Fashion Weeks – Are they in your diary?

These are the first Fashion Weeks for 2015. You can follow the Fashion shows as they happen throughout the weeks on Vogue, and lots of designers have live streaming these days.

Showing A/W 2015 Fashion:

NYC 12th – 19th February 2015

London 20th – 24th February 2015

Milan 25th February – 2nd March 2015

Paris 4th – 11th March 2015

Istanbul and Tokyo 16th – 21st March 2015

Mumbai and Shenzhen 20th – 24th March 2015

Toronto 23rd – 27th March 2015

Moscow 26th – 30th March 2015

Sydney 12th – 16th April 2015


Take your pick of black jackets

Following on from my last blog entry. I’m looking at some good black jacket choices around.

If you have a pear shape body type like me, then you’ll want a jacket that doesn’t cut off at your widest point: hip area and also perhaps a shoulder or neck detail that will balance out your hips. This little black jacket I’m wearing has got a little gathering in the shoulders, nips in at my waist and is shorter than my hips.

nice wind shor 2 IMG_0341

kasinua cropped linen jacket by By Malene Birger

This little jacket is a great little cropped shape.

If you are a colomn shape – long, slim and angular; go for a double breasted jacket so you widen out your body and also one that nips in at the waist.

Jil Sander Double-breasted silk-blend twill blazer

If you are a colomn shape – wide and straight; you need a jacket that nips in at the waist. Go for a single breasted jacket to ensure you don’t widen your figure. If you can find a jacket that has a fake or real waistband at the waistline then this will help with creating a waistline when your jacket is done up.

Stella McCartney Iris wool-twill blazer
When shoulders are the widest point of your body then you’ll need to create width further down to balance them out. You can do this with the peplum jackets that have been around at the moment. For example:

Moschino | Crepe peplum jacket | NET-A-PORTER.COM

Black dress plus Red

Today I’m wearing my black JoJo dress styled with a red belt and black shoes.

MagazinesThis dress seemed perfect working with a PR agent on a warm day like today!IMG_9485

Using a wide coloured belt is a great way of nipping you in at the waist. It’s an easy way to add personality to an outfit but keeping it work appropriate.

ComputerLean back

Try here for more colour styling ideas for black.

If your looking for a red belt to try, these are a couple of great belts I have found:

Genevra Printed Leather Skinny Belt

Jaegar Red suede and leather inlaid belt

I would definitely add a nice big red bag to brighten up a black outfit. One of these would look good:

Browns fashion & designer clothes & clothingKatie Printed Leather Small Tote L K Bennett

Ivory dress and brown accessories

So Tuesday as the heat was on outside, I chose to wear an ivory dress. To accessorise I chose a tan shade of brown. This keeps it light and summery but also steers it away from bridal!!

White no.3 White no.1

With a light coloured dress you will find tan accessories really easy to co-ordinate. There are a lot of accessories in tan to choose from in the shops and it’s a great summer alternative to black.

White no.4White no.2

Here I am wearing a thin tan belt which has a gold feature at the front. I have a Michael Kors bag and I’m also wearing my favorite kitten heel sling back shoes.
You could try something similar. Here are some ideas:

Metal keeper belt from Whistles on House of Fraser

Emalee Ted letters belt

Emma Leather Shoulder Bag LK Bennett

DKNY Grained leather tote

How to Dress for Work from Spring Summer 2013 Catwalks

How to dress for work from the catwalks: If your feeling stuck in a rut, get some inspiration

If you, like most women, like to update your wardrobe on a seasonal basis then a great place to start looking for inspiration is the catwalks.

You can get some ideas of the latest fashions but you don’t need to literally wear or purchase what the models are wearing. Take them as a starting point to find what you like this season i.e. it could be the black and white trend for spring summer 2013 that really catches your eye.

These are some catwalk pictures showing various designers who have used this black and white combo in different ways:

Black and white vertical stripes
Black and white pattern
Black and white colour blocks
All white with black edging
Black and white stripes

Or you might like the all white look:

