Adoring Azzedine Alaia at the Design Museum

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Wrapped forms, sensual silhouettes, and sculptural structure were all right in front of my very eyes at the beautiful Azzedine Alaia The Couturier exhibition at London’s Design Museum. Layers of volume clashed cohesively next to dresses so tight they become a second skin, and my goodness, was each piece a wonderful work of art. I have long adored the designs of this Tunisian born couturier and made a promise to myself to hot-foot in to the big smoke to see this very special exhibition, one which Alaia helped curate just before his death last year. With work spanning from the 1970’s through to his final 2017 show, here was a lifetimes staging of his skills. The exhibition was a somewhat sombre but stunning display. A large low lit space, silent and calm, with minimal information so we could focus purely on the fashion. Sometimes when I go to exhibitions there is so much to read, so much mixed media, so many things battling for my eyeballs attention that I can feel panicky and overwhelmed as though I’ll never absorb it all in enough time. Here it was simple, and simply perfect. What better legacy for this talent to leave us with than his sheer brilliance of design.

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Azzedine Alaia The Couturier is on at The Design Museum until October 7th 2018

7 Ways To Rock Flats

A pair of heels can make you feel taller, sassier and more confident, I love wearing a heel, but we all know that wearing them too much isn’t good for our joints in the long run, bunions like Victoria Beckham anyone? Nope. Nope, thank you. It’s great to take a break from heels and summer is an especially great time to embrace the flat! They are way comfier, can make you feel ready for any adventure, and, can look super cute too, here’s some styles to choose from, which ones will you be rockin’?

Sneakers – Almost everyone has a pair of sneakers in their wardrobe even if its only for your active days when you pop to yoga or go for a run. Whilst they’re mainly a casual style of shoe, many people break the rules wearing these shoes on a night out with dresses, I adore the cutesy dress with tomboy trainers look. Paired with skinny jeans, a blazer and a fresh tee, they can even be worn to work as smart-casual. Try showing some ankle to accentuate your shoes and keep you sneakers looking sharp!

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Plimsolls – Plimsolls are a little more versatile than chunky sneakers, and I’m TOTALLY a Converse girl. You can match these with everything from dresses to suits for an ace laid-back look. You may draw the line at wearing them to a very formal events, but, I’ve teamed mine with a floor length 1930’s evening dress in the past, it’s elegant with a hint of playfulness. You can also customise laces and add DIY decoration like studs and sparkle.

Sandals – When it comes to summer footwear, sandals are up there at the top of the list. Whilst there’s plenty of heeled options, there are also amazing flat options like sliders and mules – this guide at https://www.harpersbazaar.com can show you some of the best on the market. Treat yourself to a pedicure before sandal season to keep them tootsies pretty, unless you’re thinking of wearing socks with those sandals!!

Espadrilles – Espadrilles offer more support than sandals whilst still keeping your feet cool and comfy in summer. There’s lots of designs incorporating canvas and wicker which are pretty much essential holiday footwear. Check out Chloe and Zara for some of the most stylish choices, and of course, there are plenty of imitations for those wanting to buy shoes on a shoestring budget.

Slippers – For casual lounging around, nothing beats a pair of slippers. You can even wear slippers out of the house thanks to weatherproof and felt designs as found at sites like https://www.glerups.com/. Fun slipper designs are also cool, like unicorns and geeky movie designs, the slipper game is STRONG right now.

Ballet flats – Ballet flats are suitable for any occasion and are just timeless, bringing a French chicness to your outfit. They make smart workwear and are great going-out shoes too. Sites like http://www.frenchsole.com/balletflats specialise in ballet flats and have a great range for getting inspiration on styles. 

Platforms – Platform flats, or ‘flatforms’ can help to give you the added height without putting a strain on your body. You’ll find platform variations on sandals, espadrilles and even plimsolls. Chunky wedge sneakers are also in, there’s so many to choose from.

Flats really rule the summer, go find your perfect pair!

 

 

 

Ya Gotta Love a Leiber Bag!


Last month, legendary maker of lovely bags, Judith Leiber, passed away at the grand age of 97. I absolutely adored her designs. She died in New York, at her home, just hours after her husband of 72 years also died; which is a strangely sweet situation. Budapest born Leiber began making bags after the second world war for the secretaries of the American Legation. and just over a decade after that she relocated to America and her company was born in 1963. Loved by the famous and the fashionable, Leiber’s quirky and covetable designs bring a big ole smile to ya face. ‘You have to have a sense of humour’ she once said, and her delightful delicacies – which include ice cream sundaes, over-sized bows and animals in outfits – proved that playfulness was paramount in her work. Over her career she made leather bags, shoulder bags, snakeskin bags and evening bags, with her iconic signature style being the miniature metal cocktail bags which were completely covered in rhinestones. These sparkling sturdy bags were developed by accident when Leiber once had a metal based bag which had a stain on it, so she covered the stain with crystals, and, ta-daaah, her biggest hit was born! These luxurious bags are all hiiighly collectible and are pretty darned pricey but, so, so delightful. Seen in the hands and on the arms of Bjork, Emily Blunt, Barbara Bush and our very own Queenie, its no wonder that examples of her designs are on display in museums around the world. A swan shaped encrusted bag was featured in an episode of Sex & The City – when Big gave it to Carrie in lieu of saying ‘I love you’ – and this pretty much cemented Leiber’s place in pop culture history. She leaves behind her a real legacy of loveliness.
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If you ever find yourself with the desire to spend some big bucks on a brilliant bag, you can see the selection here, or, browse vintage stores for her older designs, they will always be an ace investment.

