Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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October 23, 2014

Chanel Revue Film a Stunning Mini-Epic Retrospective

(Email subscribers: click the post title to view the film)

Trevor Undi has outdone himself in the fashion film genre. Sure, Chanel offers the most dazzling and copious fashion subjects, but what to do with so much history, so much detail (the details!), so much artistry? Well, you pack in as much amazingness (normally I hate that word but here it actually fits) as you can in each second of a four-and-a-half-minute film. And you set it against an orchestral score composed by Gabriel Yared. This exuberant retrospective showcases intimate behind-the-scenes footage, detailed artistry, revisits memorable campaigns, international events and spectacular archival footage from the House of Chanel.

Chanel is a brand I will probably never be able to afford (fate is nodding its head in agreement somewhere). Normally I begrudge a brand a little bit for that and reserve my gushing for something more accessible as I don't like to go all nuts over something I can never have. But Chanel is the exception; what their artisans create in their ateliers is magical, it keeps the tradition of couture craftsmanship alive and thriving, and therefore I see the house's shows and imagery as records of this exquisite legacy. (Sure beats seeing it as a giant tease?)

This rapid and rich film is bursting with so much beauty and fascinating closeups that beg for further investigation, so I went a little mental and looked at each frame of the film and captured the stills. There are so many that are worthy of a longer look that I had to create a second page. You can view the rest here












Chanel_15 Chanel_17













And here's the rest 

August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One Marylebone


The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit

June 07, 2014

Miss Kiki Salon Channels Asia with 'Inui'


Miss Kiki Salon is a collective that creates wearable art inspired by the beauty the find in their every day lives. Their latest designs form the Inui capsule collection of three summer dresses that elegantly reflect the patterns, colours, textures and imagery of Asia and the Orient. Each is made to order in softest cotton voile crafted to a fluid, unstructured shape using draping, folding and wrapping techniques that were inspired by their recent trip to Japan. 

What I love about Miss Kiki Salon is their oblivousness to trends. The designs are timeless, the fabrics naturally luxurious and always vibrant. Happy clothes with sophistication. 


The Son Dress. The unique textile design is inspired by the hot desert landscape and intricate patterns of Rajasthan. 

Miss-Kiki-Salon_Tai-DressThe Tai dress.


The Shin Dress is inspired by the florals and brightness of springtime Kyoto. 


Photos from

March 05, 2014

Along for the Ride: Beastie Boards x Chidy Wayne


I live a five-minute walk from the sea, and our stretch of beach is known as one of the UK's best surfing spots, but despite the proximity I think it'll always be a spectator sport for me. I just know I'd wind up in a full body cramp while trying to get up on the board and have to ride to shore stuck in a hunched rigor mortis-like position, or finally get up and wipe out spectacularly, Greg Brady-style. (Remember that Brady Bunch episode where they all go to Hawaii and Greg enters a surfing competition and falls off and hits his head on a rock thanks to the 'tabu'? No, he didn't almost die because he was an inexperienced surfer catching some of the craziest waves on the planet, it was because of the 'cursed' tiki guy he was wearing as a necklace! And who holds a surfing competition at a part of the beach that has rocks anyway?)

I think my spectating might not even be about watching the surfers on my doorstep; it's more about appreciating from afar the particularly beautiful boards from Brooklyn-based surf and skate board makers, Along. Handmade in sustainable materials, their limited edition designs reflect old school techniques while delivering a contemporary aesthetic through those clean, gorgeous woods. And to keep the flow of nature-inspired boards moving, they collaborate with other like-minded talents to create special collections, such as the one with Barcelona-based illustrator Chidy Wayne which has just recently launched. ALONG’s founder and director David Lopez sat with the artist in front of an Alaia surfboard while listening to 60s soul music and speaking about the feeling of riding the pools at Chelsea Piers, or a wave in Nicaragua. Out of this came Beastie Boards (love the NYC tie-in there), "five beautiful acrylic on wood beasts represented with the wildness but precision a rider needs to face both concrete or real waves."

And these guys are as good at image making as they are crafting boards - have a browse of their daydreamy website and watch the video for the Along NYC x Chidy Wayne boards, further down. Most of the images are in black and white, yet all you see and feel is sunshine. 

These are painted decks of the Beastie Boards, and one for the waves:  



They're just so cool, I'd say they'd make great art pieces for the home. But these awesome boards would be wasted if they didn't see the outdoor action they were made for. 






Images © Along NYC

December 28, 2013

DIY: Ramp Up Your Chuck Taylors at Home

Solifestyle_stud_chucksSolifestyle transformed classic Chucks into an edgy pair of kicks by adding screw-back studs bought online. The white laces were later changed up for black for a more streamlined look that lets the studs stand out. 

