General Life Comments

Colour and Smiles

Sun, 2nd Mar 2014     

 

Splashes of Colour

 

Sunshine

 

and Smiles of Happiness! 

 

Feb Blog 9 2014

(Kate looking stunning in a gorgeous Italian floral silk)

 

There’s a tiny hint of spring in the air – I can feel it – that smidge of warmth in the sunshine, the longer days, the crocuses are up and looking stunning! Oh how it makes me zing with life, there’s a spring in my step and optimism reigns – it makes me feel happy!

 

Feb-blog-12-2014 (My favourite little local greengrocer, Two Peas in a Pod, which always look a picture of artist preciseness. Today the shop was overflowing with daffadils.)

February went by in a blur of activity. What with one thing and another it has been and gone. New fabrics galore were delivered to the studio – sumptuous, luxurious silks, fresh crisp cottons and some truly sexy patterned jerseys. The sewing machines have been whirring away non stop as we get ready to bring you the new Spring/ Summer collection 2014. And what a collection it will be. Beautiful wedding wear, glorious day wear, original holiday outfits and tops and jackets that will take you from work to evening. We have the lot!

 

Feb-blog-16-2014

Check out the Newspage for all the latest news on the Teddington Wedding Fair and our latest wedding wear!

Feb-blog-14-2014

(Kate in  our new 1950′s retro dress with lace collars and cuffs. This dress has nearly sold out already and hasn’t even hit our website yet)

 

I must introduce you to Sian, my new assistant, who many of you have already met whilst visiting the studio. Sian has a fabulous eye for clothes, loves dressing the curvy girl and is a whizz when it comes to keeping all the social media side of things going for Carolyn de la Drapiere. Personally I am not into keeping up with facebook, twitter, instagram and every other thing going – yes I know it shows my age, and I am admitting total ignorance, and I’m being a real bore, but I’m just not into it. So Sian is my new social media queen and asks that you please like us (love us!) on facebook and follow us on twitter and keep an eye on us in instagram and pin us on pinterest, not to mention keeping up with tumbir, snapchat and kik.

Quite frankly it’s just all too much for me. A bit like selfies and onesies and all the other ‘ies’ that seem to be flying around these days. I did attempt a selfie on the way to the New Zealand ball at the Dorchester earlier in February. I was told it was the done thing to do – take a selfie and tweet it. Didn’t quite get around to the tweeting as I keep forgetting how to get into my twitter account – yes, I know – completely useless. Will leave all this kind of stuff to Sian.

 

feb-blog-17-2014 (A gorgeous pic of Sian who is also a model)

 

 

One of the bits of excitement for February was the sensational news that one of our beautiful dresses went to dinner with President Obama at the White House. (And with President Hollande – I whisper that bit quietly!) Ms Rachel Lavine rang our studio from New York on Monday the third of February, desiring the “Dancing With You” dress in a long, floor length version, to be delivered to her in the United States by Friday the seventh of February. She sent her measurements as requested and the girls in the workroom flew into action to get the dress made. Thursday morning saw the dress carefully packaged and ready to fly overnight to Rachel. Friday morning, New York time she had the dress as requested. What fun we had making it. And even more fun was seeing the pics of her looking gorgeous at the White House attending the dinner!

I must also show you a gorgeous photo of Claire Boughton-Tucker, who wore the very same dress last year for her wedding. Claire looks equally beautiful and totally stunning in this soft, drapey creation of double silks accompanied with the matching French brocade jacket.

 

Feb-blog-18-2014

 (Rachel Lavine with her partner at the White House)

Feb Blog Claire - 2014

 (Claire Boughton – Tucker on her wedding day)

 Feb Blog 20 2014

(Oh how gorgeous is Claire! She looks a complete dream. )

 

I recently spent a truly fabulous evening chatting with a very dear friend of mine, and the conversation turned to the topic of ‘barriers’ that we as humans build up around ourselves to protect us from different aspects of life and from what I suspect is nothing short of ‘fear’. I hadn’t really contemplated it before to such a level, so was fascinating thinking about and indeed discussing what barriers we have in relation to different aspects of our life.

On a personal level us old humans have the full spectrum, from fear of failure, fear of making mistakes, fear of rejection, fear of hurt, fear of letting go, to even crazy things which would enhance our lives, such as fear of true happiness, fear of success, fear of love and so on. All these fears mean we are creating barriers that enable us to avoid the fear, therefore determining how we behave, what decisions we make and how we live our lives.

 The day after this rather thought provoking conversation I was back at work with a lovely group of customers in the studio and it hit me that we as women have barriers in place in regards to what we wear and the clothes we choose to be seen in. Maybe it stems from a fear of looking fat, a fear of standing out too much, a fear of being seen as different, a fear of being laughed at. So the barriers go up and before we know it, there are rules we have created for ourselves in regards to our dress.

 Feb-blog-4-2014

( The studio this morning – often referred to by customers as a ‘dressing up box for grown up girls! – such fun it is to try clothes on in a relaxed environment.)

 

Let me give you a few examples of barriers that I commonly see. ‘I wont wear dresses, only trousers. I wont wear colour, only black. I wont wear shaped clothes – only clothes that wont touch my body. I wont wear anything patterned, I wont wear this or that’ and the list goes on. 

Some of the fears are of course valid, as we do know what we look fabulous in and what looks dreadful, however sometimes dare I say it – I can’t help but think we need to risk it a bit and let the barriers go down, even a little and at least try something that may enhance our look, make us smile and our lives all the more happier for giving something a go.

And yes, whilst I don’t really have the barriers around me when it comes to clothes and how I dress, I certainly have some in regards to other aspects of my life. So since that very thought provoking conversation, I have realised it is more than time I started to let go of them. It would certainly mean that life was all the more enhanced and a greater chance of happiness possible! 

I bet you’ve all got a few as well, my dear curvy readers – We just wouldn’t be human if there weren’t some barriers lurking somewhere in the depths of our minds – Maybe Spring is a good time to expel a few!!

(And a good time to learn how to take a decent selfie and tweet!)

 

feb-blog-7-2014

( Ready to go to the ball  -  selfies always look slightly abnormal don’t you reckon? – big head and googly eyes!)

 

I’ll leave you with a little hilarious tale of an evening of jazz.

As you know I love a little jazz – So last Saturday evening, my very ‘rock chic’  friend, Susan and I decided to go the Bulls Head in Barnes for a little jazz and to check out the local scene. Now the Bulls Head is known as one of the few hidden jazz secrets in London and can be a really happening place, so we were expecting a jolly good evening.  We arrived to find quite a large group of elderly men gathered about outside and I whispered to Susan that I hoped it wasn’t just full of old fellows. She assured me that a young, cool looking dude was at the door, so in we went. Once our eyes got accustomed to the darkness it soon became very apparent, that yes indeed, it was packed to the hilt of very old fellows, the youngest probably being around the 70yr mark. How we laughed and laughed as we sneaked into a corner, rather conspicuous with both age and gender! Talk about being the odd ones out! It was the equivalent of finding a couple of Chelsea Pensioners at a cupcake decorating Hen’s do in Brighton! Still we had a jolly good evening hiding in the corner, for there really is nothing as good as the very sexy saxaphone and Peter King is certainly a master. Regarded as one of the best he sure did have a loyal following – albeit an ancient male one! 

And hey, we shut our eyes, sat back and relaxed and could easily have been in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, or the cool east side of Berlin with the young and trendy, or even New Orleans where its about as authentic as you can get. Jazz is jazz and we loved it!

