Is Red a Winter Colour?

In just over a weeks’ time I shall be part of British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn again. Naturally, I am preparing my display and sorting out my stock and it occurred to me that I have more red scarves available this year than in previous years. Is red a colour people choose to wear in winter or just a colour associated more with Christmassy things?

My listing for British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn with the first three photos.

As part of the preparations for a show there is the publicity and this year I sent six photographs to the marketing and social media folk at Blackthorpe Barn for my listing on their site. Will the red neckerchief be chosen?

My listing with the second three photos as you scroll to the right.

It is always interesting for me to see which photograph gets selected as the ‘header’ image for my listing. I was really surprised when I first saw the picture featuring the pinks and greys of the Thomasina scarf had been picked.

However, when you see the ‘Craft Makers’ page you can see that it is the best one of the six I sent to balance their arrangement particularly when you notice the main header image features plenty of red.

Thomasina – a 90 x 90 cm silk twill scarf

I think you’d agree the picture did fit well and, luckily for once, both the model’s face and scarf are in focus!

British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn is about Christmas. Around the back of the big old barn hundreds of Christmas trees are for sale and the complex hosts a bespoke Christmas shop full of decorations as well as the main barn featuring all the craft stalls. And, somewhere in our culture red has become solidly associated with Christmas, if not particularly with winter clothing, and I guess that’s why my attention has been drawn more my red work.

Gucci – channelling Henry VIII

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Gucci 2018, Milan. Photo Tony Gentile – Reuters

Just in case you missed the press coverage a couple of months ago (Feb 2018) of Gucci’s outing at Milan’s fashion week, here’s a couple of pictures. Apparently, the Creative Director at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, was musing on the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s ideas concerning identity politics. Actually, for once, on this occasion words have failed me.

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Gucci 2018, Milan. Photo Venturelli – WireImage

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Photo Agnes Ashe – Creepy silk scarf strangulation 🙄

 

Bag ladies for London Fashion Week

Bag-ladiesIt has been London Fashion Week again and to mark this kaleidoscopic event a Sunday newspaper printed a special, big fat, bumper edition of their fashion magazine. Flicking through the 182 pages there wasn’t much about the up and coming bright young things, but instead there was plenty from the major luxury fashion brands launching their autumn ad campaigns. Is it me or do the ad people have a tin ear? Okay, I have been a bit naughty and photoshopped the top picture (original photo below), but, really, what are the Burberry folk signifying?

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According to the charity ‘Streets of London’;

8,000 people sleep rough on the streets of London every year. They come from every walk of life, and many of them want to find work.

Maybe I have misinterpreted the images, but sitting on grey city steps in oversized winter coats and knitted hats with what looks like giant shopping bags, (okay I note they all look pristine), reminds me of homeless, bag ladies. Surely that can’t be right.

Burberry aren’t the only ones with brittle, nonstandard photos. In need of something a little different Gucci have stepped off planet – literally.

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Yes, look closely and it’s aliens now modelling for Gucci.

Mind you the most startling ad in the whole magazine was, now wait for this, modelling for Louis Vuitton, an OLD person. And, she is the only old person in the whole 182 pages.

Catherine-Deneuve

Admittedly, this beautiful old person is the internationally famous, French film star Catherine Deneuve. At 73 years old she is over three times the age of the other models featured in the various campaigns. And, as a final comment, according to this Sunday newspaper’s own circulation data for 2017 (so far), 70% of its readership are 45 years old or older, with nearly a third of its readership Senior Citizens!

Age

Are we in tune?

Sometimes you feel totally out of step and then suddenly with one extra long stride you’re right back in time and notice that you’re also in tune and on trend. That’s how I felt when scanning through lines of photographs from the recent round of fashion shows.

Much to my surprise and pleasure there were pictures of large bows. A bit like . . . . .

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Agatha Pink as featured recently in the Autumn 2016 UK Handmade Showcase!

And here are a few shots of the Agatha Pink scarf being painted.

