Beyond the Pale

Spoiled Rotten at Liberty

Everyone should get spoiled on their birthday, and while perhaps a bacon sandwich and a mug of tea in bed would have done at a pinch; this year I was absolutely spoiled rotten by the lovely people at Liberty London


Imagine if you will the very moment I received the email telling me that I was the lucky winner of Liberty’s Facebook competition. I read it on my phone during a typically lacklustre lunch break at work. “You recently entered a competition on Liberty’s Facebook page..” it began. “Oh here we go, I bet it’s spam!” I thought cynically, until I read a bit further on and it finally dawned on me this was real. I had WON! I may have squealed quite a lot at this point.


It was arranged that I could do the spa treatments, voucher, Champagne tea & hotel bit of the prize on the tenth of November – my birthday! – and the behind the scenes tour the following week, as the Liberty archivist wasn’t available on that day. Oh no, I’ll have to go back again. How AWFUL. ;p


On a chilly, slightly drizzly grey Saturday, your humble author made her way to London, attempting to travel light and failing as usual, with her beloved fiancé carrying several items she couldn’t fit in her bag. As usual. On arriving at the wonderous W Hotel Leicester Square, the very kind chap at the check-in desk, on learning it was my birthday, gave us an upgrade to a seventh-floor luxury room with spectacular views.


As birthday beginnings go, they don’t get much better than that.


Obligatory explorations of hotel room over, we moved on to obligatory taking of pictures of hotel room, to show expectant friends and family members, before high-tailing it to Liberty and collecting my gift card.



I remember my mother taking me to Liberty when I was a little girl, gazing wide-eyed at the gorgeous things all around me, strangely quiet for a precocious brat, subdued by magnificence. I really think Liberty retains this power to make you feel that excitement of a child in a veritable Wonderland. It’s quite amusing to stand back and watch the facial expressions of grown adults walking in, gasping and giggling as they pick up something, turn to their companions and say “LOOK!” as they exclaim their pleasure, practically bouncing up and down with glee.


Or, of course, actually bouncing up and down with glee, as with this (mostly) grown adult. 😉 I honestly kept thinking someone would wake me up any minute , but they didn’t and the lovely dream continued as I made my way to the Decleor spa rooms with Vicky, their expert therapist.


How to describe the next two hours? I can only say it was pure bliss and leave you to imagine, as words will not do. Suffice to say, In have never felt so entirely relaxed in my life, as every ache and pain was massaged away. Although Liberty was absolutely rammed with people that day, you’d never know it in the peace and seclusion of those rooms.


Thanks to Vicky’s Decleor Facial expertise, I walked out in PUBLIC with no other makeup than a hasty reapplication of lipstick, for the first time since I was about 14 (I jest you not), so healthy, plumped and glowing did I look. I simply cannot recommend her – or Decleor – highly enough. Go and see Vicky at Liberty!


My fiancé had thoughtfully bagged us a table at Cafe Liberty, so I was able to swan past the queue and go straight in to join him for the next treat of a Perrier-Jouët Champagne Tea for Two. Teeny tiny little perfect sandwiches and mini pastries and fruit scones still warm from the oven and slathered with clotted cream and jam. Divine!


This would be a perfect afternoon treat at any time, but it was definitely the sweet centre of this birthday gal’s day. I savoured every single crumb that passed my lips (and there were quite a few of those, it’s a generous tea!)


Slightly bulgy, and very glad that I’d not opted to have the tea prior to my full-body massage (for the therapist’s sake, if not mine) it then fell to me to Make a Choice and use my gift card to buy myself a birthday present. The delicious agony of this was quite overwhelming, and imagine my fiancé’s pleasure as I wandered around and around and around again, clutching my gift card and sort of muttering like a mad woman: “What about this? OOOH but what about that?! Or that one? But maybe I should get this one instead?” I don’t think I would have bourne it with such beneficence, had I been in his shoes, dear readers. Bless him, he didn’t complain once. Outwardly.


I decided that I should get something to do with Liberty’s heritage – a classic Liberty Type Thing – which I could treasure forever, rather than a bang-up- to-the-minute high fashion item. You are rather spoiled for both extremes at Liberty, though, as they really do have something for everyone, from the classic-lovers to the Ultra Trendy Fashionistas I tremble in the shadow of. I especially love the fact that Liberty really believe in supporting and encouraging new and emerging designers, as among these Bright Young Things will be the ‘classics’ of the future.