Febblog17-2014

 

Ladies, Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for  our new Spring / Summer collection and if you want to get a head start and order a piece before anyone else – do  pop in and see us in the studio! We have some totally amazing clothes that will make you feel unbelievably fabulous – for as you know there is nothing like being wrapped in the softest, drapiest silk that slithers on and makes one feel like they are wearing virtually nothing – so light and delicate is it! 

Oh how a beautiful silk makes me smile….. along with fabulous colour, good design and of course a generous splash of sunshine! 

The New Year.

Wed, 29th Jan 2014     

 

- 2014 - 

 

A blank Canvas 

 

Jan-blog-2014

(What do you dream of wearing this year?) 

 

We’re off and running again girls – it’s a New Year with hopes, dreams and plans aplenty!

 

We just get cosily settled into one year, then before we know it, it’s over and we find ourselves hurled into yet another new beginning with challenges abounding – new work projects starting, gorgeous new fashions to wear, new technology to master, new films to see, shows to go to and literally so many other new things that the mind buzzes with all the fabulous, wonderful prospects that life and people bring with it.

 

I love the new year. It has certain optimism about it. We can put behind us all the things we didn’t like about the previous year and just move on. Last year was a toughie – so I’m glad it is over and gone. This new year has a ring about it.  I’ve learnt to live in the moment and enjoy every morsel of pleasure that comes my way. Savour those minutes when one laughs at life and the world, when the people you care for most are around you, when you have the time for the glorious, heavenly little things that you just love and those moments when you can sit back, relax and feel good about the day you have just lived.

 

jan-blog6-2014

(The gorgeous colour of a January evening in Whitstable)

 

This morning as I walked to work, I passed a funeral at the church across the road. It made me realise once again how fast life whips by, how precious every day is and how all too quickly it is over and gone and we are under a pile of flowers, rather than happily being amongst them devouring their scent and reflecting on their vibrancy.

 

jan-blog9-2014

(The colours of summer – oh how I dream of them now!)

 

So how to fit it all in? This wonderful, whacky life we live.

Be a little unpredictable on the odd occasion – use your imagination to step out of the box you reside in and do something different. Be selective – with people, places and things!  Be positive and buzz with life, grab opportunities, take risks, and laugh uncontrollably, try new things, and don’t hold back on taking the good and leaving the bad.

 jan-blog-13-2014

(My proud Mum showing me off – How do we get so old so fast? Where do the years go?)

 

In the world of fashion what is new for 2014? Fabrics ladies – weird and wonderful fabrics – there are new ones that feel like spongy rubber and make one look at least a size bigger, others that are molded and require steam to give them shape rather than a sewing machine, others that feel a little slimy. I recently went to a fabric supplier and was somewhat surprised by the new selection on offer. I seriously thought I was looking at yoga mat fabric rather than dress fabric and something that resembled slugs rather than a sexy silk. Not to be caught in the past, however, I bought at little of each to experiment with – watch out for our Autumn / Winter collections later this year when they will make a grand entrance!

 

Jan-blog11-2014

(One of the key colours for 2014 – Royal blue)

 

The colours to be seen everywhere this year are glorious. Blues that resemble a perfect summer sky. Oranges that burn with warmth and greens that are both light and flirty, deep and saucy! How I love them all. And then there is, as always, plenty of room for individuality and for showing your own personality for that is what most women over the age of 20 enjoy more than anything when it comes to dressing – that is being creative and dressing for themselves!

 There is always that argument – do women dress for men or for other women?

A tricky one of course, however, when pushed for an answer I always maintain that a woman, who is confident and knows her own style, dresses for no-one but herself.  What feels good on a particular day that expresses her inner personality is paramount, and then being able to pursue that style and enjoy it regardless of trends, what your friends are wearing or indeed what the world dictates you wear!

 

Jan-blog3-2014

 (Our purple metallic jacket over a black silk bias cut dress – a very slinky look)

 

I love dressing women who have this strong sense of their own style, who know what looks fabulous on them and who enjoy showing off their feminine curves in a subtle sexy way.

What will you be wearing this year my dear curvy readers? – Have you got plans for special events that need that very special outfit? Your wedding perhaps? – The most important dress of your whole life. Or are you the mother of the bride or groom and need a truly fabulous outfit to celebrate the great day in? Maybe it is a starry charity ball, the graduation of someone dear, a christening of your darling child or grandchild or a festive celebratory party? And then of course there are the races to dress for,  flower shows, rowing regattas and any number of other things on the social calendar that all need something wonderful!

 Jan-blog4-2014

 (In the studio trying on clothes)

 

As for me, well, I find myself starting the New Year off with the annual New Zealand ball at the Dorchester. Ooohhh what fun it will be. A new red evening gown that hugs the curves and fits like a glove,  A gorgeous hot date that is already making my heart flutter and an evening of dancing to the best New Zealand bands in existence! (True – there are a few!)

 

 

Jan-blog12-2014

(Tea at the Dorchester – what a treat!)

 

Have a super year my dear curvy readers. May it be a fabulous twelve months with lots of special times and memorable events and fun, laughter and love! 

And dresses of course – lots and lots of amazing dresses for all of us!!

 Happy New Year from me to you!

love Carolyn xx 

 Jan-blog2-2014

 (Chocolates ah la Drapiere!!)

 

Christmas is here….

Mon, 23rd Dec 2013     

 

Christmas Is Here!

 

dec-15-blog-2013

 

Ooh la la…… It’s Christmas again my dear curvy girls and if you are like me, you will all be feeling a little wilted with sheer exhaustion from too many parties, too many mince pies and altogether too much fun!

 

Dec-blog-12-2013 (An evening at the studio before Christmas. Had to chuckle at Cath and Stacy behind me – looks like they are having a good old gossip?!)

 

How does it all come around so quickly? It seems like only yesterday that we were frolicking about in that glorious sunshine of summer and the next thing we know – the mulled wine is brewing, the days are dark before we’ve had time to digest our lunch and all the old carols are being played ad nauseum on the radio.

 dec-12-blog-2013(These lovely antique dogs at Petersham Nursuries – a fabulous place to visit before Christmas. Some dear friends and I had a giggly afternoon tea there a couple of weeks ago and were nearly locked in – so long did we stay!)

 

But let’s face it – we love it! We love the mad whirlwind of drinks parties with this group and that group and office do’s and Winter balls and Christmas concerts and Nativity plays and all the other palava that Christmas brings with it. I love getting together with all the girls and swapping little gifts, along with tips for Christmas lunch, gossip about the old relatives, giggles of past events and plans for the New Year.

Oh it is a fabulous time of year….. All the party frocks come out, the sky-scraper heels and fabulous coats – along with someone, of which there is always one, that has once again donned their terrible flashing Christmas earrings that drives everyone else bananas.

 

dec-2013-9-blog

(Three of our starry dressmakers – Edyta, Ewa and Ingrid, surprised me by arriving at our staff Christmas party wearing identical dresses that they had secretly made! – Very nice they were too – sparkly red lurex – How I laughed!)

 

So frequent were the parties this year that I must admit to wearing my favourite red party dress out four nights in a row in one run of events! And to answer your questions – yes – it was washed between wearings. And no – there were not the same people at each event, so the same lot of people didn’t have to see me in it four nights in a row!

Phew- you all say!! BUT, I was so tired on the last evening, that I nearly wore it to bed!!

