Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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'FUR: AN ISSUE OF LIFE AND DEATH' EXHIBIT OPENS

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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RED HOT: EXHIBIT OF GINGER MEN IS NOW A BOOK

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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A MODERN CHRISTMAS AT THE SLEEPER HOUSE

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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FASHION FILMS TO FEATURE AT ASFF

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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'KNITTING FOR JULIET' COMPETITION LAUNCHES IN ITALY

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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NICHOLAS ROSE'S FULL COLOUR LIVING

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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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

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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November 16, 2014

Review: Pieminister's Christmas Range

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When I first arrived in England nine years ago (to the day, actually), just as the holiday season hit full swing, I noticed lots of references to pies. "Ooh I love Christmas, I get to gorge on pies for a week" was the kind of thing I was hearing. I wasn't aware of the British pie scene just yet and didn't realise they're a beloved part of the culture. (I didn't watch Corrie back in Canada, maybe that would have helped.) Back home, my French Canadian grandmother makes a huge batch of meat pies at Christmastime and we call them exactly that. Meat pie. It's different from tourtiere, probably because she's actually Acadian, from New Brunswick, not Quebecois. But that was more a regional tradition she brought along to Ontario; we don't generally tie pies into Canadian culture. Today, I know that pork and steak pies are a British pub favourite, and mince pies are synonymous with Christmas. And they tend to be a small and individual sized. But to be honest, I hadn't really had a pie that made me crave another one (or even want to finish the one I started in some cases), so I've kind of been on the periphery of the pie love. But I was open to being converted if the right one came along. 

Last week, Pieminister sent me their Christmas range of four different kinds of pies to try. I had high hopes after hearing that they only use British free-range meat and seeing what unexpected treats are found in their pies. (Prosciutto and Long Clawson Stilton to name a couple.) The Bristol-based company - all of their pies are made on site - has been steadily collecting awards for their outstanding product and business practices, including  Gold in the Great Taste Awards 2013, and recognition for their commitment to high animal welfare standards, which is something I look for when I buy meat products. (If Compassion in World Farming says you're a good guy, you're a good guy.)

I love the posh packaging which hints to the quality of what's inside:

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Let's peak inside at the Mistlemoo pie, made with British beef steak, free range British prosciutto, Long Clawson Stilton and chestnut mushrooms in a rich red wine and port sauce:

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And after cooking all of the pies for about 25 minutes....

PIE FEAST!!!

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I served them on a board with some Italian salad leaves with cherry tomatoes, and it proved to be an ideal complement. Although this would make a great lunch, we had them for dinner, and two pies each was more than enough for the adults who are not known for being delicate about portions. 

Let's cut one open:

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As you can see, the pastry - a suet lid and all-butter shortcrust base - is perfect. It's very light and flakey, and if you heat the pies a few minutes longer than you need to (which I think I did) you don't get punished with a hard crust. I've had that happen with another high end pie range which had a heavy crust to begin with, and it wasn't nearly as nice. (Who wants a dense crust?)

If the Mistleoo filling sounded to die for, I am happy to say that it was. Very rich without leaving you feeling regretful afterward (and that's a state I know well), with the perfect ratio of ingredients to gravy. (That's another complaint I've had with some pies which should have been sold as 'gravy pies, maybe some meat'.) The others were equally delicious. Deer Santa is made with British venison, dry cured free-range bacon, red wine and puy lentils, which blend together beautifully. Merry Berry, I admit, was the one I was expecting not to love, thinking it might be a bit sugary. But the cranberries added the slightest shade of sweetness to the free-range British turkey, bacon, and chestnut mushroom filling, with a little red wine to punctuate the flavours. And there was a vegetarian option, the Christingle, with honey roast parsnip, locally sourced West Country cheddar, and chestnuts, which made a nice complement to the more savoury pies.

The verdict? The three people in this house unanimously voted Pieminister pies the best we've ever had (by far). They are very high quality, super tasty, responsibly sourced, and I think we'll be treating ourselves to more in the future - I am now too curious about all of the other flavours! (The Matador, with steak, olives, butter beans and chorizo - also free range and produced in Wales - is at the top of my list.)

