Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Photoshoot - Very Pretty Things

This fabulous photoshoot was organised by the wonderful designer and stylist What Katy Did Next and the fabulous photographer Kat Timmins to Launch Katy's beautiful new accessories. 
Katy has always been brilliant to work with, she sends me a mouth watering moodboard and I get designing so full of the inspiration she has given me. I always know her pieces and styling skills are flawless. 

The blue and silver sequinned cocktail dress, the pink liberty print dress and bodice, our classic debby prom dress and the Claudia dress were selected for the shoot and modeled by the simply stunning Jazmine, Beth and Sophie who did a perfect job.
All dresses available to order in the online shop. 

This was the first time working with Kat and wowsers, she's good, very good and taking a look around her tumblr damned cool, I like this a-lot. I adore what she did here, taking the sweeter than sweet edge off (which is always needed with our dresses) the mirror reflections are gorgeous the glossy US Vogue look that I am never sad to see. Love every shot here. 

Above are the close ups of Katy's collection, the hand cut silk roses with glass beaded leaves, the 1920's cascading bugle bead comb in silver and dusky pink and my favourite romantic blue feather hair ribbon encrusted with crystals and pearls. Each as beautifully handcrafted in pure luxury as the next. Available to order here.

Kat Timmins Photography
What Katy Did Next - Designer bridal accessories

Friday, 26 July 2013

Introducing The Dress Cabin

We're very happy to introduce our new 'Dress Cabin'.

Those of you who have visited the studio for bespoke dresses have been wonderful working around the cutting table and pins but now we have a dedicated area just for you in the form of our little wooden cabin.

Open on Saturdays by appointment only, you'll be able to try on and view our bridal collections, cocktail dresses and accessories. There's plenty of space to look at your dress in comfort, have a cup of tea and relax whilst we discuss all your ideas one to one.
You are also welcome to try on the ready to wear dresses and can purchase items on the day if you fall in love with something.

We look forward to seeing you at the cabin, for appointments contact
Consultations for bespoke dresses are charged at £50 on booking and fittings are £50 per session.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Customer Photos - Alex in Orange

Anna has been working away on some stunning wedding dresses this Summer and this is the first of her brides this year. I love the floaty chiffon in this warm burnt orange.

Over to Anna ..................

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of designing and making another wedding dress for a friend. People always ask is it more stressful and is there more pressure than working with someone you don’t know, and the answer is, without doubt, yes! But it is also totally rewarding to be there on their special day, be privy to all the secrets in the run up and see your cumulative work together recorded in their photos. (The compliments you - hopefully - receive on the day aren’t a bad boost either!)
I went to secondary school and college with Alex and who would have thought on all those nights out and trips away, by that I mean Newquay age 17, club nights and festivals in the late 90‘s, that one day we would be working on the design for her wedding dress together. Alex joked with me a couple of years ago that when her and Pete got married she would like me to make her dress, so that was that…..

From the start I knew Alex did not want a ‘white’ wedding dress, I remember saying to Alexandra I thought she would go for red, so I wasn’t far off when she fell in love with a vibrant shade of handwoven silk dupion called ‘Firefly.’ We worked on the design and decided to combine this with a slightly darker shade of silk crinkle chiffon to create a long flowing skirt AND THEN all I had to do was keep quiet about the colour for about 6 months!!

Alex and Pete’s wedding was full of surprises - the bridesmaids wore green dresses and Pete and his best men green waistcoats as his surname is Green, I also worked green beads into Alex’s corsages on her dress and hair piece as she was becoming a Green. There was enough fabric left from Alex’s dress for me to make a little orange flower girl dress for Alex’s niece Astrid and Alex’s Mum (one of the few other people that knew about the orange dress) organised their surprise wedding transport, a green and orange camper (swoon) from
The wedding was held at Wells town hall, the atmosphere was great on a sunny Saturday with market in full swing outside and lots of people about. The reception at Batcombe barn, which is a little remote to be polite but very lovely and rustic (thankfully it was dry) had a Thai theme as they have spent a lot of time in Thailand together. When we arrived our old music teacher played sax and we ate yummy spicy barbequed canap├ęs and later the wedding food, for all 200 people, was pad thai, sticky rice and thai green curry. Everyone ate, drank and was merry, and then probably drank some more as most people were camping the night, and later on Alex took to the stage and sang with her band. It was such a fun day, with brilliant details and homemade touches, just right for Alex and Pete.