 

At Carolyn de la Drapiere, we started the festive season off with a very jovial Christmas party in the studio! With a casual invitation to drop in for drinks, we had a fabulous group of women (and a few brave men) descend on Studio 6 for a good old tipple of Prosecco and some rather delicious nibblies. Plenty of laughter abounded as we played a rather saucy game of ‘feel the fabric’ (I’ll leave you guessing as to what that entailed!!) Talk about merriment though throughout!

 

dec-19-blog-2013

(Getting ready for the game!)

dec-17-blog-2013

(Thinking carefully about answers!)

dec-14-blog-2013

(checking out some Italian Silk – with a stunning Monet style design! – Shelagh, Debbie and Kim)

dec-16-blog-2013

(Trying on some clothes – Tania – with Mary looking on!)

 

Another highlight of the social whirl was a party at the top of the Shard….. that was more of a cool, sophisticated affair – No flashing earrings to be seen at this venue! The women were all beautifully draped in silk and the men in smart suits – very nice I must say! I even managed to sneak off and snap a pic out the window of Tower bridge!

 Dec-2013-a

 (London Bridge from the top of the Shard)

 

Favourite show of the month was Slav’s Snowshow at the Royal Festival Hall…. what an original, weird, wacky performance that was. I absolutely loved it – Clowns and snow basically melded together in magical, dreamlike fusion of overwhelmingly imaginative theatre.

To quote Slava – ‘The show is one which helps spectators be released from the jail of adulthood and rediscover their forgotten childhood’

Oh if only we could all do that more often! There is nothing so wonderful as capturing that joyous childish spirit!

 dec-2013-blog-8

 (Slav’s clowns!)

 

And so to my top 10 favourite things about Christmas….

 

In no particular order for this year they are -

* Trumpets – a definite must for that Christmas Carol finale.

*Mistletoe – to kiss under of course.

*Santa hats for the really mad Christmas party.

*’In a bleak Mid Winter’- Christmas Carol – sung by a boys choir.

*Candles – beautiful scented ones.

*Family and friends all celebrating together.

*Little white fairy lights – all over trees, houses, shrubs and just everywhere.

*Big roaring fires, roast dinners and hot apple cider…….

and of course

‘The 12 days of Christmas’ sung with actions!

 

dec-blog-6-2013

(The twelve ‘knits’ of Christmas in the local knitting shop!)

 

What are your top 10 favourite things this Christmas? I would love to hear?

 

I hope you have survived it all dear readers and like me you are having some time off to relax, chillout and take it easy for a few days before the New Year starts again with much gusto and kick!

And as for the red dress I wore all December – it was a very sensuous red version of ‘ Whispers of Seduction’ a totally fabulous dress to look smart in, wine and dine in, and dance the night away in! If you have one of our dresses that you just love and would like in another colour or fabric, remember you can always call and we’ll have it whipped up for you in no time!

 Dec-2013-7-Blog

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!

– From me and the clowns in Slav’s Snowshow!!

 

November Thrills !

Thu, 28th Nov 2013     

 

November Thrills….

 

DSC_1390
 ( It was all too much for Buttons!)

 

Well, well, what a riotous month November has turned out to be! Talk about a month packed to the hilt with enough surprises and excitement to last me an entire year! And what with having to pull out all our winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves we really are well on our way to the Christmas build up that finishes the year off with such flourish and fun!

 November blog 10 2013(Ice skating at the Natural History Museum)

 

My first thrill of the month was capturing a photo I have never quite been able to get!

And before you think I am completely nuts let me explain!

 I  have this secret little passion for attempting to photograph London at night – when I can’t help but feel this magnificent city is at it’s prettiest. And thus it was that I got a pic I have been trying to get for years.

I attended a mad Halloween / Guy Fawkes Party in the Penthouse of New Zealand House. It is one of the little perks of being a New Zealander living in London, for the parties in the Penthouse are always great fun – lots of crazy Kiwis singing, dancing and more importantly enjoying good old New Zealand wines!

The real allure though is the view! True!

The New Zealand Embassy is in central London and has a magical, uninterrupted 360 degree view of the city. Being able to walk around the entire roof at the top of the building and peer down on London is a treat not to be missed!

Every time I have been up on that roof I have taken a series of pictures on my little camera that have never been quite right – a bit blurry or the lighting is all wrong. I am no professional, so it is all a bit hit and miss really. This time though – I came close to getting ‘The One’, so couldn’t resist sharing it with you!

 Click on it to enlarge!

 November-blog-2013

 (Here’s my pic looking down on Trafalgar Square. And please, if you are a photographer, resist the temptation to tell me I need a better camera – I know and have sent a letter to Santa requesting one!!) 

 

Being a designer for curvy women, I always try to do my bit for Womens’ charities and especially Curvy Girl Charity events.

 

November-blog-8-2013

 

This past weekend therefore found me sponsoring the ‘Plus Size International Beauty Pageant’. What a hoot it was. Peels of laughter and giggles could be heard all through the dressing room, as the 20 finalists dressed and got ready for the big event. There were more fake tans and fake hair extensions flying about, not to mention cans of hairspray being emptied, than I think I have ever experienced before in one place! What fun it was as everyone had hair and make-up done – the good humour, the cheeky banter and the air of competition.

 

November-blog4-2013

(Sian Yapp looking stunning in a fabulous fitted gown)

 

November-blog5-2013

What a treat it was dressing six girls in evening gowns for the final round of the competition. Going with a sequin theme that is so popular this Christmas the girls sparkled and twinkled as they hit the runway!

November-blog7-2013

(All looking gorgeous!)

And so it is that November is quickly making way for the Christmas festivities that are ready to start any day. I know you are partying hard this year girls, for the number of amazing dresses we have made is more than ever. Evening gowns in lace, cocktail dresses in silk and party frocks in sequins. The colours, styles and designs are stunning and I wish you all a huge amount of fun as you dazzle your way into those upcoming events! 

As for me, I’ve had a few little original outfits whipped up for myself to wear for the festive season – very exciting!

And oh yes – I’ll let you in on my next photographic aim. I have always fancied snapping London and the Thames from the middle of as many London Bridges as possible – nothing prettier than the lights reflecting on the water and the uninterrupted ethereal views – especially if there is a little magical mist about!

********************

p.s. Happy Thanksgiving to all my dear American friends and family. I hope you have a super day celebrating with all your families! Knowing you all – I can imagine your ovens have been whirring away in overdrive with all those magnificent pies and delectables you have no doubt been conjuring up!

 And just so you don’t think I have been totally slack, I whipped up a magnificent apple pie myself on the weekend, full of sultanas, cinnamon and a few other secret ingredients -all with my own special pie crust – just to keep my hand in on the baking front!  Time perhaps we did some more recipe swaps!

Mmmm……xx

Spring Treats

Wed, 17th Apr 2013     

Naughty Little Pleasures!

Spring Treats

 

That title will make you smile – for we all have them.
The little things that make us giggle and feel alive and mischievous.
They are of course always slightly naughty – for on the whole, they are very indulgent and completely wicked!

chocolates

That hand dipped chocolate truffle from La Maison Du Chocolat,
or a sliver of Bleu d’Auvergne – one of those succulent soft cheeses that just melt in your mouth.

Or perhaps a glass of one’s favourite champagne,
or an hour in a hot, steamy bubble bath.

Or an afternoon off work to go shoe shopping instead of slaving away in the office writing reports….and then succumbing to a pair of Jimmy Choos, when the budget was for a pair of Clarks.
Oh, the list could go on and on.

jimmy choos

 Delectable shoes from Jimmy Choo!