Pieminister Pies are available to order through their website, and you can also find them at restaurants, pie pubs, festivals and farmer's markets around the country. And in my fridge. 

'Red Hot': Exhibit that Rebranded the Ginger Male is Now a Book

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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. People were asking who he was, but no one knew. Then a press release for a new book lands in my inbox, and there he is on the cover. RED HOT 100 is a coffee table book following on an exhibition of stills and video celebrating red-haired male beauty, with the hopes of rebranding the image of the male ginger, which often comes with negative stereotypes attached. I thought it might be nice for the man behind the concept, Thomas Knights, a natural redhead himself, to know that the posting of his cover model on that blog inspired other readers - men and women - to contribute photos of their own favourite hot, red-haired men. (Hello....Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor? Yes, both natural gingers.) When I left the thread it was about a dozen deep, and all of the comments were positive. 

ThomasknightsKnights (pictured right), a fashion photographer and music video director with an accomplished portfolio featuring work in Vogue Italia, Dazed and Confused and Marie Claire, experienced these negative perceptions growing up, and with no red-haired male public role models to persuade him otherwise, he felt ashamed of his red roots. He devised his video and photography concept to redefine the image of the red-headed male. Knight explains, "We have been conditioned to think ginger men are ugly and weak. I wanted to flip this on its head and present the redheaded male as the ultimate alpha male."

The book's press release refers to Western culture's tendency to put the ginger female on a pedestal (we're all familiar with the fantasy of the foxy redhead), leaving their male counterparts out of the limelight. No other hair colour experiences a gender inequality in the same way. Just a couple of years ago, not a single London agency had a red-haired male model on their books, and red-haired actors were extremely underrepresented in TV and film. However, with the popularity of the RED HOT campaign and celebrity ambassadors like Prince Harry, Damian Lewis and Eddie Redmayne, public opinion does seem to be changing. (Let's hope so. Back in 2008 I wrote a piece in response to a rise in 'gingerism', you can read it here.) 

RED HOT 100 is available to buy in hardback for £49.99 at redhot100.com, as well as Conran Shop and Amazon.

RED HOT is proud to work with the Anti-Bullying Alliance which works to reduce bullying and create safer environments in which children and young people can grow, play, and learn; and The Diana Award, a charity set up as a legacy to Princess Diana to encourage, empower and engage young people from all walks of life. 

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November 06, 2014

Keira Knightly on Fairtytale Fallacies, Heroines and Her Mum's Foreboding Red Lipstick

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 "For the princess to be waiting to be rescued by some dude...I never really got that." Keira Knightly, you have my attention. I like Keira. She's witty, self-deprecating, and a great actor. Kind of an anti-celebrity. She even got married under the radar in a modest and quiet affair. And she just happens to be gorgeous and looks incredible in clothes. So she was the perfect cover choice and editorial feature for Net-a-Porter's weekly online fashion glossy, EDIT

I hardly ever write about celebrities and generally I loathe the trend (that seems to now be the norm) to put actresses on fashion covers (Vogue, I'm looking at you!), booting the models out. I won't bother explaining; you'll either know exactly what I mean or you won't. But Keira is an exception. And this video is a clue as to why:

 

You can see the heroine-inspired editorial and read the full interview here

 

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‘Trussell Cans’ at London Delis Will Help Open More Foodbanks

There's a great new way to get food to people in need, and it's very easy to support. Trussell Trust, the charity that works to combat food poverty in the UK, is “selling” empty food cans at delis and at food markets around the capital and online to raise money to support foodbanks that provide people in need with emergency food and vital signposting services. The charity’s new Trussell Can campaign, devised by its agency partner Stack, taps into foodie culture in order to raise awareness and help increase the number of regular donors for The Trussell Trust.

