Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Fashion Walk with Fox and Squirrel

Samuel Johnson once said that when a man is tired of London, he's tired of life- as someone who writes about London for a living, sometimes this is put to the test, but just when I start to think that maybe I've seen everything there is to see, someone will show me an entirely different side of the city and I fall in love all over again.
This happened to me recently when I went on a fashion walk with Fox and Squirrel around Mayfair. I almost never go to Mayfair as I generally can't afford to shop there, but what we sometimes forget is that these parts of London hold some of the city's most interesting bits of living history. Fox and Squirrel's walk provided something like a guided tour of a museum- but rather than seeing artefacts in glass cases, we were exploring shops like Purdey's which have been in their current location since 1883. Below is a picture of their book of records which features orders by kings and courtiers throughout history- and today they still keep all their records on paper! The photograph above shows us all in the Long Room which you can read about here. 

The building has many fascinating historical details, including craters in the walls from bombing during the second world war. Below is the original telephone that was installed to connect Purdey's to two lines- one to their factory and one to Buckingham Palace!

Another fascinating snapshot of a period of history was Douglas Hayward's shop on Mount street. The cockney tailor became famous for dressing many of the stars of the 60s. Unable to get work on Saville Row because of his accent, he opened his own shop in Pall Mall before moving to Mount street in 1967, where he catered to the likes of Michael Caine, Steve McQueen, Mick Jagger and Roger Moore for both their personal wardrobes and costumes for films like The Italian Job and Moore's Bond Movies. Supposedly Michael Caine based his portrayal of Alfie on Douglas himself. Female clients included Bianca Jagger, Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow and Jean Shrimpton. Below are some of the document envelopes displayed inside a glass coffee table in the store, showing some recent celebrity clients like Hugh Grant! We also visited Balenciaga's Mount street store which features fantastic, 1960s style, futuristic interior design- if you've never been it's worth a visit just to go in the fitting rooms! The shop has some Balenciaga pieces from the 60s on display too, giving a shopping trip there the feel of a visit to the V&A.

The highlight of the tour for me had to be our visit to Vivienne Westwood, where Venetia tried on this lovely little number below. (Venetia works on the ipad version of Vogue- I was recently given an ipad  for free after threatening to leave Vodafone, and am now totally addicted to reading my magazines on it. I'm still terribly loyal to print, but when you live in a tiny flat in London, there are only so many magazines you can stack around the walls before your boyfriend starts to go crazy...)
On the rack downstairs was a dress Helena Bonham Carter recently wore on the red carpet, as well as a selection of to-die-for wedding dresses. We chatted with Penelope from Fox and Squirrel and the staff at Vivienne Westwood about Vivienne's role in the punk movement and her iconic place in the fashion history of London.

As if we weren't already suffering from a band case of the Wants, we popped into Nicholas Kirkwood. It was fascinating to hear how they design the layout of the shop to display the shoes almost as if it's an art gallery- in fact these shoes are really works of art; they usually only stock one pair in each size so you're investing in something very unique. We got to pop downstairs to Nicholas's design studio- having the designer on site harks back to the days when shops like Purdey had all their gun makers working on the premises too, a custom we witnessed still in practice at William and Son, also located on Mount street.

To finish off the walk we all went for tea at The Connaught, which was beautifully decorated for the festive season. It was the loveliest end to the most informative shopping trip I've ever been on.

I've been terrible at posting any Christmas gift suggestions this year- so here's a last minute fix for anyone who's left it late- Fox and Squirrel do a number of differently themed walks- choose from art, fashion, vintage, food, street photography- or customise your own itinerary. This is a brilliant 'selfie' gift too- so you can buy it for you and your mum for example, as something you can experience together. lovely bonding time, and also nice to have someone on hand who has a larger overdraft that you do..

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The C word...

Yes- it's official- after Halloween, we're allowed to start talking about Christmas! I'm a little premature but wanted to give you guys a chance to have a read of this and enter my competition before the weekend.
Last year I wrote a blog post about some of the wonderful Christmas crafters I discovered at the We Make Christmas fair  (like Forgotten Stitches' stall above). This year, you can start your shopping even earlier, with a special Pre-Christmas We Make London Craft Show on Sunday 4th November. Over 80 talented designer-makers will fill Chelsea Town Hall, whilst the We Make London team will also be showcasing work from the designers featured in their brand new book Inspired:London A Guide to Handmade in London.
 Organiser Mary McDermott says: “Enthusiasm for handmade products has increased in the past few years and with it, the desire to know more about the designers behind the products so that customers know that the products they buy have been lovingly made locally. Our events and our new book are designed to allow customers to actually meet up with the designers so they can have a uniquely personal experience."