Right now, the greatest treat I find myself wanting to soak up and enjoy is the sunshine.

Every time a ray peeks out from behind a cloud, I race out for a walk with the dogs, trying to get as much sun as possible in case it disappears for yet another month.

How we’ve survived this infernal winter I have no idea. I reckon we could count on one hand the number of days when the sun has been out for a full 8 hours this year.
Not good, let me tell you, for a Kiwi girl with a love of long hot days and sunshine. I swear, I have never looked so anemic in my life and were I to hit the shores of my homeland right now, I fear the shock of my pallor would be misconstrued as illness.

Manly beach

Manly Beach Sydney – My home down under!

Last weekend, the sun came out, and not to miss one single ray of it, I skipped out, with a friend to one of our favourite spots on the outskirts of London – Petersham Nurseries. (Just on the Thames near Richmond) A place of flowers, heady fragrances, lazy afternoon teas and exotic cakes – a place, in other words to indulge in some of those wicked little pleasures!

blog---petersham-nursery--plants1--2013

I love the colour of these primroses – pink merging with lemon – Very scrumptuous!

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Flowers mixed with ornate chandeliers and rusty old mirrors -Fabulous!

For those who have been there I do not need to tell of it’s allure – of it’s magical old glasshouses, that exude a rustic charm and arty appeal. Of ginormous antique pots filled with deep cream narcissus whose fragrance fills the room with a heavenly aroma. The beautiful cafe with it’s tin tables and delectable fresh food and the wonderful selection of potted plants and flowers and other fabulous bits and pieces for sale, set in such a stylish display as to tempt even the non plant lovers.

blog---petersham-nursery--glasshouse2--2013

A glasshouse filled with antiques and plants! 

Lucy and I indulged in a fabulous tea – she had Victoria sponge oozing fresh cream and jam and layered in strawberries and edible purple pansies. Not being able to eat wheat, I tickled my taste buds with a grilled aubergine and feta salad which was both delicate and decadent all at the same time. The colours of both dishes were a feast in themselves with vibrant pinks and reds and greens; many ingredients coming straight from the very gardens and hothouses around us.

blog---petersham-nursery--cake--2013

Mmmm, jam and cream with strawberries and pansies.

It got us talking about colours and nature and what hues go together

and why we don’t wear such vibrant colour combinations as are found in plants. Why do we as humans tend to go for muted tones or dark shades, especially in the long cold months.

Walk down Oxford street in the middle of winter and the crowds of people merge into one big blur of grey sludge and then wow – right in the middle you will spot a brave soul in a hot pink fuchsia coat. She’ll stand out and look amazing.

blog---petersham-nursery--plants3--2013

I love pink hydrangeas.. and white ones.. and for that matter, purple as well!

 

So my dear curvy readers – my old challenge for you once again…. make one of your special little treats this spring be something bright and colourful – I dare you! Wear something different, something you haven’t contemplated before, something that will bring a bounce to your step!

 Perhaps a fabulous vibrant blue or fiery red dress, a tropical tangerine top, a lustful lemon scarf or an intense green pair of shoes!
(Do such shoes exist?) Time to break out of winter and get in the groove – spring is here and with it comes colour!

Summer-2012-red-retro-dress-melissa

Kick up your heels in something new! – One of our splendid 1950′s dresses.

And as for all those other ‘naughty little pleasures’ this spring – well enjoy! I am not about to share what mine are, so I hardly expect you will divulge yours either !!!

Question mark

p.s – and no, don’t worry, we wont be measuring those indulgences next time you come in for a fitting! 

But then again, we might just have to!!

p.s.s For Petersham Nurseries check out their website at http://www.petershamnurseries.com

Hello to 2013

Thu, 10th Jan 2013     

 

 

A New Year

 

A New You

 

A New Me!

 

London Eye - New Years Eve 2013

(Fireworks around the London Eye)

 

Phew – we've all survived Christmas for another year. What a palava it is – with all the parties, the madness of last minute shopping, the excesses of too much food and alcohol and frivolity, the family dramas, the sadness of not being with family and friends that are no longer here, or live in other parts of the world. Love it or loathe it, Christmas is a time to get through – and hopefully dear readers, you are still all in one piece and have sailed through ready to face the new year.


 

Christmas-2012a

(Getting waylaid with some of my staff on the way to our Christmas party!)

 

 

I've somehow managed to hang in there. What with an over abundance of parties to attend, I was more than happy to have a quiet family Christmas tucked away in a little cottage by the sea, where many an hour was spent on bracing walks with the dogs along coastal paths battling gale force winds and non stop rain, and even more happy hours were spent in the local pubs whittling away many an afternoon by the fire with a stiff drink and a laugh with the locals.

 


In the pub!

(Into the pub for a lazy afternoon!)

 

 

Christmas brings a certain poignancy with it as well, for one cannot help but reflect on the year that is ending and the new one that is about to start. Come the end of the year I, like most people I think, always give myself a bit of a self assessment of achievements that have been accomplished and goals that have been reached. Being a highly driven, always on the go type of soul, I can't help but look back and wonder how much more I could have fitted into the year and what I could have done differently to have made my life and work better.


On reflecting over the past year, the word 'courage' kept coming to mind. Take the glorious year that Britain had with both the Olympics and the Golden Jubilee. The courage of all those athletes to dedicate their lives to their chosen sport, not knowing for years whether they would succeed or fail. To move out of their comfort zones and to push themselves to the very limits of training and discipline in their goal to succeed. Some excelled with medals and some went home with nothing, but they all had the courage to get out there and try their very best.


 

Olympics

(The thrill of the Olympics!)

 

 

The Golden Jubilee likewise celebrated the reign of another woman of great courage – HM Queen Elizabeth the Second. I had always thought of her merely as a dedicated woman, committed to her role within the country, until I had a conversation with an elderly lady who spoke of the immense courage the Queen has had throughout her life, to rise to the role in which she was thrust, through no choice of her own, and to make it successful. To also have the courage to face criticism on a daily basis for the little things – how she acted, what she wore and what she said. For making decisions on how to be seen to be acting through a recession, how to behave through an era of great technological advancement, and so the list goes on. So easy would it have been on many occasions for her to bury her head in the sand and hide.


The Queen in blue

(Looking gorgeous in blue!)

 

It all got me thinking – of how those in life that are successful and fulfilled are often the ones that have had the courage to take risks – be they big or small. Maybe they have had to go out on a limb and risk everything to achieve their goal, or have had to face criticism from contemporaries and family, or maybe they have had to overcome an immense fear and face dreadful uncertainty in their aim for something better. Maybe they have just had to make really difficult decisions. It can be scary of course at times to strive for success and real happiness in work and our personal lives – but the rewards are there waiting.

 

overcoming obstacles big and small

(Climbing the impossible mountain!)

 

Believe it or not, I regularly meet courageous women who come to the studio for clothes and face 'clothes fears' head on.. Let me give you an example. It is remarkable how many girls face fears about wearing a dress. They receive an invitation to attend a wedding and not having worn a dress for years, decide to throw out their trousers for a day and don a dress for the special occasion. I have yet to meet a woman who has done this and who has regretted it. It is amazing how many women have not worn dresses for ten, twenty, thirty years.

 

One lady recently had a dress made for a wedding she was attending a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time she had put on a dress and shown her ankles since her own wedding twenty eight years ago. After the event she wrote me a card to say that she was so glad she'd had the courage to ditch the trousers for the day and wear a dress. In fact, she had had so many glowing comments and so much attention, that she had not wanted to take it off and had considered wearing it the next day to work! 