I had a pair of Chuck Taylor hi-tops in high school, as did pretty much every one else. I think they started out as bright turquoise and I bleached them with no particular result in mind; I did it just because me and my friends were bleaching anything and everything at the time, enduring the noxious fumes for the sake of making things different. They came out a really pretty, washed-out aqua, and instead of wrecking my new shoes which was the outcome I feared, I now had a totally unique pair of sneakers that I loved and couldn't wait to wear. 

If you already have a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors, you may want to take inspiration from the ways others have customised their own. Stud embellishments seem to be a particularly popular approach at the moment, as seen above (you can also buy them that way if you're not into the DIY thing or you're short on free time), and simply replacing the laces with flouro colours, wide ribbons or patterned designs can give your old favourites a fresh look in seconds. Other techniques I've seen include ombre effects if you're especially skilled with dyes; paint spatters - go all Jackson Pollock on that canvas or use a lighter hand for a more subtle effect; drawing, embellishing or stamping the tongue with a bold pattern - try the inside and fold the tongue down to reveal the detail (teenagers can get away with anything); or you can go rogue and take scissors to the shoe and give it a brand new style. I saw one pair with the top part over the toes removed to create an open-toe shoe; I can't in good conscience recommend that one, it just looked weird. 

Last year, an online service was launched to create bespoke Converse Chuck Taylors which allows you to customise the colours of each element of the shoe. However, they only ship within the US. But that's ok, you can always be more creative when you're left to your own devices! 

Here are more DIY ideas to get your imagination running: 

PrettySneaky_fairisleIf you're a talented knitter like Pretty Sneaky, you can create all kinds of textural designs

Converse-Chuck-Taylor-Dip-Dye-03Girl on a Board shows us how to get the ombre effect, which when done well is really pretty, and if you're handy with an embroidery needle you can achieve something like this:


Or you can take the easy route like I did and throw them in the washing machine with some bleach!

November 20, 2013

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!


Starting today, Somerset House, in partnership with the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central Saint Martins, presents Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, a major fashion exhibition celebrating the extraordinary life and wardrobe of the late British patron of fashion and art. Tickets can be purchased from the Somerset House website.

For more about the exhibiton and Isabella Blow's fascinating life in fashion, visit Not Just a Label and Daphne Guiness' Guide to the exhibition on (Daphne owns her late friend Isabella Blow's entire fashion collection, purchased after her death to stop it from being sold at auction and dispersed.)



March 28, 2013

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous with Hermès


If you've ever wondered why an Hermès handbag, or any of their other goods, come with such a lofty price tag, Festival des Métiers will illustrate the reasons. The exhibition will showcase 10 different Hermès crafts at London’s Saatchi Gallery, 22 May – 28 May 2013. Working just as they would in the Hermès workshops in France, the craftspeople will be in situ at the exhibition for seven days making a wide selection of Hermès objects by hand.
This engaging public exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the traditions and values of Hermès in the crafting of fine objects; a presentation that encourages interaction by giving visitors the opportunity to meet and exchange with the Hermès’ artisans and experience first-hand their unique savoir-faire.
Festival des Métiers unlocks the poetic and unique crafts that are the essence of the house of Hermès, as their craftspeople reveal the mastery of their métiers. Visitors will see the famous Hermès silk scarf printed before their eyes and to rhythmic sounds of the artisans’ tools, handbags, saddles, fine-jewellery and other iconic objects from Hermès will be brought to life during the course of the exhibition. 

Festival des Métiers arrives in London from China where it has been exhibited in Beijing and Shenyang, and after London it will travel to Dusseldorf. The exhibition is presented in a contemporary setting designed by acclaimed designer Paola Navone. 
Admission is free and open to the public from 22 May – 28 May 2013 at the Saatchi Gallery: Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY. Hermès is an Education Patron of the Saatchi Gallery. 

A bit of history: Hermès was founded by Thierry Hermès in Paris in 1837, as a house of master harness-making and later saddle-making. Six generations of enterprising artisans have explored new markets and new skills. Now international in scope Hermès has continued to grow while remaining a family company, with a uniquely creative spirit that blends precision manufacturing with traditional craftsmanship. At the end of 2012 Hermès had 10 118 employees’ worldwide and 346 exclusive stores, and is active in 16 métiers.

February 08, 2013

Floral Friday: The Flowers of Spring Haute Couture

Florals_diorRaf Simons takes Dior back to the garden for Haute Couture SS 2013

With Haute Couture, we get to see florals rise up from the 2-D of print and pattern and 'pop' as embroidered and appliquéd blossoms so delicate you need to whisper, or so lush you want to run around in them. Flowers figured heavily at Dior (my favourite collection of the 22 houses, I think, who showed) and Chanel (of course they did, you don't waste the hands of Lemarié) while they texturised a selection of looks at Giambattista Valli and Valentino. The haute couture flower is so exquisite in its craftsmanship that it transcends trend and exists as simply a thing of beauty to admire, forever. 