Amidst the manifold temptations of the infamous Scarf Hall, my beady eye kept getting drawn back to the sumptuously rich Ianthe print wool and silk scarf, specifically in the purple colour way, as I felt this really highlighted the pattern and the lustre of the fabric.


Spoilt for choice doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I’m thrilled with my pick, and delighted at the prospect of owning a Liberty print satchel when the Strawberry Thief print is back in store again.


Oh, it’s just stunning, and something I know I’ll treasure forever. This is the sort of thing you can fling on with jeans and a jumper for a walk in the woods (or more likely, in my case, to the Gin Emporium); or worn draped around your shoulders at the most elegant of weddings or special occasions. What’s not to love?


This is me in my Hera print Liberty shawl, which I wear a lot and had swaddled myself in against the biting chill of the day. I know I’ll love my Ianthe print one all the more for the special memories it holds. 🙂


More scarves. WANT.


Very tempted by the chandelier print scarf, too. Just everywhere you look, it’s gorgeousness abounding.


I loved these quirky Victorian style illustrated letter tiles, and would like the entire alphabet but would settle for my initials. 😉

I did rather have my heart set on getting the Dr Marten’s limited edition Liberty Print large satchel in the Strawberry Thief pattern (indeed, I blogged about lusting after this very satchel not long after it came out, earlier this year), but sadly they are out of stock of it, as it’s so popular! Sad face.


However, the lovely gentleman who served me at the till took my details and said he’d let me know if they got some in again, hopefully before Christmas.


OH NO, another reason to HAVE to go back to Liberty. Again. What a personal disaster.


Fab Christmas windows at Liberty. I was especially drawn to the crazy lobster window.


Higgledy-piggledy decadence is their theme – opulent chaos. Adorable!


Skipping out of Liberty, iconic purple bag in hand, I noticed that it had somehow suddenly got dark. Of course this hasn’t happened ‘suddenly’, but do you know, when you’re being pampered to within an inch of your life, the time veritably whizzes along.


Thence it was back to the hotel to get ready for the W’s award winning Spice Market restaurant’s tasting menu, that my darling chap was so generously treating us to that evening. But first, there was one more surprise in store for me…


On returning to our room, we discovered that the lovely check-in desk guy had arranged for a bottle of Champagne, selection of juicy raspberries and blackberries, massive slice of Red Velvet cake topped with strawberries with a candle and “Happy Birthday” written in glittery chocolate, and a card wishing me a very happy birthday and saying if I needed anything at all, to let him know.


HOW darling is that? I actually cried I was so moved. It had been quite a horrible year thus far, in many ways and for various reasons, but this (forgive me) literally was the icing on the cake!


We decided to save the cake for later on that evening, as we were still quite full from the afternoon tea (talk about First World problems, eh?) and lounged about drinking more Champagne and lazily getting ready for the meal.

When booking our table online, the chap and myself had ooh-ed and ah-ed over the menu for ages, practically drooling at the mere descriptions of the dishes on offer. As their website puts it:

“A timeless paean to Southeast Asian sensuality, Spice Market will delight London with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s unique interpretations of the region’s cuisine served in an informal and sultry atmosphere.”


And they ain’t wrong. Delightful it was, every single mouthful. We had plumped (quite literally) for the tasting menu, as we just couldn’t settle on what to try. Little bits of everything seemed the best way forward, and so it proved, with waves of delicacies placed before us, and everything absolutely perfectly cooked and immaculately presented.


The Spice Market is laid back but upmarket, exactly the kind of atmosphere to suit the cuisine, we were in a cosy booth on the corner, all the better for people watching (one of my favourite activities) and soaking in the ambience. We couldn’t fault a single thing about the meal, only asking for a break the better to digest and ready ourselves for the next lot of courses (there are nine in total) to begin. Hardly a complaint – “this is all TOO delicious, please cease a while!” You can stow the violins away quite safely, I think.


