Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Green Guide to Country Crafts

A while ago I mentioned a haberdashery Id' read about in Oh Comely magazine called Halfpenny Home. Nicola Gouldsmith and Jacqueline Mann run the art and craft emporium in Suffolk, and Nicola subsequently contacted me to let me know they were releasing a book about their hobbies. The Green Guide to Country Crafts features 35 projects such as soap-making-including how to make those great shampoo bars which are perfect for travelling given the liquid restrictions on flights. Upholster your deckchair, make a denim windbreaker for the beach or a patchwork beanbag.

One of my favourite ideas were these fir-cone firelighters; artificial firelighters smell so horribly chemical, but it can be hard to get a fireplace roaring without them. These smell of Christmas and look pretty too.

Most of the projects are not only environmentally friendly, but also budget friendly- making bunting out of old shirts is easy and cheap, but really brightens up a garden or even the bathroom or a flight of stairs.
More complicated projects show you how to use all-natural dyes, as used for clothes on the catwalk at Prophetik's show at London Fashion Week.

Images From A Green Guide to Country Crafts by Nicola Gouldsmith and Jacqueline Mann, photography by Gavin Kingcome. 

You can win a copy of The Green Guide to Country Crafts (in time for Mothers' Day!) just tell about the most successful thing you've ever made? Success doesn't have to be measured by use or aesthetics, it can be the time you had the most fun trying to make something, even if it didn't work out quite as planned!Post your comment here and I'll pick a winner tomorrow so I can post it to you in time for Mothers' Day in case you want to gift it.Keep up to date on the Halfpenny Home blog here. If you don't win you can buy the book here.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

European Style

I was lucky enough to visit Italy to style a client last week, and in the process discovered a couple of wonderful designers and brands. If you go to Milan fashion week I'm sure you're already familiar with them, and who knows, maybe you and your mum and even your milkman have known about them for years, but they were new finds for me, so I thought I'd share them.
Ermanno Scervino has just opened a store on Sloane street so if you like this collection, off to the shops!Brilliantly classic yet somehow also totally contemporary and cool-trust Italians.

Whilst I also discovered Carven in Italy, I think its a French label. Again, there's something timeless about all the pieces yet they're also quirky and modern, Europeans are so good at effortless chic. I adore the colour palette and the shoes are gorgeous. Luckily the tailoring is all wrong for my bodyshape, otherwise I'd probably have come home bankrupt.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Recollection: New Fashion with Old Soul

Recollection is another range of vintage inspired pieces that really works; I'm loving the prints and the cuts by Sandra Murphy. 
'A Recollection piece is that item of clothing you always dreamed about seeing when you walk into a vintage store - something straight out of another time but in perfect condition and a perfect fit. This is a collection for anyone who's ever flirted with vintage fashion, from die-hard '50s revivalists to casual vintage shoppers to vintage virgins'
What more could we ask for? This purple dress is on my birthday wishlist.

P.S Really hoping to see lots of you at the Bloggers Sale for Japan on Saturday-see previous post for more details.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Bloggers for Japan sale and silent auction at The Horatia

After disaster struck Japan,I really wanted to do something to help, but as usual have no spare cash at all. What I DO have spare is a lot of bags, beauty products, clothes that don't fit me anymore, some handmade goodies and general clutter that might be someone else's idea of a good thing. So I decided to sell it all off and send the proceeds to Japan. Given that my boyfriend has already had to instigate a one in, one out policy on new bags anyway due to the restrictions of living in a tiny flat, he was thrilled. I figured that some other bloggers might also have stuff they could part with, so I got in touch with them and gradually the word began to spread. Author friends of mine starting offering signed copies of their books, crafters offered handmade jewellery, artists sent signed one-of-a-kind works of arts, and by the time designers and beauty companies were donating stuff worth hundreds of pounds, I realised the event had evolved into something different. So now, as well as being a jumble saley sort of thing with a few of us bloggers selling our second hand stuff (though a lot of this second hand stuff is often unused samples we've been sent)for a few quid each, there will now also be a silent auction. For those of you who haven't bid in a silent auction before, its basically just like ebay- there'll be a sheet next to each item and you write your name, number and the most you'd pay for the item on it. Highest wins!Simples!The Horatia have kindly let us use their lovely pub, from 1-5pm on 26th March, please, please come along and do repost this on your blog,facebook, twitter or just tell your friends.Huge, huge thanks to Jo Gifford who's helping me and has already secured a number of brilliant donations from her beauty company clients, also to Tinsel Edwards for designing the lovely flyer at such short notice, also to all the bloggers who've already posted this on their blogs, and of course to everyone who's donated something-THANKYOU!Please RSVP on facebook too.

