Thursday, 14 October 2010

Guerilla knitting!

A new breed of knitters has appeared in London, leaving small and witty signs of their presence all over the city.
Called Lady Loop, Deadly Knitshade's Whodunnknit or The Fastener, a group of graffiti knitters formed Knit The City They are urban guerilla artists and describe thus their approach: "It is a street art that harks back to woolly thoughts of grandmas and nice cups of tea by the fire, takes that stereotype by the blue rinse and drags it kicking and screaming into the street to wrap round a lamppost, blanket a bollard, or swathe a signpost." As Mutton wants to challenge stereotypes of the "older woman", we can only support such an initiative!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Viva Espana!

In the middle of fashion week's flurry of editorial activity, my middle daughter, an avid reader of free newspapers on her bus journey back home and a kind spotter of good stories for her mum, directed my attention to an article in Metro dated 22/09/2010 on Madrid's fashion week.  She had kindly torn the page for me, which I am reporting on only today. Her eagle eye had spotted pictures of Eloise Bercero  (with the gold colour jacket) modeling clothes from Spanish designer Juan Duyos. 
Juan Duyos is quoted as as saying: "I'm fed up with seeing 10 year old models advertise anti-wrinkle creams for women aged 60". We love this man!

Read more about Juan Duyos in metro:

Monday, 27 September 2010

Chic&Seek - be on trend for less

Chic and Seek is an online shop for high quality second hand clothes.  The web business was created by Tara Nash-King who acts as a broker between sellers and buyers. Tara selects,  sets the prices, photographs and stores the clothes, shoes and accessories presented on the website. The designers she features include Anya Hindmarch, Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloe, Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Mulberry and YSL.
My friend Estelle organised the meeting and we went to see Tara to better understand her venture. Whilst the business is online, Tara's showroom is located in her Notting Hill house where she hosts open days (the next one is Wednesday 28th October) and receives clients by appointment. Fresh faced and personable, Tara exudes enthusiasm for her business and professionalism. The clothes or accessories might be second hand, but service is first class, down to sleek pouches and personalised carrier bags.

 Tara explained that she had long resisted her family's all-consuming entrepreneurial passion. After university, she started working for other people, an accessories company then handbag queen Anya Hindmarch, but soon realised that she too is an entrepreneur at heart. Having sadly lost both her parents at a young age, she took up their mantle, bought a house where she knew that she would some day set up a business. Starting with friends and family, she sourced designer clothes that could have a second life.  Through trial and error, she developed her ability to assess what sells and at what price, and Chic & Seek was born!
Whether they are looking for a bargain or wish to make a return on good clothes they no longer wear, Chic & Seek appeals to women with a taste for high fashion.  Buyers might be time-poor and appreciate Tara's ability to select pieces for them, especially if they make use of the online "chic list" where customers can select items they like.  Others might have a bit too much time on their hands at work and enjoy browsing her website for favourite designers.  Another category of customers is mums who don't want to spend too much on clothes but still look smart and up-to-date. From what I saw on the rails and on the shelves, I think 40+ women could find very good pieces - as long as they can fit a 10, as clothes tend to come in the smaller sizes. Shoes mostly come in size 39-40.  
Louboutin, £260

 Chanel, £1095
In memory of her mother who supported many good causes, Tara organises charity events where customers can combine the fun of shopping with doing good. The next event (focused on breast cancer awareness) takes place on 14th October at Doyle Devere gallery at 30 Ledbury road, London W11 2AB, where hungry shoppers will be able to cross the road to enjoy a 50% discount at Beach Blanket Babylon.
Balenciaga, £1500

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fur-lined boots

In typical fashion manner where seasons are determined a year in advance, on a balmy September week, we are presented with THE supposed trend for boots this winter: shearling lining. My source on that bit of news is How To Spend It, the FT's weekend aspirational magazine.  Its name is so well-chosen, so crude in its assessment of what should still make us dream despite the credit crunch and the collapse of the economy - a world of excess, redolent of bored men and women desperate to spend their way into happiness, that it has to be admired.  With prices hovering around the £600 mark, those trendy boots need to be taken with a pinch of salt and require translation into affordable versions!
I must confess that I like Rupert Sanderson's leather and shearling bootie (£765):
New Look's high street version don't have quite the same look or quality but might do the trick and actually be wearable in the snow.
Browse through their collection on the web for affordable interpretations of the same ideas:

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Fabulous style!