Food lovers who ‘buy’ this can for £3 and then give it back to the deli will donate their payment directly to The Trussell Trust; the Trussell Can then returns to the shelf to allow other food lovers to do the same, making the project 100% sustainable. Mark Ward, Head of Fundraising, The Trussell Trust said: “People enjoy the immediacy of donating food to our foodbanks. It makes sense that when families need food, you give food. But many people don’t realise that we also need financial donations to help us provide foodbank services, both food and access to advisory services, within reach of everyone in the UK. With the Trussell cans we want to replicate the direct-ness of donating food and turn it into the money we so desperately need."And participating delis are happy to do their part. Renata Giacobazzi, partner, Giacobazzi's Delicatessen in Hampstead says, “This is a brilliant initiative that will make it easier for our customers to help others in need.  I think the physical act of picking up and "buying" a can really brings home what you are contributing to and how something as small as buying a can make a big difference.”

Stack also created a 90 second film (above), designed to promote the campaign’s digital alternative to donating. Trussell Cans are available online at trusselltrust.org/thiscan where people can regularly donate Trussell Cans every month, which translate into regular monetary donations. One-off donations are welcome, too. 

The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new food banks across the UK. It has set up 420 foodbanks in the UK, but it’s not enough when 13 million people in the UK live below the poverty line. The charity’s goal is for every town in the UK to have a foodbank.

In 2013, foodbanks fed 913,138 people nationwide and, of those helped, 330,205 were children.

Liz Wilson, CEO, Stack said: "We've chosen to remind people about families going hungry when they are in a foodie environment that's all about pleasure and indulgence for their own family." 

So, keep an eye out for the Trusell Cans when visiting your favourite London delis, or donate right now online at trusselltrust.org/thiscan

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October 30, 2014

Fashion Films to Feature at Aesthetica Short Film Festival

ASFF_Handprint Mary Nighy courtesy of White Lodge and ASFFA still from Handprint, directed by Mary Nighy. Photo courtesy of White Lodge and ASFF

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 inspirational collections, stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the creative process at designer stores.
For the first time at ASFF, visitors will be able to experience the glamour and style of fashion films produced by top names such as Vivienne Westwood, Swarovski and Louis Vuitton, starring figures from the fashion world including Lily Cole in Lorna Tucker’s Red Shoes, inspired by Westwood’s Climate Revolution. Sponsored by London College of Fashion, the new strand establishes a place for serious discussion about fashion film – its responsibility to society and impact upon visual culture – and also provides a rare chance to see sensational fashion content.

This year's ASFF features a masterclass with fashion filmmaker and curator Kathryn Ferguson. A member of the British Fashion Council Fashion Film panel, Ferguson has worked on productions for Selfridges, Chloe and Lady Gaga and will draw upon her extensive experience to dispense industry tips from the sector. Also joining ASFF this year, as part of its hosted networking sessions, is costume designer Wendy Benstead, who has worked extensively with Jessie J, Paloma Faith and Kimberley Wyatt as well on advertising campaigns for companies such as Baileys, Film 4 and MTV.

The fashion film programme is complemented by ASFF’s second new strand, which presents an international platform for the representation and exploration of advertising films. Films will be shown by leading agencies including Partizan, Solab and White Lodge and will be contextualised in an introduction to the inaugural screenings on Friday, 7 November by two filmmakers from Ridley Scott Associates and Sara Wilson, stylist & photography manager at Jigsaw.

This stylish collection of films reflects a continued interest of Aesthetica Magazine in recognising the creativity and innovation involved in the fashion and design industry. The publication has often highlighted important exhibitions such as Hello my name is Paul Smith, at the Design Museum, and The Future of Fashion is Now, at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. ASFF’s new fashion film line-up creates a timely focus on this genre as creators are playing with its identity and redefining its possibilities.

ASFF 2014 runs 6 - 9 November across the city of York, a gorgeous city well worth visiting. For more details and tickets visit the festival website www.asff.co.uk.