Giambattista Valli appliquéd swelled-bellied and cinched-waist dresses, and accessorised with bronzed bouquets

Valentino Haute Couture SS 2013

Since we're talking about the specialness of haute couture, I can't not mention Valentino without also drawing attention to the dresses detailed in piping. This kind of handwork has featured in many Valentino collections when the man himself was at the helm, and now Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have taken the technique to extraordinary lengths. According to Tim Blanks as per the notes received at the show, the tulle cage-like cape below - over a dress of layers of organza embroidered with birds and butterflies - is scrolled with crepe piping that took 500 hours of hand-rolling to produce. And that was just one of several piped creations that took the catwalk. Blanks added that one roller apparently developed carpel-tunnel syndrome during the production of the collection. That's not suprising, but what is, is the fact that it was only one person! I'd say it was well worth it, but then it's not my gnarled hand we're talking about, is it? 


You can faintly see the embroidered birds and butterflies peaking out from the 500-hours-of-handpiping 'cage' cape


 The hand-piping in Valentino red. It's like fancy iron work but in crepe.

Florals_chanelChanel Haute Couture SS13

Chanel is generous with giving us glimpses into how their haute couture is made. Below we see the skilled hands at work at Lemarié, Lesage and Atelier Haute Couture Chanel as they create the collection 'Le Savoir Faire' for the spring-summer season. It's a three-minute video, but I think I could easily watch three hours of tulle ribbon being pulled through metallic threads:


January 30, 2013

'Shoe as Art' Series: Jan Jansen

Jan-Jansen-Orchid1I've begun to make my way through this mostly hidden world of shoes that defy the conventional notion of what a shoe is, and I'm taking you along with me on this new 'Shoe is Art' series. We've already seen the make-you-smile designs from Japanese shoemaker Tetsuya Uenobe - who can resist a stuffed leather bear hugging your ankle as you walk? - and we're going to look at other shoe artisans whose footwear creations are so wonderfully unorthodox that they essentially turn your foot into a walking exhibition. They range from the unique-but-not-a-massive-stretch-from-what-we're-used-to-seeing-these-days designs, to some that are just so out there they stop you in your tracks and cause your face to contort just a bit. (That happened to me today when I saw shoes made of dead animals. I guess when we wear leather we're doing the same, but this pair went well beyond the socially acceptable use of animals in footwear - would you be willing to walk on an actual hoof?) Whether you would wear these mind-bending designs or not doesn't matter; but if you're open to the concept, you can catch an intriguing statement from the designer/artist. And if you do wear them, you get to deliver that statement to the world.

Today we're looking at Dutch shoemaker and designer Jan Jansen whose work I was introduced to by Tetsuya when he mentioned Jansen as an influence on his own designs. Not suprising, considering 'the master of shoe design' is one of the most revered figures in the world of shoes, having created some of the most iconic and innovative styles to date. Jansen has been designing unconventional - though still largely wearable - shoes since the 1960s, the styles of which are still as relevant and current as ever, owing to his obliviousness to outside inflences: "Im not a trendsetter. I'm years ahead of the trendsetters." Jansen is probably the most prolific shoemaker when it comes to rethinking the design of the shoe; he is constantly developing new constructions, though he will use the the same ones for years and create variations of some. 

Jansen has received numerous awards for his work, including the Kho Liang Ie Prize (1985), the Grand Seigneur (1996), The BKVB Oeuvre Prize (2002) and the Max Heijmans Ring (2006). Many of his works are displayed in museums and galleries in Europe, and still Jansen prefers to refer to himself as a craftsmen, rather than 'artist' which has been attributed to him by peers and fans. In 2007, Christie's auctioned the collection 'Jan Jansen, In His Shoes' - everything sold and all of the estimated selling prices were realised. And significantly, many of the lots were a single shoe. 

With the exception of those gorgeous Orchid shoes above which are a current design on the market, this is a retrospective view of selected styles from the past five decades.


'Interchangeable 2', 1967. Metal frame mule with removeable patterned sock

'Stir my Blue Blood', 1991

Jan-jansen-serpents-kiss-1'Serpent's Kiss', 1994,  is constructed of a python upper that looks as if it could bite, mounted on a platform and heel which Jansen has reinvented in wavy, ribbon-like stainless steel.

For Snoecks', 2000. Suede, goat leather, patent goat leather, vulcanised sole. 