White crisp shirt and trousers
Crisp white shirt with skirt
You have picked the details, so what’s next?
Take a look at the details that make up the outfits. Perhaps invest in a crisp white angular shirt to add to your work outfit and match this with a well fitting pair of white trousers that you already own.
Mix and match textures in white: choose a white blouse like this Stella McCartney embroidery anglaise cotton shirt (below) or the chiffon trimmed silk and cotton blend shirt by Helmet Lang. Match with a white skirt such as the white jacquard Nina Ricci skirt:
If all white is a bit too scary as a work look then perhaps try the black and white trend. No one says you have to stick to one trend. You probably already own a white/ivory shirt or blouse. Purchase a black and white piece to go with it, such as a striped jacket or a skirt like these from Marni and DKNY below:
Just by using the black and white trends I picked out there are a lot of options to choose from for spring summer 2013.
Ideas for work wear:
  • Black and white stripe jacket over an all white look.
  • White trouser suit with a black and white striped blouse.
  • Black skirt suit and crisp white shirt.
  • White pencil skirt with black blouse and black and white patterned accessories.
  • White dress and black accessories (belt, shoes, bag)
You can do this with most trends and also for most price points; from high street to designer. Flick through some magazines and you’ll see pictures from the catwalks, or get onto the Vogue website.
There is no need to try and re-create a catwalk outfit, all you’re trying to do is take the essence, the spirit or the feel of the concept and make it work for your body type and your wardrobe.

Ladies Summer Collection: Fashion Inspiration

People often ask me what my inspiration is as a clothing designer. I can honestly say there is no one specific thing, although I am a prolific image collector – folders and folders of pictures from magazines, postcards, photographs and printouts. It might be a colour, a texture, an outfit composition, a line, a structure or a print that catches my eye.

For the summer collection, The Riviera, the design inspiration came from wanting to create of collection of pieces that you could just slip on, feel luxurious and summery in.

This was achieved through the cut of the designs. The Grace blouse is cut very generously through the body and arms and could be described as a batwing or kimono style shape. The Eloise dress and Rosa blouse are both cut in a leaner kimono shape; allowing for ease of movement but perfect for people who want something a little more fitted.

The Fabric: Silk is a fabulous fabric for summer and the crepe de chine fabric I’ve used feels amazing and drapes really well in the loose shapes.

The Colours: I started off with the Aqua green shade and this led me to think about colours  you see on holidays in other countries. The collection features aqua, coral, sky blue, Ivory and black. The colours have all been given holiday location names.

When I was pulling together fashion inspiration for the photoshoot look I immediately got drawn to the 50s with the fabulous icecream colours and then into the 60s. I’ve popped some inspiration pics below for you but click here for more!

Brigette Bardot - Hair inspiration
Brigette Bardot – Hair inspiration
Icecream colours!
Makeup with aqua and blue reference
Makeup with aqua and blue reference
Pretty pastel coloured beach huts at Mersea
Pretty pastel coloured beach huts at Mersea

Once I had these ideas I then researched possible locations. I’d seen the beach huts at Mersea and knew there was some lovely colours. The pastel coloured huts made a great photoshoot backdrop.

So that everyone in the photoshoot team is on the same page for the photoshoot and can prepare their kit for the day, I like to send out mood/image boards. A picture of the model can help prepare an MUA or Hair Stylist with the face shape, colouring and hair type they are working with and colour swatches and inspirational pics can give the look we are aiming for.

Close up on the makeup
Close up on the makeup

Tracy worked her magic with the makeup. She has so much experience working within fashion shoots, it was great that she could come and use her creativity in this shoot. The smokey aqua blue eye worked really well in the look.

Precision hairI was lucky to have Julie on the photoshoot team. Normally working as a hair stylist for brides, she creates vintage styles and looks that are a little bit different from your normal bridal do! So the model Sophie was in good hands. See this blog entry for the behind the photoshoot pictures of getting the hair ready and creating the amazing ‘do’!

Photography for fashion is not photographer Kerrie Mitchell’s main job role, normally she photographs weddings. But I’m really looking forward to the results as she always pulls it out the bag. I think as a designer you really have to find people you work well with and Kerrie is someone I continually work with as we really connect. She always understands the looks, concept and shots I am trying to achieve.

Pattern Cutting – Book Review

For the first read the book Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich is hard to get your head round. That link above is to the latest edition of the book and perhaps they have altered and improved it since I purchased this 2004 edition of the book.

I found Aldrich’s instructions to be too short and leaving gaps in the information. Aldrich takes you through creating blocks in a very specific way and then how to adapt them to create certain standard shapes and style lines.

In creating the blocks I often found the clarity of her instructions left me frustrated. Once I had worked with the book several times and started drawing out the blocks I began to develop an understanding of what she was saying.

I don’t think this is a book for a beginner but would be good for someone with a base knowledge or experience in pattern cutting. In Aldrich’s adaptation of the blocks to other designs she uses clear drawings but again for anyone not experienced there isn’t a lot of instruction.

