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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...
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Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series READ MORE...
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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...
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Here's a little horror-inspired fashion viewing for your Monday morning! Directed by Trevor Undi and styled by Takafumi Kawasaki, the film follows model Jun READ MORE...
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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...
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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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Miss Kiki Salon is a collective that creates wearable art inspired by the beauty the find in their every day lives. Their latest designs form the Inui capsule collection READ MORE...
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June 23, 2014

LANVIN | TOM FORD Japanese Horror-inspired Fashion Film

Here's a little horror-inspired fashion viewing for your Monday morning! Directed by Trevor Undi and styled by Takafumi Kawasaki, the film follows model Jun (Image Tokyo) as she haunts her own doppelgänger through the streets, cemeteries and undergrounds of Tokyo Metro wearing bold looks by Lanvin and Tom Ford. It's so cool; this is the first fashion film I've seen that I didn't want to end. (If you're reading this through your email subscription please click on the title of the post to view the film on the blog.)

Produced by Kymera.tv & East of Normal for VMagazine NYC.

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June 20, 2014

LC:M: Backstage at Matthew Miller with Toni & Guy

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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 to go backstage with their session team to cover the looks. My aesthetic preferences in both fashion and home decor have been shifting from the slightly fussy to pared-down and minimalist (the design of the blog is going to be overhauled to reflect this and it can't happen too soon). More gender neutral. Sometimes you need a palate cleanser and men's fashion seems to be the melon sorbet. 

I was able to attend three shows with Toni & Guy, the first being Matthew Miller, a British designer known for his structured tailoring, performance fabrics and engineered digital prints. The mainly navy pinstriped collection was inspired by WWII demobilisation suits which had a look of being taped up, sometimes with printed messages, and up close I caught some frayed edges on the lapel of an all-navy blazer which took the structured tailoring into a more casual territory suited for guys of the models' ages. Flower garlands - like memorial wreaths? - worn around the neck and wrists gave the outfits colour and organic texture. And then there was the hair which finished the look. Some of the models were cropped super short and therefore needed no styling, while others got the full seriously slick military treatment from the Toni & Guy team - headed by Chie Sato - who used their own army of tools and products to create "40's/50's military young boy with a twist".  

Want to create the look? Here how's Toni & Guy did it, using their session kit which included the label.m Diffuser, label.m Pin Tail Comb and label.m Pro-Advanced Straighteners:

1.This look works best for straight hair. Use a mix of label.m Extra Strong Gel and label.m Gel and apply product on comb and move through hair from roots to end.

2.From either the left or right side take a section of hair from the corner of the head to create a side parting. 

3. On the opposite side, depending on hair density, take a horizontal section to create an undercut look. On both sides of head comb hair until completely slicked back and then start drying the sections with a diffuser (and if possible a setting net - you can see one being used below.)

4. When dry, move to top part either combing to the side or forward and dry with a diffuser (again using net if possible). To make hair nice and flat use straighteners from corner to end of the hair to create texture and so that ends are completely straight. To finish, use label.m Hold and Gloss and blast with cold air for maximum shine.

I love the options this technique gives to a style that is short underneath and long on top; you can slick the top down on the side or wear it longer in the front depending how you're feeling that day. 

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3 Modern Ways To Beat The Heat At Home This Summer

Summer is well and truly in full swing – even as this guest blog is written, we’re basking in the warm sunshine and enjoying a satisfying and comfortable breeze. It’s set to get even better, too – or at least hotter. The Met Office predicts that summer 2014 has a 25% chance of being the hottest summer on record, and it’s even more likely that we’ll see above average temperatures.

Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be another scorching summer so it’s important to keep cool – both for the benefit of your own health, and to allow you to get the most enjoyment out of the summer sunshine and beautiful weather. This guest post runs through three modern and effective ways to make sure you beat the heat, keep cool and enjoy your summer comfortably.

1. Consider High-Tech Home Automation

Thinking of home automation as expensive, complicated systems reserved for the wealthy and technologically cutting edge homeowners of this world is a thing of the past. If you own a smartphone, tablet or even a standard home PC, we all have ways of controlling small aspects of our home – even if it’s something as simple as turning down your stereo or being able to DVR TV shows from your phone.

