Beyond the Pale


Anya Hindmarch: 18th Century Portraits & Georgian Cariactures

Anya Hindmarch‘s bags have long been lusted after by the fash pack and celebrities alike, but I have only admired them from afar, with the eye of someone who appreciates they are beautifully designed yet remains drool free.

They have always – perhaps unfairly – struck me as bags carried by dainty, neat ladies who always polish their shoes, and therefore obviously not for the likes of me.

Until I espied a rather fabulous tote and the saliva glands began working overtime. A brand new range inspired by beautiful 18th Century oil portraits and cheeky Georgian caricatures? Oh my, get me a hankie. The drooling begins here…

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COURTNEY VALENTINE CLUTCH: £395.00

“A new style for this season, the Courtney Valentine clutch captures the naughtiness of the Georgian era by featuring the cheeky images of 18th Century illustrator James Gillray. The zip top fastening is completed with a supremely soft leather tassel, which take eight hours to craft by hand and features contrasting coloured threads. With an internal compartment for all of your essentials, this clutch bag makes an eye-catching style statement.”

I adore the detail they chose to showcase on this Courtney Valentine clutch, it suggests naughtiness just out of sight, and it’s definitely cheeky. I

have a great fondness for accessories that don’t take themselves too seriously while retaining a certain elegance and whimsicality. The tassel really ups the glam factor, too. Tassels are set to be everywhere this Spring/Summer, apparently. I bet Dita’s thrilled.

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GRACIE LADY: £795.00

“Inspired by 18th Century oil portraits, the iconic Gracie has been used as a canvas to depict the Duchess of Beaufort; ‘The Lady’. Reworked in printed canvas, this Anya Hindmarch favourite has a jewellery like chain shoulder strap and labelled compartments inside for all your bits and bobs. It is beautifully finished with our signature enamel twist lock.”

This Gracie Lady is so cute, and I’d use it slung nonchalantly over a t-shirt worn with floppy a-line short skirt and (for now) opaque tights and biker boots. Dressing down classics is the way forward for me this season.

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EARL BOTTOM PINCH TOTE: £250.00

“A cheeky addition to our Spring Summer collection, the Earl tote captures the naughtiness of the Georgian era through the illustrations of 18th Century caricaturist James Gillray.”

This Earl Bottom Pinch is the one that originally set me drooling, though to be honest, I’d buy it unseen for the name alone. Being extremely keen on Georgian caricatures anyway, this was always going to especially appeal to me, but I just love everything about it. Imagine how bright every day would be if you flounced out the door with this over your arm!

Of course the sad truth is that I shall still have to admire these bags from afar, as they are way out of my (non-existent) budget right now, but instead of cooly appreciating the design, this time Anya Hindmarch’s collection truly has me lusting with the crowd of die-hard fans. More like this, please!

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Disaya: Nutcracker Sweet – Jewellery To Capture Your Imagination

Some people favour jewellery with clean, simple, lines; minimalists who worship all that is streamlined, elegant and pure. I am not one of these people. This surely comes as no surprise.

Who in their right mind could get excited about such dullness when jewellery and accessories can allow you to express your individuality, little hints of your personality glinting merrily on your fingers or twinkling intriguingly around your throat.

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One of the most exciting jewellery brands I’ve seen for years twinkled at me from afar, an acquaintance posted a picture of a collection on Instagram, and I HAD to know where they were from… Disaya, came the answer.

Disaya is the brainchild of award-winning Central St. Martins graduate Disaya Sorakraikitikul, including jewellery, accessories, Ready To Wear . She is obviously very influenced by her surroundings, that particular creativity that London seems to breed so well, along with that playfulness mixed with sophistication that perhaps best describes her style.

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Launched in 2007, Disaya’s range caused quite a stir, being immediately picked up by over 70 stockists on launching. It’s really quite easy to see why, as everything she designs is so full of eccentricity and has a unique charm. The pieces are designed in-house and combined with local craftsmanship to ensure Disaya’s exacting standards are met – some supposedly whimsical ranges suffer from poor quality and finishing which renders them rather tacky, in my eyes, but Disaya is head and shoulders above all other pretenders to the throne.

Disaya was The next two years saw Disaya’s stockists increase by 50%, and it is now sold in over 20 countries at various prestigious retailers including: Henri Bendels, Le Bon Marche, Seibu, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, as well as at the flagship store in Gaysorn shopping mall located in Bangkok.