Here are just a few of the highlights of the silent auction-more still coming in every day. Latest is a donation by the amazing designer Elizabeth Lau- I predict some fierce bidding!

A creative make-up course at the Illamasqua school of make-up for 4 friends, each receiving a two hour course as well as £25 worth of products each.

Upcycle your shoedrobe voucher from I CAN make shoes

Vouchers for classes at The Make Lounge

Signed copy of Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto

Signed, one-of-a-kind artwork by Nikki Pinder

Artwork by Little Doodles

Signed and sketched Goddess Guide books by Gisele Scanlon

Signed copy of Spooning with Rosie by Brixton domestic goddess  and deli owner Rosie Lovell

Signed copy of the Bake-a-Boo bakery cookbook by Zoe Berkeley

Signed copy of MUST READ book Green is the New Black by Telegraph journalist Tamsin Blanchard

Jewellery from The Vamoose

Liberty print crafts from Teasemade, including the necklace pictured above

Necklace from Clare Hynes, whose work has been featured in Irish Tatler

Stationery from Present and Correct

The fabulous Miss Cakehead is even donating the Japan apron and bunting made for her by Nursey Bang Bang for the Cakes for Japan event which took place on Friday- I got there at 3pm to find they had already completely sold out!!!Fingers crossed for similar success..

On top of that we've got a vintage styling session from Lena Weber, founder of The Vintage Guide to London, vintage dresses, original illustrations from the likes of Faye West ( whose collaboration with designer label Beautiful Soul has just been featured on!), more beauty goodies from LUSH, Jergens and Avon, just too much to list everything here!Please come along and spend some money on that perfect Mothers' Day gift, a birthday present or just a treat for yourself.

The event has been featured on lots of blogs, including Disney Roller Girl's, and also on sites like Le Cool and Stylist Magazine. Please keep reposting to spread the word!

My friend Gabby Young who very recently enjoyed a fabulous leg of her world tour in Japan where she was welcomed so warmly, has launched the Song for Japan campaign, so please, if you have a decent set of pipes on you- please get involved!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Red Shoes at Secret Cinema

It seems that all my posts are about films at the moment-its not a conscious decision!Just lots of lovely innovative screenings going on, here's a quick round up of the latest Secret Cinema.
Whereas Secret Cinema has previously popped up and disappeared in the blink of an eye, the most recent run lasted for two weeks, giving more of the public a chance to get in on the secret. The longer run also meant that they could really go to town on converting the space they were using into a replica of the mystery film's set. So the Tobacco dock old abandoned shopping centre in Wapping was turned into 1940s Covent Garden- complete with real florists, jewellers, cake sellers, stationers and vintage installations. Upstairs was the 'backstage' area- with the cast of The Red Shoes flitting around en pointe in stunning vintage costumes. You couldn't ask for a better event to flaunt the new 'ballet trend' everyone is sporting post- Black Swan. You could even have your own hair and make-up done, 1940s style, and then pose for a black and white polaroid photograph.

Food and drink flowed-from hog roasts to fish and chips, cupcakes to popcorn. Upstairs you could work off the calories in an impromptu ballet class or singing audition, whilst observing the numerous live art installations- a clockwork lady in the sit-down restaurant was one of the highlights. Sign up to Secret Cinema now to start receiving clues about the April screening; I can only imagine what wonders they'll come up with this time..

Reworked vintage jewellery from Swell Vintage

Old fashioned stationery by Alice Gabb

Film footage and real dancers line the walls of the abandoned shopping centre in Wapping

One of the vintage costumes in the 'backstage' area- including rehersal rooms and hair and make-up department.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bringing up Baby with Mademoiselle Robot at MCM film club

Whilst book clubs and salons are all the rage at the moment, prepare for the return of film clubs- with Secret Cinema and Birds Eye View Festival leading the way, people are rediscovering some of the brilliant films of bygone eras. Last night I attended the launch night of a very exclusive new fashion and film club, hosted by blogger and stylist Mademoiselle Robot at the luxury MCM store on Sloane street.The first film shown was one of Melle Robot's favourites; Bringing up Baby starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and a leopard. The fashion theme we were looking at in the movie was 'breaking style boundaries' as Katharine was renowned for wearing only men's clothes, adapting trousers and shirts to her wardrobe and ultimately reinventing what women wore the world over, to this day.To make it even more controversial, Cary Grant even cross-dresses in one scene, wearing a marabou-trimmed negligee.