After the meal we waddled to our room and laid on the bed in the hotel’s dressing gowns, in a sort of gourmet stupor and sipping wine tentatively while watching nonsense films and marvelling at the sheer bliss of the weekend. Somehow, we found room for the birthday cake slice, eaten while tucked up in our little nest of covers, shared out in mouthfuls, buttercream smearing our probably quite horrifically smug faces.


Us: slightly squiffy, woozily blissful.

The next day we sauntered home in golden Autumnal sunshine, smiles wider than the Thames, walking alongside a Salvation Army band as they marched their way down Regent Street on Remembrance Sunday; so grateful for what we’d experienced and most of all, for having each other to share it with.


I have never felt so truly pampered – it’s been a difficult year what with one thing and another, but this was like a break in the clouds. Perfectly timed, so needed, and VERY much appreciated. Thank you to Liberty, Decleor, W London, Spice Market and my darling fiancé for making me feel so thoroughly, wonderfully spoiled!



The Secret Diary of a Princess: Marie Antoinette novel at a BARGAIN price, snap it up!

If you only do yourself one favour today, let it be you snapping up the brilliant must-read historical novel The Secret Diary of a Princess by Melanie Clegg (Kindle edition) for the bargain price of £2.30 from Amazon UK or $3.69 from Amazon US.

If you’d like to read an excerpt – the moment when Marie Antoinette meets Madam du Barry for the first time – head on over to Melanie’s blog, and read it there.

Portrait Of Madame Du Barry by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Now, you may well raise up your skirts and be ready to squeal that you don’t have a Kindle, well neither do I, but I downloaded the free Kindle App for iPhone (I believe you can also get them for other brands of smartphone, anti-apple people ;p) for just such occasions as this (snapping up copies of favourite books for delayed travel emergencies & moments when you simply must have a bit of historical fiction to read, in order to escape from dreadful reality).

You’ll also be happy to hear that it’s published in the usual book format, too, for £7.99. All reassuringly papery and everything. So, that’s all bases covered and everyone’s happy. 🙂

Portait of Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

The secret diary of the title belongs to the young Marie Antoinette, and in it we discover her innermost thoughts whilst viewing the turbulent events that shape her life. It’s immediately engaging, incredibly well researched and yet wears that research lightly, almost incidentally, because we become friends with her, we hold her hand and gaze – as she does – in wonder at the overwhelming brilliance and the spectacular world she becomes part of. This is history with a distinctly personal touch, and as a reader you are genuinely saddened when it comes to an end – you feel you have lost touch with that friend and are desperate to hear from her.

A young Marie Antoinette by Jean-Étienne Liotard

I wasn’t quoting “brilliant must-read” by rote from anywhere, by the way. I happen to know it’s brilliant and a must-read firsthand, being lucky enough to have read it previously, before it was properly published. However, I am so excited about the fact it’s now available for Kindle (and at such a reasonable price), that I have purchased it and mean to re-read it again very soon – the perfect antidote to tedious train journeys or vapid lunch-hours.

Still from Sofia Coppolas film, Marie Antoinette

As an avid perfume fan, I was entranced to read Melanie’s descriptions of the heavy musk and jasmine in the air – indeed, the whole book is a sensory delight, with descriptions of food, drink and perfumes working together to create an intoxicating, heady experience for the reader entering this world. One stumbles out of it all slightly dizzy, wishing for the swish of taffeta and the smell of beeswax and hot chocolate all over again. I happen to match perfumes to my moods – depending on what I am reading and how I feel generally. Some may think that slightly peculiar, but I assure you it’s not at all uncommon in the world of us perfume-obsessives! 😉

For this book, the first time I read it I chose the beautiful Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez® – because, really, you couldn’t not, could you? I still love this perfume though haven’t worn it for a while – I must re-visit it soon! I first fell in love with it at quite an inappropriately young age (it’s a fragrance of… experience, shall we say) and just the thing for a book such as this. You can read my review of Bal a Versaille at Fragrantica, by the way, in which I wax lyrical about the scent and describe it in greater detail (scroll down, my username there is Miss_Nightingale – and many more excited fans of the perfume have added their reviews since mine, I’m glad to see!)