Who ever thought that women over 40 ought to look boring and conservative should follow the lead of Judy, snapped on Portobello road. She gracefully accepted my request for a picture. Not only does she look fabulous but she pulls off colours that younger women might shy away from. She successfully pairs up vibrant oranges with a patterned top in greens and browns. The bag worn across her chest and statement sun glasses complete the outfit.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ray Harris - looking ahead!

Days are getting shorter, August is giving way to September, children are going back to school and we will soon take woolens and coats out of storage.  For those who still want to cling to summer and look ahead at what desigers have in store for us for Spring/Summer 2011, here is a glimpse at Ray Harris ' collection. The mood is nostalgic and reflective and Arno's beautiful pictures convey the bittersweet reality of a world coming to terms with reality after decades of wild growth.

Ray's words to describe his collection, Dreams and Sorrows, with my highlights in large print:

- a changing world
- facing new realities and harder times
- funerals and circuses – beauty and wonder face-to-face with sadness
- simplicity of the child-mind embracing both the spirit and joy of the dressing up box and the cruelty of “the lord of the flies”
- mixing feathers and pyjamas, broken dolls and wounded animals
- distressed sophistication
- appropriateness – our world is sick from excess of choice -stimulation, information, accessibility etc, whilst another world struggles to survive
- our clothes reflect our search for balance
- fashion so integral to our culture, is evolving through a transition from a basis of hype and disposability, to a new integrity
- we search for vintage, or the spirit of vintage to add meaning and resonance to our garments, lest they feel empty after purchase
- the child like ecstasy of being alive alongside the pain of living to adorn ourselves to ease our lives
- the inseparable and the irreconcilable, held together by ritual and ceremony

Serious words for real clothes, enlightened by a few flowers here and a few feathers there!

To see more of Ray Harris' clothes:
To see more of Arno's pictures:

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Marilyn's jumper

You might remember Marilyn Monroe singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" in the 1960 film "Let's Make Love".

Well, you will now be able to wear her jumper, courtesy of Gerard Darel, the label that successfully bid in 1999 for the Irish knit Marilyn wore in the film. Shown below by Robin Wright, it will be available as part of the Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 collection in 4 colours (off-white, sky-blue, khaki or red) and various versions.

You can even take part in a competition to win clothes or a weekend in Deauville during the American Film Festival:

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Rene & Radka

Looking at our main topics of fashion and aging from a reverse perspective, I am happy to feature a couple of artists Rene Hallen and Radka Leitmeritz, fashion photographers whose work features very young models, photographed as adults - a case of lambs dressed as muttons. 

The children, looking serious and often engaged in grown-up  activity are shown in intriguing surroundings, in a glossy, polished world of unreal colours.

Their work is currently shown in the French Southern town of Toulon where I was happy to discover them. They have won various photographic awards such as the Prague Fashion Photo of the year in 2006 and have photographed advertising campaigns for the likes of Kenzo, Adidas, Miss Sixty, Perrier or Nike. They show a series called "Under water" whose young models display a disturbing mix of peaceful abandon and eerie calm - are they dreaming or drowning?

Enjoy their work on their own website:

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Peach Perfect!

If your summer needs a bit of jazzing up, if grey clouds and drizzle give you the blues, take a look at Peach Berserk 's wild prints and funky cuts and design your own dress to lift your spirits. Based in Toronto, Kingi Carpenter lives above her shop/studio (shown below) and looks a living advertisement for her designs: fun, colourful and playful - not the wall-flower type. She runs her internet business and her silkscreen workshops from there too and ships worldwide.

Peachy Berserk's designs for tops, skirts, dresses and jackets can be matched with any of their 200 fabrics and cut to your precise measurements for a perfect fit. I have not tried the clothes nor ordered an outfit myself yet, but my friend Susan has and fully recommends the experience. The fun of it is to choose all the elements and come up with a unique piece that speaks as loud as you want of your personality.