Velazquez boots, 1979. These quilted satin platforms were made in collaboration with Fong-Leng to be worn with her red evening cloak, 'Velazquez'.

'Build Me Up', 1972. Extreme platform slippers!
Metallic green heels with silver piping and exaggerated back, 1996; the rattan sandal in nubuck, 1973.

One variation of Jansen's iconic sandals with rattan frame, 1975. The original prototype in ochre was copied by Prada in 2006 without credit to Jansen, right down to the colour. 


'High Tea', from Meubelcouture, meaning furniture couture. You're right, you can't wear it. It's not a shoe but a chaise longue, the structure of which Jansen based on his famous rattan frame sandal. If you tilt your head you can see that the seat features a face-to-face design in the leather. 

And another art work of Jansen's based on his shoe design is 'Cindy's Dance at Midnight', part of the permanent collection of the National Glass Museum in Leerdam, Netherlands. Using glass to translate his style from the traditional materials, the extreme yet elegant curves of this 'shoe' show off and mix the spectrum of the pinks and greens beautifully. (It reminds me of Cinderella, when the one wicked stepsister's attempted to scrunch her huge foot into the dainty glass slipper.)
What's better than watching and hearing the man himself? This video profile below is just wonderful, taking us into Jansen's Amsterdam shop and studio to see and hear firsthand how he approaches the process of making his shoes: "We don't have a budget for the amount of leather we can buy or what the collection may cost. We just go by what we think is nice and beautiful." This approach is extremely unusual these days, but then Jansen has remained independent, passionate as ever, and answers only to himself. And his wife Tonny who double as as his muse, style tester and colour advisor. Jansen also shows us how a hand made shoe is constructed, and watch for the table in the window of his shop which stands on women's legs outfitted in his shoes, of course. Also part of his Meublecouture collection, titled Hommage to Rubens. 

January 23, 2013

Great Gatsby Fashion: Then and Now

The Great Gatsby's release in May is going to unleash a frenzy for 1920s fashion, much like The Artist,  Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, and the 1974 film adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, starring Mia Farrow, have. (It's hard to believe the 1974 film influenced fashion trends if this is any indication of taste at the time.) The lust for dropped waists, chiffon overlays and delicate beading really is guaranteed to explode this spring: the costumes for the film are a dream collaboration between Miuccia Prada, renowned film and stage costume designer Catherine Martin, and Baz Luhrman who directed the film. (Martin and Luhrman have been married since 1997, first meeting at college in their native Australia, and the couple have worked together ever since. I'll bet their dinner conversation is awesome.)

Fashionistas are going nuts now that Prada have released Miuccia's sketches of designs from the film, which are worn by Carey Mulligan who stars as Daisy Buchanan. Here are glimpses of four out of the 40 cocktail and evening dresses created, all of which are adapted from past Prada and Miu Miu collections:


 I'm very curious to see how the orange fishscale dress translates in the flesh!

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrman's film adaption of The Great Gatsby

Carey's character poster. Never mind the dress - my eyes are all over the art deco backdrop!

Let's go back to Mia Farrow as Buchanan, who was also in great company having been dressed by the great costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, whose prolific and honoured career in film, television and stage spanned six decades. Aldredge won an Oscar and British Academy Award for her work in The Great Gatsby, and her designs from the film were adapted for a clothing line at Bloomingdales. 

Yes, that is Sam Waterston on the left behind Mia. 

More fun facts about The Great Gatsby, 1974 (the third filmed version of the novel):

  • The rights to the novel were purchased in 1971 by Robert Evans so that his wife Ali MacGraw could play Daisy. She blew that when she left him for Steve McQueen, who was originally considered for the role of Gatsby. Not surprising that he didn't get it.
  • Mia Farrow was pregnant during shooting and so wore loose, flowing dresses and was shot in tight close-ups to conceal her growing belly.
  • Truman Capote was the film's original screenwriter but was replaced by Francis Ford Coppola who later claimed the director, Jack Clayton, didn't pay much attention to it: "The film I wrote did not get made."
  • Critics weren't moved to "stand up and cheer": Vincent Canby made this statement in his review of the film in The New York Times : "The sets and costumes and most of the performances are exceptionally good, but the movie itself is as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool." Owwwch.  And gross.

I can't not mention Midnight in Paris, the Woody Allen film in which a nostalgic screenwriter (Owen Wilson) inexplicably finds himself inserted into 1920s Paris, first at a party with The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzergerald and his wife Zelda. The costumes, by Sonia Grande, are scrumptious. It's about as close to time travel to one of the most exciting eras in art, literature, fashion, music and philosophy in Paris as we can get. (They even go briefly back from then to La Belle Epoque!)


PORTER Magazine issue 5 now available at NET-A-PORTER.COM

Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

Colour Colour 



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