Today I am also wearing a suitable perfume (I think, anyway) for the era and ambiance this fictionalised account of Marie Antoinette’s early years creates. Although it’s distinctly a modern fragrance, Ormonde Woman, by Ormonde Jayne perfumes, begins in a heady puff of Black Hemlock absolute (usually associated as a poison!) infused with cardamom, violet, jasmine, vetiver and a woody-amber drydown that’s all powdery, soft and veritably dripping with sensuality. I was lucky to be treated to a bottle of this by my fiance, recently, and it’s simply sublime! I certainly feel as though I should be wafting about a candlelit ballroom with it on, or applying rouge and carefully placed patches whilst a maid powders your hair.

Whether it’s a totally wonderful historical novel, or a decadent new perfume to try whilst reading it, I do hope you’ll enjoy it – I know I did!

Love Is Boutique

Love Is Boutique is four storey town house in Tunbridge Wells, filled to bursting with designer labels at affordable prices that nestle alongside individually sourced vintage pieces to die for.

Add fairy lights, champagne, a makeup artists giving lessons in the velvet-curtained fitting rooms and a bevy of bloggers chatting none to the dozen, and you have pretty much my perfect evening out! Stepping inside, I was in for a real treat…

Love is Boutique kindly invited me along to see some of their latest arrivals and to spend time browsing their beautiful shop – it really is a fantastic find. I’m still buzzing with the excitement of it all!

Oodles of fabulous pieces and a fun, no-pressure atmosphere to try them in – what’s not to like?

All the ladies present (local bloggers and media people) seemed excited, too. There was quite a bit of squealing and snaffling-up of bargains along with the bowls of olives and cashews. 🙂

If you’re not lucky enough to get to the Love Is Boutique itself, you can also shop online for some select pieces of their stock.

I would say this is the perfect place to come with your best girlfriend to spend a couple of hours having a trying on session, cooing at the vintage jewellery and vying for the designer bags you’d have no chance of affording brand new, then go to lunch and preen over your purchases.

It’s kind of like your very own episode of Sex and the City, but without the ghastly characters. (Sorry, not a fan, really, as you may have guessed. ;p)

It’s also like having access to Vogue’s fashion wardrobes (or what I imagine it must be like, since they haven’t seen fit to trust me with the key, the utter rotters).

The shelves are just dripping with lust-worthy bags, there’s shoe porn as far as the eye can see and glittery trinkets beckoning-forth magpies from every corner.

The pieces are all carefully selected – many items are turned down due to not being high enough quality or not being in good enough condition – and it’s not all vintage or past seasons, either. Because Tunbridge Wells houses a number of wealthy Ladies Who Lunch; some pieces in the boutique are current season designer, and many still with their original price-tags still attached!

It was truly heartening to meet so many passionate local bloggers and business people, and a really enjoyable evening which I hope to repeat very soon. Thanks for a great time, gals!

If you’re at all able to visit, do pop along and discover your own lavish treats at bargain prices – it’s worth making a girlie day of it and stopping for a cake break now and then. 😉

Love Is Boutique is located at 26 Church Road in Tunbridge Wells (the same road as Trinity Arts Theatre, if you know the area), or just follow the directions on the Love Is Boutique website.

I can’t wait to go back!

Diaghilev: Art Deco Glamour, Bottled, for the V&A
September 29, 2010, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Art, Decadence, History, Perfume | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited to the stunning Haute Parfumerie in Harrods, in order to gape open-mouthed at the wonders it contains (it truly is a must visit destination for any fragrance lover) and also to sample some of their latest wares, for an article I was writing for Fragrantica magazine.

I can honestly say that my favourite new perfume, introduced to me that very day, was the deliciously refined warmth of Diaghilev. Although I reviewed the fragrance for the article, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail that the length of the piece allowed.

Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon and Orange
Heart Notes: Rose de Mai and Jasmine.
Base Notes: Oak Moss, Orris, Patchouli, Vanilla and Vetiver.

Now that Autumn [my favourite season, hurrah!] is here – and the wonderful Diaghilev exhibition at the V&A this perfume was created for is now open – Roja Dove’s Diaghilev fragrance really comes into its own: a golden fragrance inspired by the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes.

Diaghilev is limited edition Eau de Parfum and the magnificent result of a fruitful union between Roja Dove and the Victoria and Albert Museum, paying homage to that Golden Age of the Ballets Russe, and in particular its founder, Serge Diaghilev.