The edition I have includes overgarment blocks and close fitting blocks. As well as blocks for knit and stretch fabrics. There is a small section on CAD at the back of the book that feels like a token and unnessary gesture.

Drafting blocks for individual figures is a useful part of the book but I have other books on alterations for fit which demonstrate in clear photos the problems and solutions better.

Although I don’t think it’s for beginners the design adaptations are not advanced and for more help with more complex designs you might find another book more helpful. If your looking for a pattern cutting book with instruction on creating new and interesting shapes and styles then look towards the Japanese pattern makers. For instance I purchased Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi which I’ve found to be inspiring.

Overall I feel the book has some great and useful information, I have created many starting blocks from the book. I feel that it would be even better if the book was more focused on just the blocks and block adaptations and expanded further in this area. The other areas Aldrich touches on would be very useful as seperate books and she could then extend the information.

I often go back to the book as a starting point and keep it nearby for reference.

Learning to grade your own patterns – book review

I decided today to write this post as I was chatting over lunch with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a while. She expressed an interest in the fact that I do my own grading and then said she was considoring purchising the book Grading for the Fashion Industry Theory and Practice by Martin M. Shoben and Patrick J.Taylor.

I warned her of my findings from using the book and that I wouldn’t purchase it again. I’m going to talk you through the book and how I found it to use. I think that although you can purchase it from several reputable retailers such as amazon and morplan you should borrow one first before parting with your money.

My first criticism is that it reads as though the author wrote the book and then never re-read it and neither did the copy editor! I purchased the Third Edition so you would have thought that any errors would have been picked up and changed by then.

It’s almost like no one has ever got past the first part of the book. I have been working on some designs and I thought I would have a look through the style reference section that takes you through different styles and how to grade them. I quickly stumbled across an error. On page 126 it says this:

‘A fuller discussion of track grading can be found see page ?.’

It then says ‘Back skirt as block (page ?)’ and again it happens on p135.

This book gives the impression of taking you from start to finish, from beginner and beyond. When I read this book I felt that there was crucial information missing. It jumps around from one bit to another. They grab a number from thin air and don’t explain where it has come from. The important information may well be there somewhere but you have to fight through the waffle to get to it.

It feels like a problem that I have found before, that an expert in their field writes a book but isn’t an expert in conveying their knowledge to others.

I was reading the instructions and having to constantly flick back and forth to diagrams that they reference but have strangely placed overleaf. Surely you place illustrations and diagrams next to the explanation?

When reading this book I was of the mindset of very much understanding the concept of grading yet wanting some clarification of how to go about it.

In the end I combined alot of information that I gathered from various sources together and worked it out. Since figuring out how to grade I have looked back at the book and some areas have made more sense.

There does seem to be a gap in the book market for a simple to understand book on the basic steps of grading. Once the reader can grasp those techniques you can show them the pitfalls and the different styles etc…

The books on the market are expensive and I (as others probably did) picked the book Grading for the Fashion Industry because it covers a variety of areas and also isn’t as expensive as the others. At £25.00 it is a snip compared to these others:

Concepts of Pattern Grading: Techniques for Manual and Computer Grading


Pattern Grading for Women’s Clothes: The Technology of Sizing


apparel pattern grading (2nd edition) [paperback]


But then in hindsight it might be worth paying the extra money! I am yet to look at those other books but I would be interested in knowing what they’re like.


Yesterday I made my first visit to Pure London. I was interested in seeing the set up of the event, the individual booth set ups and sizes as well as the overall atmosphere.

It was interesting to see how brands presented their stands and created a buzz around the clothing. I particularily loved the set up of Darling, they had a clear yet visually interesting space.

There was a great mix of long established brands such as Sticky Fingers, Fenn Wright Manson and with less known brands.

I felt the Premium section was quite small but I felt Goat’s collection stood out.

It was really great to see newer small brands and companies having space there. However there seemed a noticeable difference between the brands where larger budgets could afford large square footage and the smaller companies having spaces tucked away at the edge. Somehow I feel the lay out could be made a bit better to assist fledgling brands and attract visitors to their stands. Shell spaces for small and new brands could form a nice key walk way between prime space.

In addition to the exibitors there are catwalk shows and presentations about the trends for the season. A few snapshots of the day:

There seemed a good mix of brands who offered low minimums on orders and short runs which is great for the small boutiques who want to spread their budget between forward order and short order. Low minimums also give the boutiques a chance to try a brand in the mix without commiting large chunks of the season to it.

Personally if I was buying from this event I would need a couple of days. First day to browse and get some information and then second day to solidify orders and make decisions.

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