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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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!




September 20, 2013

LFW: The Florals, Pastels, Textures and Shoes



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!










July 02, 2013

Tonga Daffodils

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Back a couple of months ago when it was still daffodil season, I picked up a few bunches and I got a surprise when they bloomed - were these actually daffodils? They didn't have that trumpeted stamen with the ruffled edges, but rather a layered centre with bright orange, fluttery petals accenting the yellow flower. I think these are called tonga daffodils, based on a quick search. I love a fluffy flower and hope I get more surprises next spring. 

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April 19, 2013

Erdem's Spring Stunner


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. 


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


April 13, 2013

Florals + Men at 7th Man Magazine


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!) 



March 22, 2013

Floral Friday: The Simple Beauty of Tulips


The best £6 I've ever spent was these three small bunches of tulips - one white, one violet and one lilac which is probably the prettiest combination I've seen yet. Just a little spring cheer for those in the UK who are wondering when winter is finally going to leave us - it's windy and freezing out there! And I think I hear freezing rain pinging the windows. Most unusual for the UK so I hope this means a blazing spring and summer. It could happen!!
Photos © The Swelle Life

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 31, 2013

How to Turn your Garden into a Social Space

A dreamy and vibrant social garden by Harold Leidner Landscape Architects via Houzz

There may be a layer of snow currently covering your garden, but spring is just around the corner - really! - and these tips will help you to create a superb social space, whether you have a cosy country style garden or a spacious urban garden. Your garden is an extension of your home and so it should be just as visually appealing as your interior décor. Easier said than done I know, but the following may help make it feel a less daunting project. 


If you want your garden to be the hub of every social gathering this spring/summer, seating is crucial. When you are planning your design, the first step is to plan the location of your wooden garden furniture. There are many things to consider when choosing the location; for example, which areas receive the most sun and shade. Once you have pinpointed a place for your seating you can then begin to plan the points of interest around this area, such as flower beds and plants. This adds to the ambience and appearance of your seating area and gives guests something pretty to look at. When choosing the type of furniture you require, be practical. You will need a dining set that is functional but one that also provides comfort while adding a touch of style to your garden.


If you want to socialise after dark, you will need high quality outdoor lighting to keep the party going once the sun sets. Lights are not only a functional aspect of your garden, they create a mood and are also a great way to highlight any special features. If you have a water feature, strategically placed lights can draw attention to the things you want to show off (and maybe keep some areas that could use improvement in the dark). And you can use lighting to illuminate pathways and doorways to keep your guests safe.


Nothing will cut a party short like the cold. If you want your guests to be comfortable, it is going to take more than comfy seats when the temperatures drop. Strategically placed heat lamps will provide enough heat to ensure your garden is usable all year round. Or for an impressive centrepiece that will also keep you and your guests warm, a chiminea is a great choice that will also add a splash of colour. 


When designing your garden to create a social space, you will need to consider ways to make your garden private. Fences are one way to create privacy but there are a lot of creative ways in which you can make your space more intimate. Plants and shrubbery provide barriers that will enhance your garden without making your guests feel claustrophobic. Or you can do what my neighbours did and put up straw walls (I'm not sure what they're called) that tower above the fence, thus extending it and making your garden feel a bit more secluded.

December 31, 2012

Happy Blooming New Year!


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!

September 21, 2012

Lavender Fields For-e-ver


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.



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


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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