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CARMEN DELL'OREFICE TO OPEN SINGAPORE FASHION WEEK

Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
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BACKSTAGE AT JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA

This is what 'sex on a motorcycle' hair looks like! Well, it does to Jean-Pierre Braganza. For his SS15 show, 'Architectonic', he asked the Toni & Guy session team READ MORE...
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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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FRED BUTLER MENTORS FOR SOMEWHERE_TO

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_ saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer READ MORE...
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NET-A-SPORTER LAUNCHES 7-DAY BODY REBOOT

NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote READ MORE...
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WeSC & ALTEWAI SAOME LAUNCH HIGH END STREETWEAR

Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome READ MORE...
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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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March 26, 2014

DIY a Fab New Chair at Ministry of Upholstery

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I have spent more than a few moments giving the side-eye to an armchair we have. It has good bones but there's a part on one of the arms where the fabric is kind of slouchy and it bothers me to no end. Apparently staring at it with a menacing glare doesn't fix it, so it needs to be reupholstered. If I lived closer to Manchester I'd be loading up that chair and heading over to the Ministry of Upholstery to get it back into shape. Yes, there is actually a place where you can learn to do your own upholstery, in fact it's dedicated to teaching even complete novices how to make a perfect piece of furniture. If you live in or near the area and you're interested in seeing what it's all about, they're having an open day on Sunday 6th April 11.00-3.00 at Ministry of Upholstery, 122 Water Street, Manchester, M4 2JJ.

It’s free to attend and they will be offering the opportunity to meet the team, find out about their courses, check out their facilities, watch demonstrations of various upholstery and furniture renovation techniques, and you can talk to and watch existing students at work. 

Ministry of Upholstery is led by upholsterer Anthony Devine. Anthony has been passionate about interiors since an early age and has worked in the furniture and upholstery industry for the past seventeen years. Beginning his career as an apprentice, he then went on to produce and install hand-made furniture for Rocco Forte, The QE2, Forte Hotels, Harvey Nichols and Crowne Plaza Hotels. Anthony’s passion and experience has been the catalyst for opening up his workshop to those looking to gain practical, hands-on experience while learning about the craftsmanship of upholstery in a workshop environment.

What a cool skill to have, don't you think?  

January 24, 2014

Habitat Presents: Colour into Liquid Air

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We could all use more colour in our lives, couldn't we? Especially during the gloom of the last months of winter. Just in time to get us into a sunnier headspace, Habitat’s Platform space on the Kings Road sees the exciting addition of an oasis of colour and vibrancy to its west London gallery this February and March. Recent graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, Gracjana Rejmer- Canovas, has been invited by Habitat to transform its white gallery space on the King’s Road ‘Platform’ into a riot of colour through a painting installation entitled ‘Colour Into Liquid Air’.

Attracted by the American Abstract Expressionists and the Colour Field Painters, Rejmer-Canovas will present canvases of bold, abstract colours of various shapes and sizes. The dozens of canvases sit together and make a large, cohesive whole but each individual piece will also have its own individual integrity.

Rejmer-Canovas soaks up London’s colours and the vast cultural richness of the capital in her home turf of Hampstead and around her Southwark studio. In this project, she will dye her canvases of linen and cotton with natural pigments and then layer acrylics and oil paints. The result will be walls and floors awash with paintings, and a complete interior world of colour. 

The curator of Platform, Holly Wood, says, “Habitat is the perfect place for Gracjana to create her first solo show in London. Her palette of materials and references take you on a journey and remind you of brighter days and faraway trips. I am so excited that we are working with Gracjana on this original and inspiring project. Take a day-trip and be surrounded by the vibrancy of this exhibition.”

Rejmer-Canovas’ ‘Colour Into Liquid Air’ at Platform will run from 7th February to 23rd March 2014 and is generously supported by the Polish Cultural Institute, London. A video of the making process in the space will be shown in the space on loop.  All work is available for sale through the artist prices start from £800, and commissions are available. 