Here’s what Alex wrote in a lovely thank you:
‘I can’t thank you enough for such a perfect dress, it was exactly how I imagined and the dress of my dreams! It definitely needs some dry cleaning! Then maybe at some point I will call on you to take it up so I can wear it again but i’m not ready to change it yet, still enjoying looking at it.’

Photography by

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Marie Antoinette - Costume and Film

Film and Costume - Marie Antoinette the influence on fashion

The influence of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is now a fashion cliche in the realms of Audrey Hepburn and the famous French macaroon. Manolo Blahnik designed the shoes and it's no surprise when things are this beautiful that the latest Dior campaign and countless fashion shoots have all been inspired by this iconic cult movie.
This is all down to the incredible Oscar winning designs of Milena Canonero.

The overall look of  the film is set in soft pastels, blues and silk tones (inspired by those Laduree macaroons) evoking the great Cecil Beaton photograph of Charles James ball gowns.
 The cinematography is bright and light with fresh summer skies and gorgeous grainy dusk's giving that intimate youthful aire. There are many eye level shots immersing the audience as a character in the room with Marie-Antoinette. This is then contrasted with huge wide shots of the steps at Versailles for grand scale of the location.

The soundtrack takes genre out of it's stuffy period-drama box and markets as a teen movie whilst the rest of the audience is filled with a nostalgic haze for the beauty of youth that Coppola captures so well.
It's not dramatic in the British period drama way leaving out the usual pout and hyper ventilation in tight corsets. Instead she opts for a cool casual aire.
Coppola positions Antoinette as a down to earth girl,  like any of her age, who doesn't really grow up in her candy box surroundings. The real Marie-Antoinette  was a teenager thrown into being the Dauphine of France at fifteen.

The sets are breathtaking, rooms to make your heart pound with indulgence, the real vast gardens of Versailles, the redecorated rooms at the Palace (which Coppola was given permission to use) filled with the specialist cake departments works of art and detail galore. Trims are trimmed and trimmed again.  Even inside the carriage looks divine papered in blue silks and gold swirls.
Just what you'd expect but in some way it all looks comfortable and real, not so staged.

This is also the feeling you get with the costumes, it doesn't feel like the actors have all dressed up, they wear their gowns and frock coats comfortably like modern clothing today. They are worn in such a relaxed manner. Canonero said In The London Times Magazine: "We squeezed the essence of the period, without reproducing it. Even if you think you know a lot about it," she argues, "you always have to look for a new angle. I simplified the very heavy look of the 18th century. I wanted it to be believable, but more stylised."

The first outfit Antoinette is wearing is pale blue velvet, we talked about the significance of pale blue earlier in the blog and the feminine romance associated with this specific colour.
The dress in Austria is altogether more modest, neat fitted jackets buttoned to the neck, fine ribbon hair bows, and softer hair. On becoming French the costume becomes more flamboyant in couture a low scooped neckline, an austere up-tight look with Tricorn hats and adornments all over.

This constricted look continues at the palace, the wedding dress with a bare neckline and very delicate jewels but powdered stiff hair giving an awkwardness at the occasion.
The 'ridiculous' morning dressing scene demonstrates control by disallowing her to dress herself, something to rebel against. I love all the frilled ladies in waiting surrounding the naked Antoinette and the soft simple smocks she wears to sleep in.
And then we have the famous couture shopping montage (yes the best fashion montage around) picking silk fabrics, the confectious shoes, feathers and ruffles. To compare this scene with the makeover scene in Clueless wouldn't go amiss and such fun indulgence in the characters personal style.
Check out the blue converse high tops lying next to the little shoes in this scene, this shot sums up the whole tone of the film.

The black ball gown is the first outing of Antoinette's chosen more confident defined style with the tulle eye mask (also used in the latest Dior ad) is rock modern with a t shirt cut to the bodice and sheer panels making her stand out against the colourful guests with 'a cool girl' mystery.

