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JH ENGSTROM EXHIBITS: "FROM BACK HOME"

Iconic Swedish photographer JH Engström is currently exhibiting 'From Back Home' in Berlin, a collection of images tracing his childhood memories back to the province of Värmland READ MORE...
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REVIEW: 'TREAT PETITE' BY FIONA PEARCE

There's something so irresistible about miniature food, the treats we love made into tiny packages you can just pop into your mouth - virtually guilt-free! READ MORE...
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GEMMA, LILY & LINDSAY'S PHOTO BOOTH FUN FOR DIOR

"Three friends taking pictures of themselves in a photo-booth as they go off to Glastonbury festival''. This was the brief John Galliano (remember him?!) gave to Nick Knight READ MORE...
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12 STUNNING PHOTOS THAT CAPTURE THE WORLD

As an amateur photographer, I'm fascinated by the universe of possibilities we can explore in creating images with our digital camera - why limit ourselves? I read a debate a while ago READ MORE...
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'FROM ARCHITECTURE TO FASHION IN 8 SECONDS'

Since 2007, Montreal photographer Nicolas Ruel has been refining an in-camera double exposure technique, where with a quick swivelling motion of his device, a second plan is overlaid on a main READ MORE...
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LULA GOES TO JAPAN

Lula is about to pretty up Japan even further this October with its unique mix of memoir, philosophy and fantasy, as interpreted by editor Kazuo Sazuki READ MORE...
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November 03, 2013

Pretty Kicks: Gola x Liberty Art Fabrics

Gola_LibertyGola, the teen go-to for sporty school bags and shoes has teamed up with Liberty Art fabrics on a range of trainers and rucksacks. You really can't go wrong when teaming up with Liberty; in this case those ditsy florals give Gola's youthful sporty trainer a completely new look that appeals to a broader market. I am so past the teen years that I barely recognise myself in high school year book photos (that could be a good thing depending on the year), but I'd go for these hi-tops in a quick second. I'd easily wear the low ones as well but lately I'm leaning toward the high style, which we called hi-cuts back in the day in Canada when I wore them in middle school. Maybe I'm feeling nostaglic. Speaking of those days, you know how there are things everyone did that you look back on and ask, "What were we thinking? We'll never see that come around again!" There are two I can think of: the comb in the back pocket, and wearing hi-tops with the laces tied behind the tongue to pop it out. We'd wear our jeans tucked into the shoes, it was all about that tongue. I'm not sure where this trend originated from, I wasn't aware of any pop-culture references at the time and we did it simply because we saw the older kids doing it. Run-DMC? Or did some cool kid just put his shoes on sloppily one day and others copied it, went to the mall and then it spread out to the rest of the schools from there? (I actually knew someone who claimed they were solely responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze. Alright, then.) Well, a couple years ago I saw some local kids around 16 or 17 years-old wearing their hi-tops with the tongues popped out and I couldn't believe my eyes. I'm still dying to know where they got that from, on the other side of the Atlantic all these years later. Maybe it would solve the mystery of why we did it. 

For the record, if I go for the hi-tops, I'm lacing them up all the way to the top. I can't rock that look anymore (and don't want to) but no one's going to tell me I'm too old for pretty blue flowers!

 

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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

April 22, 2013

Garden in a Glass: Perfumed Grape & Raspberry Limeade

TheSwelleLife_Perfumed Raspberry LimeadeRecently, Welch's invited me to create a Temperance Cocktail based on one of their new grape juice drinks. The recipe would be an addition to a menu of alcohol-free cocktails created by London expert mixologist and owner of Opium Bar, Dre Masso, who took inspiration from the classics. And it was Masso who would be judging the recipes to declare the winning cocktail. Once I buried my intimidation, I decided that I should make something that was very 'Swelle' and a bit different, and I had something in mind. But I had to taste the drinks first to see if my idea would work.

I received two to try: White Grape & Raspberry, and from their Light range, Rosé Grape Light. I tasted both to get a sense of what I was working with - both are yummy and sweet - and decided to go with the White Grape and Raspberry.  My (not-so) secret ingredient was rose water, and I'm also a huge fan of lime which I thought would work well with the juice, so I began trying out some mixes. I was happy with the result, though I admit this isn't a drink you would make up in a pitcher and drink all day; I chose a dainty martini glass for a reason. 

Here's my recipe for Perfumed Grape & Raspberry Limeade:

Ingredients

  • 100ml Welch's White Grape & Raspberry
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp rose water 
  • sparkling mineral water

Glass: Martini

Method: Shake fresh lime juice with White Grape & Raspberry over ice. Strain into glass. Top with sparkling water and drizzle with rose water. 

Garnish: A white rose petal from the garden. (Thanks to our delayed spring here in the UK roses have proved elusive, so I had to go to the florist and buy one! You can also garnish with a slice of lime, raspberry pearls, or fresh raspberries. But I like the rose petal because it gives a hint as to the olfactory quality of the drink.)