Shoppers will be able to purchase a special Pre-Launch copy of the book at an exclusive discount. The book will not be on sale anywhere else until mid November. BUT- you can win both a copy of the book and a pair of tickets to the fair on this very blog!Just leave a comment here saying what you want for Christmas, or tweet me @katieantoniou with the hashtag #Inspired:London and I'll pick a winner on Saturday. (If you don't win and can't make the fair, you can pre-order the book here.)
If you'd rather make Christmas presents yourself, then check out the interview I just did with craft pioneer Perri Lewis for Run-Riot. Her new book Material World is a total must for crafters, with great tips on where to shop for supplies, how to tailor your own clothes and more. Go on, have a read!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Stepney Green Design Collection - The commissioned pieces

I wrote this blog post a while ago about the designers I'd selected for Vivo's Stepney Green Design Collection which I'm co-curating with Dezeen and the Londoneer. There were a couple of pieces that I commissioned to be made specifically for the exhibition and I now have images of these to show you!
Above is the beautiful handmade bear by Jennie Sharman-Cox- with a special, embroidered Stepney tattoo! 

And here's a gem by one of my favourite designers, Alice Gabb; she's filled a vintage writing box with her handmade stationery and vintage ephemera.
And below is a beautiful piece by the lovely Lauren Baker- you can check out more of her work at the new venue House of Wolf- I'm going for the first time tomorrow night and can't wait to see the art and decor there.

A selection of the collection will be exhibited at the recently re-vamped art deco Genesis Cinema in Stepney Green from 25th October until the end of December, with further pieces available to view at the VIVO marketing suite, just around the corner. Please do pop along and discover some new designers- as well as a lovely cinema!
Fairground lighting piece by Petra Storrs

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Eat Your Heart Out - the Morgue Years

Medical illustrator Emily Evans poses with an assortment of Eat Your Heart Out delicacies- leotard by Simon Preen, muscle leggings by Black Milk and wig from Annabelle's Wigs.

I've always been a fan of Miss Cakehead's work- she comes up with brilliantly creative ideas for all sorts of companies - I once spent a night (well, most of it..) in the Alcatraz prison she created for J J Abram's TV series. We've been meaning to work together on a shoot for ages, but our dates kept clashing, until suddenly she needed to pull together some images for this year's Eat Your Heart Out, her infamous 18+ rated cake shop. The images for the 2010 event went viral, with over 35 million views to date, so there was a considerable amount of pressure on us to create some really sensational's what we achieved! (The squeamish should probably not read on...)

Emily again, this time with a real brain saw we were loaned for the shoot!

This year's Eat Your Heart is all about anatomy- the cakes are curated by Miss Cakehead and Carla Connolly, pathologist at St Barth's Pathology Museum. The event aims to educate people about various pathologies, with profits going to the museum. Some of the cakes and cookies illustrate things like the difference between a lung with cancer and without, or you can buy a batch of STD cupcakes to out the feat of God into your teenage brother..
For anything to do with the educational aspect of the event, the lecture series, or St Bart’s pathology museum please contact co-curator Carla Connolly on

Here's Miss Cakehead, the creative director of EYHO, eating a marshmallow brain from Conjurer's Kitchen. Wearing leather hooded top by Rachel Freire, and skeleton leotard by Black Milk. Wig from Annabelle's Wigs.

Despite being pulled together at the very last minute and with no budget, the shoot was one of the most  fun and relaxed I've worked on- photographer Nathan Pask was just brilliant to work with- super professional but totally realistic in his expectations given how tight a time frame I'd had in which to pull some samples together. Everyone was really flexible and we just worked with what we had. It's fun styling non-models as they don't take themselves too seriously- as you can see from the final cake-fight shots where Emily and Miss Cakehead got a bit carried away...! Emily is a medical illustrator and senior demonstrator of anatomy at Cambridge university- anatomy fans will love her site. It was great to work with Carla and Emily; both stunning, intelligent women who are experts in a field dominated by men. In what feels like it has been a rough month or so for feminism in the media, it was heartening to see a couple of women succeeding at doing what they want. If you're interested in becoming a pathologist, you can attend a talk on 27th October-Pathology, not a dead end job; careers in anatomy, pathology and medicine, plus other lectures, all details here.
Another huge help was having my fellow blogger and friend Lucy Nichols assist me- she was a pleasure to work with and a dab hand with prop styling, plus a life-saver when it came to collections and returns, which every stylist knows is the worst part of the job.
Huge thanks also to the PRs and designers who loaned pieces to me at such short notice.