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Quirky and fun without being too childish is a difficult act to pull off, but Disaya have charm and wearability in bucketloads. I covet the entire Nutcracker collection, just launching this month, but so much else besides!

My standout favourite pieces have to be the Nutcracker gentlemen rings and the adorable Teddy Bear Nutcracker costume necklace – reminiscent of traditional folk-ish German Christmas decorations, they make me want to snuggle up in a huge cosy jumper while drinking mulled wine and raiding the festive chocolate box. Not that I need much persuading.

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Oh and the stags head pieces, too, topped with matching pearls. And the carnivalesque horses, straight from a fairground carousel!

So beautifully enamelled, too, and gorgeous colours. Leafing through the new SS13 Lookbook I see so many pieces I would give a home to in the blink of an eye. look at that frowning face necklace! Love, love, LOVE.

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Disaya also show the same imagination in their other accessories and have the most magical prints in their clothing, too. They look like something a grown up Alice in Wonderland or a modern day Marie Antoinette wold like to wear.

For me the jewellery is the most easily wearable, simply because you can mix it in with whatever you happen to be wearing. Some days I just want a touch of whimsicality, other days I may wish for head-to-toe fantastical. With Disaya, you may plump for that one special piece, or an entire outfit, and I love having that choice within a range.

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The whole collection is launching on Disaya.com later this month, but some pieces from previous collections are available from My Flash Trash – my favourites there are the stackable strawberry shortcake rings and the darling little Gentlemen’s Accessories earring set. Great attention to detail for such itty bitty things.

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I have seen so many takes on tea cup and cake-inspired cutesy accessories, but for me, Disaya does it best, and with her unique stamp on each piece they make. They are just beautiful ornaments in and of themselves – one could certainly display them in a cabinet – for me they carry a certain air of mystery and intrigue; like little objet d’art freshly plucked from a shadow box.

Disaya are even collaborating their unique style with a tea manufacturer, and of course the packaging is to die for and stamped with their inimitable charm:

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“Introducing Disaya’s ‘Tea muskerteers’ ,our special collaboration with No. 57, Comes in 3 stylish flovours, including Macaroon Black Tea, Rice Pudding white tea and Apple crumble Green Tea. They are perfect Christmas present material ! Coming to stores soon…”

Your best bet is to keep an eye on their website, and think about liking their Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest news and pictures from their collections.

I can’t wait to see what they do next, it’s safe to say I am totally obsessed with Disaya. Teacups, moustaches and cats, oh my!



Love Is Boutique: Bloggers & Press Day

A veritable Tardis of designer goodies, Love Is Boutique has always been a must-visit destination for the bargain-hunting fashionista, but there have been subtle changes afoot since I last visited and now I had heard it’s EVEN BETTER. Along with a few other invited bloggers and press peeps, I sashayed along to see just how this could be so.
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If you are on heart medication of any kind, you may want to dose yourself up before walking through the doors of Love Is Boutique, as every rail, each shelf and cabinet the eye rests on is bulging with temptation in the form of DESIGNER BARGAINS.

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Be still my rapidly beating heart. Hopefully not literally.

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“Umm… Is that a Phillip Lim evening dress sparkling on the wall? Can that be a Chloe Paddington bag hanging up there?” your brain asks your eyes. “Just next to the several immaculate Louis Vuitton bags and adjacent to the cabinet of handmade couture Manolo Blahnik shoes…” your eyes nonchalantly reply.

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At this point, your palpitations are going to kick in, so it’s really handy if you have remembered that medication or have your inhaler to hand. Or a hip flask of gin, whatever gets you through. Yup, it’s all true, this place is piled up with the kind of high-end designer merchandise normally only sighed over in the glossy pages of Vogue, Harpers and their ilk. Only at VASTLY reduced prices.

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Paula Fry, the owner of this treasure trove, invited me, along with several other bloggers and members of the press, to come and see the changes Love Is has undergone. It’s always been good – the kind of Best Kept Secret you only tell your best girlfriend. And maybe not even then – so how could things get even better?

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“We’ve got a lot more picky about what we accept to sell for customers, now.” Paula explained. Love Is works as a dress agency, with clients gaining a percentage of whatever the boutique sells the items for. “We can afford to be really choosy because our reputation has spread, and the stuff people bring in for us to look at is unbelievable! One lady came in with her collection of Louis Vuitton bags. ELEVEN of them, all real!”