Note: This recipe offers a twist or two on the traditional raspberry lemonade/limeade. First, the sweetness of the white grape balances the tartness of raspberry and lime so added sugar isn't necessary; second, the rose water adds a delicate flavour to the blend and lightly scents the drink. A martini glass was chosen to deliver the perfume and keep the quantity small. This cocktail is also delicious as a still version - just omit the sparkling water and increase the Welch's to 150ml. 

Cheers!

TheSwelleLife_Perfumed Raspberry Limeade_detail

Photos © The Swelle Life

April 19, 2013

Erdem's Spring Stunner

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Just when I thought I was leaning toward more minimal designs in fashion (because my interior/decor tastes are definitely less fussy these days), I get a blast of sunshine in the face at first glimpse of this dress. I guess I will always get an adrenaline rush from layers of transparency, cheery colours, and the special details like embroidery (why would I fight that?!). This is Erdem's latest masterpriece which jumped out at me in an email newsletter and I had to investigate. It's a very pricey one, so this is just for daydreaming, though I have no idea where I'd wear it should the dress fairy grant me a wish. And those shoes!! I've always loved a t-bar, and I'm a slave to pretty blues. They're Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem which is given away by the floral lace upper. The metallic platform, heel and trim give the shoe a bit of an edge and offset the delicateness of the dress, if the excessive chunkiness and cut-out in the heel didn't already do the job. 

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If you like vertiginous heels, take a look at Milanoo for their sky-highs in a variety of styles.

Erdem

April 13, 2013

Florals + Men at 7th Man Magazine

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It's been ages since I've featured anything on men's fashion, then this editorial from 7th Man Magazine caught my eye. The floral and shell neckpieces from Pebbles jumped out, as did the soft and vivid spring colours. I love the styling which is by In-Fashion Editor Dan Blake. It may not be what you'd see on men walking down the street, but that's the beauty of editorial, it's inspirational - and largely aspirational - fantasy that you can take a cue or two from for yourself. As a side note, I was so taken by the Wooyoungmi knitwear in this editorial that I had to know more, and just watched the Korean designer's show for her AW13 collection which is the first time I've actually enjoyed watching a men's fashion show; to be genuinely excited about clothes I can not actually wear is a first! More on her to come, I'm intrigued. (I also tried to find more on Pebbles but can't find them - it's tough when a brand name is also a generic word, but no amount of clever searching has turned anything up - if you know where to find them, please tell!) 


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April 02, 2013

Vintage London: A Charming Day Out

The history, the culture and the fashion, not to mention the instantly recognisable sights; it’s hard not to think about London without getting a little bit romantic about it. From the Victorian London of Dickens to the Swinging London of the sixties, the city has seen it all and yet never fails to surprise.

Yet, as big as the sights are, and as fantastic as the museums and the galleries are, it’s the small delights that make it for me. The city is brimming with hidden gems channelling the various eras it has witnessed. London’s past is never far away so it’s no surprise that some call it the vintage capital of the world. Vintage cafés and retro boutiques adorn most corners of the city, filling in the gaps between established flagship stores and long-standing culinary institutions; both of which make the most perfect way to take a moment to soak up London’s vintage side.

Shopper’s Paradise

Style-wise, London has seen it all and been at the centre of it all: flappers, mods, the austere chic of the forties, fifties pin-up, cool Britannia in the nineties to name just a handful. Needless to say it doesn’t disappoint.

London ShopsPhoto credit: HoV, Telegraph

Flagship must: Established in 1879, Oxford Street’s House of Fraser has been there since Queen Victoria ruled the throne. Now a British staple, the Oxford Street store houses exclusive collaborations and myriad concessions such as Links of London and the re-launched iconic brand Biba.

Hidden gem: Vintage shops of all sizes and descriptions can be found all across London, but for a more curated offering head to House of Vintage. Found just off Brick Lane, their collection ranges from the 20s to the 80s with top-quality vintage pieces from YSL, Givenchy and Burberry amongst others.

Top tip: Eschew the tacky souvenir shops in favour of a more timeless memento.

Afternoon tea

Vintage teapartyPhoto credit: Natalie Clince

Not just a London tradition, but quintessentially English, afternoon tea has been a ritual since the 1840s. Originating from the need to bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner back when two meals was the norm, it is the perfect way to take some time out mid-afternoon. Afternoon tea isn’t just about tea of course – expect freshly baked scones with clotted cream, delicate finger sandwiches and scrumptious cakes. For the more extravagant, many places have the option of an accompanying glass of prosecco or champagne.

Flagship must: The Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair has won awards for its afternoon tea, including the prestigious Tea Guild Award which is the equivalent of an ‘Oscar’ for tea!