As above

Carla , pathologist at St Barth's, wearing all Rachel Freire except bustle and shoes. Headpiece by George Jenkins. Fleshcake by Leshie Loves Cake

Emily with chocolate skull from Two Little Cats Bakery. Wearing Rachel Freire jumpsuit, just seen.

Early entry tickets for EYHO are sold out, but you can still come along, you just might have to queue!
For bigger items such as marshmallow brains and solid chocolate skulls, you can order in advance here.
You can see the full menu, including prices here.
The event is 26th-28th October, 11am-6pm at St Barth's Pathology Museum.

Miss Cakehead in gilet by Emma Griffiths. Lung cancer cookie and giant cigarette by Natasha Collins. I used red lace and balloons to try and create the illusion of her guts spilling out!

All images:
Photographer: Nathan Pask 
Photo assistants: Andras Bartok, George Newton
Wardrobe Stylist: Katie Antoniou 
Stylist assistant: Lucy Nicholls 
Make-up Artist: Emma Alexandra Watts
Hair Stylist: Holly Rudge
With thanks to Steph at SNAP studios.

In the Metro

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Stepney Green Design Collection

I'm thrilled to finally be able to share with you a project I've been working on for a while now- VIVO London approached me earlier this year to help them curate a collection to coincide with the new housing development.
VIVO commissioned Dezeen, the Londoneer and myself to acquire ten pieces of original design each by creatives surrounding Stepney Green.
We were challenged to hunt down arts, fashion, jewellery, sculptures, furniture, photography or textiles, to bring together 30 hidden gems from in and around Stepney Green, the heart of east London’s arts scene. 

First up is Lauren Baker, an artist who's been going from strength to strength, recently running a brilliant workshop at Tate Modern. I first met Lauren at Burning Man in 2009, but was only introduced to her artwork recently. Lauren Baker gives life back to perished animals. Her work is Inspired by the power of nature, afterlife and mythological, magical creatures. Stags and deer skulls gilded in gold leaf, embellished with handcut mosaic tiles, treasures and beads. Every skull is carefully and ethically sourced and each one comes with a story. Fashion fans should also check out Lauren's collaboration with shoe designer Joanna Stoker and label Velvet Johnston

Luna and Curious is a wonderful shop in East London that showcases a number of fantastic artists, designers and jewellery makers- it was there I discovered the work of Jennie Sharman-Cox; I love her military themed, embroidered and embellished textile necklaces and brooches (see below). Whilst looking through her website, I discovered she also makes these beautiful boxes, and..wait for it... these stunning bears! They come in all sorts of vintage costumes, but it's the sailors that struck me as hugely appropriate for the Stepney Green Design Collection, given the East End's nautical history surrounding the docks. In fact, Jennie's ancestors all come from the East End, some even working in the docks! What I loved most about the sailor bears was their embroidered tattoos- I've asked jennie to create one with a special Stepney Green tattoo so I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

Alice Gabb is a regular at the East London markets where her handmade stationery has gained much attention - Anthropologie are even going to be stocking her work now! Alice has handmade my Christmas cards for me for the last few years and I always get so many lovely comments from their recipients. I'm particularly excited about what I've commissioned Alice to make- I've asked her to fill a vintage writing box with her handmade stationery and paper goods.

Rosie Emerson is an artist I'd heard a lot about from various friends of mine for ages- a make-up artist I work with had worked with her and even posed for some of her photographs. I love the vintage aesthetic of her screenprints, they hark back to a time of sepia prints and timeless glamour.

Next up are Twinkle Troughton and Tinsel Edwards , two artists I've known for many years- and they have in fact known each other since they were 9! They both create a lot of work that looks at British identity, often using intricate text and slogans. I've asked them both to collaborate, painting on a reclaimed object representing East London and covering it with sentiments relevant to the history and future of the area. I'm very excited to see what they come up with!