We're offering you the chance to decide what film is played at the next club meeting- post your suggestions here and we'll choose three of our favourite recommendations to nominate for the next screening, and invite those three people along to the event.I'm up for anything with Elizabeth Taylor...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Summer dresses from Suzannah

If you're a fan of vintage styles and prints but often have trouble finding original pieces in suitable sizes and condition, then look no further than Suzannah- 'beautifully tailored clothes with a sprinkling of vintage charm'. They aren't trying to be exact vintage replicas, but instead are taking some of the best bits of vintage tailoring and combining them with more modern prints and colours. The result is a range of classics, beautifully cut with something for each figure, from silk tea dresses to structured peplum frocks.They're not cheap, but their timeless nature means they are the sort of dress you can bring out summer after summer, whatever the trends.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Sound and Silents feat Imogen Heap at the Birds Eye View Film Festival

One of the first events I ever covered for Run Riot was the Sound and Silents part of the Birds' Eye View Film Festival a few years ago, where Bishi performed an original score to Oscar Wilde's Salome. I was utterly inspired; by a genre of film I'd never really given much attention to, by the skill of the musicians who brought to life these ancient films with contemporary scores and by the fact that all this was a celebration of women and their often under-represented role in the film industry.So when I found out that one of my favourite musicians, Imogen Heap, had created a score for the cult surrealist film 'The Seashell and the Clergyman', I was beyond excited. As BEV director Rachel Millward said in her opening night, sometimes she gets to see her dreams come true and be realised on stage at events like this- Imogen Heap creating an entirely choral score and performing it with the Holst singers choir was one of those moments.

Firstly though I should mention the other female musicians on the bill, as they were all fantastic. I went along with blogger friend of mine Fiona, who happens to live with Micachu,the experimental genius who created a score for Lotte Reiniger's 1955 silhouette film 'Hansel and Gretel'. The scratchy, jolting sounds which I later found out had been created entirely using cassette tapes, suited the stark silhouette animation down to the ground, ranging from upbeat staccato sounds whilst the children are playing to extremely sinister eeriness to accompany the witch.

Lotte Reiniger

Maya Deren's 1943 'Meshes of the Afternoon' was scored by multi-instrumentalistSeaming, who used her incredible vocal range to accompany the final seconds of the films' haunting conclusion.
1913 film 'Suspense' was accompanied by a score from Tara Busch- I always like to come away from events having discovered an artist whose entire back catalogue of work I now feel the need to look up; Tara has had me on itunes all day.

And finally came Imogen Heap's performance, alongside the stunning Holst singers. Germaine Dulac's film 'The Seashell and the Clergyman' is arguably the first surreal film ever made, and though the writer protested that Dulac had been too narrative with the composition, its still pretty darn surreal.I was as amazed, as I always am, by the sheer range of sounds an acapella choir can create with just their voices, and occassionally their hands as instruments.Its very hard to describe how sublime the combination of such a haunting film and an equally transporting score can be, particularly when you're experiencing it being performed live. At moments I found myself accidentally watching Imogen and the singers rather than the film itself, but there were also times when I suddenly realised how completely immersed I'd become in the pciture that I'd forgotten to even dissassociate the sound from what was on the screen, the two went so well together.

 The evening completely confirmed the BEV film festival 'sound and silents' as one of the highlights of my cultural calendar, and I strongly urge you to go along to it in 2012. I can't wait to see what pairings they come up with for the lost visual talent of the past and the musical talent of the future.Speaking of the future, you can take part in Imogen's new, crowdsourced project here now.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Guts for Garters

Alex of 'Alex Loves' recently told me about a shop/gallery venture she'd just been to preview, swearing that it was totally my cup of tea and that I had to check it out. She knows me too well.

Last night I went to the launch of said project, 'Guts for Garters' the brainchild of  Rachel Chudley and Cassie Beadle, and I couldn't have loved it more. An eclectic mix of vintage clothing, curiosities, vintage-inspired jewellery, ironic artwork and a fantastically dressed crowd meant I was in my element. The whole project pops up for 6 weeks at a time, before closing and reopening with a new theme. This time they were cashing in on the Royal Wedding, with 'The Royal We', their inaugural collection, featuring lots of real and faux memorabilia, from printed wallpaper to customised crockery. Cassie is pictured above in a stunning peacock feather costume, with a particularly dedicated guest, whose name IS ACTUALLY ELIZABETH!The whole thing was brought to a spectacular finish by Agent Lynch doing her Kate Middleton 'White Wedding' burlesque performance.Unmissable.

Here is Rachel in a stunning vintage 50s dress.

Beautiful jewellery from Yorkshire Pearl

Porcelain Macaroons by Rachel

Agent Lynch- pre Kate Middleton routine.

More fantastically dressed guests with crowns fashioned from plaits, and pearly-queen get-ups.

Agent Lynch as Kate Middleton (p.s her name IS ACTUALLY KATE!)

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