Aesthetica
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Slide 1

MADE LONDON RETURNS TO 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 READ MORE...
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SEA LIFE COMES TO TORONTO AT RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM

It's called Ripley's Aquarium of Canada (as opposed to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto which would follow the format for their US locations), which is not helping the general READ MORE...
Slide 3

LCM: BACKSTAGE AT ORLEBAR BROWN WITH TONI & GUY

I'm taking you backstage again! This time at Orlebar Brown's Covent Garden shop where the SS15 collection of tailored beach and resort wear was shown both in in the shop, and to the delight READ MORE...
Slide 3

SHOWSTUDIO ILLUSTRATES THE MEN'S COLLECTIONS SS15

Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series READ MORE...
Slide 1

BOOK REVIEW: LAND/SEA VOL.1

I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
Slide 3

LC:M BACKSTAGE AT MATTHEW MILLER WITH TONI & GUY

Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
Slide 3

STOCKHOLM: THE FERRY TO VASA MUSEUM

One day in Stockholm we took the ferry to the island of Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm's most popular attractions. 'Vasa' refers to the Swedish warship READ MORE...
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December 20, 2013

Offices that Inspire at Home and Work

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I've always thought of the office as a place where creativity goes to die, CEOs and directors ironically conspiring to make you want to go back home to bed as soon as you walk into the reception area, but that's more of a reflection of the places I've worked than what is possible. I once went for an interview for a project managment job at a software company in Toronto and walked into the office equivalent of Xanadu. I swear I saw monkeys glide by on rollerskates smiling and waving, it just looked like so much fun. It was a massive open-plan, two-level space with high ceilings, lots of windows, natural wood, probably exposed brick as was the trend at the time, and colour. And faces that looked energised and engaged intead of 'over it', on bodies kitted out in cool clothes, not that soul-sucking business casual. (Don't tell anyone but sometimes I slept at my desk while at the job I was trying to leave. I blame the sea of grey partitions for lulling me into unconsciousness.)

The creation of a workspace, whether it be at home or the office, is about vision and choices. First, you have to want to create an inspiring space - why does that only seem to be the designation of creative studios and young, hip companies? Do data entry people demand to look at drab walls, dull carpets and fake plants in need of dusting while they work? Would they not feel a little more motivated to tap those keyboards all day if they were hit by a splash of yellow or some shiny white gloss? These days there are so many design options when it comes to office furniture, it's just a matter of knowing what kind of environment you want to work in and pulling together the right pieces. In the Workplace pavillion at the 100% Design show I saw desks and seating, even storage lockers, that obliterated any existing notions I had of what office furniture is about. I'm talking mind-blowing cool.

Take Dauphin's Perillo chair, crafted from one continuous sheet of thermo plastic with a high gloss finish, the seat surface, backrest and armrests offering an uninterrupted, ultra-modern form. 

Dauphin_main

Ok, so these chairs may be more suited to a lobby or reception area - the most awesome ones ever! - than behind a desk, but they illustrate what great things can come from leaving behind any pre-conceptions about what the office environment should be. 

Office_colour

Here's a home office (I think) that is made up of a simple trestle table against a white wall, but add a cool chair and fill the walls with colour (looks like someone has attempted an homage to Rothko) and you've got a space that makes you want to sit down and get into your work, with or without those shelves of old-school lunch boxes. 

Office_Scandi

This at-home workspace makes the most of a tight area. The large table, offering an ample workstation, nearly fills the space yet appears light, and a sideboard and tall shelving unit enhance the decor of the flat while having the capacity to store a significant quanity of supplies. The benefit of the home environment is the flexibility to add features such as decorative lighting, like this one which looks like a mature dandelion, giving a more eclectic and stylised feel to the space. 

Outside-office

I included this outdoor office for fun because it's just so neat, and another example of how a workspace can take any form. Just one question - how do they move around within it?!

December 19, 2013

Sideboard Daydreaming

Sideboard_Punt_SussexThe Punt Sussex Low Sideboard in blue, c. 2000, is my current lust. The design is inspired by the shingled, angled roof of an English cottage. It reminds me of sunny days at the beach. 

Never underestimate the potential power of storage furniture. Take the sideboard, or credenza if you must, a feat of form and function. It provides storage while offering a major feature piece for a space, it can anchor a room, and it will reveal much about its owner. I think opting for a sideboard in the first place, say over a hutch or cabinet which seem to be more traditional choices, reveals a love for design. It's really incredible how two or three boxes on a stand can be endlessly reinterpreted to provide a practical solution to clutter while dramatically enhancing the look and feel of a space.
 