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Photo credit: Susan Bell

January 21, 2014

Spring Couture 2014: Cutwork at Christian Dior

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According to the review at WWD, Raf Simons described this show as "honoring the connection between the women artisans of the Dior atelier who make the clothes, and the women for whom they work, the clients, seeing that connection as one of intimacy, expressed in a mood of graceful calm." Head over to Style.com and Tim Blanks elaborates on the theme, citing Simon's cutwork techniques, overlays, veils, the delicate chain bows on the neck and fingers, and  the sexual element of "concealment infused with peekaboos"as ways of "communicating the charged intimacy of couture."

An abundance of exquisite textural details have been seen at Christian Dior since Raf Simons took the helm, and whether or not the ultra-sweet forms of this couture strikes your fancy, you'd have to have a hard heart if you can't fall in love with everything that's happening on these clothes:

 

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Raf Simons helped out the audience who couldn't make out his illustration: "It's a woman on top of the world":

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May 02, 2013

WOWW...That's More Than a Tea Towel

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Mae Engelgeer, you have made me covet a tea towel. Or two, or three. The Dutch textile designer has created the Woww, Fest and Bow collections of graphic fabrics, developed in small quantities at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, The Netherlands. The fabrics are a mixture of mohair, cashmere, cotton and acrylic yarns for the blankets, shawls and scarves, and the tea towels are just slightly less precious yet still fine for such a utilitarian item, in cotton, linen and acrylic. I'm probably going to buy one - my favourite is  Woww (above and below) and I won't lie, I will try to wear it as a scarf.

You can buy Mae Engelgeer textiles at her online shop or at The Minimalist which is based in Australia, where I found out about her.

But there's nothing worse than buying something pretty that's meant for practical purposes and then being afraid to use it and dirty it up. I once bought cloth napkins that had a print on a white background and I loved them. The first time I used them was when we had friends over for lunch for the first time ever. I guess the importance of a first impression was lost on me, because when I realised that any mouth wiping would result in an instant stain, I collected them up and replaced them with paper towels which happened to have The Muppets characters on them. Yes, I did that. I was a little embarrassed but would I have done it differently if I could go back? Um, no! Later, I had to figure out how to make them practical and not stress about it. I decided they would not be table napkins but would look nice on my serving trays when I was bringing out tea or desserts. And this is exactly what I would do with these awesome tea towels which are far too good for wiping stuff. 

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April 16, 2013

Chanel Film: Bicolor, The Making of the Cardigan

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Click the image to watch the Chanel film Bicolor, The Making of the Cardigan at Chanel News

Leave it to Chanel to turn the making of a cardigan into something magical. From choosing the colour of the finest cashmere threads to the finishing of the piece with those intertwined C buttons - measured for exactness with a wooden ruler - we get a glimpse into the highest level of craftsmanship that goes into making the French fashion house's two-tone cardigans.

Chanel's cashmere is produced in Hawick, Scotland. In fall 2012, Chanel purchased the Barrie Knitwear cashmere mill after its owner company collapsed, saving 176 local jobs and keeping yet another artisan manufacturer from going the way of the Dodo. To date, Chanel has ensured the quality and that unique exquisiteness of their garments by acquiring the struggling couture ateliers Lemarie, the last remaining Paris plumassier, Michel for millinery, Desrues for costume jewellery, Massaro for shoemaking, and Lesage for embroidery. Most of us may never be able to afford a Chanel garment (lottery tickets), but it's nice knowing they're still out there in the world. 

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March 15, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites: Paris

MiuMiuMiu Miu 

In the end, Paris gave the colour and texture lovers what we wanted, and for those who can never get enough black, there was of course a ton of that as well; Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Ann Demeulemeester and Comme Des Garçons will always have options for you. Miuccia Prada has guaranteed a polka dot revival for fall thanks to the unabashedly vibrant, Lichtenstein-esque Ben-Day dot patterns at Miu Miu which she clashed with tight horizontal stripes on tights, bags and fantastic, fitted long coats with off-centre plackets with big buttons (is it still considered clashing when it works so well?). And I'll bet we'll be seeing a lot of necks tied up in scarves which is good because I've got a box of neckerchiefs that are desperate to be relevant again. 