 Matin Lunaire Clement Oberto courtesy of Oversteps Production and ASFFFrom Matin Lunaire, directed by Clement Oberto. Photo courtesy of Oversteps Production and ASFF

ASFF_Tribe, Jan Macierewicz, courtesy of Studio DT Film and ASFFFrom Tribe, directed by Jan Macierewicz. Photo courtesy of Studio DT Film and ASFF

October 06, 2014

Nicholas Rose's Full Colour Living

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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. The Leeds-based designer has an affinity for colour, and combined with a knack for inventing unique, pleasing forms, creates interior pieces that make homes happy. 

Here's a look at Nicholas Rose's latest product launch, his Albino and Tulip lampshades which are constructed from flourescent coloured acrylic brackets, tinting the Lycra fabric covering when the light is on and transforming an opaque shade into one of vibrant translucency. 

The collection is available to buy at www.nicholasrosedesign.co.uk

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September 07, 2014

Fred Butler Mentors Young Designers at Somewhereto_ Festival

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_  saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer and consultant, who has had pieces commissioned by Lady Gaga, Nike, Swatch and Selfridges, to act as mentor  for the Summer of somewhereto_ Festival. Fred donated her time to do workshops and provide one-to-one mentoring to young designers Kay Davis and Shireeka Devlin. Watch the film above to see the exciting things they got up to this summer. (Email subscribers please click the title to view the film on the blog.)

The UK-wide project is delivered by Livity and funded by a £7m grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its expansion to 2016. somewhereto_ is a free nationwide location finding service which helps 16-25 year olds access free spaces in their communities. 

Whether young people are interested in music, fashion, art, tech, starting an enterprise or participating in urban sport, somewhereto_ offers an incredible opportunity for young people to realise their potential, kick start ideas, sell their products or services, showcase creative concepts and boost their skills.

You can learn more about the initiative at the somewhereto_ website and explore Fred Butler's wonderful world here

September 05, 2014

Anthony Head: Ahead of the Game

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As a huge Buffy fan, I bring you an interview with 'Giles', Anthony Head, who hasn't been short of meaty roles since the show ended eleven years ago. 

With his designer stubble, razor-sharp style and pearly-white grin, Anthony Head’s outward appearance belies his 60 years, but as far as new projects go, this is an actor who feels as youthful as ever.

First impressions of Anthony Head are that of the quintessential English gent, not far removed from Head’s fictional – and much lauded - role as tea quaffing librarian Giles, in cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Behind the scenes, Head’s Englishness spills over into his undying passion for bucolic Somerset, a place he calls “one of the most beautiful counties in England.”

“When I used to come back from LA, we’d be driving somewhere along the A46 and there’d be a point when I’d just wind down my window and breathe in the Somerset air,” he gushes. “It just loves all weathers and there’s something about the Mendips – the rolling Mendips – that is so stunning. There’s a real peace.”

Head and his partner Sarah bought a farm near Bath six years ago with some money left to them by “a dear friend of Sarah’s.” They now have twelve horses, a few donkeys and Sarah teaches, rides and sees clients at the farm.

Anthony mucks in too though. In fact, on returning home from San Diego’s Comic-Con just last month - which he quips was “insane” - the first thing he did was to tend to the donkeys’ needs.

“On the way back from the airport, the driver said very sweetly ‘Well, Mr. Head, are you going to spend a couple of days putting your feet up and getting over the jetlag?’ I went and did quite the opposite! That afternoon I was down the stables mucking out the donkeys, because actors do need to be grounded. We need to shift the odd pile of poo just to remember who we are.”

Born in Camden Town in 1954, Anthony Stewart Head was educated at Sunbury Grammar School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before earning his first acting role in the musical Godspell. He carved out his early notoriety from appearing in a series of twelve Nescafe commercials, before treading the boards in various stage shows and finally landing his famed role as Giles in Buffy back in 1997.

An industrious actor who clearly lacks the propensity to sit still, Head’s career is glittered with myriad small screen and big screen gigs, from playing Geoffrey Howe in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady, to Will’s dad in The Inbetweeners, King Uther Pendragon in Merlin and the PM in Little Britain.

