May, 2011

Wedding celebrations

Tue, 31st May 2011     



One Wedding,


and a Weekend of Literary



Oh what a beautiful wedding we went to this past weekend in the picturesque town of Harrogate. Our friends, Steve and Diane, married in a gorgeous old church surrounded by a large group of family and friends who all looked resplendent in a colourful array of dresses, fascinators and hats!



Steve and Diane and the wedding party.


I must say I enjoyed checking out what everyone was wearing as the ladies of Harrogate looked divine. Gorgeous dresses with coats, stunning suits, and for those in little strapless outfits – pretty pashminas wrapped elegantly about the shoulders!

And what about me?

Well now…..

I did not look at the weather forecast before packing to go.

Full of optimism and hope for a glorious sunny day, I wore one of my favourite dresses from my latest 'Occasion Wear' collection – " A Painting of Passion ", only to be met with temperatures bordering on arctic conditions, gale force winds and at times heavy rain.  Not great when you are wearing a hat that is so large it has the qualities of a wind turbine, and a soft floaty, silk wrap-over dress with no warmth factor about it at all. Faced with blustery winds and only two hands, one of which was gripping a clutch bag, what does one do? Hold on to their hat or their dress?

What is worse ladies -  the sight of flat hair if the hat flies off, or heaven forbid – ones underwear?



( The only picture I am game to put here of myself, in what should have been my very elegant purple outfit, unfortunately, is of my feet ! – Reason being that the rest of the photo is so utterly hilarious with hair, hat and dress all completely askew in the wind.)


Somehow, I managed to stay intact without losing my dignity. Were other ladies having troubles? Oh yes, feathery fascinators were flying about, dresses whipping all over the place – but these troubles were nothing, nothing at all in comparison to the men in kilts – for I saw a couple flying dangerously high!!



( A kilted gentleman lurking on the sidelines – obviously a lull in the wind!!)

Now why is it that Scotsmen wear kilts to weddings? I really must find out the answer to this, as there were kilts of every conceivable colour on many a handsome Scotsman.

At some point throughout the reception I asked one such fellow, – not what he was wearing underneath, as I had already heard one brazen lassie ask him, but why weights weren't sewn into the hem of kilts to stop the wind whipping them up around their waists?   The look of astonishment and horror at such a suggestion, plus the indigant reply that weights would take away from part of the fun of wearing a kilt by keeping it steadily place, silenced me immediately!

It is, however, not such a stupid suggestion.

The Queen happened to have weights sewn into her hemline when she met the Obamas in London this last week. So whilst Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron battled to keep their dresses in modest mode, the Queen serenly waved to the crowds, whilst happily holding her handbag with her other hand. Very wise!

But back to the wedding…….



( Steve and Diane looking very dashing and gorgeous! )


Not only was the wedding a happy occasion and a wonderful evening of fun and frivolity, but Steve and Diane's reception just happened to be in The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate – which was the very hotel where Agatha Christie disappeared to in 1926.




Now, I happen to be an Agatha Christie fan and have read every one of her books, devouring the adventures of Hercule Poriot and Miss Marple with great relish.




( A framed original newspaper article of Agatha Christie's discovery at the Old Swan Hotel.)


Imagine my delight therefore, to find myself in the very establishment she had absconded to for a blissful ten days whilst the rest of the country searched for her.  Due to the Agatha connection, the hotel specialises in Murder Mystery dinners, a fact that came to everyone's attention quite dramatically, when in the midst of the wedding celebrations a gunshot was heard echoing around the hotel.

Silence hit. A very large woman, swathed in black, went tearing down a corridor as fast as her legs would carry her, and disappeared into a blackened room. A scream was heard……

The wedding quests all looked at each other, unsure as to whether or not to duck for cover under the vast white tableclothes or escape outside whilst the chance still existed to do so……

And then it dawned – a murder mystery was in full steam down the hallway.


Quite a night – weddings and murders…. champagne and  dancing, glamorous women, men in kilts, bridesmaids playing hide and seek, and Steve and Diane in their happy bubble,  enjoying the occasion with their friends.

I cannot end the blog without mentioning that on the journey back to London, I popped into the little town of Haworth to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum.




( The Bronte Parsonage )

 More authors I just adore, for Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte have all written books I have read numerous times each.

On perusing their small house and tiny village set high on a remote  hillside I could not help but wonder, as indeed everyone else has wondered since, where the girls got such inspiration to write books of such intensity, sexual prowess and, in the case of Wuthering Heights, have a main character with an incredibly diabolical nature?


The fact that the sisters were daughters of a parson and wrote at times with such moral ambiguity is intriguing. Where oh where would the girls have got such vivid imaginations to write such shocking plots! Surely, as daughters of a pius clergyman they would not have been exposed to such tempestuous situations. And yet, I have it on good authority, that even daughters of the most saintly of men can be wicked!  And thus it may have been….Oh to have been a fly on the wall and listened to the three sister's conversations as their obviously rampant imaginations ran wild.




(Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte)


But I wander from fashion …. for this is not a literary blog to ponder the lives and writings of Charlotte, Anne and Emily.  To get back onto the topic at hand, I should comment on the fact that a dress belonging to Charlotte was on display, a very plain, basic dress with very little adornment or detail… but still requiring numerous hours to sew, for little hand stitches were obvious where someone had painstakingly toiled for many an hour to make the tiny dress.  (Charlotte was very small and was not even five foot in height )



(Charlotte Bronte – who died at the age of 38)


I will leave you with a picture of a little shop in the village of Haworth that captured my imagination, for it was an old apothecarist's shop that remains unchanged inside with all its original and very beautiful fixtures and fittings that would have graced the establishment for well over 100yrs or more.



( Rose and co in Haworth )




And yes, it comes with a resident cat, who apparently has been sleeping in the same spot under an "unexploded bomb" sign for well over a decade for a note above this lazy animal reads :-


" My name is Billy, 

I am 11 years old, and yes, I am alive -

so please don't poke me! "




 (Well – That just makes one want to poke him in that soft tummy even more so, to see if he will actually move! But I resisted temptation….)



On that note,

I shall wish Steve and Diane a long and happy marriage – if you are reading this guys, your wedding was so very touching as well as being great fun.

*** All the very best ***



And ladies, if you are off to a wedding over the summer, as I know many of you are, please check out the weather forecast before hand and if needed we will sew those very handy little weights into the hems of your dresses.


(Or may I suggest that you raid your husband's fishing box and put his tackle to good use!)


  You will be the envy of all the other guests as they grip hold of their dresses and you are free to delicately hold your handbag and wave to the crowds!



Studio launch

Sun, 22nd May 2011     


The Showroom/Studio is Completed…..


well nearly!




(The main feature wall with the monstrous velvet frame which took Renata and I hours and hours and thousands of staples and hot glue – literally, to make!!)



This past weekend has been super exciting as we have had the launch of the new studio with a big party on Friday night and an open day on Saturday.

Full details of the party with photos will be coming soon as Kerry McNair, our professional photographer, took lots of great pics. I thought, however, that I would give you a little glimpse of the studio in it's nearly completed state – with some of my amateur photos. I say nearly completed, for there are still some little bits to do, but we are getting close to completion at long last!


It has taken months of work to turn our very grubby space that was once a stable for horses and bales of straw into a fabulous studio for designer clothes.

So here goes with some boring before and after photos!



The empty room – cleaned of it's initial grime!




How the room looks now, with  desks and shelving and the biggest mirror possible I could fit through the door. It was a mammoth task getting the mirror into the studio and an even bigger task getting it attached to the wall – it took three men and one woman (me) and a complex system of pulleys to get it up onto huge hooks!



Racks of clothes with pics hanging from our latest 'Wedding' photoshoot at Barnes Church





As you know, I love details, so the curtains that line some of the walls are edged in antique pearl buttons – all painstakingly hand sewn onto an old silk ribbon.




(The little doorway – yes, one must slightly stoop to get in – if you are over five foot four!)





And how it looks now!




Empty ……



Under construction…..




 And finished – with a cute changing room!





Yes…even Buttons has a new matching bed – where she wiles away many happy hours snoring!


Many of you have visited us whilst we have been under construction and have had to dodge ladders and pots of paint, whilst trying on clothes! I can now say there are no such hazzards when visiting, so please do come and check us out in our completed state!


Look forward to seeing you all!


The Most Fabulous of Aprils.

Mon, 2nd May 2011     

The Fabulous Month of April

April 2011 must have been the most delightful month ever as the weather was sublime, the sun shone with real warmth, the spring flowers were magnificent and I had the good fortune of escaping work on a number of occasions.


And so it is that I am going to tell you about one of my all time favourite places in the world to escape to!


Where does the path lead?

This loction is nearing the top of my list in the ‘blissfully peaceful’ holiday escapes – and is really a secret I should keep, for I love the quietness it affords!

Perched high up in the Tuscan Hills in the midst of an olive grove is a tiny hamlet of rustic stone houses named Peralta. Once owned by the renowned Sculptor, Fiore de Henriquez, whose work is still all over the hamlet, the place has an atmosphere of such serenity and tranquillity that one feels they are enjoying a tiny slice of heaven.


The scent of wisteria perfumes the terraces…..

When Fiore died a number of years ago, she left the hamlet to her lover, who has made the various houses available for holiday let. They are wonderful for she has left them as they were when Fiore lived there – full of original artwork and nostaglic pieces.


