Fashion Week Fury…

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Fashion Week Fury…
Sep 182016
 

It’s my favourite time of year!  Fashion Weeks all over the globe.  Lovely.  Inspiration and fun everywhere.  Autumn issues of proper fashion magazines are heavy with beauty and ideas.  The press is full of glorious and mind-blowing takes on how to clothe bodies.

And the inevitable whining about “aspirational” body images, the potential for exacerbating eating disorders and models who are “too skinny.”

As Hadley Freeman points out in this Guardian article,  it’s a bit simple to point to Vogue as the cause of a mental illness but seriously, why all the hate for designers using models who make their clothing ideas look good?  The creations that go down those catwalks aren’t bought by – or even manufactured for – the high street.  They are inspiration, and couture; key elements of what is shown there filter down to the mainstream over the coming weeks, months and seasons.  Take away the aspiration, inspiration and the beauty, and you’ve pretty much buggered up the clothing industry.  Let’s all shop at Evans* and camping stores and feel no joy in the garments with which we choose to clothes our bodies.

The protestations that the unattainable standards are adversely affecting women’s views and care of their bodies don’t really hold water when the majority of people in the UK (and let’s not start on America) are overweight, with a frightening proportion actually being obese and morbidly obese.   No, it isn’t pretty and no, it shouldn’t be comfortable to look at – or the norm.

Ladies on catwalk in 50s frocks

Some of my models from a fashion show I did with People & Gardens back in 2014. A very diverse selection of lovely models, who strutted their stuff and did me proud. Cost me a fortune and not one single sale or order off the back of it, but I’d happily do it again for the sheer joy. Picture stolen from the Cornish Guardian.

 

As a clothing designer and maker and one-time owner of a shop that sold other people’s designs as well as my own, I learned the hard way that larger size models don’t sell the clothing.  Those images won’t appeal to the customers who would otherwise be in the market for the clothing and because larger size people don’t actually want to see an image showing what they’ll look like in the garments; everybody wants the inspiration and aspiration.  Ask other designers and they’ll tell you the same.  Many “vintage style” designers have explored the “plus size” market, after being badgered and badgered to enter it.  We have pretty much all lost money and ended up with garments we couldn’t sell and promotional photography that didn’t help our business in any way.  Sad but true.

Teach children that all bodies are different but equally wonderful and that a healthy body is the thing to strive for rather than a certain size or shape but please stop demonising the slim and the “coathangers” who promote the fashion industry’s wares.  They show off clothing better and are therefore appropriate for the job they do.  Take the ideas and inspiration and put your own twist on it.  Make it your own, for your own style, image and body shape.

We all have a duty of care to children – hell, to other people of every age! – whether our own or in general, to teach that diversity is right and proper and health is the thing to aim for.  As such, we are better placed to do that by example, ie taking care of our own bodies, eating properly, not overeating, getting exercise, mental stimulation and taking an interest and care in the world and everything that makes it.  Less time spent running down others and more time promoting real positivity would be a good start.  As would be boycotting the reprehensible media like the Daily Mail and other similar “institutions”, with their clickbait “sidebars of shame”, who love to promote unpleasantness and hate in so many forms and set us against each other.

Grrr.

*And don’t for one minute think that Evans aren’t guilty of playing with sizes to mess up your head and make you shop there rather than elsewhere. They just do it in the opposite way to other retailers, ie their sizing is smaller than average, to convince the larger people who shop there that there’s no point even trying elsewhere if they have to squeeze into the clothing in Evans.  Unpleasantly manipulative and high time it stopped.

Jul 042016
 

Anybody remember Jeffrey Bernard? Alas, no, I really was unwell and it was nothing to do with a surfeit of gin. I took it quite badly, too, and wasn’t the easiest or best behaved of patients…

I’ve been very down in the dumps about being laid up and – as anyone who knows me will testify – extremely bad at “doing nothing in order to heal properly”. But last week, in the midst of what I can only call “a right bollocking” by an old friend, came a ray of light.

“If you are looking for something to watch while resting, I suggest Handmade: By Royal Appointment on BBC iPlayer. I have loved the two I watched, and I think you will appreciate them too.”

Well, I’d spotted one about Steinway pianos on BBC4, but missed it and had wondered idly about watching it on iPlayer. After another lengthy snooze (for which read, “sulk”) in bed, I sneaked downstairs when Spouse went out and I switched on the tellybox. What joys were revealed! Four wonderful programmes about beautiful, handcrafted, “heritage” products. It feels almost wrong to call them “products”, as that seems to cheapen the beauty and workmanship that goes into their creation. Yes, creation. “Manufacture” also doesn’t seem to be the right word.

Best of all was the programme about John Lobb, shoemaker. Such skill and attention to detail. It was wonderful to watch and I will admit to having slightly leaky eyes. Both company and artisans are utterly devoted to their trade, which is practically a vocation; they are determined to provide the customer with the best possible product and value. And the customers respond with equal devotion. Yes, the price tag makes your eyes water when you first read it, but when you see the quality of the materials, the hours and hours of skill in making the shoes – not to mention the years spent learning the craft – and the attention to design detail to ensure that the customer gets exactly the shoes they want make the figure seem like a very good deal. Tellingly, the customers aren’t all royalty and the mega-rich. They do all, however, have one thing in common, and that’s a keen appreciation for quality in design and manufacture and a certain joy in knowing that they are helping keep skills and traditions alive and artisans in work. To me, that’s priceless.

That programme alone helped revive my passion for what I do, designing and tailoring garments that will fit them properly, last a long time and make the customer feel wonderful. Happily, my customers seem to understand and appreciate this.