Romantic reflections -Shakespeare in the window

Romantic-reflections-Yet-We-sleep-we-dreamOxford Street in London this summer has a visual treat. Selfridge’s, well-known for eye-catching and innovative window-dressing, has teamed up with some world-famous fashion designers to celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. There are 12 displays – here are five I managed to photograph between the crowds on a very busy Oxford Street.

The Alexander McQueen interpretation is from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ using the quote “Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream”

‘Romeo and Juliet’, was chosen by Christopher Kane with the quote “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” providing inspiration.

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‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ also gives us another romantic, inspirational couplet for Erdem – “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged cupid blind”.

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Bucking the trend and displaying an alternative, challenging interpretation J W Anderson uses perhaps one of the most famous Shakespeare quotes “To be, or not to be, that is the question” from ‘Hamlet’.

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Although I love the unashamedly romantic frills and ornate prints of the Alexander McQueen window, there is something haunting and long-lasting about the Issey Miyake display. “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better” from ‘Twelfth Night’ is the chosen quotation. The textured, structural coat shaped from cloth adorned/woven with words from the significant text captures our contemporary engagement with Shakespeare in a most memorable fashion. Particularly striking, I thought, emerging from the reflections of a 21st-century cityscape.

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Returning to a bird theme

Cora-in-progressJust added to my online shop another flat silk crepe silk square working with a stork motif placed within a stained glass window frame.

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Since I last worked with a stork motif it has greatly changed. Somehow it’s reduced in size and morphed into various stylised shapes of beaks and feathers!

However, I think the stained glass influence is still obvious.

It is surprising how effective the final addition of green over the various soft golds has lifted the design.Agne-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Cora-jewel-tied-WP

Does 10 times the price = 10 times the quality?

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Here’s a gem from last weekend’s Sunday Times Style magazine. From ‘Seasalt’ a stripy top £30 and from ‘Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane’ a Breton top £355.

Well, does it? Mmm, of course, it all depends. Now as somebody who works most days with textiles even I wouldn’t be able to tell by just looking at the two pictures in the photograph above.  Both are stripy, navy blue and cream, long-sleeved tops with a boat neck. With a little help from our friend Google I have more information. The £30 top is made from 100% organic cotton, and the £355 one, also 100% cotton,  appears to be a ‘designer’ piece described as a ‘Breton-stripe distressed cotton-jersey top’. I’m guessing that perhaps the cut and fit is tens times better when a garment is crafted (their word not mine) from distressed cotton.

Here is my traditional Breton top. It’s over 15 years old and I bought it secondhand from a charity shop. I think I paid a fiver for it. It’s made by Saint James a French company based in Normandy that has been making marine clothing since 1889. Currently, you can buy one of their long-lasting 100% cotton, heavyweight blue and cream stripy Breton shirts for £55. I’m sorry to report that it does not come in distressed cotton-jersey, which would appear to be the prerequisite along with a luxury, brand label to warrant a price tag of £355.

Of course, I’m being a little frivolous here as I know there is more than this to pricing goods. Somewhere far down the list of components that influence the final price of any work, is how much time has been spent in making it. Talking of which here is 25 minutes of my life reduced to 25 seconds.

Another interpretation of ‘Upcycling’

 

Fashion-21st-century-ditzyWe live in fascinating times on our beautiful planet. Every now and then somebody will comment on some bizarre aspect of human behaviour and query what a visiting Martian would make of us and our ways.

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Article about the £880 jeans ‘upcycled’ from two new pairs from the Sunday Times Style magazine.

I’d like to suggest it wouldn’t just be a passing alien that would be baffled, but 99% of the human population would probably consider cutting up two NEW pairs of jeans to make one new pair madness. And, what’s more, the totally sublimely self-regarding fashion elite call the process upcycling.

Can’t use the label upcycled for my gardening jeans, but they were definitely given a new lease of life when repaired with ‘recycled’ denim patches culled from an ancient pair of jeans. Another pair so old and falling to pieces that even I wouldn’t wear them for gardening.