The colours in the palace maintain a soft pastel tone for most characters throughout the film with the occasional shot of colour for key roles in a deeper yellow, royal blue or red. Comtesse Du Barry shows off her sexual prowess in her rich reds, blues and purple silks against her cascading black locks as the scarlet woman. Contrasted with the yet to be deflowered Antoinette the costumes reveal the sexual undercurrent to the story.
And then there is the style change after the long awaited consummation and a child is born. Suddenly independence at Trianon with free fitting bohemian white dresses, soft voile's and lawns, reminiscent of Poiret or back to Austen days and romantic country cottage paintings. It makes me imagine the early days of Laura Ashley with all that Edwardian impressionist romance instilled in the designs.

On return to the palace the dress is austere again but with style details like the red velvet belt on the pale blue dress signifying the lustrous affair and longing love, many peoples favourite outfit of the film. There is a Japanese influence in kimonos, dressing gowns and a maturing style and black worn for mourning, the children softened with pale blue trims on black. The colours gradually then go to black and white then white with a black ribbon. And then the last outfits in smokey solemn blue fading to a dull denim grey.

Many people question this film, many say nothing happens and it is a quiet film but visually I don't think they could have done more to indulge the eyes. There are approximately 65 costume changes for Kirsten Dunst in this film. I lost count but you can see them all and read about them here on the costumers guide site. 
Each and every one expresses a part of the story, an emotion or event and this is just the main character. There are the supporting roles, the men, the children, the sets and the sounds that all make this one of the most influential films for fashion and style.

Marie Antoinette 2006, 
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cinematographer: Lance Acord
Art Directors: Anne Seibel and Pierre Duboisberranger
Costume Design: Milena Canonero
Plus a huge list of very talented people in the hair, make-up, art and costume departments.
All photos are taken from the film and are not to be used commercially.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Romance & The Pale Blue Tulle Dress

Pale blue for the last few centuries has been the colour of romance and femininity.

Stately homes are adorned with the paintings of grand beauties swathed in blush blue silks and tulle's, little girls were dressed in sky blue ruffles and ornamental porcelains have used the famous Wedgwood blue and off white combination as a statement of beauty.
After a little research I've found out how much it has been used and where, here are my favourite facts on Pale Blue.

Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI are the epitome of  pale blue romance in the paintings of Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun. Silk taffeta's, lace trims, ribbons and bows all use the shade and
Louis XV's first mistress Madame Pompadour famously wore forget-me-not blue, an inspiration to Marie Antoinette?

Alice in Wonderland is dressed in the iconic colour, so is Sleeping Beauty in Disney's fairy colour battle.

It is the colour of beauty,  of the sky on a perfect day, a sea, an ocean and the colour that will radiate every shade of skin.

The something blue for a wedding is a symbol of fidelity and loyalty.

The 'Blue Stockings' is an 18th Century expression used for upper class women who were interested in culture and intellectual life. I Like this fact best.

For a recent shoot I designed a two piece 'Blue Romance' dress in hand woven silk taffeta, trimmed with a self tying bow on the hip. The dusky pale blue silk has a matte texture with the most subtle sheen. This is combined with a sky soft tulle that creates a hazy blush against the strength of the silk.
Again I've used my favourite silhouette with a tightly fitted bodice to hug the torso, strapless displaying the line of the neck and the contrast of the full ballerina skirt to balance and show the waist at it's smallest.
Style with other shades of blue from cobalts, to royals and whites for effortless, intellectual femininity.
Available Made to Order Online Here. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

What is it about Red Glitter?

Presenting Our New Red Glitter Evening Purse - There's just something about red glitter. Dorothy's ruby slippers, the glittering Coco Cola sign in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, MGM musicals and generally everything fabulous involves something red and sparkling.
This little ruby red purse was made to go with our famous glitter bow clutch bag and is now available to order separately. Every gal needs a ruby red to hold onto! x

Friday, 5 July 2013

Yellow Primrose Style

The sun is shining down here at the studio and there is nothing more Summery than a bright shade of yellow. We styled up our yellow lace dress with patent sling-backs, our scallop glitter purse in primrose, a copy of our fave magazine The Gentlewoman and a pair of vintage cats eyes shades. Everything you need for an evening relaxing in the sun.