Diaghilev’s extraordinary company, which survived a twenty-year rollercoaster of phenomenal successes and crippling problems, revolutionised ballet. As importantly, Diaghilev’s use of avant-garde composers, such as Stravinsky and designers such as Bakst, Goncharova, Picasso and Matisse, made a major contribution to the introduction of Modernism.

Portrait of Serge Diaghilev with His Nanny, by Léon Bakst (1906)

Diaghilev’s dramatic performances transformed dance, reawakening interest in ballet across Europe and America. Celebrating the company’s key period of activity, this major exhibition reveals Diaghilev’s enduring  influence on 20th-century art, design and fashion and includes more than 300 objects including giant theatre cloths, original costumes, set designs, props and posters by artists and designers including Léon Bakst, Georges Braque and Natalia Goncharova. These tell the story of a company which began in the social and political upheaval of pre-Revolutionary Russia and went on to cause a sensation with exotic performances that had never been seen before.

Roja has always loved Art Deco and was very much inspired by this period in his creation of Diaghilev. He explains that “the movement captured the changing views of society. This Chypre scent I have created, I hope, reflects all the sentiments of this time.”

Roja Dove’s Diaghilev also manages to pay homage to the great Chypre perfumes created during this period, the years between 1909-1929. And yet this perfume is not in any way a mere history lesson. Just like the Haute Parfumerie itself, Diaghilev is a balance between great respect for the past, and lively, modern interpretations.

The perfume is exclusively available at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie in Harrods, and the V&A shop (which you can also visit online, here).

“One of the pleasures of working with one of the world’s most prestigious brands is finding others who lead in their respective fields, with whom to collaborate. Having worked with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Betty Jackson and Paul Smith, Roja Dove follows in that tradition.” – Jo Prosser, Managing Director, V&A Enterprises.

Once my piece on the Haute Parfumerie was published in Fragrantica, I received a really uplifting email from a member of the Roja Dove PR team, telling me how much Roja had enjoyed reading my article.

I was thrilled, of course but, imagine how loudly I squealed with joy when I opened a parcel a couple of days later, only to find a thick cream envelope, sealed with wax, inside, a lovely thank you note in flowing, purple script from Roja Dove himself, and my very own bottle of Diaghilev!

Excuse the awful picture, taken on my phone! How kind is that, though? It really made my day.

I do hope you get to try Diaghilev for yourselves, I’m pretty sure you’ll fall headlong for it, as I did: love at first sniff. 🙂 I am so hoping to go to the V&A exhibition, it sounds amazing, doesn’t it? My mother would be fascinated to visit it, too, as she used to dance with the Ballet Rambert.

I should tell you that I had ballet lessons when I was a little girl, but let’s just say that I didn’t exactly show a natural aptitude, and I still can’t dance to save my life. ;p

Topshop Weddings: Starlet Glam
August 16, 2010, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Decadence, Fashion, Fripperies, Trinkets, Weddings | Tags: , , , ,

Totally over-the-top, but what else would you expect for a starlet bride?

This dress is another from my Topshop Weddings series (in which I style a Topshop dress for an unusual wedding). This one is particularly remarkable, I think – it could quite easily be from a little vintage boutique!

I like this mix of gold and pewter together, it seems to lend a decadent 1930’s air to the ensemble. I added a marabou cape, just because.

There are very few occasions these days when one gets to gad about in a marabou cape, so why not on your wedding day? Or, you know, in the supermarket if you feel like it.

Topshop Weddings: Starlet GlamFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Topshop Weddings: Starlet Glam by Beyond the Pale featuring TopShop dresses

Tiffy Feather Cape
60 GBP –
More Monsoon coats »

This gorgeously packaged lipstick is by Besame, in shade Noir Red – the best dark red I’ve found yet, I think. Love their whole range – makeup as it should be, rather than the sad little plastic containers we’re suckered with from most brands.

A lipstick tube should have a certain heft to it and close with a satisfying click, if you ask me (which nobody does, but I’m telling you anyway).

The last of this series is tomorrow, so watch out for my latest update. 🙂

Until next time, starlets!