What do you think? Okay, not such a flattering cut, but looking at the two photos, give mine a good hot wash to remove the mud, and, perhaps they’re almost on trend. Of course, they need to be styled with vintage leather boots and a perfect, crisp white shirt. Or perhaps not, and what about the other outrageously wasteful pair? At a mere £880, I think not, and, on principle most certainly not.

 

Contemporary fashion – heirloom pieces or destined for landfill?

Scarf-1993-coat-vintageFrom the spring of this year, the British women’s fashion brand ‘Jigsaw’ has been running an ad campaign with the strapline “For life not landfill”. There has been a media wall running along the walkway at Oxford Circus underground station showing Jigsaw posters in front of an enormous photograph of a landfill mountain.

Media wall ad - Jigsaw, Oxford Circus underground station, London. Spring 2015
Media wall ad – Jigsaw, Oxford Circus underground station, London.
Spring 2015

It is an interesting theme for a contemporary fashion brand to highlight. The snappy slogan, “For life not landfill”, also appears at the top of a series of magazine advertisements showing vintage clothing paired with a new, Jigsaw garment. Naturally, in other parts of the world and in our past the idea that we would consign cloth to landfill would be an outrage. Clothing was worn, restyled, passed down, patched and repaired. Textiles were routinely recycled.

Jigsaw magazine advertisement. Sunday Times Style supplement. September 2015
Jigsaw magazine advertisement. Sunday Times Style supplement.
September 2015

My mother was a great collector of scarves and when she died I inherited some of her ‘heirloom’ pieces which poignantly (but I guess not really surprisingly) included some of my early work. So here is my version of ‘For life not landfill’. Top of this blog post photo shows silk scarf (1993) paired with my vintage navy blue wool and cashmere coat purchased secondhand in 1988. And, below, same crepe de chine silk scarf with contemporary linen shirt and suede skirt finished with a leather belt (1975).

Simplicity pattern 1953.
Simplicity pattern 1953.

But our best family clothing heirloom is a brick-red, mid-weight wool waistcoat made by my mother in the 1950s. She made this waistcoat and also a skirt from a wool coat. She had originally bought the coat from a shop on Oxford Street, London, when she first started work. She passed on her waistcoat to me when I was a teenager.

I would post a photo of it, but the waistcoat is now with my daughter back in London. However, I’ve still got the original paper pattern which my mother used. So, that’s a coat restyled to a waistcoat and worn by three generations – 1948, 1979 and 2015!

And, finally, a quick reminder whilst we are on the theme of buying quality, so-called heirloom pieces, it is ‘Buy British Day’ this Saturday, October 3rd which coincidentally was my mother’s birthday.

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Make it British on Buy British Day

Mugshots or fashion?

Mug-shot-or-fashionScrolling through multiple images from the last clutch of fashion shows it struck me that hair and make-up was moving towards the austere or even harsh. Several shows have models with pale faces featuring that modish special accent, heavy, dark eye-brows. The look is completed with the face framed by tightly styled and restrained hair.

Here this model from a recent Chanel show featured in Vogue UK looks quite irritated in colour, but positively scary in black and white.

Some of these looks combined with the contemporary model countenance, the ‘blank stare’, made me think of mugshots for police records rather than the refined world of haute couture.

However, looking through some of my own recent shots, both in colour and as black and white, I think you can see that it is the facial expression, particularly round the eyes, that makes the tone of the overall image menacing or not and not really the hair or make-up or those eye-brows!

Hetty blue, green and peach

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Hetty green. Hand painted silk scarf.

Earlier this year I visited Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where some of my work had been displayed as part of an exhibition at Smiths Row. Whilst there I took the opportunity to photograph some of the outstanding stained glass that fills the windows of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It was the Tudor bows detail decorating part of the ‘Susannah and the Elders’ window that caught my eye.

Tudor bows – a blue version, Hetty blue.

A green and pink version.

And, the double steamed blue and peach – which I think in the end has turned out the best.

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