 

 

Melissa-in-Cream-and-Blue

(Not sure I will be ditching these trousers this spring – they are heavenly – made from a double crepe silk – ultimate luxury in trousers!)

 

 

So ladies, I challenge you all to summon up a little courage this year – for that is indeed what I plan to do. To try something new, be adventurous, make hard decisions, take risks, put aside fears and hesitancies which hinder and to move forward in life. Nothing like a courageous spirit to sail into the new year with!

 

Carolyn-Autumn-studio-22

(Looking incredibly demure in green – a colour I have never worn before, but thought I would try.

 Worn with an old vintage necklace- not sure if the whole look is me or not – but there's nothing like trying something different!)

 

Keep your eyes peeled on our website this year, for we have lots of fabulous fashion shows and events coming up which will be packed with great fun, gorgeous girls and of course heavenly clothes!


Here's to looking and feeling fantastic in 2013!

 

 

P.S.

Farewell to Mr Boffin

 

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 A few days before Christmas I had to say a very tearful good-bye to my dear old cat Mr Boffin. At the ripe old age of 20 his heart was getting a little dodgy and he was becoming feeble, so that terribly tough decision had to be made that it was time to say farewell.

 

He was a typical villain of a cat, sharpening his claws on the best pieces of furniture, rolling about on the laptop as I was working, sleeping on things that he shouldn't have been on. He had a habit of catching mice, bringing them into the house and letting them go under the bed – all in the middle of the night of course.

But my dear Boffy was an adorable cat who loved cuddles and snuggles and who purred loudly with pleasure. He made me laugh, he terrorised the dogs and he ruled the house in only a way that a cat can do. It is all horribly quiet now without him and I miss him enormously as only cat lovers will ever understand.

Buttons Meets Camilla

Sat, 16th Jun 2012     

 

 

 

The Day Buttons

 

 

Met Camilla

 

 

– Duchess of Cornwall.

 

 

 

Warning ladies, this is a dog blog – so if you are not partial to our furry little four legged friends, I would leave this blog here and now, before you shake your head in horror at this very trivial tale!

 

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(Buttons – My scruffy old dog!)

 

 

There are some days in life when one wakes up with no idea of what events will unfold. Sometimes these events are horrific, other times sad, sometimes joyful and other times just outright odd. This is an account of a very odd event.


It was Thursday the 14th of June. The day started as always with Buttons and I trotting off to work. The sun shone for the first time in weeks, so after our first customer who had popped in for a fitting left, Buttons and I headed out for a brisk walk along the Thames. We had 2 hours before a young lady was coming in to have her wedding dress designed.

 

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Buttons was full of enthusiasm so as always ran through as many mud puddles as possible, rolled in some smelly muck of an indescribable nature and all in all became a complete mess. We both felt jolly good being out in the sun with the wind whistling through our hair. As we headed back to work, we stopped off at the local butcher, a friendly fellow who knows my dogs well and who always keeps a special bag of assorted hip, knee and back bones which he saws up for Buttons and me to collect whenever we are passing by. Armed with a particularly mammoth bag of these gory bones, and feeling particularly ebullient from our invigorating walk we rounded the corner near our studio to find a little crowd gathering outside the church across the road.


Intrigued as to what was going on I inquired and discovered that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall was due to arrive at any moment to view the Jubilee Flower Show that was within. Well now, given the opportunity to view Camilla up close and personal aroused my curiosity so I decided I may as well join the few spectators who had gathered, and check her out.

 

Camilla-Blog-10

 

 

Buttons was rather whiffy, or maybe it was the slight abattoir smell emanating from the plastic bag – whatever it was we attracted the attention of the security men. They looked at Buttons with suspicion, obviously trying to think of some reason or another to move her on. In a very serious voice the head man inquired as to whether my dog would become excitable when the Duchess of Cornwall arrived. I replied with an equally authoritative voice that, unless Camilla had recently turned into a cat or a squirrel, there was very little chance of Buttons becoming excited in the least. He was not amused and walked off with an air of exasperation. Obviously he had drawn the short straw when it came to the morning's security jobs. A few old ladies with zimmer frames, a smelly dog and a couple of classrooms of local primary kids posed no threat whatsoever. His face gave it all away – he was dreaming of guarding the Duchess of Cambridge who evoked far more interest and passion with all sorts of excitement likely to take place. A dull day indeed for him.

 

Camilla-Blog-June-6

 

 

Camilla arrived, slid out of the car and headed straight for the old dears with the zimmer frames. They were overjoyed and enthusiastically shook hands and passed pleasantries, when all of a sudden it happened. The lady standing next to me started jumping up and down, yelling out for Camilla to come and shake her hand. I looked at her in horror – willing her to either shut up or disappear, but before I knew it Camilla turned and came over to this most exuberant woman. They shook hands whilst that sinking feeling washed over me that like it or not, I was next. Juggling the bag of bones and Buttons' dog leash I emptied my hand enough to politely shake and say hello, she smiled and scratched Buttons on the head inquiring as to what her name was.

 

Camilla-Blog-June-4

(Camilla – The Duchess of Cornwall meeting and greeting in Barnes)

 

“This is Buttons” I replied, looking down at my mud covered, terribly smelly dog.


“ Well, hello Buttons”, said the Duchess of Cornwall and continued to give Buttons a jolly good scratch. Looking back at me, she somewhat mumbled, “ Well I had better head into the church to see the flowers” and with that Camilla was off chatting to the school children as she went.

 

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(One of the displays in St Mary's Church – a horse covered in grass!)

 

I was overcome with this incredible desire to burst out laughing. The situation was worthy of bad comedy. I was only glad that the bones had not tumbled out in the muddle and that Buttons had not decided to jump on her with filthy paws. We had somehow got through intact!

 

Camilla-blog-June-2012

(Buttons at the scene of the excitement!)

 

And as for Camilla, well her cornflower coloured suit was lovely – well cut and obviously hand sewn, she was most unassuming and pleasant and had the air of someone who would really rather avoid such fuss. I could see she would much rather sneak into the church unnoticed to have a look at the displays within.

 

Camilla-Blog-June-3

(One of the displays in the church – Apparently this a floral version of the Queen's Coronation Dress – Great imagination needed! )

 

Buttons and I dashed back to work – a little late. Buttons happily collapsing on the terrace to gnaw on one of those delicious bones, completely unaware of the little odd event that had come our way.


And so it was that the day continued and little does she know that despite the mud and putrid odour she is one of the few scruffy labradoodles that have had the honour of having their head scratched by the future Queen of England!

 

Camilla-Blog-8-June--2012

( A royal Banquet – I wonder how many dogs are hiding under the table cloth? – I've heard it has happened on a number of occasions.)

 

For those of you who are planning on meeting the royals in a more formal, civilised fashion we have a number of lovely dresses you would look truly super in!

 

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P.S You may be happy to know that after work, Buttons had a bath, so that in the event that we happen upon any more royals she will not smell like Paddy McGinty's goat!

The Joy of June

Sat, 9th Jun 2012     

 

 

The Joyous Month of June

 

 

June-Blog

(My prize pink and lemon striped roses.)

 

June just happens to be my favourite month of the year. The weather is usually hot, there are flowers bursting forth with much gusto in gardens all over the countryside, roses are in full bloom (my all time favourite flower) and fetes, fairs and days filled with summer activities are a plenty.