Paula has become something if an expert at sniffing out fakes “Most of them you can spot a mile off, because the shape or size is wrong, the stitching isn’t right. Some are a bit more difficult, but there are experts you can refer to, and the big brands are all very happy to verify their own merchandise if you’re really not sure.”

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Having built up their name, hosted hugely successful events and fashion shows, and been featured in Vogue magazine as a “must visit” destination, Love Is now boasts a celebrity clientele – “Top Secret, I absolutely cannot name names!” – who buy and sell their designer swag here. “Often the chauffeur comes and drops stuff off,” Paula whispers, “and oh my GOD it’s such amazing stuff…”

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Perhaps the most noticeable change is the fact there’s far less vintage stock in the boutique these days. It’s getting harder and harder to get top quality vintage to sell, and people put a ‘vintage’ tag on any old thing and expect it to be desirable, so I think this is a clever move on their part. Plus, in a wealthy area and with celebrities emptying their wardrobes, you may as well focus on the goodies surrounding you!

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The vintage pieces are still to be found: really cute little fifties fur collars, dinky enamelled bug brooches and incredible unique handbags from all eras, along with select clothes, but here the designer investment pieces now jostle with the very best high-end High-street items, so there really is something for every budget.

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It’s really interesting to note that real classics like the Mulberry Bayswater bags are flying out the door – “We just can’t get enough of them, as soon as we have them through the door, they leave again on someone else’s arm!” Iconic designer pieces such as Alexander McQueen scarves and tailcoats are also in high demand, as customers invest in designer stand-out pieces which won’t date, mixing these with far cheaper high street trend items.

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On this visit, I was quite selfless and restrained, buying an unusual necklace for a friend’s Christmas present, though I took rather a shine to the Bally, sheepskin lined ankle boots on the back shelf here, and may have to pop back in to, um, visit them. Yes. That’s it. *cough*

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I also have a massive regret that I didn’t get the beautiful enamelled ladybird brooch purchased by fellow bargain-snaffler, Bettina, AKA Mrs Anke (of Ladybits blog fame: she has a gin cocktail named after her, and that’s a REAL measure of fame, my friends). Que Sera, as Doris Day was wont to warble!

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Adored this darling little bobble-trimmed dress, too. Oh, and the cosy hooded cloak and the bauble charm bracelet and about five coats upstairs and… Uh, no, I mean it’s all awful and you wouldn’t like it at all so don’t go before I’ve got my mitts on all the goodies I saw, there’s nothing there. Yup. Convincing, eh?

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As the Champagne was quaffed and more people arrived to gawp and gossip (three of my favourite things to do, right there: quaffing, gawping & gossiping) I had to grab my purchase and get a wriggle on, sadly. Having ogled their latest wares, I shall be back again very soon. They have all manner of gorgeousness arriving every single day, so there’s always a good reason to pop in again.

Just to look. Obviously…

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UPDATE: I have now been back and purchased the Bally boots. Quite by accident.



Bargain du Jour: Bolongaro Trevor Lomasi Shift Dress 68% Off!

I am a huge fan of Bolongaro Trevor, no surprise, really, as they’re the designers who founded another of my favourite clothing brands – All Saints. As such, I am always keeping a watchful eye on their website, waiting to see the latest looks and – with squealing excitement – the last-minute bargains to be had in their amazing sales!

Bolongaro Trevor is created by British Designers Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor – original founders and former designers behind the cult the retail store group All Saints. Original, unique and commercial, the new collection is comprised of contemporary handmade pieces inspired by vintage finds amassed over the past 20 years. The collections have a moody darkness reminiscent of Victorian London, making the brand a hit with the edgy East End crowd, British bands and models – Kate Moss, Agnes Deyene, Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Emma Watson. Collaborations include The Libertines – Carl Barat & Pete Doherty for their legendary comeback gigs in Reading and Leeds, The Who for their Feb 2010 Superbowl gig USA and uber-cool bands Kasabian and The Kings of Leon for the front cover of music bible NME. Recent collaborations have included Will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue on BBC’s The Voice, The band behind Rebecca Ferguson and Pendulum.

I am thrilled with my latest purchase, so thought I’d share it with you: the Lomasi Shift Dress in deepest midnight blue cotton lace. I got it for £30 instead of £95, which is the sort of saving I like. 🙂

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I shall be wearing this with a little silk slip underneath and with leggings (as my legs are pale as bottles of milk and I don’t think the world is ready for them). In the colder weather I shall layer this over jeans, wear with thick tights and knee boots, or with warmer tops underneath.