Miss Nightingale

Michal Negrin: Baroque Genius of WHIMSY

From the get-go we know this website isn’t going to be a subtle affair: crimson velvet theatre curtains pull slowly apart to reveal the bizarre, charming and – if one is honest – slightly bewildering – world of designer Michal Negrin

An explosion of colours, overwhelming Baroque pastoral scenes involving plump cupids, frolicking 18th century lovers, random Kewpie dolls, 1920’s flapper girls dangling from hot air balloons and, ultimately, a mind-blowing peek into her world of full-on, turned-up-to-eleven romantic historical WHIMSY. A world, as you may imagine, I utterly adore.

I can’t quite recall when I first came across her designs, but I know exactly which item it was – a sumptuously gorgeous Victorian style skirt with overlapping romantic scrapbook-like pictures and tumbling roses. Love at first sight!

I think it would be fair to say that I rarely come across designers whose collections make me gasp and want one of practically everything, but Michal Negrin ticks all my boxes. 🙂

This is a relatively staid design from the current collection, totally wearable – I’d wear it as a day dress with a little cardi, plum colored tights, black biker boots & lashings of pearls. Just beacause.

I ALSO completely covet the other design in this style… Dreamy, misty, dusk-like colours and a cameo in the centre of the lacey trellis of a Victorian lady wearing a striped bathing suit. Seriously, what’s not to love?

Michal Negrin has been creating a unique lifestyle for over two decades with vintage-inspired designs that include jewelry, fashion, home décor, and accessories.

This full-length gown is just jaw-droppingly stunning – I think it looks like something from an Oscar Wilde play. It actually makes my heart beat faster.

Yes, yes, I know the price may also make the heart beat faster, but it’s a designer gown. We’re not doing a feature on supermarket fashion here, are we? (And I’m not being snobbish – I am currently putting together a feature about supermarket fashions I love, as it happens! – there are just different categories of clothing. I think this rivals some of Alexander McQueens last collection, but at a price that, whilst still expensive, is certainly more attainable than couture!)

This design is particularly reminiscent of that Baroque style couture – inspiration surely from cheerfully gaudily painted ceilings and the artwork one finds in those sumptuous palaces that have the power to take the breath away.

I love the colours in this skirt, they remind me of hand-tinted romantic Victorian photographs of famous actresses and noted beauties of the age.

As you can see, these softer colours are probably easier to wear for those of a nervous disposition who shy away from designs and patterns they consider ‘loud’ – this little vest top could be worn classically with a cashmere cardi & pearls, or thrown on with jeans & leather jacket. It’s all about the styling, dahling. 😉

Born in Kibbutz Naan in 1957, Michal always knew she was an individual with her own vision and this was despite being brought up in an environment that preached group uniformity.

She was driven to follow her inner passion for self-expression and spent her childhood designing. Her mother was an inspiration and supported her in fulfilling her dreams despite the Kibbutz’s conventions.

Well, there is absolutely nothing that says ‘group uniformity’ in Michal’s designs, that’s for sure. They manage to capture the spirit of those vintage collectible ‘saucy’ postcards – Victorian beauties showing a well-turned ankle or – shocking – gadding about in their under-crackers.

This skirt depicts ladies swimming through a palace as various Baroque items of furniture bob past. If you cannot love such a scene, then I seriously doubt we’d get on. I mean it. 🙂

A dramatic kimono top featuring Victorian ladies in handcarts above a vast city skyline climbing ladders into the sky… Again, I ask – what’s not to love?

It is obvious that Michal is passionate about vintage images, the bejewelled, beribboned world of Baroque, of gilded palaces, the court of Marie Antoinette, intricate Victorian scrapbook pictures, the excess of 1920’s hedonism and those gaily painted barges or gypsy caravans that gleam with brightly painted bouquets of flowers. All passions I share, so no wonder I am so giddy about her work!

Little details like the placing of the curtain-call ladies arm-in-arm, circling the cuffs of this beautiful bolero… literally make me squeal. It’s such fun, I love the sheer exuberance of these images and the way they are placed on the designs.