Sideboards_Nest
 
The designs I've featured here are from Nest who have a selection of sideboards that make me tingly. (Yes, I get tingly for sideboards and I'm ok with that.) Right now I'm selling my huge, ornate French sideboard and hoping to replace it with something sleek and contemporary in the new year. Good design can be prohibitively expensive, particularly from the icon-producing brands. I'm eternally frustrated from finding interior pieces I want to live with forever but happen to be thousands of pounds - most of what you see here, remember this is daydreaming! (And you learn from the icons what makes good design, which helps you develop an eye and recognise desirable features in the lower-priced products). However, there is a lot of good design made with accessibility in mind, so much so that there is always something that will fit with what you're looking for and won't feel at all like a compromise. If you're also looking for value, have a browse of voucherbox.co.uk to find offers from UK furniture and homewares shops.  
 
Sideboard_Knoll

If you want to see more products that help you to organise and beautify your space, take a look at the favourites from my Houzz Ideabook Fabulously Decorative Storage.

November 25, 2013

Stockholm: Östermalm and the Waterfront, Part 2

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Carrying on from Part 1 with more scenes of the waterfront and the shopping area of Östermalm, we begin with shots taken from the river. I took my daughter to rent some peddle boats. After choosing one that was impossible to get away from the dock (brilliant!) we moved into one on the end and took off. I forgot how much work it is to get down the water in those things! 

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Once we cleared the bridge we came upon a huge park that we didn't get to see on foot but was certainly pretty enough from the water:

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There was a beautiful house in Scandinavian style, or maybe it was something else - I'll investigate the park more thoroughly next time I'm in Stockholm which will be in May.

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Kind of surreal was this gate that was attached to nothing!

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The entrance to the park was this beautiful electric blue and gold gate:

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I decided we should head back so we didn't go over our hour and have to pay another 200 krona (the equivalent of about £20), but when I turned us around we fell into difficulty. I couldn't steer us and we ended up alongside the rocky bank as if magnetised, and nothing I did to get us away worked. After a good 15 minutes and getting rather sweaty and angry trying I nearly lost my mind! I humbly apologise to Stockholm for the terrible words I called the boat and the rocks. The rocks were completely innocent in the matter, but I'm not so sure the boat was. I honestly thought we were stranded on the river. Still, it probably didn't deserve the Yngvie Malmsteen-esque fury I unleashed upon it. 

Somehow we got righted - the fury worked! - and made our way back to the dock with a few minutes to spare:

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After that interesting outing we headed over the bridge and walked along the seafront toward the shopping district:

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There were lots of houseboats docked along the river:

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We had pistachio gelato on waffle cones and it was probably the best pistachio anything I've had: 

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Weeeeeeee!!!!!!!!

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Stockholm is a very clean city, so I found it funny that the one blatant piece of litter I did see in the Östermalm streets was an Ikea bag. I did not actually see an Ikea, however! 

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I loved the happy mailboxes all over Stockholm in light blue and yellow:

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The guys kind of do look like Alexander Skarsgard, in case you were wondering:

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This was an ad on a bus, but I did wonder for a split second if it was a mobile Abba museum. It's Sweden, you never know! 

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Swedish girls watching the koi in the pond in the city centre:

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There was a marathon in Östermalm that day. If we didn't already get the impression that Swedes are supremely fit and healthy, this certainly demonstrated it. This was their home base where the runners wait to start the race. 

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This cutie wasn't concerned with the race and took a rest in the shade: 

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I know it's immature, but the names of their chocolate bars were funny to me. I bought one each of Kex, Sport Lunch and Plopp for my daughter and had a bite, and have to admit that for cheap chocolate they weren't bad!

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Photos © The Swelle Life

November 01, 2013

A Look at 50 Years of the Mathmos Lava Lamp

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I had a lava lamp in university. I bought it during the revival of the trippy 1960s ornament when they seemed to be everywhere. A lot of the styles were kind of big and clunky, and then I saw one that seemed more 'me', a slimmer model with a brushed silver base and top and the coolest colour of purple lava, a soft hue that looked gorgeous when the light was on. It was a Mathmos 'Astro' lamp and I got compliments on it all the time because it was different from the others. I loved that thing. It became kind of a night light because I'd fall asleep staring at it on my desk. 