Here's what else jumped out at me from Paris: 

TsumoriChisato

Tsumori Chisato presented a chic version of her fun, vibrant, and surreal approach to clothes - this time a marine theme that looked handpainted ran through the collection

Valentino

Valentino drew upon Dutch influences for their laser cut and beaded collars, Delft-like prints and tulip embroidery that adorned somewhat austere dresses and capes

Celine

The clean and elegant cuts, tactile fabrics and soft tones of Céline make for a great palette cleanser. Add a bit of appliqued texture and slightly exaggerated shapes and you get a luxe classic that never feels old. 

Cacharel

Cacharel is a personal favourite of mine; regardless of who's designing the Paris house is always about youthful, feminine clothes that are chic, and I have a feeling that combination will be endlessly appealing to me no matter how many calendar pages flip by. Prints are a big part of the brand's DNA and for fall we have tapestry-inspired florals and a hummingbird motif that brought a classic anorak to life; hopefully others will take note and wake up this winter staple with options beyond the drab, plain tones we're usually offered (whenever khaki is a trend I die a little). 

IsseyMiyake

Happy coats at Issey Miyake! And happy models, too (those who were capable of accommodating the 'True Smiles' request, anyway). A colour-blocked rethinking of plaid in tonal shades energised with fine diagonal stripes made for coats that would brighten any damp and gloomy day - get them to the UK stat!

Chanel

While not a colour fiesta at Chanel, with 80 outfits to choose from we're guaranteed to fall in love with at least a few tweed or boucle creations. Will we be seeing second-skin thigh-hig leather 'socks' come September? How about winter wig hats? Karl Lagerfeld always brings a bit of fantasy beyond the daydreams he prompts of winning the lottery to afford the clothes. 

Lanvin

Colour seeker or not, Alber Elbaz made the darkest of palettes light and beautiful for Lanvin with flower and insect appliques, easy yet sophisticated cuts and wordy necklaces and medallions that (mostly) expressed nice things like 'Happy' and 'Love'. I'd feel both of these if I were wearing Lanvin. 

Photos: Style.com

February 27, 2013

DIY Your Own Runway Tie Dye

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As soon as the first model hit the runway for London Fashion Week, retailers began scrabbling away, replicating the patterns and styles of top designers. As Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte gave a nod to the ‘90s by bringing back tie dye at New York Fashion Week, are we likely to see the same on this side of the pond?

If so, you can avoid wearing high street reproductions by tie dying your clothes yourself. And no longer do you need to stick to dying a white tee as you did when you were younger. This year’s trend sees Rodartetie dye a blanket shawl, a silk dress and a satin body suit. So this is your chance to be adventurous! Pick any white item you like – cotton, linen and silk tend to work best – and we can go from there.

You can buy fabric dye from any good haberdashery or fabric shop – and you can choose hand dye or machine dye in which you put the dye, together with your garment, in your washing machine. For tie dying purposes, you want to buy hand dye, as you’ll only be dying parts of your material or immersing it for a short amount of time in a washing up bowl or bucket.

When you’re ready to get started you want to soak your garment, as wet fabric is easier to dye. Spin out the excess water in your washing machine or squeeze out what you can by hand. You’ll then need either elastic bands or string to create your desired look.

There are a number of different designs you can create easily just by folding and tying your item in different ways. Some of the most popular ways to tie dye clothes include creating spirals, circles, stripes and knot tying:

  • Spirals: Lay the fabric on a flat surface and put the handle end of a wooden spoon in a position where you’d like the centre of a spiral. Holding the fabric in place around the handle, start twisting the fabric around it. When you’ve got the material into a circular, spiral shape, tie multiple (around four) rubber bands or pieces of string over the fabric so that they crossover in the centre. Make sure the fabric retains its circular shape.
  • Circles: Pick up a small area to be the centre of a circle and hold it between your fingers. With your other hand, tie string or elastic bands at one-inch intervals – go as far down as you’d like the circle to be wide. 
  • Stripes: Roll the fabric up to form a loose tube shape. Tie string or elastic bands tightly at regular intervals.
  • Knot tying: Hold the garment at each end and twist it tightly to create a long rope. Tie it together to form a large knot.