Sculptures lurking amongst the houses…. some hidden by vines and flower pots….

It is a popular place for artists – for inspiration is abounding. Equally do families recline on the endless terraces filling the air with hilarity and fun, whilst couples smooch on the hidden balconies. It is the type of place that if one longs for breathtaking beauty combined with authentic rustic Italian living, paradise could not be better.


I had the good fortune of being with a large group of my family on this occasion and what a ball we had. Making the treacherous trip down the hillside every day to the little village below, we filled our baskets with fresh produce from the local market and speciality shops. And yes, cheese of course was high on my list!


The cheeses were tantalising !


The precision of this butcher shop expemplary..


and the chocolate shop …well nothing short of teasingly colourful.

One afternoon whilst napping in the sun and enjoying the ambience, a poem by Wordsworth came to me.

Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes

While in a grove I sat reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What Man has made of Man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And 'tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure –

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature's holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What Man has made of Man?

  • William Wordsworth

Why is it that when one is surrounded by beauty a certain sadness can wash over the mind and soul? Maybe the perfection of nature contrasted with that of the imperfection of man is made more obvious. These ponderings don’t usually come to mind, for in the hustle and bustle of city life there is not the time to muse and and become deeply philosophical about life to such a degree, but in such a place they meander their way into ones consciousness.


Looking out to the sunset, over the valley and out to sea.

I also had plenty of time to muse about Italian fashion and especially shoes! However, I must report that due to the fact that my husband stuck to me like glue whenever a shoe shop came into view, with that typical quip,

‘Do you really need more shoes?’ I came home shoeless.

What a travesty – for the shoes were mouthwateringly gorgeous!


MMMmmmm… blue – one of my favourite colours!

Luckily I was able to shake him off on a number of occasions when it came to handbags!

(He has never cottoned on to my love of handbags, so I was quite safe. And no ladies, I know exactly what you are thinking – he doesn’t read my blogs for they are a whole pile of twaddle as far as he is concerned, so he will be none the wiser!)

Of course Italy wouldn’t be Italy without its remarkable works of art.

– from the sublime -



Michelangelo's "David"

To the even more sublime !!!!!


O.k….I'll be fair and show you the woman as well !


Don't you just love her!


…and I thought my bottom was big!!!


In contrast to the Tuscan hills, a fabulous Easter was spent at the country house of some friends in the gentle rolling hills of Kent…….


Buttons and Bertie trundling along the afternoon sun..happy to amble about until a rabbit came into view!


Lydia and her Dad, Richard

The beauty was soft and with a certain gentleness that is immensely relaxing.

Whilst I am a city girl at heart, there is nothing like the vision of greenness to calm the most hectic of lives.

And as for the bluebells – divine.


Perfection personified, for the colour and daintiness of each tiny bloom is so alluring.


Now..this took a bit to get such a composed pose!


I will leave you with another spring poem that I read for the first time the other day, how it made me laugh for it sums up modern life and man far more readily than those romantic lines of Wordsworth.



Spring Observations



Green slipped out from under the white

Splashed in early other colours,

And gave up lambs, who

Bleated tirelessly on the subject.



Screams from the nearby park

Told of newly playful children, with

Bleary fathers; clattering mothers,

Undersense befuddled by a perfume –

It was the budding blossom.



And younger men perked up at

Early bosoms once again parading –

More blossom – audacious blooms:

Sexual selection back on stage.



It was happening with the birds,

Only there was more decorum,

More order – a greater sense of purpose;

Unwitting duty.



I turned over the soil – warming

Under the cautious sun –

Yellow still nubile,

Though coping with its shyness.



My first beads of sweat were oddly ambivalent:

Surging vigour forcing out the

Stubborn winter indolence.



Inside, a warming smile worked

Up towards my mouth, lips, eyes.

The kitchen window rattled:

Lunch was ready.




Daffs in my garden!

And so it is that with my thoughts wandering to Spring and the pleasures of the countryside, not to mention flowers blooming with all their wonderful hues, I actually sit in the midst of my busy workshop late on Monday afternoon tapping away on the computer, with the sound of sewing machines humming around me.

There has been no rest here this weekend, despite the holidays. Too many weddings and events that need special dresses made for us to sit on our laurels and dream of blissful quiet days in the sun. And right now, to be honest, I am  enjoying the production of all these gorgeous dresses and the fact that they will be winging there way around the world to be worn at all sorts of special occasions – Just wish I could see them all on you!!


An elegant creation of teal patterned, very soft silk chiffon draped over an even softer silk lining. Feels like you are barely wearing anything!

Enjoy the spring ladies, and enjoy all these scrumptious spring clothes.

And I will stop musing about life and get back to sewing on buttons!


There is nothing like a little black dress for a touch of elegance!

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