Sunday, 30 November 2014

Taylor Swift's couture trolley dash through 'Blank Space'

I watched Taylor Swift's blank space music video, accompanied by the Guardian's brilliant critique something along the lines that Swift redefines music, politics and everything else ever

1989 sees Taylor's first country-free album, and it seems like that's not the only change. She is now commanding the attention of the top designers and it looks like she's been on a veritable trolly dash through Paris Couture Week for this one. 
The wonderful etonline have trawled through the video and picked out every outfit she wears...I am still trying to find out the designers. But here are some of my favourites.
“Blank Space", has its tongue firmly placed in its cheek, (at least I really hope so, for the sake of the future Mr Swift) flanking her bed with unicorns, in a grandiose palace with scene after scene of decadent, ultimate first dates for the WASP jetset crowd. 
Her lyric  “a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” sums up the shift from honeymoon romance into horror inducing bunny boiling antics. 
this dress was taken from a winning Project Runway Collection
They insist that no people, animals or automobiles were harmed in the making of that film, but who didn't wince when she went at that Aston Martin with a golf club.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Designer Profile, Rodology

I am currently working on a new monthly fashion feature to launch in The Bristol Magazine in the New Year. More on that soon, however; deep into planning the first few looks for The Bristol Magazine Style File, I was thrilled to get a late night email from Designer Roderick Barker-Benfield who provided a missing link to a certain look for the feature. 

It is also a wonderful way to buck the Black Friday trend and look to the independents. Rodology is offering a Black Friday Deal. Have a read all about his work and then go and get a fantastic deal on a piece of true craftsmanship.

Roderick 'is' Rodology: freelance artist, photographer and designer-maker. From jewellery making and sculpture to photographic portraiture, Roderick's life long passion for pulling things apart and putting them back together again has resulted in a rather beautiful collection of jewellery. 
'Lewis Carroll' Brooch

I'll be honest, the hand-made market has been saturated with reconditioned and upcycled trinkets, from rubix cubes, lego blocks and scrabble pieces years back, to taxidermy fascinators, car seatbelt tote bags and bike inner-tube bangles. I have seen a lot. But never before have I seen pieces that transcend any notion of the home made, and instead Rodology produces such high end handmade pieces I'm wondering how he hasn't gone blind in the process. 

'Lady Charlotte' Rose Gold Omega Watch Pendant
Roderick's big break came when the Royal Academy of Arts came calling, closely followed by the National Trust and numerous high end boutiques.

My favourite has to be his rose gold pieces, like the Lady Charlotte pendant above. There is something endlessly fascinating about the cogs and inner workings of a clock, combine this with ultra tiny gems and beautifully finished pieces and you have a sure fire winner in a piece of jewellery. What I really love about Rodology is the genuine interest my boyfriend took in his work. It's going to have something to do with that inner 'Just William' engineer in every boy. The precision of Rodology's work is very pleasing indeed.

If you are interested in obtaining a unique piece for a rather impressive christmas present, then visit Roderick's website. The best thing of all girls, he does cuff links too!

'Mr Darcy' Rectangular  Cuff Links RRP £36

'Mr Darcy' Rectangular  Cuff Links RRP £36

For any budding jewelry designers I asked Rod a few questions:

how did you get started and it is important to have any formal training?

I think the best way to get started is to just pick up some tools and get cracking.  I'm not formally trained , but I have a huge passion for crafting and repurposing stuff out of other things.  If I see something that I think would look or function better as something else I'll give it a go.  A lot of the stuff I make ends up at the bottom of a drawer for a couple of years until I learn a new technique to perfect it.  I also have a LOT of boxes full of stuff that didn't work out at all, but I can't bring myself to throw them away.  I'm not a hoarder by nature, but you never know if that lump of molten plastic you ended up with after trying to create a new piece of jewellery could end up being the next big thing.  They're also a great reminder to never settle for the first thing you make - always ask yourself how you can improve on what you've created.

Do you have any plans to branch out from clocks? Do you suspect there is beauty to be found in other domestic objects?