The same technology can help you control just how comfortable your home is – whether it’s regulating when and where your home is heated in the winter or setting your air conditioning units or fans to ensure that rooms are kept below a particular ambient temperature. A fledgling project currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, called Embue, allows total remote and smartphone control with individual room sensors to manage heating and cooling with minimal manual control needed.

2. Take A Dip In Your Very Own Pool

Ok, so not many of us have our own pool – but it’s not entirely unheard of, and you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to boast one in your back garden. Plenty of space and a reasonable investment can give you a decent enough sized pool to relax in during the summer – whether indoors or outdoors. In fact, the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) put the typical price of a good quality above-ground pool at between £10,000 and £12,000, which is affordable for most people looking for a top-end home addition.


Industry website TradeAdvisor.com puts the typical lowest cost of an extension to be just under £16,000 which makes a swimming pool an achievable addition that’s on a par cost-wise. However, maintenance of a pool is vital – typically colder, wetter and unpredictable British weather will put it out of use for the late autumn and winter period.

Therefore, before you start to don your trunks as the sun starts to peek out at the start of spring, you need to make sure your pool is clean of any grime and impurities, and is also correctly chemically balanced. Opt for specialist retailers like The Swimming Pool Store to ensure you get the right treatment products to make your pool safe.

3. Bask In Satisfying Air Conditioning

You can open all the windows you want and have enough fans to confuse your living room with a wind farm, but nothing beats a genuine quality air conditioning system. It’s definitely a luxury addition, and not as commonplace in homes as it is in places like the USA (particularly in those hot and humid southern states), but its effectiveness can’t be understated enough. Not only can it help you regulate temperature, but also humidity – something which is vital on those hot and muggy summer afternoons.

Like most of these options, they require some investment and they are a long-term solution so be sure you can see yourself in your home for a number of years before taking the plunge on an AC system. The local tradesmen directory Service Magic says it’s difficult to pin down the average cost of an air conditioning system due to varying square footage of homes and sizes of rooms, but it can vary from several hundred pounds through to a few thousand. UK-based firm Cooper Poole offer some units from around £800, and systems from a few thousand pounds – this should give you a good guide to the cost of air conditioning, which is a reasonable investment when compared with other similar home additions and alterations.

This guest post was written by Tom McShane – a British blogger working in association with UK pool suppliers The Swimming Pool Store, and air conditioning specialists Cooper Poole. 

June 11, 2014

Stockholm: The Ferry to Vasa Museum

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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 that sank just 1300m into its maiden voyage in 1628 and was recovered nearly 250 years later in 1961, having been preserved by icy waters that were low in salinity. Ordered by the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, the ship was ostentatiously decorated and when completed was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. All of this just made its journey to the bottom of the sea a few minutes after setting sail even more embarrassing; the ship was dangerously unstable due to an imbalance of weight in the hull - that's basic! - and all it took was a breeze to topple it. It happened in view of a crowd of thousands. But the King was too impatient and his men were too timid to suggest postponing the voyage and so it ended in tragedy. About 30 people died. During an inquest all parties blamed each other and the formal answer given when the court asked why the ship sank was 'only God knows'. (God has thus far declined to get involved.) 

So this is a little tour of what we saw on the way to the Vasa, beginning with the walk down to the ferry port. 

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The sign for the defibrillator elicited a smile: the word in Swedish reads as 'heartstarter'. 

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Djurgården is an island of fun, with a relatively small amusement park, Gröna Lund, of 30 rides.  

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It's my assertion that you'd have to be kind of mental to go on the Eclipse, a swing ride that stands at just under 122 metres tall (above, left, and below). Amongst other thrill-givers there's a tilting drop tower that sends you plummeting from 80 metres (above, right).

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This is probably more my pace. It looks like a children's ride, and that would be about right. 

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Colourful shoes are a common sight around Stockholm. I picked up a rather neon shade of yellow trainers myself. 

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A streetcar station on the island. 

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I couldn't help but think how the breeze that was blowing these tulips over was enough to sink the Vasa. 

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A garden on the way into the Vasa. 

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I was intrigued by this blue slatted wall which just seemed so Stockholm. 