Hidden gem: The Soho Secret Tearoom is indeed quite hidden. Occupying the space above a pub, this is a truly vintage experience with music provided by a gramophone and delicate chinaware.

Top tip: A full afternoon tea is serious business and it’s usually required that you book in advance.

A stroll in the park

Spring blossomsPhoto credit: Natalie Clince

Flagship must: Hyde Park is probably London’s most famous park for a reason. Open to the public since 1637 and spanning three-hundred and fifty acres, it has monuments, a lake, an ornamental garden and all kinds of activities from horse riding to swimming. Surely the greatest form of entertainment here though is soaking up the atmosphere and indulging in some people watching. 

Hidden gem: Tucked away amongst the Georgian terraces of Greenwich, Greenwich Park Orchard is certainly a hidden treasure. Bearded keystone figures hug the surrounding walls of a park rich with wildlife and features that date back to the 18th century.

Top tip: Hyde Park and many others often host events, both big and small, so it’s always worth checking if anything is going on.

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. 

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

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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? 


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

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 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:

Photos: Style.com

December 31, 2012

Happy Blooming New Year!

Showstudio

This orbiting flowers GIF against a starry black sky, from Showstudio's Flora series, is an alternative to the fireworks welcome into the new year that I usually do. Nothing is better than beautiful, vibrant flowers for conveying renewal and fresh starts, don't you think? 

"...Flora series is a movement focused collaboration between stylist Anna Trevelyan and photography duo Meinke Klein that challenges the perception of GIFs as retro low-budget stop-motions. The initiative draws direct inspiration from Nick Knight's most recent body of work, and offers a vision of the GIF as a dynamic, refined fluid animation." 

(If it's not moving, see it as it's meant to appear by clicking the photo or going over to Showstudio)

I've been taking it easy for the last few weeks since I've been in Canada for the holidays with family, but I've got a series coming up that I'm really excited to get into: Paper. People doing things with this most tactile of media that you won't believe. 

In the meantime, Happy New Year!

October 01, 2012

Monday Sugar High: Maisie Fantaisie's Floral Cakes

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Today is one of those tired Monday mornings and I needed a lift, so I went straight to Maisie Fantaisie and found some new wedding cake styles in florals that are so gorgeous it's impossible to be crabby after seeing them.Their styling is always exquisite and the photos are just a dream.

Let's indulge beyond the visuals and look at what's beneath that squeal-inducing exterior:

'Anemone' wedding cake (top left) : Meyer lemon cake, vanilla bean buttercream, Fortnum's rose petal jelly, polka dot ribbon and pale pink sugar anemones.

'Hydrangea Cascade and Roses' wedding cake : Madagascan vanilla bean cake, Amedei Chuao chocolate buttercream, satab ribbon (Satab is a French ribbon company) , sugar hydrangea flowers and sugar roses.

Maisie

'Hibiscus Flowers and Pearls' wedding cake: Meyer lemon cake, 'Duchy Originals' lemon curd, vanilla bean buttercream, satab ribbon, sugar pearls and sugar hibiscus flowers.

'Sugar Swag and Buttons' wedding cake: Orange zest cake, Amedei Chuao chocolate buttercream, caramel, satab ribbon, sugar swags, pale pink and lilac sugar hydrangea flowers and sugar buttons.

I like playing this game where I pick my favourite design, and then which one I would most want to eat. I have a thing for textures and lots and lots of small flowers, so I think my favourite is the Hydrangea Cascade cake (top right).  And if I had a cake lifter put up to my throat demanding I destroy one of these beauties by cutting into it, I'd go with the Sugar Swag and Buttons cake because I have a weakness for chocolate and orange together, and this would surely be as good as it gets.

Could you choose?

Photos: Maisie Fantaisie

September 21, 2012

Lavender Fields For-e-ver

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A few weeks ago when my parents were visiting from Canada, we took advantage of the great summer weather that finally arrived and took them to my favourite places in Northumberland, some of the most gorgeous country you'll ever see. I'd been to Cragside before and we hiked the incredible rhododendron forests that lead to their formal gardens, which we saw here and here, but we didn't really have the energy to give Lord Armstrong's spectacular Victorian mansion the attention it deserved, so this time we made a point of it. That post is yet to come, there is just so much to show and tell and research further (the house is a feat of engineering brilliance), so this one is more about the scenery. After making our way to the other side of the estate's miles of gorgeous forest, I looked to my right and saw lavender fields as far as I could see. What I'm showing you is like a spit in the ocean, pretty but no indication of the grand landscape it is a part of with its rolling hills upon rolling hills, all spiked with lavender. I have to go back.

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The historic Victorian mansion at Cragside which literally sits in the crag. You can see that better here


TheSwelleLife_bridgeThe suspension bridge that takes you across the estate's forest (see the lavender in the foreground)

Photos © The Swelle Life

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