I have only shown you a tiny proportion of the items I love (I’d have to lead you through the entire website!) and even then have only touched on the clothes… Oh my dears, there are stunning boots & shoes, jewellery and even items for the home, too! But I shall leave you to explore those yourselves. 🙂

Negrin’s designs are more than I could normally spend, but then these are hardly your average clothes and accessories. I shall own some of her pieces one day soon, I SHALL! I long for them. 😦

Oh, I know, quelle melodramatic hand-to-the-forehead – forgive me if I sink, breathless, onto a velvet chaise lounge, but I rather think it suits these styles I so hanker after. 😉

Until next time,

Yours entirely made of whimsy,

Miss Nightingale


Couture, Dahling!
July 8, 2010, 12:29 am
Filed under: Catwalk, Couture, Decadence, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Fashion Show, Runway, tulle | Tags: , ,

As we air-kiss and clink champagne glasses, let’s trip along merrily into the frivolously feminine, exquisitely detailed world of Alexis Mabille‘s Fall 2010 Couture Collection…

Ruffles and sparkles and lace, oh my!

I am an absolute sucker for a bit of tulle, my dear hearts, and this dress is pretty close to utter perfection!

The collection is very mix-and-match, as this stunning bustier top and tailored ‘cigarette’ trousers show. Stunning.

Also, I love those shoes!

I suppose there *is* such a thing as “too many ruffles” but this IS couture, dearie, so must be allowed some leeway. Be sure it will filter down into more every-day wearable styles on the high street, but oh how DREARY it would be if designers couldn’t run free with their ideas.

I never understand people who complain that catwalk shows (and Couture in particular) don’t offer anything for them to wear on a day-to-day basis. The entire point is to show the designer at work, the creative process from inspiration to actuality: a creative fantasy.

Mabille’s collection is actually highly wearable, I think. Yes, perhaps only if you are forever parading on red carpets or popping to parties thrown by Elton John; but, y’know, he didn’t design them to be worn at the supermarket I suppose. And thank GAWD for that. There is already an overdose of the dull & drear in fashion, so long live the libertines!

Inspired by this lust-worthy collection – a kind of Grace Kelly meets Scarlet O’Hara at the Oscars kind of a vibe – and especially by the mainly nude/black palette (with lashings of lace), I created a treasury of items at Etsy I felt fit a similar bill, though obviously far more affordable to the majority of us.

I have Couture tastes and a bargain budget, how awful for me. ;p

Do have fun exploring, dahlings! *air kisses wildly whilst spilling champagne down her dressing gown Couture dress*

"Ode 2 Steampunk" corset by La Belle Fairy: $299

La Belle Fairy’s overbust Victorian corset is just beautiful – such subtle colours and actually pretty, which isn’t something you always see in corsets. I think you could wear this for a wedding – especially when teamed with one of the spectacular skirts below…

Made to Order Bridal Skirt by Bonzie: $750

I have featured Bonzie‘s signature bridal skirt once before, I know, but just HAD to include it again: it so encapsulates this look and new readers may have missed it, previously. So there. ;p Thousands of layers of hand-sewn tulle and many hours of work go into this breathtaking piece (which also comes in other colours) – it makes me want to run through fields of poppies in it, screaming with laughter and tossing my hair about as though I were in a shampoo advert. Just because.

Peach chiffon blossom brooch/hair pin by Percy Handmade: $32

Of course we can’t go around trampling fields of poppies all the time, can we? No. For one thing, it’d be murder on the ankles. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the airy, care-free look can be still be had in an accessory – and one as beautiful as this peach chiffon bloom, by the very talented Percy Handmade, can be either a brooch or hair pin/clip depending on your preference. I’d plump for a brooch, I think, as it could add some frivolity to a severe lapel, be pinned to an existing hair band or hat for a wedding-y look and then used to jazz up a tired looking old bag.

[Any jokes about it jazzing up the tired looking old bag writing this shall be removed at the discretion of the editor. ;p]

Custom Made Olga Coat by Red Doll: $395

Red Doll is also a designer I have featured before, but this coat is so exquisitely tailored, again, I just had to include it. I love the mixture of superb, masculine-inspired tailoring in Alexis Mabille’s collection, paired with the tulle, lace and ruffles – and this coat would definitely work with that look.