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It's not often you see a cannon getting a hole drilled into it! I'm guessing this is a replica of the bronze cannons that were found on the Vasa. Though it does look old, doesn't it? Maybe it's an original getting cleaned. 

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The Vasa Museum. And here is the absolutely massive vessel it houses; it takes seven stories to view the ship in its entirety:

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It's so huge that you just can't capture all of it in one shot, and you have to see it in person to get a sense of the scale. 

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Detail from a scale model of the ship, painted in what are believed to be the original colours. As was the custom with warships at the time, Vasa was decorated with sculptures intended to glorify the authority, wisdom and martial prowess of the monarch and also to taunt and intimidate the enemy. Many of the figures are in Dutch grotesque style, depicting fantastic and frightening creatures, including mermaids, wild men, sea monsters and tritons. (I was relieved to find there was a rationale for the creepy beauty of the figures. They were meant to freak you out.)

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During a twelve-year period more than one thousand pigment samples have been collected from the Vasa, with twenty kinds of paint being identified. The pigments are made primarily from plants and minerals, though synthetic paints such as lead-white and red lead have also been used. 

The raising of the Vasa and all of the challenges that came with it make for a fascinating story; you can read more about it at the Vasa Museet site.

Tips for Adding Value to Your Home

Contemporary-kitchen-breakfast-barInvesting in your kitchen design not only makes daily life much more enjoyable, it will increase the value of your home and make it easier to sell 

Housing prices are rising in the UK, and one thing you can do if you're looking to sell is invest in upgrading your home. (I always say do it well before you're serious about selling so you can benefit, too!) It will add value and help your listing become more competitive in the market. There are a few essential rooms in every house that can be redesigned or reworked to make the overall property appear unique and more appealing to potential buyers. Here we look at how ways you can improve specific rooms to enhance the value of your home:

  • Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the most utilised rooms in the house. It's the heart of the home and tends to be a magnet for guests at parties. Upgrading this room alone can add significant value to your property; recent research reveals that a kitchen renovation can add 4-7% to the value of a home. Buyers tend to be attracted to kitchens that have adequate cabinet and counter space, a well-functioning layout for appliances, and lots of natural light to make the room feel airy and spacious. Granite countertops are popular as they add high-end style to the overall look. Breakfast bars are also a sought-after feature in the kitchen, and if you think you don't have the space, you'd be surprised to find how easily even tiny kitchens can accommodate one with a little clever design. 
  • Bathroom: Ideally, your home will have a sufficient number of bathrooms/half-baths. If not, look into whether the space can accommodate one more ie. under the stairs. A new, well-fitted bathroom with impressive features such as a soaker tub, wet room, contempoary sink/vanity and storage for towels and toiletries will help make your home a standout amongst potential buyers. A touch of luxury can be added via extras such as heated flooring systems, steam showers, electric showers and whirlpool tubs. If you’re focussed on quality, you will find some of the best electric showers by Mira. Incorporating recessed ceiling lights, illuminated mirrors and wood shelving are great ways to complete the look and make an impression. 
  • Conservatory: A sunny extension in the form of a conservatory or orangery that overlooks the garden is another great way to add value to your property. It is one of the most attractive features for luring potential buyers as it increases the square footage of your home and connects the space between your indoor space and the outdoors. Recessed ceiling lights, built-in speakers and hidden HDMI cables for wall-mounted TVs (these are all features we have in ours) are inexpensive or even free upgrades that will make the room even more desirable.

It's also essential to style your home so the rooms appear as spacious and clean as possible to potential buyers. Get rid of any clutter, anything superfluous and knick-knacky, and do your best to present a neutral palette. Clashing patterns and dark colours tend to really bring the feel of a space down and it's always better to err on the side of dull rather than present as 'busy'!

June 07, 2014

Miss Kiki Salon Channels Asia with 'Inui'


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

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


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

Miss-Kiki-Salon_Tai-DressThe Tai dress.