My garments are not manufactured in a factory, not even a UK factory. They are made for you, by me in my studio in Cornwall. I put a lot of thought into my designs and processes in order to make the best pieces of clothing for each customer that I possibly can. All my customers are different and I really enjoy making something special for each one. I think I succeed, because so many of my first time customers are introduced by other, longstanding customers and usually go on to develop the two-way working relationship that makes my job so rewarding.

I love what I do and I can’t wait to get back to it, hopefully for a couple of hours tomorrow!

 

Ladies shirt in tiny floral print.

The Shorter Shirt, in a ditsy floral print cotton poplin with 3/4 sleeves and turnback cuffs.

And So The Adventure (In Tailoring) Begins…

 Style, Support British Makers, Sustainable fashion, Tailoring, Wednesday March  Comments Off on And So The Adventure (In Tailoring) Begins…
Jan 212016
 

For a good while now, I have been the subject of some considerable harassment from a friend with an idea in her head.  Angie Voluti is glamorous, charming, opinionated, wilful, deals with highly-powered and stunningly beautiful things – and people – on a daily basis and has correspondingly lofty ideals when it comes to clothing.   She wanted a coat, knew what she wanted (in velvet) and was determined that I should be the one to make it.  I have been, not to put too fine a point on it, badgered relentlessly for months.  Nay, probably years.  I have steadfastly refused.  She has – equally tenaciously – refused to let it drop.

Obviously, neither of us caved in…

Here is the first in a series of guest posts from La Voluti, in which she tells her side of The Adventure.  I do, of course, get to tell it from my perspective but it’s Angie’s turn first…

 

‘The Beautiful Coat’s Adventure started in my mind.  I wanted something that would hug and hold, wrap and isolate.  Elegant but not stiff, with a whiff of eccentricity but without the full gothic regalia.  Beautiful Coat must be out there, I thought.

I cyber-fingered pages and pages of of images with impossibly thin Chinese girls wearing short, Russian-style coats in plastic colours.  Walked in and out of high street shops, chains, superstores and small vintage outlets smelling of old papers and incontinent memories.  Too small.  Too big.  A tent round the waist or too tight around my breasts.   Not a straight line, no.  Nor an extravagant collar.  No, no hood, thanks.  No plastic buttons.  Nope, that would suit my grandmother.  You kidding?  This is for ex-strippers who can’t let go of the sequin.

I came and knocked on Wednesday March’s door.  The March Hare answered.  We spoke the same language.

“Velvet?”

“Go away.  I don’t do velvet.  You want a coat, not a dressing-up costume.”

“Wool, then?”

“Now you’re talking.”

The Adventure started from there.’

 

Angie Voluti

20 January 2016

The First Open Studio Day at March Hare Studios!

 Harebell, Ready To Wear, Support British Makers, Wednesday March  Comments Off on The First Open Studio Day at March Hare Studios!
Jan 122016
 

Come and visit the new studio to see what we do and where.  The kettle will be on!

 

March HareStudios (4) Flyer

 

The studio can be found just off the A388 between Saltash (Carkeel) and St Mellion.  Drive down through the orchard and March Hare Studios is the barn with the double shutter doors.  Come in and say hello!

As well as samples of the garments we make, we have ready to wear and fabrics available to purchase plus some haberdashery supplies.  The studio is usually open Monday to Thursday between 10am and 4pm and by appointment at other times.

Onwards into the New Year – 2016 is nearly here!

 Frocks, Harebell, Ready To Wear, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Onwards into the New Year – 2016 is nearly here!
Dec 272015
 

It’s been quite a year, to say the least.  Weddings, bridesmaids, ladies who “don’t wear dresses” wanting dresses for weddings and discovering that, actually, they look amazing and that dresses are – and should be – fun.

Times move on and the new studio at St Mellion is almost finished, working is already happening there and the first frocks in the new children’s line, Harebell, have been made.  The very first one, “Gracie” sold within hours of being shown online and it’s a most appropriate home, too.

Three retro dresses on bustforms.

“Gracie” in tulip print.

And here it is, proudly modelled by the muse who inspired its creation!

Meet Grace!

Meet Grace!

Grace first came into the Looe shop, The March Hare, when she was a tiny tot in a pushchair.  She didn’t speak, just looked around with huge eyes, taking in everything as her mother, Krystal, had a lovely time looking in beautiful in a variety of frocks.  Over the years, Grace has grown up (and up and up!) into a beautiful, self-assured young lady, who knows exactly what she wants and likes and somehow, with her love of vintage and retro styles and classic dresses, she’s always the inspiration behind the Harebell line.  It was obvious that the first frock should be named after her, because it was the basic design that was created for her two years ago.  The frock has various options (sleeves, necklines, sash/waist ties, skirt length and fabrics) but it’s the same frock and looks wonderful.

Small girl in cream frock with apple print

Grace modelling her “appley dappley” Gracie frock, with sweetheart neckline and no sleeves.

Grace spotted the Wednesday March Ready To Wear line in Lovely Lane, Looe, back in the summer – nothing gets past this young lady! – and was adamant that she wanted something in the apple print.  Despite my slight misgivings as to the size of the print on a small person, Grace proved once again that she has a great eye for design as it works wonderfully.  A round necked, short sleeved version of the dress is almost finished in a black background version of this apple print.  Don’t tell Grace, though, as it isn’t her size…

No doubt Grace will continue to inspire the Harebell line as she grows up.  Apparently, this week she has been glued to the movie “White Christmas” (Miss Wednesday’s favourite!) and has a long list of designs she needs to discuss!

It’s wonderful when customers become friends.  Krystal owns the actual frock pictured on the WM business cards and profile pictures.  Hopefully both mother and daughter will be inspiring things for years to come.

Happy New Year 2016!  Here’s to new premises, new frocks, new friends and even more fun.  Stick around, we have a party to plan!