 

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And this year there has been the Diamond Jubilee. What a weekend it has been of parties, festivities and rain!

 

June-Blog8

(I loved all the flags and bunting that adorned so many streets and houses – fabulous!)

 

Here at the studio the dressmakers have been sewing like crazy for weeks getting ready a host of bespoke dresses for garden parties, riverside lunches and evening dinners to mark this auspicious occasion.  We have had ladies attending marvellous events up and down the country, not to mention in London and on the river to celebrate the Queen’s sixty year reign. 

 

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(Queen Elizabeth II looking gorgeous!)

Did I attend any such events?  Well now, let me tell you about my own little adventure in seeing the Queen on Sunday as she sailed past on that most glorious barge – The Spirit of Chartwell.

 

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( The spirit of Chartwell – beautifully bedecked in flowers )

 

My Dad, being the fervent historian that he is, convinced me that it was an event I simply had to be part of. Such a spectacle had not been seen for 350years and unlikely to happen again this century, so be part of it I would! As no invitations had landed through my letterbox for a party on a riverside balcony or anything else as remotely luxurious, I was up bright and early on Sunday morning cooking a hearty breakfast and making a pile of sandwiches to get us all through the day – and what a fortunate foresight it was that I had prepared – for once jammed into those crowds it was impossible to move, and it turned into a very long day!

 

June-blog-27

( And the crowds went mad…)


Sunday the 3rd of June was cold, rainy and miserable. I found myself at Barnes station along with what can only be described as the rest of Barnes – kids, parents, grannies, pushchairs, picnics – all determined to get on a train. Alas the trains were jammed full as they rolled into the station…one after another packed to the rafters. In scenes reminiscent of time I spent in China in the late 1980’s a few people were shoved with much force onto a carriage – but the situation was impossible.

 

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(Packed to the rafters in China)

 

After hours of pushing and heaving the only solution was to catch a train in the opposite direction and go way back to the start of the line to then get on a train to go back into central London. Hours later I arrived at Waterloo station with my squashed sandwiches, having combated claustrophobic conditions, screaming children and irate people all exhausted at the mere travel into town.

 

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(Waterloo train station – was nearly impossible to move.)


More pushing and heaving went on for hours on the banks of the Thames – standing in the rain being shoved, trod on and squashed. But the mood was jovial, the camaraderie great as people all weathered the conditions for what seemed like an eternity. Friends were made, life stories swapped, laughter abounded as minutia filled the hours of waiting. Kids climbed trees and were hauled down by Bobbies on the beat, young men regaled stories of heroism in similar situations whilst swilling endless cans of beer, their stories getting bigger and better with each pint, women secretly whispered that their legs were getting tired, and old men peered through their binoculars at young ladies going past. Oh it was all happening.

 

june-blog-11

(Braving the rain….)

 

And then the boats at last came.  Some regal, some tiny, some rowed by men in costumes, and some by women in fancy dress – they all went past with great flourish and much aplomb. Bands played with great gusto and the crowds cheered.

 

June-blog24

 

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Suddenly, the mighty Chartwell appeared – it was breathtaking in real life – huge and impressive with its gold bow and flower decked tiers.  The Queen waved and we waved back and cheered and clapped. The hours of being squashed like sardines in a tin seemed like nothing. It was all worthwhile, just for those few minutes of seeing with ones own eyes the splendour of history in the making.

 

June-blog-22

(The queen resplendent in white.)

 

I will not bore you with details of the wet bedraggled trip home that took hours, nor of the battle it was to actually get off the train on my return to Barnes station – the feeling of being part of something great buoyed up the tiredness of the day.

 

June-blog-28

(Love the legs girls!)

 

On Monday, Barnes was a buzz with street parties. Ours was fabulous with the neighbours all cooking up a big barbeque and chatting for hours. The spirit of the day was evident with all the good humour, laughter, kids tearing about and lots of raucous singing.

 

june-blog13

(Despite the rain all the neighbours had a jolly good time!)

 

The women gossiped as always about what the royals had been wearing and I secretly lamented the fact that none of them were remotely near a size 14 and would therefore never need to pop into our studio for a dazzling new outfit!  The Queen, I have to say, looked fabulous. I loved her white sparkly outfit and hat and thought it suited her perfectly.

 

june-blog-12

(The Royals aboard the barge. Knitted by some very clever local knitters and spotted in my local knitting shop!)

 

 I can’t resist telling you about one neighbour who had a little too much to drink and insisted on singing at twice the volume of everyone else, completely out of tune and approximately three beats behind everyone else. I am sure you can picture the scene! It had us in a complete state of giggles just watching him for in general life he prides himself on being a very proper gentlemen who wouldn’t put a foot wrong, but yesterday, he seemed to be overwhelmed with the joie de vivre of the day and let go, much to the amusement of most of the neighbours!  

 

 

June-blog-30

(Whoops – hope it wasn't me that was tiddly and singing out of tune – by the look of this pic it could have been! – actually, I cut the fellow that was, out of the picture – he may not have like being identified!)

 

To end this fabulous weekend I would like to wish the Queen many more years of fabulous reign. (Not rain though – we need sunshine)

 

june-blog-29

 

So back to my love of June and all it entails. There will be bike rides and picnics along the river, a day at the races, lazy afternoons with friends soaking up the sun and  garden parties that make the most of the long warm evenings surrounded of course by all those fabulous sweet smelling roses.

  I love old fashioned roses – the big full blousy type that you can poke your nose right into and take a deep breath of a heady, almost honey fragrance. The bigger, frillier and more scented they are the better – with their velvety petals and depth of colour and character!  I have them in my garden climbing all over walls and fences, up trees – over gates – wherever takes their fancy. I’m not one for keeping roses under control for they remind me of women – the big bouncy ones who are vivacious, curvaceous and full of verve, making the most of opportunities and life! 

Nothing like doing the impossible ladies and climbing the odd tree – scaling an impossible wall and peeking over a gate!  Then again, just lazing in the sun and doing nothing is sometimes jolly good as well!

 

June-Blog2

 

Enjoy Summer ladies – and enjoy wearing all your gorgeous new clothes – I know you are all going to look stunning!

Vintage Fairs

Mon, 16th Jan 2012     

 

 

Clothes in Clerkenwell,


 

Handbags in Hammersmith,


 

Treasures in Chelsea,


 

Vintage Vanity !!

 

 


clerkenwell-blog-Hammersmith-hall-3


 

Ladies, as you know I love Vintage…. Vintage dresses, bags, shoes, hats, gloves, lace, buckles, haberdashery and above all – jewellery.

 

 

Clerkenwell-Blog---jewellery-2

 

 

For some reason, I like things that have had a long fascinating history and that have been worn and loved before. They may have seen aspects of life that I will never know about, eras that are now only portrayed in films or read about in books, or they may have been shut in a cupboard long forgotten, overjoyed to now be let loose on a new generation of admirers. These days many new items, be it furniture, clothes or accessories seem to have a somewhat mass produced feel to them – churned out in a hurried fashion, unless of course you are willing to pay a fortune! So the ‘old’ with its more detailed finishings, and careful construction I find very appealing.