Mon Dieu, Dior! An Impulsive Pop to Paris

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So, Paris is always a good idea, so the saying goes, and I kinda think it’s true, as I discovered when I impulsively popped to the very pretty city. Paris played host to what I can now confirm to have been a dreeeeam exhibition of Dior, and since it opened in July 2017 I had been properly pining to go. I wrote it off as too indulgent and costly, but, when I realised I had no plans for New Years Eve, and that the exhibition ended in early January of 2018, well, the pangs for Dior proved to pull me towards booking a solo trip. A treat for myself after a very tough year. ‘Couturier De Reve’ (dressmaker of dreams) was an exhibition I just couldn’t miss. I imagined being an old lady and saying ‘I nearly went to Paris to see that amazing Dior exhibition, but didn’t go in the end’, and that thought made me sad, so I booked a seat on Eurostar, and went.

Pop! Paris was calling.

It did cost me money, and it did feel feel indulgent, but it did make me very happy and I’m so bloody glad I went. Dior did not disappoint, not one teeny bit. Paris itself was wonderful, an exciting and elegant city, and travelling alone was just what I needed, (more on the city and travelling solo in my next posts) but Dior, damn, it was divine. Celebrating 70 years since The House of Dior was created, it was an exhibition of epic proportions. I’d arrived late one afternoon so wandered down to The Musee Des Arts Decoratifs so that I knew where I’d have to get to the next morning, and what the queuing set up was like. Getting there from my hotel was straightforward as the Metro was real easy to navigate, and even though the museum was due to close in an hour the queue was still wiggling a long way down the street. Gah, I’d have to pitch up real early in the morning to ensure I got in on my only full day in Paris. So I got there bright and breezy with a croissant in my tummy on the morning of New Years eve, and the queue was pretty short. Phewf! I stood and chatted in line with a lady from Stockholm and we got in as soon as the doors opened. I kinda knew I’d be flabbergasted by it all, my tummy was all of a fizz with excitement. It totally blew me away. Like a combination of all the best bits of any fashion exhibitions I’ve seen in my life, this was simply spectacular. I’m a girl in love with dresses, and this Dior show was dress paradise. It was insightful, educational, expertly curated and so, so beautiful. There were loads of rooms, each completely different to the next, and it covered Dior himself and his design beginnings and went on to showcase the work of all the designers at the helm of this house up until now. It was an absolute heck load of lovely. And, as a vintage dealer who has often referenced his iconic New Look outfit -which defined a decade of dressing- to see that in up close was pretty fluppin’ brilliant. It was busy, but calm, all of us in awe of what our eyeballs were seeing. The final room of course had been instagrammed to the heavens and I was most excited to get in there for real. It was like a fashion finale with everyone in there like, literally gasping at the utterly magical feeling it created. Sparkling lights like stars moving around the high painted ceilings of this grand space, music kissing our ears, and dresses, showstopping dresses which I’ve only ever seen in fashion history books, right there in front of my own face. I don’t think I’ve ever been this immersed or amazed by an exhibition before, absolute perfection. Dior sure made my dreams come true in Paris that day.

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Better Ways To Cope With Your Passion For Fashion

We’ve all gotta bit of a passion for fashion in some way, right? It’s a form of art, and it’s a way to express yourself, pretty much like a musician, painter, or writer would. You shouldn’t be suppressing that appreciation for something beautiful, but, um, hey, you also shouldn’t let it run away with you. A musician doesn’t break their bank account by buying every nice guitar they see (or they shouldn’t), and you shouldn’t break your bank account by buying every nice piece of clothing or quirky fashion accessory you come across! Restraint is a powerful but difficult thing to master, trust me, I know that! Our minds tell us that we’re denying ourselves something or missing out when we restrain our urges, but the truth is the complete opposite. You’ll appreciate things like fashion far more when you don’t splurge to the point of forgetting why you loved all these gorgeous pieces of clothing in the first place. When you treat yourself to the occasional stunning fashion piece, you appreciate it far more. Here are some ideas as to better ways in which you could cope with your passion for fashion!