As a multi-faceted actor, he is forever turning his hand to new roles but for this latest one took on CGI, providing the voice for avaricious, egomaniacal footballer Flash in Juan Jose Campanella’s family foosball parable The Unbeatables. These days, his roles seem to be taking a darker turn…

 “I seem to be playing a few baddies at the moment!” he laughs. “What I normally try and do to enrich the role is think about why he’s bad, what makes him bad, what drives him. Because no one really gets out of bed and thinks ‘I’m going to be bad today’, it’s something that people become and there’s a reason they become that way; nothing is that two-dimensional or that black and white.

“You sort of look at people in middle age and think ‘what on earth got you to this point? How did you become, so angry, or so embittered?’ Quite often it’s something very small, right at an early age, that just pushed them. It may have started off as a little acorn but it’s grown into this massive oak tree. So that’s me playing bad people. And I enjoy it, because I like the challenge of making them interesting.”

So would he ever give it all up for a life toiling the land?

“The thing about acting is that I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do but I do it because I’m passionate about it,” says Head, with a glint in his eye. “I just think that if it was missing from my life, I might get a little boring…”

The Unbeatables is in cinemas now.

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 www.madelondon.org

July 18, 2014

Sibling Gives the Jacob's Tin a Fashion Makeover

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Designer collaboration is the way forward for brands who want to inject style into their products, and now baked snack maker Jacob’s has teamed up with British knitwear design trio, SIBLING, to create a limited edition cracker tin that will fit nicely in any fashionista’s kitchen cupboard. (I kind of love the idea of food brands working with high-end designers to bring their packaging into another realm.)

SIBLING, who are well known for their strong use of colour and love of traditional knitting techniques, have used their unique knitwear designs as inspiration for their redesign of the traditional Jacob’s Cream Cracker tin.

Twenty of the limited edition leopard print tins are now on sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. 

I had the opportunity to interview SIBLING Joe Bates (wearing the great hat, right) about the project and his own work:

TSL: Sibling is an 'in the know', unique, high fashion brand; not the typical choice for collaboration for such a ubiquitous company such as Jacob's - someone there knows their fashion! When you were first approached with the idea did you see it as an opportunity to introduce Sibling to a wider market?

JB: SIBLING are always keen to reach as broad an audience as possible. We get approached by many companies to collaborate so we have to be very careful who we choose to partner with. Jacobs came with a fun proposal that made us smile....so choice made.

TSL: You referenced Jacob's packaging colours for your striking argyle and leopard print tin design - was this combination an obvious choice or did you try other patterns and textures first?

JB: Colour is a fundamental to the SIBLING DNA, we embrace it wholeheartedly so utilising the Jacobs livery was not a challenge we couldn't meet. The patternation was based on our usual play on historical and traditional knitting, then we put that together with a bit of rebel spirit.

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TSL: What is it like designing as a trio?

JB: Lovely, it means there's always someone to confer with which makes it great for expanding ideas very quickly. 

TSL: I hear Sibling are big snack fans - what is your favourite Jacob's snack? 

JB: The Cream Cracker of course, the original and the best. 

TSL: Where do you take inspiration from for your designs?

JB: Most often the inspiration will start from a single image. Being very passionate about reportage photography means that it is normally a single photographic portrait that will really fire things off. 

Sibling_finale_ss15TSL: What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

JB: The most recent is the finale piece from S/S15 SIBLING menswear catwalk show. It's a giant raffia piece, a real show stopper in red raffia, it was representative of the feeling of being 'cock of the walk' when you're dressed to the nines in your youthful rebellion stage. 

TSL: Who would you most like to wear your clothing?

JB: We have a litany of celebrities who have worn SIBLING, in fact some of our real heroes, Debbie Harry bought a SIBLING dress when she played Manchester, you can't top that in our book. 

TSL: Any words of wisdom to share with aspiring designers?

JB: Work hard and be nice to people. 

What great advice. Thank you, Joe! 

You can buy your own Sibling-designed Jacob's cracker tin here, and keep up with Jacob's at #SnackHappy.

FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by  providing food to more than 1,290 local charities and community organisations across the UK, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, women’s refuge centres and luncheon clubs for the elderly, helping to feed 62,200 people every day. 

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