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


Photos from misskikisalon.com

June 06, 2014

Summer Styling: The Modern Garden Deck


We've just completed the construction of our extension, and because it was off the back of the house, running the entire width and a good chunk in depth, it has completely changed the look and functionality of our back garden. Our patio no longer exists, but we've still got a workable area of grass and beyond that a (very neglected garden) with a wooden shed and playhouse on either side. What we're hoping to do when the interior is all taken care of, is build a wooden deck and create an outdoor dining/lounging area that is like an extension of the inside style; it will have the clean lines of modernism and feel comfortable and welcoming, like the styled decks seen here.  

As for the garden furniture, I gathered up some ideas from George's new expanded home range, which are a mix of modern styles and the patio classics, such as the canvas deck chair and butler's tray. Space is limited so the priorities would be a dining set and something to lounge on. The bench/ottoman is a great piece as it can be used to get comfy on a dining chair when the lounger(s) is in use (we'd probably ony have room to keep and store one), and the drawers are handy for keeping magazines and other things that you might not want to have to go back into the house for once you're all comfy. There's also an extending dining table which is a great thing to have for larger gatherings yet is compact when you only need to seat four. 



Your outdoor area looks and works best when it's uncluttered; it's all about choosing a few pieces that you will get the most use of and work together style-wise. It might just become your new favourite place to hang out (especially if the weather agrees!). Now for the matter of that garden....

June 04, 2014

Blogger Competition: Win £1000 in John Lewis Vouchers from Cunard

Mediterranean-living-roomA few well-chosen pieces of furniture and accessories in warm textures and ocean colours is all is takes make your home Mediterranean

Home decor bloggers: this is your chance to win £1000 in John Lewis vouchers doing what you love! Cunard is offering savvy and stylish bloggers the chance to bring of touch of the Med into your own home. The Mediterranean is one of the most sought-after cruise destinations for its richness of culture and history, beautiful oceans and landscapes, and saturated, vibrant colours. Who wouldn't want to live with a bit of that?

To enter, choose one of Cunard's Mediterranean destinations  - it could be Athens, Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Naples, there are dozens! - and then use its inspiration to create a mood board on Pinterest showing how you would bring Mediterranean style into your home, and blog about it. Then be sure to let us know you blogged by commenting  on this blog post or this one with a link to your post. Check out the competition here

The competition closes 20th June at 11:59 pm. 

In addition to first prize of £1000 in John Lewis vouchers, up for grabs is £500 in vouchers for second place, and third place gets £250 worth!

I've done a little daydreaming myself and created a board to get things going:

Follow The Swelle Life's board Cunard Mediterranean Blogger Competition on Pinterest.

Myself and Jen at lovechicliving will be judging all of the entries at both blogs, together.

We look forward to seeing your original, beautiful and inspirational mood boards and blog posts. Have fun interpreting the Mediterranean with your unique sense of style - it might you win £1000 to make it a reality!

You can read the full Terms and Conditions on the wearecunard here

June 03, 2014

Stockholm: Gamla Stan, The Old Town

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I've just returned from my second trip to one my favourite cities, Sweden's capital, Stockholm, where our luck with the weather was, again, so fortuitous that I should probably be buying lottery tickets. Both times it was unseasonably warm -  hot even! - by a good 10 degrees. One day I couldn't find my sunglasses and didn't have a hat, and I started to get sunstroke when I had to queue in the sun for about 30 minutes. But I wasn't going to complain about glorious weather. (Yes, I'm sensitive.) 

Even when the sun isn't present, Stockholm is a city of yellow. It's especially prominent in the structures of Gamla Stad, the 'old town', along with saturated shades of orange. The painted buildings far outnumber the naked concrete ones. But elsewhere you're only ever around the corner from a burst of sunshine.  

So let's take a little tour through the streets of Gamla Stan, to be followed for the next several days by scenes taken from the water - the architecture is varied and just so cool and colourful, and we spied many sunbathers on rocks  - and other places around Stockholm, including Marimekko who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their iconic flower print, Unikko. (They're a Finnish heritage brand but they certainly fit well with the joyful aesthetic of Sweden.)