 

 

clerkenwell-blog---Finsbury-Town-Hall.2jpg

 

 

And so it is that on the odd Sunday afternoon, when the urge hits for a good old rummage (more difficult in the winter time, as I have to tear myself away from dozing in front of the open fire,) you will find me browsing around in a Vintage Fair in some part of London, often deep in thought as the inspirational ideas come thick and fast, but always enjoying that elusive hunt for a fabulous brooch, or necklace, piece of lace or roll of ribbon that can be used on some amazing design. (Latest great find was an ancient bottle of assorted black covered buttons of all shapes, sizes and fabrics that had been cut off men’s coats – you’ll be surprised where they may turn up – sewn onto some new design!)


Who goes to vintage fairs you are wondering? Let me tell you!!


Lots of young trendy girls go, who, wanting to look different and quirky will pick up the most amazing dresses and accessories and put them together in a way that only the young can do and get away with. I am convinced that vintage fairs are every teenage girl’s dream – so much originality to be had and so many of them searching through the clothes and jewellery.

 

 

Clerkenwell-blog---jewellery

 

 

Celebrities and A list stars are a plenty – also wanting to find some amazing, distinctly different dress for the next event they are attending. I would love to divulge who I have seen rummaging, along with their stylist, for their next red carpet dress but a secret it shall remain!


Designers looking for new ideas from ironically old ideas, along with inspiration and perhaps vintage haberdashery like myself. The most amazing observation I made some time ago was a world-renowned menswear designer buying dainty rolls of lace! I have always wondered what he was going to do with it?

 

 

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Then there are lots and lots of women enjoying the hunt for something fun, something different and original to add to their wardrobes. Many men and women get dressed up from head to toe in their favourite ‘look’ be it the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s. It is always fun to people watch at vintage fairs!


There are perhaps 7 – 8 venues around London that hold such fairs, but here are my three favourites.



Clerkenwell…….

 

 

Clerkenwell-Blog-dates

 

clerkenwell-blog---Finsbury-Town-Hall


 

Held in the loveliest venue of all and my favourite – The Old Finsbury Town Hall. The stalls are varied and full of great stuff, make-up artists and hairstylists are on hand to create retro hair do’s. Smoochy old jazz sets a fabulous atmosphere and afternoon tea can be taken with lovely old-fashioned cakes and sweets all served on beautiful fine china. A real treat to attend, and one I try not to miss. Next event is on the 19th of February.

 

clerkenwell-blog

 

www.clerkenwellvintagefashionfair.co.uk


Easy to get to with Farringdon and Angel stations being the closest and about a 10minute walk.



Chelsea.

 

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Clerkenwell-blog--chelsea-town-hall

 


Held in the Chelsea Town Hall, which is also quite magnificent, the ‘Frock Me Fair’ is also a treat to attend, for the stalls are fabulous with a wonderful selection of both men’s and women’s wear as well as plenty of accessories to tempt you! Next event on the 12th of February.


www.frockmevintagefashion.com


Once again easy to get to – Sloane Square being the closest station and a 5-minute walk.



Hammersmith ….

 

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The largest of all the fairs, with stallholders coming from far and near to attend; the selection of clothes and accessories is enormous. Not such an atmospheric setting, but good fun none-the–less. Always held on the second Sunday of the month.


http://www.pa-antiques.co.uk/londonvintagefashionfair.html


Closest tube Hammersmith – 5 min walk.



So should you fancy looking for that amazing pair of vintage shoes, or glorious old handbag, why not try a vintage fair – and who knows, you may catch me buying some massive roll of soft salmon pink underwear elastic that I have decided will come in handy for secretly putting inside some of my dresses! (A treasure I did in fact find some months ago and has proved most suitable in a number of our soft silk creations as it is ultra soft and feels lovely on the skin!)

 

 

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If we meet, whilst both reaching for that sparkly pair of 1920's shoes at the next fair, please say hi!

And you're more than welcome to have them!


Oh and just another little tip to keep in mind. Never pay the asking price for an item at a vintage fair. The stand owners are used to people haggling and asking for lower prices and will generally give 10% off at a minimum. If you happen to love an item that they have had for some time and not been able to sell, they may give it to you for a fraction of the price, or at the end of the day they tend to drop their prices right down to get rid of stuff.

 

I will always ask if they will take a certain amount for an item, usually a lot lower than I think it is worth and willing to pay, so that the seller can come back with a higher price that you may be happy with, or you can say no to, then drop back down to something inbetween. The big rule is to never look too eager for item, they wont drop the price much at all. It is all a bit of a game.. but necessary to get a good price!

If you have no idea what the true cost for an item should be, ask the seller seriously what their best price is. You may be utterly surprised!


 

 

My Apologies….

I receive lots of wonderful feedback from many of my readers who send emails commenting on my blogs. However, occasionally I have received a complaint – usually because I have offended someone with something I have written. I would like to stress, that I would never intentially offend anyone – quite the opposite – my philosophy in life is to always make people feel good about themselves, never to belittle. Unfortunately though when I am writing, words sometimes come out all wrong and I don’t see the offensive side to what I have written until it is pointed out to me – and then it is already in print.

In this case, it would seem that in my last blog I have offended some ladies in Dorset – when I wrote that I did not see any 'fashion' whilst I was in Dorset over the Christmas period. I was not meaning there were no fashionable women in Dorset. In fact, I am sure the whole county is completely fashionable. I merely meant that as I was doing lots of walking through the countryside and along the coast, I only really saw women dressed in walking gear and well wrapped up against the cold! Not clothes that would be considered ‘highly fashionable’ as far as catwalk runways are concerned.

And had you seen my own mismatched walking outfit with no colour co-ordination at all, along with my old and somewhat scruffy but comfy trainers, you would well and truly know I was hardly in a state to make any comments at all about 'walking and hiking fashion'- let alone 'high fashion'!

So my sincere apologies to all the lovely ladies in Dorset.




A New Year is Here….

Mon, 2nd Jan 2012     

 

 

There's Nothing like a New Year.

 

 

2012 is here….

 

 

New Years blog fireworks

(Fireworks over Big Ben)

 

I like nothing more than the start of a new year. Fireworks exploding with much gusto, Champagne corks popping, ridiculous New Year resolutions being made that will never be kept, Auld Lang Syne being sung, mainly out of tune due to a little too much drink and an overwhelming feeling of good spirits. It gives me the wonderful feeling that new opportunities, new beginnings and new adventures are all about to start. And this new year is no exception, for I feel full of energy and optimism that it is going to be a fabulous year, difficult in some ways perhaps, but jolly good in other ways !!

 

 

New Year Blog Champagne

 

 

Maybe it was all the sea air I breathed in at Christmas time clearing out the cobwebs in my old brain, that has given me so much verve – but whatever it is I feel like bouncing into the new year with much vigour and enthusiasm, ready to face whatever comes my way with vibrance and passion. Sounds rather dangerous!


So let me tell you about all the exciting plans for Carolyn de la Drapiere this year.  Oh but before I do, I must tell you ladies, that this Christmas, I discovered Dorset. Indeed Yes !

 

 

New-Years-Blog-Weymouth

(Weymouth harbour)

 

 

Dorset at Christmas time was lovely. Our tiny cottage by the sea with its roaring fire and old beams set the scene for a perfect English Christmas. You see, I am still thrilled to have cold Christmases after all the hot humid ones of the southern hemisphere. Cosiness with a log fire, a roast Christmas dinner that doesn't make one break into a sweat whilst cooking it, as it does in the sizzling Australian heat, Christmas lights twinkling from real Christmas trees that are beautiful and perfume the room with a delicate forest scent – divine. All goes to making Christmas a wonderful time for me.