There are still a few wonderful bargains left on the Bolongaro Trevor website, but my Top Tip of the day is to steer you toward their eBay outlet shop, where they sell the very last pieces of their biggest bargains! For example, there are now no Lomasi Shift Dresses on the website, but in their eBay shop you can still grab one – if you’re quick!



[NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas. #1: All Saints Heather Dress

I very rarely see traditional wedding dresses – even dresses that breezily claim they are ‘alternative’ wedding dresses – that I like. It often seems that designers cannot quite wrench themselves away from the poofy meringue or dull as dishwater ‘Virginal Simplicity’ yawn-fests that inhabit page after glossy, anodyne page in most mainstream Bridal magazines.

With this in mind, I set about seeking out gorgeous dresses that could easily be worn by a bride, but could also (hopefully) be worn again afterwards. Some are more traditional or vintage looking, others may be a little bit ‘out there’, but while they may not appeal to all, I have found something to love in every single one, which gives me hope if nothing else, while searching for my own wedding dress!

There’s something for every budget, from under £50 to several thousand bucks, which may only be dreams for most of us, but I hope may also serve as inspiration and give you other ideas about where to look for THE dress…

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This is the ‘Heather’ maxi dress, by All Saints. It’s £395, and while out of my budget for a normal everyday dress, I think is still an okay price for The Best Day Of Your Life in which you will be worshipped as a Princess et-cetera et-cetera.

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I really like the flattering cut and drape of this All Saints dress – very 1930’s starlet, or BCLWCCP (Before Courtney Love Went Completely Coco Pops). Bless her. Okay, maybe she’s been that way since immemorial, but you catch my drift.

You could wear the Heather dress again bedecked with costume jewellery (I’m thinking multiple layers of charm-loaded chains or perhaps one of the Butler & Wilson diamanté skull necklaces) and layered with a biker jacket for a funky evening look. It’s also available in black, if darker hues are your thing (and they are usually mine, though I’m trying to steer away from an all-black wedding dress).

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Regardless of how you style it – wafty Goddess or rock chick chic – this is a classy looking and actually quite classic dress that would see you through many years.



Bolongaro Trevor – Dark Beauty
September 13, 2011, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: , , , , , ,

Yesterday I warbled on at some length about a new favourite design label, Bolongaro Trevor, and promised I would show you the plum picks of their brand new Autumn collection and tell you more about the designers behind the label. I also left you with a bit of teaser, asking if you recognised the style of the clothes, the bizarrely beautiful prints, the overall vibe of the label…

Kait Bolongaro & Stuart Trevor from an Independent article about their swanky pad.

It makes sense as soon as you know, for the designers behind Bolongaro Trevor – Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor – are the husband and wife team who founded and previously designed for the phenomenally successful All Saints brand. Aha! Yes, the lightbulb clicked on for me, too.

Poloma Lace Jacket by Bolongaro Trevor: £260

This jacket is just beyond gorgeous, and I think really adaptable. You could just as easily wear this with jeans and a little white vest top as a sharp pencil skirt & silk blouse for work.

Back detail of Poloma Lace Jacket - Just as pretty as the front!

You probably all know how much I love modern takes on Victoriana, and this showcases exactly the look I love.

Bolongaro Trevor press release

I’ve long been a fan of the All Saints clothes and accessories, though many of them I’ve admired from afar as some of their styles truthfully belong on a far younger (or braver) person than me!

Amadeus Dress by Bolongaro Trevor: £155

The Amadeus Dress has adjustable straps at certain points, so you can hitch it up for a saucy wench look. Love it!

I was very interested to read an interview with Stuart Trevor in which he described the main differences between the two labels, and he described the Bolongaro Trevor customer as a bit older, more sophisticated and wanting a practicality from her wardrobe that younger gals just couldn’t give two hoots about.

I think that’s a fair description and certainly I can relate to the ‘older’ bit, with pretensions toward the ‘more sophisticated’ bit!

Talulah Dress by Bolongaro Trevor: £165

This dress in the new collection shows that duality of cheekiness and wearability very well, I think. It could really be worn by women of many ages and for lots of occasions, something that I don’t think you could truthfully say about the All Saints range. That’s not to say All Saints is entirely about Bright Young Things, but I do believe the emphasis of their more recent collections has been on casual wear for the younger crowd.