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Um, 7-11 is way better looking than I remember it back in Canada...even inside it's styled like an internet cafe - are we still saying that? Is there a cooler name now? The branding of American institutions in Stockholm, such as McDonald's (there are not many others visible in the city), assumes a higher level of sophistication when communicating to its demographic. In that it doesn't seem to be parsing out a specific segment of the population to talk down to. I might be jumping to conclusions here, but you can see the tax dollars (or krona in this case) put to good use. People are well taken care of in terms of social programs, the streets are clean, there's a commitment to green spaces and work/life balance, gender equality is a reality and not a lofty notion, and you have to go out of your way to find food that's not good for you. And although it's a very expensive city, the salaries are commensurate with the cost of living. So it's just us tourists that feel the crunch! But it's worth it. It's a city of people who actually look happy. And healthy. I've mentioned their peachy glow before which I admit I am in awe of. Peachy glow! People here in the UK pay for that and then wind up looking orange. (Hint: it comes from within. You can't buy it.) 

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Pippi Longstocking was the trendsetter for this look: 

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Even a sophisticated city like Stockholm has its cheesy tourist shops, though they're thoughtfully condensed to one street. This t-shirt that survived the 70s was only trumped by the 'Rasta Baby' - a stoned baby in a pot leaf-emblemed hat smoking a joint. I'm not showing that, I don't want it on my blog! I didn't want it on my brain, either. 

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Walking out of Gamla Stan toward the water will take you through the Parliament buildings and the palace:

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Notice the Brutalist addition to the top of this wing of Parliament building (above). 

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The parliament building is quite a grand presence (above), while the palace across the water is less ornate, at least from this viewpoint. Love the yellow guard station though:

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We got to see the changing of the guard which was different from what you'd see at Buckingham palace in that the guards included women and they were all quite young. Two from the procession stepped up and peformed the ritual with the on-duty guard that involved a lot of (seemingly) angry shouting. Whatever they were saying, they meant it! When the new guard was in place we noticed that her bayonette was mighty sharp. I think I saw daggers as well. You don't really see bayonettes much these days, do you?

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The lion with its mighty paw on the globe symbolised the Swedish empire's reign as a great European power in the 17th and early 18th centuries. (And they didn't miss a detail in carving out that lion's undercarriage.) 

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This was an unusual sight - a classic American muscle car, in purple no less, cruising through Gamla Stan. It's kind of hard to see, but in proper muscle car style, the driver is watching the girls watch him. He likes what they see. 

More to come...in the meantime you can see photos from my previous trip to Stockholm here (just scroll down a bit as this is the Scandinavia category and includes everything). 

June 02, 2014

Last Call for Entries: Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Four_tellScreenshot from Four-Tell, a fashion film featuring Bella Freud and Caryn Franklin

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF), one of the largest and most exciting short film festivals in the UK, makes its final call for submissions.

An established and dynamic player on the UK film festival circuit, ASFF is an annual celebration of short films from across the world. ASFF 2014 hosts a strand dedicated to fashion films, which recognises the artistic output from the industry. Fashion filmmakers are invited to submit works that showcase recent collections, engage with industry issues and experiment with different approaches to moving image-making.

Working with leading organisations in the fashion and film industries, including London College of Fashion, BAFTA, Film 4, Warp, Film London, Channel 4, Raindance and Sheffield Doc/Fest, last year they showcased a fashion film from acclaimed filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson and Selfridges. Fashion film Four-Tell (2013), represented inspirational female role models starring Zaha Hadid, Sharmadean Reid, Caryn Franklin and Bella Freud, and promoted Selfridges' new bespoke branch. Also part of last year's selection was Meghna Gupta's Unravel (2012), which introduces audiences to the life cycle of unwanted textile products.

Hazel_5Screenshot from Hazel, 2012. Directed by Tamer Ruggli (Tipi’mages Productions), Switzerland. Comedy Finalist in ASFF 2013.

ASFF 2014 will take place in 15 unique and iconic locations across the historic city of York, including medieval halls and boutique cinemas, during the weekend of 6 - 9 November 2014. Films selected for the festival qualify for cash prizes and awards nominations for Best of Fest, People's Choice and Category Awards; inclusion on a Top Picks online compilation; screenings at a number of other UK festivals; editorial in Aesthetica Magazine, and editorial on the Aesthetica and ASFF blogs. Visit www.asff.co.uk for more information and to register your entry today. Entry is £15 and the deadline to submit your work is 2 June 2014.

Watch ASFF 2013's Official Trailer here 



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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