming goggle, which is a simple but effective design. By taking away rather then adding they came across the most effective design.

Sportswear and swimwear is something I had never really considered before, but the passion the company presented to us really fired me up, and I found the brief itself so inspiring. I kept my collection simple, but went for maximum impact with colour. While my designs were more fashion based I had to keep the company in mind while selecting for my collection. Not only this I had to consider my abilities while making. There were alot of techniques I had to get my head around, and so I found as with Godfrey's philosophy, less is more.

I based my research and collection around the concept, "It's not what you add, it's what you take away that counts". I looked at cut away shapes and designs. I used their logo/branding ideas and cut up the shapes to find interesting design solutions. I decided as a first collection, subtle branding would be important to establish the ethos and identity of the brand. I used bright summery colours to create impact. Sportswear is all about colour. As well as this I wanted to use very girlie colours mixed with a few 'anchor' colours in order to create sportswear that girls would want to wear. I didn't want it to look like a fruit salad but I also didn't want it to be bland. Blacks, greys and blues can only do much as to make you feel feminine while you work out.

Godfrey wanted their brand to be a high perform ace sports brand as well as feature lifestyle brand qualities. So I decided to do my designs under one sub-brand of Godfrey Girl with itself having three sub-brands. So I had Godfrey Girl with its three sub-brands; Godfrey Girl: Performance, Godfrey Girls: By the pool, and Godfrey Girl: Out of the water.

Each of these serve a different purpose to the overall brand. The performance range includes bespoke racing suits and training suits. This really is based on intelligence fabrics and streamline designs. The by the pool range is fashionable swimwear and sportswear for relaxing around the pool. Holiday designs feature heavily in this range. The out of the water range is more about fashionable, casual and girlie clothing. Its less about the sportswear but by being attached to the brand will give it an instant appeal as Godfrey is so well known in the swimming world. Sportswear, even for women is so masculine in design and so by taking a fashion stance on it, I really worked on making it appealing to female swimmers as well as a general female market.

When it came to making my collection I took elements from all of these ranges as I needed to be able to show Godfrey as much of my concept as possible as well as meet my own design criteria. The collection ended up being very simple, but effective, an idea that continued throughout all of my design work and branding. I decided to call my collection 'Out of the water' as it seemed to fit best and seem very current.

I collaborated with another student to produce branding and marketing ideas to present to the company. Overall they were very happy with the work that we produced. This project gave me a fresh idea about what I wanted to do next. While I still love fashion show production I have been developing my design aesthetic and want to explore my creative side more. I have designed two collections since my graduate one and taken to using 'Out of the water' as my brand name. It encapsulates all the avenues of my lifestyle, swimwear brand.

My designs have moved more towards a more high fashion aesthetic. Dirty lilac and dusky pinks and ashy greys were the basis of my dark romance winter 09/10 collection. The vintage feel it very prominent, and it is a visually beautiful collection. This season I am going for a another bright and fun colour scheme. Floral, travel, and European holiday themes are plaguing my collection. Its a fun and uplifting collection, with a very lively feel to it.

Out of the water is a brand that I am developing more and more. It isn't just a brand but a lifestyle. I decided to name this blog after my brand as behind a brand is alot of inspiration and creativity. By seeing the things I am up to and that interest and inspire me I think people are able to understand my collection's alot more. I hope that you will see some on the images on this blog reflected in my work once I start posting more images of it. For now I hope this blog makes a little more sense.


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Westfields- The great debate.

This time last year the much hyped up Westfield was opened in Shepherds Bush, London. It combined the high end designer with the high street must haves under one roof for the ultimate shopping experience. It is described as "The Pioneering shopping and leisure destination" and is Europe's biggest 'urban' shopping mall. Despite the prestige of Westfield these is still much debate as to the success of the concept. Does mixing the two worlds of shopping add to one but take away from the other?! Or does the combination create a whole new way of shopping, and an open mindedness about the place of high street and designer together?!

For those of us that love a bargain as well as a bit of indulgence this is the ideal place to shop. No tube hopping or navigating busy London streets in order to tick the hit list of stores we want to browse. You can go from New Look to Dior and on to Topshop without having to leave the area. Westfield makes designer more accessible and less intimidating for us mere mortals who can only dream of having the latest celebrity must haves at the drop of a hat. There is definitely something here for everyone and it is a totally new shopping experience of most. We are used to the likes of West Quay, or The Bullring Centre which are the face of the modern urban mall combining all our favourite stores under one roof. But even these state of the art shopping centres don't boast luxury like Westfield. Perhaps they have the odd designer jewellery store, but nothing like 'The Village' In Westfield.

There is definitely something about the combination of high street and designer that makes a more comfortable shopping experience and gives designer stores a place in modern shopping however, a lot of people argue that putting designer stores in a mall takes away the luxury side of the brand. If you regularly shop is designer stores, you are used to the exclusive service that this type of retail provides. To visit the same brand in a mall definitely doesn't have that same sense of worth or appeal. Although Westfield as a destination is a lovely shopping experience, it doesn't have much on the charm of Old Bond street. Perhaps by putting designer stores in the mall it gives an aspirational side of shopping to us high street lovers that maybe isn't attainable in the 'actual' shopping world but it can also take away from the experience of luxury shopping.

Away from what combining the two ends of shopping actually does for each other, there is the thought on what it does for Westfield as the destination it is. It sets it aside from other shopping malls further then just its size.

Recently I was catching up with a friend in London who works for Saatchi & Saatchi. As one of the biggest marketing firms in the world, they have taken on a contract with Westfield. He had been to visit and was making notes on ways that could help promote Westfield as a brand. He was talking to me about it being a destination in itself rather then an attraction and about how it was so clean and spacious he described it almost like an Island.

However he also noticed the different avenues and how the shops were semi separated. He mentioned considering using Westfield branded bags in all stores rather then the individual shops bags. This way it draws them all together and once people leave Westfield and head into central London, people will see the branding and think about it as a place to go for some retail therapy. While this could be a great move for Westfield and perhaps some of the smaller retail stores once again it perhaps takes away from the experience of shopping in designer stores. If I had saved up enough to buy the latest Miu Miu shoes I would definitely want people to know.

I think its fair to say that Westfield is a two way street, both adding and taking away reputation from specific stores. Westfield as a destination and brand has proved a success to date and with the increased marketing from Satchi & Satchi I am convinced its success will grow. Only time will tell as to how this works out and if the combination of designer and high street stores under one roof becomes a winning combination.


For more information about Westfields please visit www.westfield.com/London
For more information about Saatchi & Saatchi please visit www.saatchi.co.uk

Friday, 5 March 2010

I am rubbish at technology!

So I have been completely rubbish at updating this blog of mine. I have been writing my blogs off line but failing to upload them. They will be coming thick and fast and probably miss-matched but oh well. I have some past articles I have written, work examples, catwalk and trend reports, designer profiles and much much more so please keep an eye out, would love to hear what you think.