Using clocks and watches in my work came about as a happy accident whilst looking for some extra bits for a piece of sculpture I'd been commissioned to make.  In finding a complete watch movement and attaching it to a silver chain, my first ever 'Lady Charlotte' was born and I haven't really looked back since.  I've just launched the 'Miss Hyde' flip clock pendant in time for Christmas and have plans to create a range of rings using vintage pocket watch winders early next year, but those aside I think it's really important to develop new products and collections all the time so there are plenty of plans to branch out.

I tend not to sketch out my designs too much, but rather let them come as a result of playing with the materials I have to hand and seeing what works best.  Recently I've been demolishing and upcycling everything from vintage buttons to old board game pieces to see what I can come up with and there are a few healthy ideas kicking around.  There's definitely some life left in the watchwork jewellery, but I'm also very much looking forward to the new range of Rodology creations hitting shops early next year.  Watch this space!

For Black Friday Rodology has an exclusive offer on the site for all customers today; The Miss Hyde Pendant. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

fairy tale tower shoot: behind the scenes.

Another lovely, whimsical test shoot I recently worked on used up all of my granny's 1950's ball dresses. I've been trying to get them into a shoot for a while and they seemed to lend themselves to a shoot set up by photographer, friend and collaborator, Carly Wong.

Carly and Ali making a plan
Here are a few behind the scenes images, showing how we used multiple belts to cinch in Ali's already tiny wait to accentuate the voluminous skirt and broad shoulders of the coat, creating a fairytale hourglass figure. We shot at Cabot Tower on a blisteringly hot day in August.

assistand Jacob Boodrie holding the reflector/fan to prevent Ali from passing out in the heat of a winter coat in august

Mia Stronach created fantastic floating tresses, whilst I ransacked Carly's house and nicked some balloon ornaments that ended up as awesome handbags.

The red dress has more fabric that you can imagine, knowing the modern day cost of silk brocade...i may be able to use it as a deposit to buy a house. 

The hand painted taffeta gown was also one of granny's and I just about managed to squeeze into it for my 6th form ball all those years ago. I don't think vintage was even particularly cool back then, but you can't deny it's unique..I certainly didn't have the issue of picking a dress from Monsoon and considering it a result if less than 5 people had the same thing.

 Hold tight for the finished snaps...coming soon.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fashion Fix: 'Terry de Havilland for Liberty' inspired print covered wedges

photo from aurelia skincare
How many of you have been watching the fly-on-the-wall doc, Liberty of London?

I've got to say, when the first series cam out, I was dubious about seeing a warts and all reveal of one of my favourite escapist spots. However, I didn't need to fear this series, when the wonderful shoe designer and maker Terry de Havilland was featured in a collaboration with the store and their 49,000 prints!

It was a thrill to get a tweet favourited by the legendary store in the meantime!

Terry's trademark wedge sandal was given a Liberty makeover and here are some of my favourites, available now in store.

Purple Totem Elephant Print Wedge Sandals. The colours are perfect for Autumn Winter and would work perfectly with heavy denier black tights and the season's favourite fabrics; leather and velvet.

Red is my favourite colour at the moment and the Red Daisy Mitsi Peep Toe Sandals are one to purchase now and wear them long into next year.

The beautiful, bold teal and turquoise of this pair perfectly sum up the collaboration of 70's trend king de Havilland and the eccentric, timeless beauty all Liberty prints embody, regardless of the year of their birth. Teal Totem Marky Wedge Sandals

But this would not be Fixuplookchic without an alternative suggestion whilst you are waiting, saving up to be able to afford such luxuries. A year back, I took my own favourite Liberty Print fabric and adorned a pair of navy suede heeled boots. You can do the same with my tutorial below.

I've been looking forward to getting my toes into these autumn stunners. The embellished heel was all over the place last year but there weren't too many autumnal day alternatives. That is all about to change.

You will need: 

  • A pair of shoes with block heels 
  • Lightweight fabric, enough to cover each heel. We used Silk. 
  • Pattern paper 
  • Fabric scissors 
  • Paper scissors 
  • All purpose glue 

How to do it: 

  1. Make a pattern for your heel using pattern paper, allow for a small seam allowance to be folded under. 
  2. Trace around the pattern onto your fabric and cut out. Make one for each heel 
  3. Dab allpurpose glue onto a small section of the heel (starting at the base and working upwards) and glue the fabric in place, turning under any raw edges, and tugging it taut so there are no crinkles.   