Mathmos is celebrating 50 years of the lava lamp this autumn , and in reading over the history of the company I've learned some things about this iconic piece of pop culture. It's a British product, invented by Edward Craven-Walker who went on to found Mathmos in 1963. And all of the compoments are made in Britain, even today. Mathmos has committed to keeping the manufacturing of their classic on home turf and the company continues to be entirely British owned and run.

Here's a charmingly retro video (love the 'Barbarella' soundtrack) - showing us how each part is made - the bottle production in Yorkshire, metal spinning by hand and robot in Devon, and the formulation and final assembly in Poole, Dorset where it all began - with some lovely scenery shots from each location:

 

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To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Mathmos have launched a limited edition Astro with commemorative certificate signed by Christine Craven-Walker, the wife and business partner of the inventor. Alongside the limited edition is the new Heritage collection inspired by vintage colours and finishes in celebration of Mathmos’ long history:

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Here's a look at some vintage images from the early days of Mathmos:

Craven-Walker traveled the country selling from the back of an ex-postal van known as 'Smokey' - how neat! I wonder if it still exists?
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One of the first adverts for the Mathmos 'Astro' lamp

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Inventor of the lava lamp, Edward Craven-Walker. He is quoted as saying, "If you buy my lamp, you won't need drugs... I think it will always be popular. It's like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down and then starts all over again".  

Mathmos_original_lava_lamp_'1960s astro prototype by the founder of Mathmos' LR

The prototype of the 1960s Astro, created by the founder of Mathmos. It was inspired by a design for an egg timer that Mr. Craven-Walker saw in a Dorset pub!

I'm feeling nostalgic now, are you?

All Mathmos lava lamps are available to buy direct Europe-wide from www.mathmos.com

October 19, 2013

More Painted French Furniture Lust!

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What would you display in your Mademoiselle Versailles Display Cabinet?

I don't know why I waited this long to do a follow up post to the original Painted French Furniture Lust, which was very popular if Pinterest referral links are anything to go by, but here it is! I'm moving away from the style in terms of what I'm doing with our house, but if I had a huge budget, large hallways and empty rooms to decorate any way I wanted, I'd be right back there. Hey, it could happen! (Please tell me how to make that happen.)

I've been collecting images for a while and these all happen to be from the UK's Sweetpea & Willow. There's a lot of painted furniture around in the French styles, but these stand out due to their particularly pretty detail and soft pastel shades, and they have something unique about them. 

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How nice to be greeted by the Painted Entrance Cabinet (left) - love the pops of saturated teal against the washed out aqua. The blue of the Artus Corner Cabinet is just gorgeous and I like that this piece is minimally ornate. You can have it custom painted in your choice of 27 colours and finishes, a different one for the main body, interior, and edging, if you want. 

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The hand carved Josephine Pearl Dressing Table is just a dream. What puts it over the top for me is the surprise of the pastel painted boxes inside; I would probably never put the mirror down so I could always see them. 

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The traditional writing desk is such a luxury item because it's a non-essential piece of furniture that is more about elegant beauty than function. It's not exactly designed for working, unless your job involves penning romantic letters all day (that probably is a job if you replace 'romantic' with 'dirty'). The acid hues of the Zesty Lime Secretaries desk turns what could be a demure and delicate piece into something bold and edgy. If you still prefer the powdery pastels, the Aqua Bon might be more up your alley:

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More to come when I find others as beautiful as these!

September 20, 2013

LFW: The Florals, Pastels, Textures and Shoes

THE PASTELS

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London Fashion Week tends to have some sure hits when it comes to the can't-get-it-anywhere-else details and also perfectly collection-matched, fantastic shoes. So I've grouped together some of my favourite pieces from the shows for which there's a lot of overlap, as many were textured/pastel/floral. The thing I've loved about LFW when I've attended is the exhibition where collections that have already showed can be inspected up close (or until then you might see the current season in its place) so you can witness the glorious detail for what it really is. (However, I once found out the hard way that one especially exquisite designer's rep doesn't appreciate too many questions and just may be a bit paranoid that you're asking not out of gleeful curiousity but with the intention of stealing techniques! I thought that was rather paranoid, especially as the collection on display at the time was currently in stores, as next season's was showing later that day, and could be investigated at one's leisure; I don't think people attend LFW with their names on visible badges and then attempt to rip off by specifically asking about fabrics, etc! Especially when it comes to a designer who is so special no one could really come close anyway; it would be like finding out what paints and brushes Leonardo da Vinci used and then attempting to recreate the Mona Lisa. Contrastly, the next designer room I visited, which was another favourite for indulgent detail, invited me to touch the clothes and were generous and encouraging with the questions and even invited me to next season's show (which in the end is up to the PR team who handles the guest list and you never know what will happen with that, but the gesture was redeeming!) Either way, I respect the rules with each designer; I had just wished that the people of one of my most loved hadn't left me feeling dirty!) 