Wearing rubber gloves, dissolve the dye in water as instructed by the packaging – the amount you need will also vary depending on the material you’re using and the size of the garment.Some patterns such as creating spirals will ask that you completely immerse the clothing in the dye, while other styles, and those where you want different colours will need you to apply the dye from squeezy bottles directly on to the individual areas. If you’re immersing the whole garment, leave it in the dye solution for around a minute before taking it out, squeezing out some of the excess water, sealing it in a plastic bag and leaving for 24 hours. If you’re applying the dye directly to the fabric with a bottle, you can pop it straight into the sealed bag.

After the 24 hours, without untying the item, rinse it in cold water until it runs clear. Then you can untie the string or elastic bands and wash it in hot water using washing detergent.Once you’ve dried your tie dye masterpiece, it’ll be extremely wrinkled so you need to use a steam washing machine or iron to remove the creases. Now you’re good to go!

If you want to get more involved in London Fashion Week’s trends, designer Holly Fulton has teamed up with event sponsor LG and will be creating a bespoke Pinterest board showing the inspiration behind her unique fabric prints and embellishment in her latest collection. You can share your own fabric inspirations on Pinterest –enter using @LGUK and #LGLFW on Twitter for the chance to win an LG 6 Motion Direct Drive washing machine, also available to buy on LG’s website.

Photo: Style.com

February 26, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites: London

DuroOlowu

Duro Olowu returned to London this season to show his scrumptiously chic A/W collection (he's been showing in New York for the past two years). One of my most favourite designers and a very warm-hearted man to boot, through his clothes he shows us seemingly endless ways to wear texture, colour and print at its most joyful, and those ways are becoming more and more refined and sophisticated without stifling one bit of his infectious exuberance. I can only imagine how special you would feel wearing one of his garments. (When I met Duro last autumn his lovely wife was with him and looked fantastic wearing one of his exquisite jackets.)

Sisterbysibling

Look beyond the no-pants, high top trainer, face-eating-muff styling by Katie Grand and you'll see some very gorgeous knits from this sister line of the knitwear house Sibling, appropriately named Sister by Sibling. (Sometimes I feel the need to explain why catwalk presentation can be odd, for the non-fashion readers. Like my Dad. "Why isn't she wearing pants? Who goes out without pants?" "No one, dad. But you notice the sweater, right? And the hat?" "No, I'm wondering why she's not wearing pants." "Never mind, Dad.") Anyway, massive scarves in a gorgeous slubby texture are appealing in a primal way - don't we all seek that kind of assured comfort in the cold? The short sleeves of the fair isle and rosette sweaters balance their chunkiness and make for a cute shape. And they may even look good with pants. 

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I love the sporty look of  Clements Riberio's striped cashmere sweater with the floral mini, and the slightly punky hair that keeps it from looking too preppy. These outfits stood out from the earthier muted tones that dominated the second half of the line up. 

 MichaelvanderHam

Michael van der Ham's usual choppy asymmetry was only to be found in the zig zag of the models' hairstyle this season. The patchwork mashups were (mostly) gone, with the outfits more finished and refined. And if the models look to be even more miserable than usual (actually, with the exception of one, these were the least sour looking of the bunch) it's because van der Ham's inspiration was a 'tough girl - moody and dark.' Ok. But some actually looked like they were in pain. 

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Pringle of Scotland has pared down their knitwear range to focus on their signature styles, the loveliest of the bunch being the pure white gilet and skirt in an ottoman rib knit that makes you want to run your fingers over and over just as much as wear.