TOP TIP- You will find this works best on block heels.

Shoes from: New Look
Fabric from 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Lest We Forget

We finally went to see the Poppies at the Tower. I'm so glad we did. 

I was very proud to design a World War One themed play this year as part of the National Trust's commemorations. It was set at Morden Hall Park and was an outdoor promenade (the audience get up, walk about and follow the action) performance which followed the lives of real people who lived and worked at the park, the gardeners in particular. Part of my design brief was to design and create some kind of monument that could look like it was made by one of the young gardeners of the time, to mark the passing of his brother on the front line. 

I was inspired by the soaring, dynamic shapes of the war memorials that have been built since, but wanted to get a hand made, human sized humility to my monument. The idea quickly formed to create a monument out of old gardening tools and utensils. Various friends and family members gladly off-loaded the rakes and spades that were rusting in their potting sheds. 

Soon I had a good handful and enlisted the help of set builder Dean Sudron to construct the monument. 

I found a ready-made planter at the Bristol Wood Recycling Plant that would fit the structure perfectly. The audience would then be invited to 'plant' a paper poppy in the earth surrounding the monument.

 As well as designing the monument and set and costume, I was also given the privilege of designing an exhibition space that held further information on the lives and times of the people of Morden Hall Park

Exhibition Space

Finally in place in the Stable Yard

Friday, 14 November 2014

Decadent Fashion Shoot, The Bristol Magazine

I have been styling a fair few shoots over the past few months, but images are always kept under wraps for a wee while whilst they get put into magazines or published with clients. We all have to wait to unveil our latest work un util we get the green light. Many green lights have recently flashed so I can give you a few behind the scenes tours!

You all saw the male model test shoot we did with James King at the MilkThistle, well I headed back there to style the Christmas Party wear edit for The Bristol Magazine with Editor Jenny Hayes

setting up downstairs at the milk thistle to get the below shot:
 Dress £450 LK Bennett, shoes £495 Christian Louboutin both at Harvey Nichols

Andre Regini
Sarah of the Grayling team carefully tending to the Christian Louboutins!
I won't give too much away, the magazine is out in the shops, and I'll also get some lovely hi res images to share with you fully, but I couldn't resist sharing my favourite look that I put together:

Jacket £220 Pinko, skirt £110 Finders Keepers, shoes £225 LK Bennett all at Harvey Nichols.

Andre Regini
getting the shot
I couldn't resist one masculine tailoring look for the front cover, again all from Harvey Nichols, this deep green velvet smoking jacket set off a wonderfully strong and sexy look which won't have you shivering over the festive period.

Jacket £495 Joseph, shirt £195 and trousers £195 Winser London, shoes £695 Christian Louboutin and ring £195 Alexander McQueen all at Harvey Nichols.

Andre Regini
Hair by Noel Halligan and team at SeanHanna, Makeup Brioney Cleverly at Shu Uemera in Harvey Nichols.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A remembrance fashion story: Brian Stonehouse: Artist, Soldier, War Hero, Fashion Illustrator.

The Checked Suit, No.1. Gouache, ink and fibre-tip pen on grey paper. Shaped for layout. For an American fashion magazine, probably Vogue, circa 1955. Provenance: The artist’s estate. Stamped ‘Stonehouse Estate / A and H’ verso.

There is a new fashion exhibition opening in London this week: It features the work of Spy turned fashion illustrator Brian Storehouse MBE.

The second World War broke out on his graduation, with Storehouse joining up to the Royal Artillery in 1939. His artistic credentials came in handy, as his cover as a spy was that he was a french art student. He was shortly discvoered and arrested, enduring two and a half years in prison camps.

Anna Brady, Diary editor at 'Antiques Trade Gazette' writes:
'He was a prisoner for the next two and a half years, often tortured and placed in solitary confinement and incarcerated in three French prisons and five concentration camps, culminating in Dachau. While in Natzweiler extermination camp, he recognised four well-dressed women being marched to their deaths in the crematorium. Haunted by their faces, a year later he was asked to sketch them – his drawings matched the photographs of four missing SOE agents.'