I wish I had some information to accompany the photos as I'm sure there are interesting collabs and other neat tidbits to note,but I've spent all of my time on the collages and have come up short on research time now that I'm on my way to the London Design Festival. But at the very least we can do some safe oggling at a distance!

THE SHOES

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THE TEXTURES AND DETAIL

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MORE TEXTURES

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THE FLORALS

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Photos: Style.com

September 16, 2013

Tim Walker: Models and Treats

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AGYNESS DEYN, 
BERWICK UPON TWEED, NORTHUMBERLAND, UK, 2008
BRITISH VOGUE

A while back we looked at Tim Walker's still lifes of desserts, and now here are his portraits of models with treats or dressed up as them. Mostly. (Some are with bread or toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper can indeed be 'Vogue'.)

TimWalker_1MALGOSIA BELA, LONDON, UK, 2009
BRITISH VOGUE

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'CONSTANCE SPRY' - LINDER STERLING COLLAGE,
EGLINGHAM HALL, NORTHUMBERLAND, UK, 2010

TimWalker_3MALGOSIA BELA, LONDON, UK, 2009 
BRITISH VOGUE

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ROLLO HESKETH HARVEY & HIS BREAD AEROPLANE,
NORTHUMBERLAND, UK, 2009

TimWalker_2MALGOSIA BELA, LONDON, UK, 2009
BRITISH VOGUE

 

September 08, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites Pt. 2: New York SS14

Kate_SpadeKate Spade New York's girls are back with their usual vivid sixties-influenced style worn with matchy shoes and quirky bags

We're carrying on highlighting the sunny looks set to take us out of the winter doldrums next spring, from New York Fashion Week. See Part 1 here

Jenni_Kayne

Getting back to the advantages of the staged photo/presentation format, Jenni Kayne showed resourcefulness in using her backdrops in their entirety to frame each look within an open cube. The peachy paper matched or complented tones in the garments while the black structure punctuated the linear and geometric black elements. 

Gregory_Parkinson

Yes the skirts are truly lovely, but it's Gregory Parkinson's cardigans, a collaboration with cashmere company Parker Blue, that really steal the show. Their unique, custom-created looks come from sponging techniques which give them their bright splotches of color and clusters of tiny dots. Combined with horizontal stripes and a candy palette, they make for very special pieces that offer something far beyond the traditional cardie. 

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Rebecca Minkoff looked to Latin women - some models channeled Frida Kahlo through wigs and (almost) monobrows - and their traditional dress to embellish her collection, finishing the looks with rather dramatic gladiators that echoed the delicate embroidery in the clothes. 

Noon_by_Noor

Noon by Noor is Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa, a design duo from Bahrain who took their inspiration for spring from the Tree of Life, translating the nature theme into contrasting floral and leaf printed pieces with rosette embellishments.

Novis

Just her second time out with her label Novis, Jordana Warmflash is already one worth looking out for each season. Her affinity for mixing textures and a fearlessness of colour with a little transparency thrown energise her classic styles and cuts. And I like the lacey chairs. 

Suno

Suno is a favourite of mine, and although I love them best when Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis go print-wild, because it plays up the contrasting textures in the fabrics so well, I can appreciate the spring solids just as much thanks to visual tricks like laser-cut detail and techno fabrics that incorporate pattern, offering a more subtle and rather 'clean' alternative to the print. 

Nicole_Miller

Florals were also to be seen at Nicole Miller including a gorgeous, painterly trench, along with vivid kaleidoscope patterns in a variety of configurations and proportions. 

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I am such a sucker for pastels. Prabal Gurung is too, it would appear. Unabashedly, he made the most of his sage, pink and lilac silks and crepes, working them into nearly full-length monochromatic outtfits, sometimes with jackets. The outfits here are the more restrained versions - the one coming up behind Karlie Kloss in the middle, as one example, was too much for even me!

