Friday, 6 April 2018

Izzy Lane: Giving animals a voice in the fashion industry...

Hello lovelies!

This is a fashion post with heart; I want to dedicate it to my friend Izzy, one of the most inspirational women I know.  Not only is she an amazing business woman, she is wholeheartedly dedicated to protecting animal welfare in both her business and personal life.  Let me introduce you to her label, Izzy Lane, dedicated to giving animals a voice in the fashion industry.  But before I get to that, let me give you a little bit of a background to our friendship.

I first met Izzy through Chris (my Mister), as she is Aunty to Oliver, one of his best friends.  Chris and Oli often talked about Izzy as they used to stay with her in the South of France when she would holiday there and they'd come back with amazing stories about the places they had stayed and the wonderful friends of hers they'd been fortunate to meet whilst there.  I have her to thank for my love affair with the South of France, as if she'd never introduced Chris to it, I don't think I'd ever have got to go there and love it so much.

Izzy is wonderful in every way; she is an exceptional business woman, an animal rights activist, a dedicated vegetarian, a creative, an entrepreneur, a songwriter, a fellow Francophile and quite possibly one of the nicest and most supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with.  One of the things I find most admirable and appealing about her is her dedication to animals.  I like to think of myself as an animal lover; I always try to fundraise for my local animal rescue centre (plus I have Jay-Jay, my little rescue dog who is also very fond of Izzy!) and to be kind to animals where I can-but I'm not perfect-I eat meat and I wear leather-so I suppose I could be considered a bit of a hypocrite.  I'd never hurt an animal though and I try to do what I can, when I can for them.  Izzy however, dedicates her whole life to giving animals a voice, and her fashion label ticks all of the boxes when it comes to sustainability and ethical fashion as a result of this.

So let me tell you about this wonderful label.  Izzy wanted to set up a fashion label which used British ethically sourced wool but found that much of the wool used in fashion on the high-street was imported from abroad (with the animals being poorly treated in most cases).  With her love of animals and her vegetarianism at the forefront of her mind, she decided to put together her own flock of rescue sheep, bought at market prices, to ensure that the sheep could live out their lives happily; their wool would be sheared from them but they would not be slaughtered.  Focusing on Shetlands and Wensleydale's for the quality of their wool, she soon had a flock of six-hundred.  Once she had the sheep, she then needed a chain of processors to make the garments, but with the fall of the British textile industry, sourcing the correct people and places to create items proved difficult.  Eventually sourcing the right spinners and button makers, Izzy Lane was launched in 2007 with a view to both help save the British textile industry and to give animals a voice in fashion and has since gone on to win numerous awards whilst spreading awareness and campaigning for animal rights throughout it's growth.  The sheep are absolutely gorgeous too; I've visited one of the fields in Richmond where they're kept and they are the cutest!

Izzy was kind enough to gift both Chris and I with a sweater of our choice from her Izzy Lane Collection.  I chose the sweater that is pictured (above) made from the wool of Izzy's Shetland sheep.  According to the care instructions (included) the yarn has been scoured, blended, combed and spun but not dyed (other than the orange hoop on the sleeve); the colour is the pure colour of the Shetland's wool.  The quality of it is amazing, and it's so warm; it's been perfect for the super-cold weather we've been experiencing here in the north of England.  I absolutely love it-particularly as it has such a great story behind it and I can wear it safe in the knowledge that no sheep were harmed during it's creation.  Thanks Izzy for your friendship, kindness and for loving animals so much-we absolutely adore you for it, you're a true inspiration!

If you want to learn more about Izzy Lane, you can read more about the label here or shop the latest collection online here.  My sweater can be found here.

Until next time,

Kay xxx


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Jonathan Yeo: Skin Deep @ The Bowes Museum

Hello lovelies!

I'm dealing with quite a departure in subject matter today than my usual light-hearted fashion chatter. I recently visited The Bowes Museum, and whilst there I viewed their latest exhibition by artist Jonathan Yeo, "Skin Deep".  Yeo's work deals with the subject of cosmetic surgery something which I feel is massively on trend in 2018.  Every time I sit down to watch television, I am constantly amazed by the amount of celebrities (and minor celebrities) that have had work done to their faces and bodies in their ongoing quest to achieve perfection through aesthetic beauty treatments.

*Jonathan Yeo talks about his work at the launch party of "Skin Deep"

I understand that it's a matter of choice; what people do to their bodies is up to them, but it's never something that has really appealed to me.  I've always considered myself a lover of natural beauty; I've never had any desire to change my face and I've always been raised with a 'grow old gracefully' mentality.  Also, I believe that the real beauty in a person comes from their insides; a beautiful mind and heart shines so brightly in spite of wrinkles and grey hairs.  It's a strange subject; I don't consider myself a vain person, nor do I find myself amazingly attractive; but when it comes to my appearance, I try not to compare myself to others and most of the time I'm relatively happy in my own skin.  I eat well, I exercise and I try to live my happiest life, but that's where it ends for me.  My Mister has a similar view; he hates what he refers to as "fake-beauty" and is certainly comfortable in his own skin too.  So why is it that the culture of celebrity nowadays is to constantly strive for aesthetic perfection?  Is it the ultimate sign of happiness to know exactly what you want from a plastic surgeon in order to achieve perfection?  Or is society constantly insecure about not being perfect enough?

'...Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections...' John Legend, All of Me

Yeo's "Skin Deep" was put together over a ten-year period.  Starting in 2008, The Aesthetic Surgery Series investigates the process of cosmetic enhancement whilst looking at a person's motivation for undergoing such intrusive surgery and society's obsession with youthfulness. Working with surgeons and witnessing live operations, Jonathan Yeo was able to combine his skill in drawing faces whilst revealing the truth behind the invasive procedures.

Extended SMAS Facelift II 2018

There's a couple of notes I need to make here before I continue.  The first is that part of the exhibition deals with breast augmentation and that there are quite a few images of breasts as a result.  Whilst I don't have a problem with this, I haven't included them here in fear of having my blog taken down or reported.  I know it's art, but people can be a bit funny about that sort of thing!  So with this in mind, I've stuck to showing the imagery of the facial augmentations.  The second point worth making is that some of the images aren't for the faint-hearted and are at times quite gruesome, and rightly so.  This exhibition wasn't intended to fluff-up cosmetic surgery, after all there are plenty of online advertisements that do just that.  No, this collection shows the whole truth behind the procedures, with quite shocking and thought-provoking results.

Rhytidectomy III (with surgeon's hands) 2011

What I found really interesting was that all of the subjects in the paintings were women.  It was just something I subtly noticed whilst walking around, but then when reading the exhibition catalogue, it seemed that Yeo had never intended it that way, but found that men who were undergoing surgery, were less enthusiastic about being featured in the paintings.  Also, it's worth noting that surgeon Miles Berry added that even towards the end of Yeo's ten-year study, the numbers hadn't changed much with 85% of his clients being women.  I wasn't at all surprised by this; I absolutely love fashion and although I'm not blaming it entirely for the rise in cosmetic surgery, glossy fashion magazines' love of airbrushing and photoshopping images add pressure to women to look perfect, giving us all unrealistic expectations of how we should look.  Add social media and its million filters into the mix and it's quite a toxic cocktail!  In relation to this, I also read that the angles our smartphone cameras use to enable us to take a selfie make some of our facial features look bigger or wider than they actually are, providing us with a unrealistic self-image!  Is it any surprise that cosmetic surgery is on the up?!

 Rhytidectomy I, 2011

 Extended SMAS Facelift, 2011

 Lower Lid Blepharoplasty II, 2012

Reduction Rhinoplasty, 2011

Whatever your view of the collection, I'd definitely recommend a visit.  There's so much to think about and discuss; it's covering something which couldn't be more current in today's society.  My summary?  I think as a nation we need to promote more positivity and self-love if we really want to see a decline in the quest for beauty and perfection.  Is perfection even that beautiful?  I really think perfection and beauty comes from our flaws, it's the quirks we have that make us unique and human.  I've always enjoyed being a little bit different, maybe that's why plastic surgery isn't for me!  I'll always strive to be the best version of myself, away from the surgeon's scalpel and I can only wish for a world where more people feel like that and find comfort from love and inner-beauty.  After all, aesthetic beauty is merely "Skin Deep".  I'd rather be remembered for the things I've achieved in life and for being kind and compassionate, than for being "beautiful".

Mother and Child 2016-a portrait of Lily Cole breastfeeding
This is my favourite from the collection and the most natural, yet weirdly the one most frequently removed from social-media!

Many thanks to Jonathan Yeo for this amazing collection, I've thoroughly enjoyed writing about it!  Also to Rachael Fletcher at the Bowes Museum for providing me with some images from the launch (starred).  All other photographs and opinions are my own; I really enjoyed the exhibition and would urge you to visit!

"Skin Deep" runs until 17th June, 2018.  Book your tickets online here

Until next time,

Kay x


Sunday, 1 April 2018

All ready for summer: Fascinators and fashion @ The Bowes Museum...

Hello lovelies!

On Sunday 25th March, I had my first trip of the year to The Bowes Museum.  I've not been for a while, and I was really excited to visit the new exhibitions (these will be featured in upcoming posts) but the main reason for my visit was to take part in the 'All Ready for Summer' workshop, ran by my wonderful friend, milliner Margaret Woodliff-Wright (read more about Margaret's work here).

The fascinators we were about to make in our workshop

My Mam loves to craft, so when Margaret told me about her workshop I thought taking part would make the perfect Christmas gift for her; I booked a place for us both.  To make the day even more perfect we awoke to glorious sunshine, the perfect weather to see the museum in all it's glory and what better way to get ready for summer than with a backdrop of beautiful blue skies!  We arrived early, so started our day with brunch and a coffee in Café Bowes, followed by a visit to the Jonathan Yeo exhibition, Queen Victoria in Paris and to the fashion and textiles gallery to take in the new acquisitions (all of which I'll feature on Coco so stay tuned for those!).

We met Margaret in the Education Rooms ready to start our crafting.  We looked at some examples of beautiful hats that Margaret had made and then she set us to work wrapping fabric around a metal hairband, a couture technique that would form the base of our fascinator.  Next, we had to choose which colour fabric we wanted to use, and cut it into squares.  We used a combination of netting, chiffon and 'solid' fabric, cutting a number of each which we would then combine to make up the three flowers for our fascinators.  Once we had our fabric layered, it needed to be folded and cut into a flower shape, then pinched together and stitched to form each flower.  I realise that I make this sound really simple, but it was super-fiddly!  I was so glad that I had both my Mam and Margaret on hand when occasionally things went a little off track!  Once my flowers were formed, I managed to sew two of them to my hairband (my Mam helped with my third) and when it was all put together I was astounded at how beautiful it looked; I couldn't believe what I'd managed to create in just a couple of hours!

 Our finished fascinators, mine in baby blue and my Mam's in a beautiful copper colour!

It was lovely to spend an afternoon chatting with the ladies and creating such a gorgeous piece.  I like to think of myself as a creative person, but I definitely wasn't a natural at this!!  Be sure to watch out for Margaret's next workshop, she's a great teacher!

We finished our day with a cream tea in the ceramics gallery which was absolutely delicious!  We all wore our fascinators whilst we ate, which was a really nice touch!  I loved every minute of the workshop and I'm pretty sure my Mam did too!

Mam, me, lovely events coordinator Rosie, Sylvia and Erica in true fascinator fashion!

If you're interested in taking part in one of Margaret's workshops, be sure to check her website here, or alternatively if you'd like to try a workshop at the Bowes Museum, you can see what's available and book via their events page here.  This is my second workshop at the museum, you can read about my first, learning fashion illustration with Frances Moffatt here.

Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

Kay xx


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Event: Digital discussion @ The Black Olive, Yarm...

Hello lovelies!

Taking a sidestep away from my usual fashion chatter, I wanted to chat about a great event I attended on Thursday.  Slightly further afield from my usual stomping ground, my best blogging buddy Krissi and I headed to beautiful Yarm to swanky cocktail bar Black Olive for an evening of creative conversation (and free cocktails!).  Focusing on teaching both established and up and coming bloggers about the importance of SEO, ways to build a blog and a brand through social media and how to establish an online business, the evening was really interesting and a great insight into the importance of marketing for bloggers both old and new.

Krissi and I event ready

We heard first from James Pennington, company owner and founder of digital marketing company, Viral Effect.  Viral Effect offer a fresh take on marketing, focusing primarily on promotion through and the importance of social media to a brand or business.  Set up in 2012, Viral Effect now have thirty staff, and work with companies such as Dominos and Costa on both a local and national scale.  If you're thinking about building a brand online, they even offer social media training to ensure you are getting the most out of marketing your business.  It was really interesting and inspiring to hear James' story.

James talks shop

Next up was Jonathan Waters to tell us about his work at Eighty8 Design, a digital agency based in Middlesbrough who specialise in building creative and effective websites and packages for businesses of all shapes and sizes.  Jonathan told us about the importance of SEO and how to use it effectively, and how the manipulation of it changes depending on your platform of choice.  He also talked about keeping an eye on the changes in social media, the important differences between and and ways to stay on top of your blogging stats.  I found his talk really interesting, as I've recently acquired a job where a lot of this information is at the forefront of my consciousness (more on this in a later post, I promise!) so I'll definitely be putting a lot of what I learned into practice-thanks Jonathan!

Looking at the future of blogging and digital marketing with James

Social media with Sasha

Wrapping up the evening was Sasha Todd, who concentrated on the importance of social media to bloggers and her top tips for those bloggers who were just starting out.  From choosing the right camera and photo editing software, to understanding algorithms and facebook ads promotion for sponsored posts, Sasha's presentation was short and snappy but covered some great tips for getting that all important social media coverage just right, and we all know how important social media is for getting our posts out there!  Sasha was really friendly and approachable; we had a good giggle with her afterwards-well done girl on a great presentation!

A cocktail and a mocktail!

Finally I need to talk about the venue; Black Olive is gorgeous!  As a treat, us bloggers were treated to amazing canapés and free cocktails, and even though I was driving, the mocktails were also on point!  I really enjoyed my alcohol-free Cosmopolitan and Krissi was really complementary about her Pornstar Martini.  The food was sensational too; from goat's cheese balls, to asparagus wrapped in parma ham, crab cakes and yummy pizza, everything was absolutely delicious!  The supply of food and drink was endless and the staff were so helpful-an amazing venue all round, I'd certainly recommend it!

We ended the evening with some amazing live music (and a great little goodie bag too!).  It was such a fun, inspiring event-I learnt so much!

Thank you so much to Black Olive for having us and for the hospitality and to all of the speakers for what was a great evening full of amazing content.  Thanks also to Chloe Churchill (and Krissi) for the invite-I had such a great evening!

Until next time,

Kay xxx

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Chanel A/W '18 An Autumnal Affair...

Last Tuesday, March 6th 2018, the stunning Grand Palais in Paris was once again transformed for the latest offering from Chanel.  This time it was an autumnal paradise, even though here in the UK we are patiently awaiting Spring, it wouldn't be fashion if it wasn't a season ahead.  Inspired by Lagerfeld's love of autumn colours and his love of the trees and nature evoked by memories of one of his childhood homes, this collection is simply breathtaking.  Although a lot of black is used, it is broken up with colourful accessories and many of the tweeds this time around reflected the colours of autumn.  Here are my favourite looks from the show:

This time around, I really loved the detailing and embellishments used to finish the coats.  Everything from this collection felt very French and very Chanel.  I'm also really in love with this beautiful cross body Camellia rose bag (below) which is absolutely exquisite!

The new bag of the collection, the '31' (above, featured in the show in various mediums) is based on a handbag that Chanel used to own, gifted by her to a lady named Claude Delay, who recently gifted it back to the house.  Lagerfeld used it as inspiration and named it 31 after a famous French expression meaning to get dressed elegantly (ironically it also ties in with 31 Rue Cambon, the address of the famous Chanel flagship in Paris).  I love it in this fuchsia pink colour.

A perfect end to fashion month, thanks again to Chanel!

Which were your favourite looks from the show?

Kay xxx

All images are © and are not my own

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Majestic Millinery: Catching up with Margaret Woodliff-Wright...

Hello lovelies!

Aside from finding an outlet for my passion for fashion, my favourite part of writing a fashion blog has to be the wonderful contacts and friendships I have made along the way.  I have so many amazingly talented friends and I love to promote their work through my blog whenever I can, so today I thought I'd feature one of my favourite ladies from the world of millinery.  That's right, today we're catching up with Margaret Woodliff-Wright and her majestic millinery!

A little bit of background...