His drawings from the war ended up in the Imperial War Museum

A chance meeting with with Harry Haller, a socialite American major, saw him move to America in 1946 and became a portrait painter. 

Anna Brady again:

'His work caught the eye of Jessica Daves, an editor at Vogue, who thought his style perfect for fashion. In 1952, Stonehouse was the first new illustrator to be taken on by Vogue since 1939. Under Daves as editor-in-chief, he worked alongside the much better known "Eric" (Carl Erickson) and René Bouché.'

The Red Evening Skirt. Pencil, ink and gouache. Signed. For Vogue, circa 1955. Provenance: The artist’s estate. Stamped ‘Stonehouse Estate / A and H’ verso. 23x13.5 inches.
We all look back at the 1960s as the moment when fashion all changed. The younger generations no longer dressed in the image of their parents. Music equally broke the mould and photography came to the fore. Of course, photography was an issue for a fashion illustrator, who up until then was the first to be able to communicate the new trends to the public.

As a costume designer and fashion illustrator, I have always adored how the shapes and energy created through pen and ink -or any other artist's choice of medium- win over any fashion photo. The presence of a drawn image has a quality that allows the reader to imagine themselves wearing the items in question.

A box of Stonehouse's drawings have been recently rediscovered and have been pieced together with the letters and memorabilia they contained into a book, Brian Stonehouse: Artist, Soldier, War Hero, Fashion Illustrator.

"At a glance Stonehouse's work is fluid and decorative, but essentially much like any other fashion illustrations of the era. But to look again with a knowledge of the horrors he witnessed through the war, gives the drawings a new poignancy, the languid models in their couture threads so far removed from those four doomed women whose image haunted him in 1944. µ"

Anna Brady

'Brian Stonehouse – Fashion Illustrations' is at Abbott and Holder Ltd, London, until 23 December. Anna Brady is Diary Editor at 'Antiques Trade Gazette'

Images taken from Abbott and Holder  website

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Halloween in half an hour

Mean Girls 'sexy' Halloween photo courtesy
Hallowe'en. The pressure is on for a costume designer. Especially when that means coming up with not one but two costumes when your boyfriend's in tow.

I will admit now that we had all of half an hour before driving down to Devon for what was a disturbingly brilliant haunted house party. It was an abattoir. a full blown, animal carcass, plastic sheeting on the walls, straw on the floor, blood everywhere abattoir. And that's not even mentioning the UV room *shudders*.

So, what was lying around the studio this year?? Ant managed to create a whole character around a rather eccentric bow tie and became Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. We later found out that the real Giles doesn't even wear a bow tie but hey ho.

photo courtsey of dvdbash
I unearthed a ridiculous 1980's purple velvet spotted number (scary enough on its own) which has come in handy more times than I'd like to admit: it has dressed an Olivia in Twelfth Night and been styled onto a Model in Carly Wong's Hot Air Balloon Shoot.

Ali Barkley behind the scenes on the Hot air balloon shoot
I'd once worn it to an American Psycho party but that was a few years ago and it was tight back then. Fortunately I had eschewed bread and food in general for the days leading up to said party and JUST ABOUT SQUEEZED IN TO IT ONLY IF I DID SHALLOW BREATHING.

it fits!

but what was I? Team it with a comptoir des cottonniers 'puffy shirt' (one for the seinfeld fans)and all of a sudden I could possible pass for a vampire...maybe even Buffy the Vampire (she eventually got bitten in my story) But as someone highlighted for me at the party, "surely you mean Buffy from the 80's film, with that hair?". Yes folks, that hair in those photos has needed little back combing, it's natural, I know I know.  Even my silk scarf pillow case project hasn't really helped.

A few cheap gems and eye liner from Trago Mills (!) and I was just about ready, although it seemed I was morphing into some kind of UFO vampire.

Oh, and I had no fangs.

I think the general birds nest effect supports my argument that I was NOT doing 'sexy halloween' a la Mean Girls.

These photos are a little grainy due partly to the darkness of the abattoir and party to our shake hands as we were genuinely scared when we walked in. An amazing night, but we may need a little more preparatio next year as I don't think the studio holds many more last minute gems.