Shop cheaply – Unless you’re in complete debt, eeek, which I’ll mention later, you don’t have to give up on fashion. You shouldn’t give up on the things you love, but you should know how to approach your passion for something when it’s costing you a fortune. Every time you need to update your wardrobe (and that means your clothes are too small, old, or torn rather than you simply wanting more), you should consider the cheaper options. You should try thrift shopping because the clothes are not only far less expensive than the big brands change in their stores but they’re also just as nice as clothes in the big shops. As a vintage loving gal myself, I’d say that vintage clothing is far cooler and unique than the mass produced, mainstream things you’ll find on the high street. Better yet, you’ll be shopping ethically when you head into thrift shops, charity shops, or even just swapping with friends; going for the second-hand option may not be as glamorous as buying a brand new skirt, but the sweatshop industry which creates those clothes sure isn’t glamorous either. At least you won’t be funding more hardship for those workers. You could do a little research into other ways to save money when shopping if you’re worried that you might be wasting cash on your clothes (whether you’re prone to splurging or not). So many big stores trick you into thinking you’re getting a great deal when you’re really spending far more than you should be. Do a little research, and hunt stores which offer ethical clothes which are beautiful and come at a fraction of the price you’d see in other stores.

Try the ‘1 month’ technique – This is a clever lil’ technique if you can be strict with yourself. Next time you walk past a shop on the high street and see a stunning dress or top in the window, make a note of it on your phone or a piece of paper. Wait a month, and see how you feel. This is the ultimate way to determine whether you really want a piece of clothing or you just felt the pull of your insatiable urge to shop. If you still want the dress or whatever fashion item you saw in the window one month after first seeing it then you can go ahead and treat yourself to it. If you find that the urge has passed then don’t buy the piece of clothing or the fashion accessory because you probably never really wanted it anyway. You were simply enticed in the moment, and that’s the entire purpose of display windows in shops.

Make a budget – If you really want to curb your excessive spending then you need to start keeping track of it. Take control of the situation, and make a budget. To do this, you need to first look at the money you make each month (if you’re self-employed then note down the average amount of money you make). Once you have a rough figure, note down all the necessities you need to purchase each month; your rent, the average amount you spend on utility bills, and the average amount you spend on food. The figure you end up with should give you an idea of how much money you need to add to your budget for necessities. Make it a little larger than the amount you spent in order to allow for variation. Stick to this figure. It’s pretty darn vital that you always have money set aside for necessities. You should be left with a rough figure concerning the amount of disposable income you usually have for each month. Set aside some, but not all, of this money for shopping; that’s your new monthly budget for “luxuries”, and you can’t exceed. A way to stop yourself exceeding it is to keep only one credit card for emergencies but to never take that card out with you. This is the key to avoiding debt; never spend more money than you make, and you’ll never need to borrow money for anything unnecessary. If you are in debt, whether it’s for something important like a house or excessive borrowing and spending in the past, then suspend all luxury purchases and pool all your disposable income for that month into paying off your debt. Don’t borrow any more money until your debt is gone; ideally, you shouldn’t borrow money for anything other than big purchases such as houses or cars. When you do, of course, paying off the debt quickly is essential to maintain a good credit score which to me, has always been important.

Don’t go to a mall or the high street to kill time – Only hit the shops when you need to buy something vital for your home or your children, perhaps. Don’t stroll into a mall just because you had some free time because that’s when you’re shopping for the sake of improving your mood and not because you actually need (or even really want) any of the things you’re buying. Treating yourself to luxuries is fine every now and then because we all do it, but when you’re more bothered about the momentary rush it gives you to buy something rather than the thing you’re buying then that’s when you need to stop. Your passion for fashion should solely be focused on the fashion itself, and you shouldn’t be hitting the shops if you’re not even sure why you’re doing so. When you do need to shop for necessities such as food then you should try to head for your local grocery store or smaller, local shops in order to avoid the tempting sight of big clothes brands in the center of your town or city. You want to resist temptation as much as possible so that shopping can get back to being a fun past-time for you; you want to buy clothes because you love the actual clothes and not the feeling of swiping your credit card on the register.

Always bring a shopping list – You likely bring a shopping list with you when you go to buy groceries so that you don’t miss anything important or buy something you don’t need, and that’s why you need to apply that logic to shopping for clothing too. As mentioned in the budgeting point earlier, it’s very important that you bring a set amount of cash with you so that you’re not tempted to splurge on your credit card. That way, you can enjoy the luxuries you buy in the knowledge that you won’t have spent more than you can afford. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll only have a limited amount of cash, and that means you’ll buy clothes that you feel truly passionate about in terms of fashion because you won’t be able to afford everything you see.

Accept when your problem has become too serious – Whilst a lot of the advice in this article was aimed towards people with a penchant for fashion, there are different levels when it comes to overspending on the high street. Some people buy the odd expensive thing that they probably should have avoided, but some people are in serious debt because of an uncontrollable shopping addiction. You need to figure out if you’re on that spectrum and how much help you may need if so.

If you treat yourself to the odd luxury then you don’t have a problem; if you treat yourself to silly things then you may need to try budgeting and other tips in this article; if you’ve borrowed money just to buy even more things then you have a serious problem and you need to seek help. It might be time to look into counseling if you can’t control your own urges. If budgeting, cutting up your credit cards, or any other method isn’t enough to stop you then you could also attend meetings with other people who have shopping addictions. Solidarity always helps. Shopping will always be there to temps us, the stores want us to buy things we don’t need, that’s your hard earned money they want so take time before handing it over…do you REALLY need that extra dress? Shop well, my friends. x