Inside the new Bolongaro shop at 123 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG

Bolongaro Trevor fulfill the need for quirky, individual looking clothes for the ladies who’d feel ridiculous in torn denim hotpants and don’t desperately try to kid themselves that they’re ‘just like Kate Mosse’. The tailoring may have the sophisticated edge, but the little details and surreal prints in which they delight, really set this label apart from the drab mainstream.

Flat Liner Overdyed Black/Blue Men's Trousers by Bolongaro Trevor: £135

The menswear, too, has so many interestingly elements, they play heavily on military influenced looks and that swoonsome “Oh, Mr Darcy!” appeal.

Mason Trimmed Men's Jacket by Bolongaro Trevor: £325

I am fully aware that many British men shy away from anything too ‘different’, but I know many gals who love that rakish look and we can only hope that it becomes widely popular, even among the less brave! And yes, some of the pieces are expensive, but they tend to be the more classic items in the finest fabrics that should, with care, last a lifetime. And they have amazing sales. 😉

This is just the first hit of the new collection, with much more to come. I can’t wait to see it all!

 

 



Bolongaro Trevor – Clasically Surreal: My pick of the SS11 SALE
September 13, 2011, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Every so often you stumble across a designer label that makes your heart go pitter-pat and has you mentally totting up the black-market value of your vital organs so that you might afford one of everything they have made. For my esteemed colleague Sallie and I, our find of the year thus far has to be British design duo Bolongaro Trevor.

During a mad day of dashing about and sale bargains we homed in on a large rail of beautifully draped, quirkily printed pieces that made us quite giddy. I grabbed a full-length wool cardigan coat (of which there seems to exist no pictures on this Earth, but it is fabulous and I can’t wait to be cold enough to wear it), and this fabulous Pirrot Draped Top.

Pirrot Drape Top by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £150 NOW: £60

You can’t really see the exquisite detail, here, but the is made from incredibly floaty 100% Silk Haboutai and printed all over with antique botanical and medical prints of peonies, roses, teeth and syringes.

Pirrot Drape Top - back detail

Not exactly your run-of-the-mill combination of illustrations to use on a garment, to be sure, but Bolongaro Trevor delight in these cheeky, darkly beautiful juxtapositions of classical elements married to the surreal bohemian.

Mikail Polka Dots Top by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £140, Now: £100

Sallie jumped at the chance to own the Mikail Polka Dots silk printed top – this time, the print being various hand-coloured insects and zoo animals. It was especially pleasing, as Sallie had seen a lady wearing the Mikail Polka Dots Dress at a recent wedding, and had forever after wondered who the designer was and where she could get her hands on their goods. So to speak.

Delia Drape Dress by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £160, Now: £40!

This Delia Drape Dress is gorgeous, and a stonking BARGAIN, now, at just forty quid. Even at their full retail prices, I think the Bolongaro Trevor designs are very good value considering they look (and feel) far more expensive than they actually are.

Laced Jungle Clutch Bag by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £165, Now: £49.50

I am in love with this bag – yes, Bolongaro Trevor excel at accessories, too it seems – it looks elegant and practical, but retains that element of fun in the gorgeous jungle and lace print. Not enough designers put giraffes on their evening bags, do they?

Laced Jungle Clutch Bag - Close-up detail

By the way, if Santa [or my fiance] is reading this, what a simply marvelous Christmas present idea this would be. Hey, I never said I was subtle.

Keya Dress by Bolongaro Trevor - Was £260, Now: £100

This Keya Dress is made from cotton and line and would be great worn to the office or a smart work environment, but would equally be happy perched on a bar stool sipping mojitos. Well, I know I would.

Grace Long Tee by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £65, Now: £15!

A great entry level bargain to the world of Bolongaro Trevor is this long, draped t-shirt, which is now only £15! You can let the sleeves down by undoing the button tabs on the shoulders, if you prefer not to show your arms.

Well, there are oodles more bargains and plum picks I could wibble on about, darlings, but I have dinner to cook and must begin gazing in winder at the NEW COLLECTION of Bolongaro Trevor which is just hitting the stores. I’ll be showing you my picks of the Autumn range and telling you a bit more about this design duo tomorrow. Until then, I’ll leave you with a little teaser…

Do the designs and prints strike a bell? They should do. This design team were the originators of a very famous brand and struck out on their own for pastures new. Find out more tomorrow!