RebeccaTaylor

It turns out those mesh gym shorts are good for something. They appear to have inspired a wonderfully sport-luxe collection from Rebecca Taylor in the form of perforated leather and cotton pieces mixed and matched with sheer panels and summery floral prints. 

Images: Style.com and WWD.com

September 07, 2013

Sweet Paul Summer: Gelato, Happy Homes & Sri Lanka

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Technically it's still summer, right? Again I'm late, as this is the Sweet Paul summer issue and we're just a couple of weeks away from autumn, but as always there's too much of the (really, really) good stuff not to mention. So let's not waste any more time and get to it with a scrumptiously styled story on Gelato:

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Charlotte Gueniau tells us all about her passion for colour, evident in photos of her harmonious, rainbow home, in the story Color Me Happy! I thought I was great at living with colour but Charlotte is giving me serious house envy; I would love to visit and never leave! She sought to create a joyful home and clearly, she's achieved that. Notice how she's cleverly grounded the rooms with white so the colours pop and flow rather than compete for attention and make us cross-eyed: 

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Lotta Jansdotter takes us to her native home of Sweden and shares some of the traditional recipes she made for a special Sunday lunch in the garden for her friends and family:

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While amenable, I'm not a huge shrimp person (that sounds funny together). But these seafood recipes look so delicious they have me wanting to devour pounds of the meaty little creatures. If you love your fruits de mer you must take a look at Sun, Surfers & Seafood:

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 How gorgeous is this deco-styled summer cocktail story? Heaps. 

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If that Pancake Cake with Wild Blueberry Jam, from Nordic Summer Cooking, made you salivate (I literally did each time I saw that photo, and by 'literally', I do mean literally) and you need to switch to savoury temptations to save shorting out your keyboard with drool, there's also a gorgeous Sri Lanka curry story, with recipes of course:

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You can read the whole issue here, and get ready for fall - I've just seen a preview and it's already got me feeling better about the shorter days and chilly weather. 

Also, there was the loveliest peony story in this issue which I had planned to feature separately for Floral Friday, then I saw the fall issue flower spread (Sweet Paul never forgets the flowers regardless of the season), so it will join the peonies for double gorgeousness when it's out, which is very soon! 

September 06, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites Pt. 1: New York SS14

RedValentinoOnce again set in an illustrated garden, Red Valentino stay true to their mandate to dress the sweet and petite

New York Fashion Week has just kicked off and it's a beautiful start. Much like past seasons, I'm already more drawn to the creative presentations and embellished staged photos over the traditional runway procession. They tend to offer far more punch in terms of the visual packaging and in my opinion, get us more excited about the clothes. (Notice I said 'traditional runway' so that this would exclude those dramatic productions that transform the catwalk into theatre, such as Marc Jacobs' 'Over the Rainbow' show, and of course the master of emotionally engaging stunners so artful that they reduced some guests to tears, Alexander McQueen. Still stings, eh?)

Here are my favourite collections of the first day: 

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Erin Fetherston's pretty, dress-centric collections are always at home in the garden. This time, some of the floral details in the pieces were inspired by her summer Barbados wedding, and the dresses themselves were based on some of the designs she created for her ceremony and parties. 

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Creatures of the Wind have been a favourite in the past for a kind of homemade look to very feminine clothes, not referring to the quality but rather a casual, unfussy approach that made these very youthful clothes appear even more so. For spring, Shane Gabier and Chris Peters have further developed what some may call a 'maturation' or refinement of their designs which feature tailored looks and techno fabrics and are therefore more likely to appeal to a wider market. Yet the beloved COTW fun is ever-present thanks to the vivid reds and pinks, colour-blocking and patchwork which brought life to the collection. 

RobertRodriguez

Robert Rodriguez' mostly monochromatic, exquisitely structured collection is something of a palette cleanser amongst the more sugary interpretations for spring.

Ok, ready for more sugar!

Tanya_Taylor

Tanya Taylor is a new designer on the scene, this being her third NYFW showing after a strong rookie and sophomore season, and I just love what she's doing. Spring is one very happy collection with lots of uplifting pastels and brights, stripes and florals - the latter of which are provided as custom prints created by the paintbrush-proficient Taylor, who also handpainted all 600 mini canvas invitations to mark her first runway show after two presentations. I love the striped sandals and bags which contrast or match depending on the outfit. 

More to come...

Images: Style.com 

 

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