 

 

New Years blog fire

 

 

When I was a child growing up in Australia and New Zealand, the Christmas cards at the time were somewhat ludicrously traditional English cards – depicting scenes so far removed from the reality of life as we knew it. They were the stereotypical cards of pretty little thatched roofed cottages surrounded by holly trees. Robins sat decoratively about twittering away, and then of course a light powdering of snow made the whole scene look so magical that it seemed like fairyland. As a child with a very active imagination I always thought that this was how Christmas should really be and that for some reason or another we were missing out on the real thing, what with our hot days and scorching sand at the beach, where we typically spent our Christmas day having a BBQ and swimming!

 

 

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Likewise was my immense fascination with castles – only read about in story books. These amazing labyrinths of rooms and corridors, seeping with intrigue and romance fuelled my fertile mind and to this day I never tire of looking through one. So imagine my absolute delight, when rounding a corner one day last week whilst on a drive through the Dorset country side, to see a gorgeous old castle sitting majestically amongst the trees and lush green fields dotted with pristine white sheep.

 

 

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(Lulworth Castle)

 

 

My childhood fantasies, of princesses locked in turrets with dashing young men bounding up on white stallions to rescue them and gallop away to some fabulous place, all came back to me!

 

 

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(I love the symmetry of this castle – wonderful shape, beautiful grounds – think I could live here quite easily! )

 

 

But Dorset is not all about castles and fairy tales, oh no, for it is also the home of the brilliant Thomas Hardy, an author who is known for his very realistic tales of hardship and struggle.

 

 

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(Thomas Hardy – The realist)

 

 

His Characters often seem to be in the somewhat overwhelming and indeed overpowering grip of fate and are mostly viewed as tragic – struggling against their passions and social circumstances. No fairy tale endings with Hardy. Quite frankly, I have decided life is too short to read any more of him and have therefore not opened one of his somewhat depressing tomes since teaching, many years ago, 'Far from the Madding Crowd' to a class of somewhat cynical 18 year olds studying the depths of moral responsibility in relation to tragedy. All a bit much I am afraid, and I shall leave him tucked away in Dorchester where he lived and died.

 

 

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(Max Gate – The home of Thomas Hardy)

 

 

Dorset I discovered has fabulous coastal scenery. And it was in the discovery of this, that I also discovered that I am not as hardy as I thought I was. Picture the scene of a lovely little coastal village with a fabulous hill set high above it, and the suggestion being made that the hill should be climbed to see the view from above !

The sun is shining, the day is mild and the idea sounds nothing short of blissful. Imagine however, ten minutes later, being half way up the hill on a particularly steep incline, the weather has turned nasty, sheets of heavy rain pelt down, a strong wind is blowing and the top seems miles away. The hill has turned into a mountain and the whole experience is no longer that much fun. Does one turn and run down, or do you soldier on with the fortitude of Sir Edmund Hilary and get to the top?

Not to be beaten by a bit of rain, heavy as it may be, or head-on winds, I sallied forth only to find myself being overtaken by hardened hikers in full wet weather gear, spiked boots and professional walking sticks! They'd obviously checked out the weather forecast first! Soaked to the skin and somewhat puffed I saw the view, the sun came out and all was jolly again – until one had to face the somewhat slippery and extremely muddy slide back down that intrepid hillside!

Oh ladies, let me tell you, I am one for luxury, but a little mud doesn't hurt on the odd occasion!!

 

 

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New-Years-2012-rock

(Lulworth Coast)

 

 

So as for the fashion in Dorset….. well, I never really saw any. Just vast amounts of walking gear on people that certainly had their kit together – though I always love checking out the different coats, scarves, gloves and hats that women put together. It was in Lyme Regis that I made the greatest fashion discovery of the week. A hat shop stuffed full of the most fabulous handmade hats imaginable. Owned by a very creative lady, Alison Tutcher, who literally whipped hats up from all sorts of old mismatched pieces of fabric and sweaters – the place was an Aladdin's cave of original pieces. How I love finding people who make completely different things from the norm. It is always inspiring and of course, being the hat lover that I am, I just had to try on lots of those fancy pieces of frippery and succumb to the odd one or two – or three!

 

 

 

New-Year-2012-Lyme-Regis

(Lyme Regis)

 

New-Year-Blog-2012-hatshop

(Pop Goes the Weasel – Hat Shop by the Sea)

 

New-year-blog-hat-card

 

 

 

And now to the New Year. What does it hold?


 

Well ladies, look out for some fantastic events coming up. I am planning a fabulous afternoon tea in May with a full jazz band and dazzling fashion show. What fun to sip Prosecco, tap one's foot to a little funky rhythm and watch as ladies strut down the catwalk in glamorous curvy clothes for the summer season. Joining us on the catwalk will be a full lingerie show by a local designer – what fun that will be seeing pretty bras, knickers and basques being sexily shown off by some gorgeous models.

And what would a fashion show be without some handsome men? A range of menswear will also be modelled by some dapper gentleman, just to give a bit of balance to the afternoon's events !

 

 

 

New years blog teacup

 

 

In contrast to the luxury and delicacy of sipping tea from fine china, comes the outrageous and absolutely hilarious photoshoot with the London Welsh Rugby team. Nothing like some big beefy boys and a curvaceous model to make some sparks fly!

You may wonder what on earth I am doing with a rugby team? Well dear readers, my interests are many and varied and watching rugby is another little pastime I rather enjoy…. so why not sponsor a rugby team and have some fun with a photoshoot?

And besides, we all need, as you will agree ladies, a little bit of 'rough' in our lives!

 

 

 

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(London Welsh at Old Deer Park)

 

 

Another big photoshoot is coming up in February with the amazing Italian photographer Alessandro Capocetti. He is absolutely brilliant and will capture our summer collection beautifully. We are doing the shoot on a catwalk to enable us to video each item as well, so that you will be able to see the clothes from all angles as the model walks and turns and spins ! All very new and exciting.


The list goes on throughout the year and I shall keep you well posted of events and promotions coming up.

But to start the New Year let me introduce the brand new page on the website dedicated to the studio, with lots of new pictures, and an incredible video clip as photographed by Alessandro… the photos are soft, subtle and simply gorgeous!

Check out the tool bar along the top of the website to find the new 'studio'section.

 

 

New-Year-Blog-Studio

 

 

As we have more and more women (and the odd man) coming to the studio to buy clothes and enjoying the experience, we thought it would be fun to give those of you who cannot come to visit us a better 'virtual' tour of where we are and what we all look like. So click on the link below for a full tour of our 'little hidden shop of luxury' for curvy women.

 

 


 

 

So ladies,

 

As I swing open the doors to the New Year, I wonder what this year will bring?

 

I feel like bursting forth, full of enthusiasm and with new aspirations bounce down the stairs of that lovely castle with great ebullience, ready to tackle new challenges and goals head on!

 

 

New-Years-blog-2012-door-of-Lullworth

The grand doors to Lulworth Castle – How I would love to swing them open, run down the stairs singing the song that Julie Andrews sings from The sound of Music as she escapes from the Abbey….

'What will the day be like – I wonder…..?'

But I would change it to – 'What will the year be like?'

- I do wonder!

 

 

Happy New Year to all my dear readers. I hope it brings much happiness, health and goodness to each and every one of you!!

 

 

I will leave you with a couple of silly pics of me trying on hats in Alison's fab shop!!

 

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(I really liked this Cloche design)

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(And as for this look…. not too sure!!! But the hat is cute!)

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 

 

xxxx

 

New-Year-2012-Sunset

(Sunset over the Dorset coast)


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