OrlaKiely

I always look forward to the Orla Kiely presentation in what has been her fashion week home away from home for the past several seasons, the Portico Rooms at Somerset House which she would transform into her preferred fantasyland at the time, and always on the Friday. Sometimes there would be live models (which of course I loved, they pose for you), sometimes there would be cardboard cutouts, and other times it was superimposed paper girls on the walls. I've skipped the past two seasons because fashion week takes a heck of a lot of energy, and I just haven't had it for the past year. So I was surprised to find out that Orla moved out of Somerset House and instead set up office, literally, for her fashionable, anachronistic secretaries to show off their new knit dresses, embroidered cardigans and smart handbags between typing and taking phone calls. 

Photo source

Click the image to watch the video of the girls at work (at fashion156.com):

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Another reason I love the presentation format:

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Sophia Webster showed her new range of shoes in pastel birdhouses in a pastel forest

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I so look forward to inspecting the intricate details of Bora Aksu's clothes up close in the exhibition hall, post-show. The Turkish designer's signature approach involves techniques with the textiles to create all kinds of interesting textures, and mixing knitted elements with both delicate and rigid materials, like chiffons and lace, and hard leather. You can see some details from a past season here.

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Photos: fredbutler.blogspot.co.uk

And undoubtedly the most joyful of presentations come from Fred Butler where you instantly feel validated for your enduring childhood attachment to colour and your desire to celebrate it now in a big way. Which Fred does every day. This season Fred took a more commercial approach and set up a pop-up shop (complete with Fred Butler-esque cupcakes by Pomp de Franc) to allow guests to interact with the goods.

Fred does a film each season and I use them for a little daydreamy escape whenever things are too gloomy in this world of ours:

 

Photos from Style.com unless otherwise credited

February 23, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites: New York

RedValentinoRed Valentino continues with their youthful silhouette that seems made with a modern day Marie Antoinette's daughter, Marie Thérèse, in mind. This time the dresses took a folksy turn, inspired by the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, presented against an illustrated backdrop of treats Will Cotton would appreciate.

In the sea of black that tends to be half of New York fashion week shows, London is always a breath of fresh air as there is no city uniform for the designers to cater to. (I'd still take any of the clothes of course. Except maybe those shiny dresses geared toward the Real Houswives set.) However, New York is still full of fresh and vibrant offerings, many of which present off the catwalk in spaces that allow for more creative and engaging context. 

The most appealing collections visually, for me, are always those that combine structure, colour, print and texture to create something that feels exciting and new. (Writing that just triggered the Love Boat theme in my brain.) 

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Toronto's Calla Haynes, based in Paris and showing in New York, tells us we shouldn't be afraid of colour, and that this collection is about 'being happy'. I knew I loved Calla. Jcrew_1

 

 J. Crew is really stepping it up, earning their place amongst the luxury at NET-A-PORTER.COM with this Marrakech-inspired, jewel-adorned collection

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This exquisite McQ belted dress combines structured, chunky ribbed knit with what looks to be felted bell sleeves and skirt, possibly angora and cashmere? (Why are there no reviews published yet?) Whatever it is, the progression of the McQ line in the past two seasons has raised the stakes of sister lines, possibly even further than Prada did with Miu Miu. 

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Swimwear and resortwear designer Mara Hoffman applies her signature look of vibrant prints in flowing fabrics to a range of cooler weather outfits - what a way to bring the sunshine year round!

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Alice + Olivia's simple navy turtleneck lets this wonderfully full tropical print skirt stand out

  NormaKamali

Norma Kamali's iconic Sleeping Bag coat from 1974 provides the reference for this quilted 1950s style party dress and cosy patchwork coat. I love that she's made a padded dress appear light and airy. 

AnnaSui

Anna Sui's heavily styled and layered outfits can be a lot for the eye to take in all at once; these two looks present the designer's head-to-toe texture and print approach in a more cohesive way.

Photos: Style.com

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

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