So many brilliant fashion and accessory designers work in East London, it was hard to pick just one! I ended up choosing Little Glass Clementine, as her necklaces are really also a work of art and could look just as good displayed in a frame as they could worn on a person.

I've asked East London Furniture to make one of their brilliant floor lamps for the collection- they use reclaimed wood from the East End to create fantastic, original pieces of furniture.

'We love Kaoru' is another range stocked at the wonderful Luna and Curious store. To celebrate London 2012 welovekaoru has designed a souvenir inspired by the traditional Willow pattern motif and given it a London - centric twist in this pigeon's eye view of the modern city. Surrounded by a circle of Big Ben's, we see contemporary landmarks such as the London Eye along side older icons like the BT Tower  but not forgetting London's most loved features - CCTV cameras and traffic lights.

Last but not least, I'm incredibly happy to announce the final artist I've curated for the project; Petra Storrs. Petra has created stunning props and costumes for some of the biggest names in popular culture- she mad Lady Gaga's stained glass dress from the Born this Way video, Paloma Faith's mirror dress, Florence Welch's props for the Kiss with a Fist music video and my personal favourite; this tea-themed costume and giant teacup for Rachel Snider's latest production. Petra is contributing a brilliant piece of lighting to the collection- think lightbulbs and fairgrounds!

See the Stepney Green Design Collection for yourself, and from mid-September (I'll keep you updated when the exact date is confirmed)- come by the Genesis Cinema on the Mile End road, a true gem of the east end that has hosted entertainment for over 150 years. The whole collection will also be exhibited online, so I'll share a link with you as soon as it's live- in the meantime you can check out our inspirations on the Stepney Green Design Collection pinterest board. And the best bit is- residents of the VIVO development will be in with the chance of winning one of the pieces to own in their new home! Curating has been the most fun ever- I only wish they were all going in MY home...

I'm now off on holiday until early September- enjoy the rest of the summer! You can read a final pre-holiday post for me over on the Freya site- where I've just become one of their official bloggers. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gifford's Circus: my first Lomokino film

I'd like to thank you all for being patient with me since I was given a Diana F camera at Christmas, and hope you've enjoyed my first attempts at mastering my lomography camera. I was, however, also given a lomokino which I've been dying to try out but waiting for the right opportunity. This presented itself when my little sister Phi signed up to intern at Gifford's Circus, a wonderful, vintage style troupe who travel around the Cotswolds every summer with what Vogue has called 'possibly the greatest show on earth.' My family have lived in a local village since the very first year Nell and Toti Gifford started the circus, and we've been every year without fail, it really is the highlight of our summer. So we were thrilled when one of our family got to work with the Giffords- whose family now also includes Nell and Toti's gorgeous twins, Red and Cecil- you can see adorable photos of them on Nell's backstage blog here (and sometimes they appear in the shows, when they're in the right mood!)

Anyway, I hope you like my first attempt at a lomokino film- I need to find some crackly, silent movie style sound effects to set it to, but I leave to go on holiday on Wednesday for a month so was worried about getting this post up in time for you to read it before the circus season ends- you can still get tickets for shows til mid September here. Huge apologies for cutting the tight-rope walker's head off in my little film- it's quite hard to keep still!

My sister Phi being an usherette

The Victorians- the only animals you'll see at Giffords are horses, dogs, doves and a couple of geese- no exotic animals or scary clowns, only Tweedy, an adorable Charlie Chaplin-esque clown.

My youngest sister Florrie wearing a Gifford's  rosette and my brother Jack, right.
Phi again, selling Gifford's merchandise

Red and Cecil's tiny pony Tom!

Nancy performing with her doves.

Phi in action!

Nell comes from a family of super talented ladies, including her sister Emma Bridgewater, whose beautiful painted ceramics i'm sure you'll recognise- they line the tables of the tent you can have dinner in after the show- this is what I did for my 21st birthday party. (quite a few years ago.....!)

Last year, one of my all time favourite photographers Ellen von Unwerth did an incredible shoot with Giffords for my all time favourite magazine, Lula- I was one happy bunny.
I hope you get a chance to visit the circus, though I do warn you, you might fancy running away with them!

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