Tabitha Clutch by Emma Gordon, London: $65

Emma Gordon’s bags are to die for – perfect for bridesmaids and weddings, but this sleekly simple, effortlessly chic bag is one of favourites. Love the bangle/handle – I cannot do clutches unless they can somehow attach to me, which sort of does away with their point, I know, but I am forgetful, clumsy and somewhat scatterbrained at the best of times, let alone when attending a ‘do’ and with a few glasses of champagne in me. This one’s just perfect.

Peach silk chiffon shawl blouse by The Eliza Shop: $98

Ooh this is so pretty! I think it looks as though it stepped straight from the pages of Vogue. Fab with tailored evening trousers (or a pair of jeans & killer heels, if you go for that look for a night on the tiles) or a simple pencil skirt. The Eliza Shop also has some unusual headbands and other items. One to watch!

Boyfriend blazer/tuxedo by Daniellea Tello: $75

The trouble with ‘boyfriend blazers’ is that they are very rarely cut for a woman’s curves, even if actually made for them! Not so this excellent example by Daniella Tello – it looks like it would go with just everything, never date and be a truly great buy. Want!

4 Greetings Cards by Hey Old Friend: $10

Adorably simple black and white greetings cards by Hey Old Friend – just right for inviting friends to a glam tea party, I think.

Flowers and Lace Bib Necklace by Barretty: $45

Wonderful use of colors in this handmade flowers and lace bib necklace by Barretty – strikingly gorgeous and so in keeping with this theme!

Black organdy bow shoe clips by Floreti: $34

These organdy shoe clips by Floreti are such a great idea – take a boring old pair of shoes and snap these on: hey presto, a couture pair of shoes! Also a great idea to stash them in your bag if you’re going straight out after work.

Silk Bow Bolero by Holly Bloom Couture: $75

Holly Bloom Couture have a number of simply darling pieces, but this silk dupioni bow bolero is the one I chose for this look – it’s simple enough that it wouldn’t dominate whatever you wore it over, but has enough presence to be part of the outfit, rather than that “I am covering my shoulders and tops of arms a bit, please look away!” character that many boleros can have.

Vintage Merry Widow Lace & Satin Corset at Absolutely Riveting: $17

This vintage ‘Merry Widow’ corset at Absolutely Riveting is very similar to the Alexis Mabille Couture style, and a mere snip at $17 if it happens to be your size! Wear with tailored cigarette trousers, underneath a tux or over a pencil skirt for the same achingly chic but very sexy look.

Vintage Black Lace 'bodycon' dress at Holy Mess: $40

Sexy but still covered-up, this black lace dress at Holy Mess is very reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, or some other vintage starlet, all wiggle and lipgloss. I’m sure Dita Von Tease would look divine in such a dress.

Hand Dyed Tea Length Tulle Skirt by Ouma: $260

I have long been a fan of Ouma‘s breathtakingly romantic designs, and this hand dyed tea length tulle skirt is just dreamy. It truly gladdens the heart, just gazing at the picture. 🙂 Oh for a weekend in Paris, twirling through the streets in this, a cashmere cardi and some jaw-droppingly wonderous shoes. I know, I know, the shoes would pinch and it would probably rain, but we can dream! Lord, I want them ALL in every colour. Dear Santa…[it’s early, I know, but y’have to get your requests in, gals and boys, or he ignores you when it’s too busy].

Chantilly Lace Tape by Prank & Dorset: $15.50

How stunning, and what a great idea for Santa to use to pretty-up the many, many parcels he’ll likely be wrapping for me! This tape is available from Prank & Dorset in white, too, and can be used on cards or any other paper-crafty ideas you clever people may have.

Margeilas High Waisted Trousers by And What Else Is There: $45

These high-waisted trousers by And What Else Is There are exactly the kind I’ve been thinking of with many of the looks I have featured here – they would look fantastic with the Tuxedo ‘boyfriend’ blazer, either of the corsets or the peach chiffon shawl top… even a simple t-shirt or tank top. Completely versatile and another absolute steal: custom made trousers for $45!

Well, there we must leave it, I suppose. I do hope you have enjoyed this toe-dip into the world of (vastly more affordable) Couture alternatives, dear hearts?

Until next time (and not so long a wait, I promise),

Miss Nightingale