How to design your own Peachy Beserk dress:
Dresses is where Peachy Beserk really come into their own. Most of the dresses are of the party variety - perfect prom-dresses,  and can be tricky for a 40+ due to their high frill and petticoat content but there are enough options to find what works for you. Kingi confirms that she has an "all ages market". Select a cut from the cotton or silk lineups. Here is a model from the frilly variety to wake-up your inner flamenco dancer :
Belle Star

On a safer side, you could go for the Classic stretch dress in cotton lycra at CA$89 or £55 :
or a long-sleeved number, in cotton lycra too, the New York Stretchy Dress at CA$149 or £92:
If you are feeling more adventurous (and rich), go for the party dresses and go wild. At CA$395 or £243, you will want to make sure that the dress will work for you! Two of the most 40+ friendly cuts if you are happy to show a bit of leg, cleavage and arm. You can also customise the models with different sleeve or skirt length:
My Best Friend's Girl

Girl About Town

Once you have selected your cut, choose a print from a collection of names such as Buxom berries, Cowgals (a personal favourite with the slogan: "When they were bad, they were horrid"),  Happenin Hairdressers (hair accessories and ginormous hairdos) or How to Meet a Man (an illustrated collection of tips).
This one is called Sultry Silhouettes:

and this one is I haven't Got A Thing To Wear:

You can pair up the print with any of the 50+ colours on offer and visualise on screen the resulting effect, which is great fun. Select cotton or silk, with a choice of raw or satin silk. Some of the dresses offer great customisation opportunities with different fabrics and trims. 

With the "Dress designer" feature, you can build your own dress from different bodices, necklines, sleeves, and admire the result in different fabrics and colours...You can even choose your skin tone and hair colour for complete personalisation.  Even if you are not going to order a dress, playing on the website is a joy in itself - a grown-up version of the paper-dolls dressing-up game! The Sale cart is also a good place to go - if you are up for it, a lobster print "Sea Time Delight" turquoise and black dress is yours for CA$79 or £49  (reduced from CA$129) - most of the reduced stock is not for the faint-hearted.

All the pictures used to illustrate the article are taken from Peach Beserk's website with Kingi Carpenter's kind approval.

For our Toronto based friends or visitors to the city:
Phone: (416) 504-1711
Address: 507 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, Canada

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

My Favourite Thing

My Favourite Thing, located on Kensington Church Street and evocative of the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music,  is an intriguing boutique. It sells clothes that were used on photo shoots, in film and TV shows. The small shop stocks designers from Lanvin to Hermes, Alexander McQueen to Chanel. Sizes tend to be small (6 to 10 UK or 34 to 38 French) but there are some genuine finds, including shoes (usually size 38 to 40), handbags and accessories. This is not the place for everyday clothes but a great source of party frocks and finery!
On the day of my visit, the lovely sales assistant, Kader from Istanbul was very helpful and knowledgeable.  Browsing through the rails,  I noticed a lot of Alexander McQueen - his recent demise probably creating a demand for the last collections that he actually designed. I liked the very pretty embroidered white silk dress - not for me but certainly pretty with an interesting ruched back with a welcome bum lifting effect:

The following Louis Vuitton suit as available in size 38 (UK size 10) for £400, not exactly cheap, but certainly more affordable than the original price:
A rail of pretty nude colours featured a blouse from Bottega Veneta at £220 (just behind the feathered dress):
The boutique boasts a nice selection of accessories. Shoes from Alaia (size 38) reduced from £755 to £350:
A pair of size 38 Louboutin wedges at £290:
Sunglasses by Dolce & Gabbana at £160:

A good selection of handbags, a slouchy number from Louis Vuitton (£990) and a Fendi satchel at £450:

Jewelry from John Galliano includes beautiful cuffs in silver and gold with semi-precious stones from Quartz (£380) to Topaz (£590):

How to find the shop:
My Favourite Thing
99 Kensington Church Street
London W8 7LN
Tel : +44 (0)20 7727 3300
The website for the company is not very helpful as it does not seem to reflect the actual stock available but here it is:
e :

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Web fashion

The FT Weekend, always a good source of stimulating and interesting information, published their selection of fashion websites worldwide in their Arts & Leisure section.The list is interesting and well worth a browse and a few clicks of the mouse:
I would like to add a few interesting fashion websites that I have come across in the UK:

High vintage:

Fabulous and flattering pleats:
Welsh fabric and clothing:

Beautiful and ethical tweeds:

Fabulous glasses: