Friday, 23 September 2016

OOTD @ The Bowes Museum...

Hello lovelies!

I haven't done an outfit of the day post for a while, but when I was visiting Northern Sole at the Bowes Museum at the weekend, it seemed like the perfect place to take advantage of the amazing location!  And my lovely friend Krissi's photography skills (thanks Krissi!).

I've been absolutely loving Marks and Spencer's fashion for a while now-ever since I first discovered #ArchiveByAlexa.  My blouse is the Harry blouse from Alexa's range, and my bomber jacket I picked up from the Limited Edition Collection in the sale-£50 reduced to £20.99.  These items are no longer available, but fear not lovely readers-there's a winter #ArchiveByAlexa dropping on November 1st-excited much???!!!

My jeans are Armani, I got them from Flannels and they were £50 in the sale.  They are the most amazing jeans I've ever owned!  And my bag is obviously my favourite; my lovely Louis I got for my 30th!

The Bowes Museum is the prettiest place ever-perfect for this kind of post, can't wait to do another one!

Hope you enjoyed my #OOTD!

Until next time,

Kay xxx

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

'See now, buy now': Burberry's September show...

Hello lovelies!

As we come to the end of another London Fashion Week, I really want to talk about Burberry.  The house's September collection had its runway debut on Monday evening and was the first Burberry 'see now, buy now' collection.  As fashion has always been seasonal (Spring/Summer collections are previewed in September, Autumn/Winter in February), designers constantly struggle to face the demand from consumers who want the clothes from the runway immediately and are also faced with the reproduction of cheaply made versions of their designs being plastered all over the high street.  The 'see now, buy now' concept gets rid of the seasons turning ready to wear into ready to wear immediately.  It's a risky concept, one which Creative Director Christopher Bailey has been championing since the February shows, but it does give designers back control and also meets the demands of the consumer.  Fashion relies heavily on social media and 'see now, buy now' certainly meets the immediacy demanded by those viewers who have to have everything they see.  I think the idea is revolutionary (it also featured both menswear and womenswear as opposed to having two separate shows!); here you have it, the very first Burberry September Collection.

Image credit here 

Image credit here

The collection was dubbed 'old meets new' and it was all there; military regalia, Shakespearean-esque frills-think regal and British-very, very British.  Even the setting at Maker's House reminded me of a stately home, very English country garden.  There was also a real crossover between Menswear and Womenswear-unisex silk pyjamas being a great example of this.  I loved it all!  Here are some of my favourite pieces from the September collection:

Every Burberry show always features at least one dress that I'd die to own.  Look 2 was this season's.  The fabric moved beautifully, and whilst I wasn't a great fan of some of the neutral colour choices, the palette really works here.  And I absolutely love the print.

Images all taken from here

The military jacket in all of its guises (above in various different looks), stole the show for me.  It ticked all of the boxes in terms of fit, detail and tailoring and really stood out against some of the more neutral looks.  Burberry always get it right when it comes to outerwear, and the military jacket is surely making a comeback-investment piece of the season perhaps?  It's definitely on my wishlist.

Image taken from:

The September show also brought us the new Bridle bag.  Available in a variety of skins and colours (and prices-one being £16,000!), the bridle bag is the new classic.  The new IT bag perhaps?  Let's hope so.

Image taken from

So now to the verdict: I loved the Burberry September show.  I'm a massive fan of Christopher Bailey and his forward thinking strategy for the brand and I think the decision to appoint a new CEO, allowing him to concentrate solely on his Creative Director role, was a great one.  Bailey seems to have got back his artistic freedom, he's played around with ideas and story in this show.  The designs are striking and most importantly-wearable.  I hope 'see now, buy now' is a success; I guess only the numbers in the coming months will answer that question.  He may have shook up the fashion world and a system that has been established for years, but at least for this show it was definitely the right decision.

If you're in London, you can visit the Burberry showspace until September 27th.  For more details visit the exhibition website


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Northern Sole @ The Bowes Museum: A Review

Hello lovelies!

I was kindly invited to review 'Northern Sole' at the Bowes Museum yesterday, a festival in celebration of Northern design, street style and creativity.  As you well know, I love the Bowes Museum and always enjoy visiting, but this time I was really excited to see what was in store!


It was a beautiful Saturday, so the museum was at it's prettiest!  I took my lovely friend Krissi with me to the festival; she's an avid shoe lover and trainer enthusiast so I knew she'd be the perfect companion.

We were met in reception by Alison, who checked us off the list and presented us with our free socks!   Bloggers love a good freebie, but I've never been given free socks before so this really made me laugh! I absolutely love mine, in whacky neon yellow!

Thanks Alison for taking this photo-such a giggle!

We began our day in the Jubilee room, where there were so many amazing workshops being delivered by so many different professionals, that it was difficult to decide where to start!  First up, there was Bobzilla, a North-East based street artist who was encouraging people to try their hand at their own version of street art.  When we arrived there were lots of people trying this out so it was great to see what amazing work they had already created.

We then talked to Lesley from Scott Leathers, a Barnard Castle based business that specialises in creating amazing, bespoke, made to measure motorcycle suits.  She showed us how to pattern cut leather pieces from templates that would go on to be part of each suit.  She also had a complete suit that had been through a crash at over 30mph-it was amazing to see how much protection it must've been for the driver; it had hardly any damage!

Then there was Sarah from Hide Bound Ltd, who was creating some of the most amazing tankards that I have ever seen!  Giving the appearance of carved wood, Sarah carves her designs into the leather, then uses tools to hammer in the effect giving the appearance of depth and age.  The leather is then lined with Brewers Pitch, an oil derivative which makes the tankards ready for liquid.  The process and detail is so intricate, I could have watch Sarah hammer away at her design for hours.  Hidebound have made props for both Game of Thrones and Pirates of the Caribbean and each piece of Sarah's work looks like it has fallen straight out of history.

Finally, there was Frances Moffatt, who we were most excited to work with.  Frances is a fashion illustrator and you may remember that I took a one day course with her at the Bowes Museum about a year ago.  I was really excited to see her and work with her again; I love fashion illustration and couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

We started off by choosing a magazine and sketching out a figure onto paper.  From there we could begin to draw in more features and then we finished off by painting our sketches with Indian drawing ink.

Frances teaching Krissi about proportion

I remembered quite a lot from the first time I worked with Frances and it was so good to put those skills into practice again.  I wasn't brave enough to work with the Indian ink the first time around, but I really enjoyed it this time-sketching fashion is incredibly therapeutic!

With Frances and our finished sketches

There were some amazing speakers at Northern Sole too, Erika Bowes (stylist and photographer), Gemma Hanley (head of footwear design at Lulu Guinness) and Alexander Taylor (industrial designer and originator of Adidas Primeknit & Futurecraft).  I was at work on the morning of the festival, so unfortunately we missed the speakers but I hear they were amazing and drew in a great crowd.

We couldn't possibly leave the museum without visiting 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain', as Krissi hadn't seen it.  You can read my review of it here; I've seen it four times now and absolutely love it, but I'm always excited to go with someone new to find out which is their favourite shoe.  

Krissi loved these amazing green Jimmy Choo's, but as always, we were totally in awe of the amazing Cinderella shoe.

After a coffee (and a large piece of Victoria sponge!) from Cafe Bowes, we were back on the road after an amazing and fun day at Northern Sole.  It was great to see something so fun and fresh at the museum and I enjoyed every minute of it; as always I can't wait for my next visit!

Krissi and I had an amazing day.  Thanks to everyone that made Northern Sole such a wonderful success and thanks also to Alison Nicholson for inviting me to come and review the event-I always have such a wonderful time at the museum, it's always such a pleasure!  Thanks to Frances for giving us her undivided attention at the workshop, we loved taking part! And thanks to Krissi for taking some amazing photographs!

Until next time,

Kay xxx

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Northern 'Sole'-A festival of shoes at The Bowes Museum...

Hello lovely people!

Apologies for my blogging hiatus, I've actually been on holiday but fear not, I've returned to tell you about the most amazing event taking place at The Bowes Museum on September 17th.  'Northern Sole' is a celebration of all things shoe, and ties in wonderfully with the current 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' exhibition.  And what's even more exciting is that if you're under 25, the event is totally free!!  Featuring amazing shoe experts and the return of the wonderful Frances Moffatt who will be offering pop-up shoe illustration on the day, the event is a must for shoe lovers everywhere.  You can read the official press release for the event below.  I've been lucky enough to have been asked to come along and review the event, so if you see me give me a wave-I'll be the the one drooling over the Roger Vivier for Christian Dior!


Sneaker culture kickstarts an event which brings design, street style, photography, fashion and creativity all under one roof on Saturday 17th September 2016.

The exclusive Adidas collections featured in the current exhibition, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, have inspired The Bowes Museum to open its doors to sneakerheads, stylists, designers and anyone with an interest in what makes compelling, creative, contemporary street culture.

Headlining the event, which runs from 11am - 3pm, are industrial designer, Alex Taylor, who pioneered the innovative Primeknit Adidas trainer for the London 2012 Olympics; stylist and photographer Erika Bowes, who will share her passion for street style; Gemma Hanley, Head of Footwear Design at Lulu Guinness, and local visual artist Bobzilla.

Experience first-hand the skills involved in the creative interpretation of the rich street style culture of the UK, visit the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition, and share in the obsession that lies at the heart of design, all in the unique setting of The Bowes Museum, at this fantastic event, which is FREE for under 25s who register online at

The Adidas collections in the exhibition belong to two passionate Northern collectors of the brand, Ross Macwaters and Neil Pestell, who own 2,600 pairs and counting between them. They were delighted to lend some of their iconic footwear to create an exclusive ‘trainer wall’ in the show, following the Museum’s approach to acknowledged authority Stephen Donald, from Potency. The wall is an addition to the exhibition organized by the V&A, and fittingly forms part of the ‘obsession’ theme.

To complement the trainers, visitors can explore the technology and style of the top brands on the app created by U-DOX - an innovative digital version of the Thames and Hudson book Sneakers: The Complete Collectors’ Guide installed next to the sneaker display.

The two collections span more than 50 years of the brand – Neil has a pair of blue ‘Ford Fiesta’ trainers from 1975, made to coincide with the launch of the Ford Fiesta car, which he occasionally wears even though they are the only known surviving pair of the 100 made.

Ross likens his mainly post-2000 collection to ‘laying down good wine,’ usually buying in his size even though 95% of his shoes remain unworn. However, he did splash out £1,600 on a rare pair of ZX 8000 that Adidas made in a single size, UK 8.5, which are much sought after as there are thought to be only 50 in the world.

However, the key moment for the brand came in the mid 1980s when the group Run-DMC began wearing ‘Superstars’ – created as a basketball shoe rather than a fashion item - simply because they liked them. Adidas learned of this and a number of its executives were persuaded to attend a gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where the band urged audience members to each take off a trainer and wave it in the air during a performance of their song My Adidas, creating a fusion of lifestyle, music and trainer culture which ultimately resulted in a $1 million endorsement deal for Run-DMC just to represent the brand. A pair of iconic Superstars is on show in the exhibition.

“It was a difficult choice as to what to include on the trainer wall, but we went for diversity – classic models from Europe, Asia and America – with the aim of displaying the best mix of what’s happened in Adidas over the years,” said Stephen, who helped Ross with his choices.

“The Museum has done a fantastic job in the way it’s displayed the trainers,” added Ross. “They sit well with the other exhibits in the show.”
For potential ‘sneaker heads’ young and old, Neil and Ross offered advice on how to begin, with both stressing the importance of buying only what you like rather than chasing what other collectors buy simply to sell on, although they both admitted to ‘spending more than I should’.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain runs at The Bowes Museum until 9th October 2016

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A very special #OOTD...

Hello lovelies!

Last Friday I had a very special OOTD...I was Bridesmaid for my Mister's sister!

Me and my Mister at the Chapman wedding (he was an usher)

I haven't been a Bridesmaid since I was three.  That time around my dress was very, very different (think 80s meringue!).  I was an awkward three year old too and spent a lot of the day crying and drinking copious amounts of coke at the reception (coke and a hyper child should not mix!).  I still have my dress...

I couldn't find a picture of me wearing it, but I'm sure there are plenty kicking around!  Thankfully dress design has moved on since the eighties, and I absolutely loved my dress this time around.  I wasn't sure it would suit me but I loved it once I put it on on the day, next to all of the other Bridesmaids; I felt great in it.  A little girl told us we were Princesses, which I suppose means we all looked good, bless her!

I don't want to share too many photos, I want to leave that to the happy couple but here are a few from the day.  Enjoy!

Congratulations to the Chapmans <3


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

English Rose: Feminine Beauty and my surprising obsession with Lady Emma Hamilton...

Hello lovely people!

After coming to the end of a particularly stressful school year, I've been thankful to have the pleasure of a free Tuesday now my workload has slowed with the summer holidays.  Not one for twiddling my thumbs, on this particularly grey Tuesday I decided to visit my beloved Bowes Museum (for about the millionth time this year if you were keeping score!) to revisit 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' and to while away some hours exploring one of my favourite haunts.

Having spoken to the lovely Alison Nicholson (Digital Communications and Fundraising Officer) across social media, it also seemed like a good opportunity to catch up with her face to face over coffee and have a chat about all things Bowes, exhibitions and potential blog post ideas.  When she suggested I consider writing about the 'English Rose: Feminine Beauty' exhibition, currently running alongside shoes, I must admit I was a little overwhelmed; what could a self-confessed fashion addict possibly have to say about these amazing women?  Never one to back down from a challenge though, I remembered my geek-like obsession with the life of Yves Saint Laurent when writing about 'Style is Eternal' and left the cafe eager to see how I could put a fashion spin on portraiture.  It was only when I left the gallery that my new obsession began.

I was initially going to write about the fashions of the various sitters from the portraits in the gallery.  Often described by my nearest and dearest as a 'proper English Rose' (which should read 'Kayleigh you always look deathly pale so we're being polite'), I felt an instant bond with the ladies staring back at me.  At first I honed in on 'Mrs Siddons' captured beautifully by Thomas Gainsborough in 1785.  Sarah Siddons was an actress best known for her wonderful portrayal of Lady Macbeth.  I've since discovered that her main gift as an actress was her ability to feel and portray emotion; so much so that the audience once believed her to be dead due to the agony she felt after watching her on-stage husband strangled before her very eyes, in her role as Aphasia in 'Tamburlaine'.

'Mrs Siddons' by Thomas Gainsborough, 1785

At first, I was taken aback by her beautiful clothing, typical of the 1700s for someone of her stature.  She was a well-known, well-paid actress so whilst her background may not have been regal, her wealth and status allowed her to enjoy the finer things in life, hence the fur in the portrait.  But on reading about her, her style seemed irrelevant against her obvious talent.

I started to feel this way about a few of the women I'd initially planned to write about.  Was I doing them a disservice by merely talking about their clothes?  My mind was made up when I discovered Lady Emma Hamilton.

Emma Hart as 'Miranda': Oil on Canvas by George Romney 1785-6

I don't know what drew me to her portrait; perhaps it was her pose and posture or her expressive face.  However, much like the men in her life but with a completely different objective, I became consumed with finding out as much as I could about this lady.  She was George Romney's muse and he became obsessed with her; painting her over a hundred times.  Surely it takes an amazing woman for someone to be so enamoured by her that he would paint her that many times out of choice?  Well, amazing she was, but possibly not for the reasons you would expect.

On delving deeply into the internet, I found out a lot about Emma.  She started off life as Amy Lyon and not much is known about her early years.  She was either an actresses' maid or according to Wikipedia a 'model and dancer at the Temple of Health' working under James Graham, a Scottish quack doctor.  She was keen to rid herself of her humble beginnings so changed her name to Emma Hart.  Striking me as someone who was keen to get on in the world, she used her femininity, charm and sexual allure to better herself-eventually becoming Lady Hamilton; but her social assent is possibly her most interesting characteristic.  Much like the gossip columns of today, I devoured her scandal like a sumptuous piece of chocolate cake!  An unwanted child with Sir Harry Fetherstonehaugh who abandoned her, a relationship with Hon. Charles Greville at 16, then sent by him to Naples when he wanted rid of her so he could marry, a relationship with Greville's cousin Sir William Hamilton whom she then went on to marry, an open relationship with both Hamilton and Lord Nelson and a life ended crippled with debt due to a gambling addiction-its fair to say that Lady Hamilton's past was particularly chequered.  But in spite of all of that, she was a woman that people idolised for both her style and stature.  Whilst working with Romney, she began her 'Attitudes' her mimed sketches where she could simply take a single piece of fabric and transform herself into any number of characters, through use of her expressive face and natural ability to pose and apply her body language appropriately.  She took inspiration from the loose-fitting tunics worn by the people of Naples, combined with her knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology to manipulate her poses and emulate characters and as a result, created a want for an effortlessly cool draped Grecian style of dress across Europe.  Her style was adored and her beauty is tangible through Romney's portrayal of her.

Lady Emma Hamilton as Cassandra by George Romney
Image source here

Celebrity is everywhere these days-and celebrity gossip consumes our lives as a nation.  Little did I ever think I'd find so much of it in a portrait gallery.  The women portrayed in 'English Rose' aren't simply faces on a canvas.  They are strong, powerful, adventurous, promiscuous and most important of all, interesting.  These portraits are merely snapshots in time of women I'd certainly like to meet-they may look perfect, natural and beautiful, but scratch the surface and you'll be sure to find scandal, empowerment and strength.  If you are visiting The Bowes Museum soon, I urge you to visit English Rose; with a little bit of background research, who knows what you may find! 

English Rose: Feminine Beauty runs until September 25th, 2016  (here) and can be viewed as part of your general admission to The Bowes Museum.  Many thanks to Alison for providing me with a copy of the exhibition catalogue as a starting point for my research and for the images.  All opinions are my own (but I'll list the sites I used to aid my research below just in case you want to find out more!), Lady Hamilton's life really got me hooked!

Until next time,

Kayleigh x

Sources: Lady Emma Hamilton,_Lady_Hamilton

Mrs Siddons