If you're new to 'I dream of Coco' (hi! Thanks for stopping by!) you may not be familiar with Margaret; she found my little corner of the internet and in return I found a great friendship and a wonderful talent.  But if you'd like to learn a little more about her, you can check out her blog here or learn a bit more about our friendship and previous meetings here.  Today's post however will concentrate on what she's been up to, and I promise it won't disappoint!

Exhibitions and Competitions...

The Great Hat Exhibition, Kings Cross, London 

Organised by the X-Terrace Fashion platform which aims to link creatives in Europe with fast growing fashion companies in Asia, The Great Hat exhibition runs in London from March 22nd-March 28th, 2018 (tickets available here).  Featuring over three hundred hats in the exhibition and over one hundred hats for sale in the pop-up shop, this is a must for hat lovers everywhere.  The Great Hat Exhibition will feature two of Margaret's pieces this year and here is a little sneak preview:

  • 'In Celebration of The Alnwick Garden'

This piece is one of my favourites that I've ever seen from Margaret.  In stunning emerald green and finished with handmade cherry blossom, this piece was inspired by the sculptural landscaping of Alnwick Garden and the Tai-Haku cherry trees that bloom there.  Chosen as one of the exhibition's top thirty pieces, it certainly is one worth visiting for!

  • 'An English Country Garden'

Her second submission is this delicate floral piece aptly named 'An English Country Garden'.  Inspired by the flowers in her summer Northumberland Garden, this piece was originally made for a competition arranged by Margie Trembley, a milliner based in Springwood, Nebraska, who sent a blind selection of materials to nine milliners for an exhibition she was arranging, challenging them to make a piece each from the materials she had provided.  Whilst the exhibition was being arranged, Margaret also submitted this piece to last year's Melbourne International Millinery competition.  'An English Country Garden' went on to win Margie Trembley's competition in Nebraska, and came second in the worldwide Facebook vote for the Melbourne International Millinery Competition.


Another competition that Margaret recently took part in was "Influence", organised by the lead suppliers of millinery materials in the UK, Parkin Fabrics.  Margaret's piece named "Aureole" (above) was inspired by the work of Austrian milliner Adele List and German textile designer Ulf Moritz (since each piece had to be influenced by something, hence the competition's title).  For this competition, each participant had to buy a pack of basic materials and had to make a piece from what they received.  "Aureole" was ranked third out of seventy entries by judge Rachel Trevor Morgan (who is famously known for making hats for the Queen!)-an amazing accolade I'm sure you'll agree!

Rebranding and a Northumberland Collection...

Margaret's new logo, surrounded by some fabulous pieces from her Northumberland collection

In amongst entering pieces into competitions, Margaret has also managed to rebrand her logo and packaging (I'm not sure how she finds the time to fit everything in!!).  To tie in brilliantly with her 'The Northumberland Milliner' label, she has created a beautiful Northumberland collection using luxurious fabrics including the Northumberland tartan, black and white tweed, raw silk and tooled leather and carefully selected feathers.  The colours of this padded crown headband style, shown in Northumberland tartan finished with pheasant and guinea fowl feathers evoke feelings of autumn and the English countryside.

The corsages pictured above complete the Northumberland Collection.  These smaller pieces are perfect for clipping onto clothing or to be worn in the hair and come lovingly packaged and sealed with a Northumberland tartan-style ribbon.  I was lucky enough to receive one of these as a birthday present from Margaret and it is absolutely stunning (I promise I'll share this via Instagram so be sure to follow me here!)

I am completely in love with Margaret's headbands; particularly this tartan piece (below) which I'm sure you'll agree, is absolutely breathtaking!

All Ready for Summer, at The Bowes Museum...

After admiring Margaret's amazing work for a long time (whilst enjoying her updates!), I decided to book a place onto her workshop at the Bowes Museum (March 25th, 1-4.45pm book here!) for myself and my lovely Mama L!  The pieces pictured above, modelled by the lovely Esther and Gina, are what we are going to be making and I'm so excited to take part.  The afternoon is to be rounded off with a delicious cream tea, quite possibly my favourite thing ever!  I'll be doing a full blog post of the day after the event, but as it's set to be a great one, be sure to book your place now to avoid disappointment!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing Margaret's latest pieces and hearing all about her latest events, as much as I have enjoyed writing about them!  To keep up to date, be sure to check out her website here.

Until next time,

Kayleigh x

All images are © Jim Gibson of GIS photographic

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