Have a great weekend! x

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sweetest Thing - Liberty Print Bodice

Liberty Bodice - We fell in love with the Capel print from Liberty of London and this final piece has been our romantic use of the print.
In the soft pink and cream tones we constructed a fitted sweetheart bodice with a scalloped waist and matching self belt to be worn with a matching ivory tulle ballerina skirt producing the ultimate in feminine styles.
Perfectly designed for dreamy events where you'll be the belle of the ball, just add crystal slippers away you go in your pumpkin.
Available to order online here x 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Malibu Glitterati Collection

Malibu Glitter Purses - Tropical pinks, oranges and yellows scream of fresh hot summers. We designed three new pieces that bought out the Summer fun in our favourite glittering fabric.

The Malibu Ray purse is a slice of modern deco design, lined in yellow silk with a heavy-metal zip. Our Candy Heart key-ring will ensure your lover always 'holds a key to your heart' (would you like a slice of Cheddar with that?).
And finally my personal favourite gracing my hand this summer is the Malibu Stripes purse with its refresher lines of glitter, chic and glitzy in one.

Available now exclusively on Not On The xxx

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Inspirations - The Searchers

Costume Design and Inspiration in the Film : The Searchers

The classic westerns of John Wayne have never really been my thing and The Searchers is a film I  previously would have avoided, and certainly never expected to find so much design inspiration. I won't give away the plot, but here's a glimpse of the beautiful things to watch out for in the film.

Technicolor is most important word in the title graphics as the film opens. There is an overall colour tone that dominates of warm reds and oranges. Just watch the purity of the red as it gleams from the screen on those fabulous long johns! The colour is oil paint rich in saturated brights with deep black dramatic contrasts. Technicolor films are always a treat for the eyes and this visual confection is like dark chocolate pudding. 

After colour we have the detail. Each frame holds a symbolic language of it's own in the brilliantly designed sets such as the rustic cabins that place you at the table amongst the copper pots, willow china and hand painted wooden furniture. I never expected so much detail in a western and it was an indulgence that could be studied equally in every location of the story.

The costume plays a vital role in providing the detail and the rich colour and textures add subtle context to the story. The use of American Indian textiles and art throughout the settlers wardrobe portray the complexity of this post Civil War, Cowboys and Indians tale. Even out in the sparse desert, a land of sweeping landscapes, horses and men, the language of the fashion and how it is used adds so much to the story.

The film begins with women preparing a meal in the cabin where the designer has kept the costume not only beautiful but practical to each character. Printed dresses are protected under white pinafores, crossing at the backs, tying at the waists, and with ruffles and embroideries that could be dresses in their own right. This initially adds softness, an insight into daily life in contrast to the rustic cabin. The layering adds extra volume in the skirts making the tightly fitted bodices appear even smaller at the corseted waists.

Ginghams and plaids play a large role in both the men and women's costumes, with little pieces of cloth and dolls dresses being produced as evidence in the search for the missing girl. Jeffery Hunter wears his gingham shirt in such a modern way it could be standard indie band fashion today. 

The all-American pair of jeans appear, although I'm not sure if they are in fact Levi's, but with the John Wayne and John Ford cowboy equation, these must be the most American denim on film. Ribbon bows add a finish throughout and became one of my favourite accessories, from the ends of pig-tales to gentlemen's bow ties in various thicknesses. I suspect a collection inspired by these are due. 

Hats are again a main-stay in all variations. Ward Bond's character takes great pride in his moleskin top hat and as they travel to New Mexico, flat ranch hats change to straw Sombreros. Scar's flamboyant feather head dress is grandly placed on his head whilst astride a magnificent horse, and one of my favourite scenes featuring Jefferey Hunter trading bowler hats with added feathers is a colourful feast laid out on screen. 

Hand decorated gun holders with fringing and the beautiful wool wrapped plaits of Natalie Wood, warmed by the red hues in undergarments and jackets tell of the attention given to the costume design in this beautiful looking film; and to think the costume designer, Charles Arrico was un-credited! This could be due the main characters being men, who in Hollywood at this time would have provided their own costumes. Did John Wayne, Jeffery Hunter and Ward Bond really create those incredible details themselves?

It would take a lot to achieve this level of communication and beauty in another film. The visuals are the key to expressing the challenges and developing relationship between the American cultures. Even the rocking chairs have an important role. 

Film Title: The Searchers 
Year: 1956
Director: John Ford
Cinematographer: Winton C.Hoch
Costumer Designer: Charles Arrico
Art Directors: James Basevi and Farnk Hotaling
Main Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond
Day to watch: Sunday afternoon
Format: as high quality and as big as you can get, don't miss out on that detail.