Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Visiting Cheshire Oaks...

Hello lovelies!

I've wanted to write for ages, but I've been having a major crisis of confidence with my blog (I must be having a midlife crisis at 31!!).  I took some holiday, and took stock of the situation...I write because it's an outlet for my love of fashion, so if I stopped writing I suppose I'd have nowhere for my creativity to roam free.  So if you're reading this thank you, if I can at least make one person somewhere smile, then I know I'm doing a good job in sharing my true passion with you!  So with that said (rant over!), I'm going to chat today about a little trip I recently made to Cheshire Oaks; just in case any of you feel like visiting and want an honest opinion from a fellow shopaholic!

 Road trip!!

Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet is part of the McArthur Glen group and is situated at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, just a forty-five minute drive away from Manchester and thirty minutes outside of Liverpool.  I live just outside of Durham, and my Mister and I often visit York Designer Outlet in search of designer bargains (the jacket and the shirt in the photo above both came from YDO, the jacket was an £80 bargain from The Kooples and the shirt is from Levi's), but as we were visiting his sister in Huddersfield, we decided to brave the M62 and take the long drive in search of Burberry, Belstaff, Mulberry and some of the other brands that aren't available at the York site.  


Pulling into Cheshire Oaks, the first thing to note is that it's absolutely enormous.  The Ralph Lauren alone is bigger than most homes, and although Google suggests that you can navigate your way around the complex in a mere two and a half hours, I beg to differ.  Although we are seasoned pros when it comes to shopping, it took us more like six hours-when in Rome...(or in this case when in Cheshire Oaks) do as the shoppers do and make a day of it!  There's ample parking throughout the site, so even though we visited during the school Easter holidays, we had no problem finding a parking space.

As a rule of thumb, if you're visiting for a more high-end shopping experience, I'd suggest starting with the shops behind Ralph Lauren, as it's here you'll find Burberry, Belstaff, Mulberry, The Kooples  etc.  The main player on my hit list was Burberry.  I love Burberry, and was hoping to bag myself some new accessories.


There's no photography allowed in store, but I loved this visual merchandising set up just outside.  The staff in Burberry were great (I always find this no matter which Burberry I visit!) and although I didn't find anything that I loved enough in order to part with my cash, the prices were great.  I tried on a short, navy Burberry rain mac, but the length wasn't very flattering.  A lovely sales assistant told me lots about the coat and helped and humoured me as I tried on various styles and sizes, she couldn't have been more helpful and the experience was in no way intimidating.  A lot of the stock in the Burberry outlet is seasonal, so if you're expecting a half price heritage trench you won't find this here, but there's still a lot of choice; it definitely gets the thumbs up!

I worked my way through lots of the high-end shops.  Many of the stores were running offers, so there were some amazing prices.  The Kooples were offering an extra 20% when you bought two items, and Coach were offering a further 10% on purses just to give you an idea of some of the offers you might get should you visit.  It's a great way to live a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget that's for sure.

I spent most of the day being a complete grown-up (it's rare this happens!!) and weighing up what I really needed so that I didn't throw away all of my holiday budget in one shopping trip!  My Mister got an amazing pair of RayBans from Sunglasses Hut for a super £134, but it was this little gem that did it for me...


...say hello to my new Ralph Lauren purse.  Ralph Lauren is really impressive at Cheshire Oaks and there were lots of lovely things that I could've easily spent money on-but I needed a new purse and fell in love with this one.  £89.99 reduced to £39.99 and with more money off at the till, I ended up paying £30.39 for it! Bargain!  Isn't it pretty?!


I also picked up these cute little earrings for £6 from Monsoon and some things from the Bodyshop.

We spent the whole day shopping, and whilst there are plenty of great restaurants and cafés such as Giraffe, Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie to name a few, we decided to hit the road (it's about a three and a half hour journey from Cheshire Oaks to our home) and eat in Wetherby which is about half way between the outlet and where we live. 

The happy face of someone who is about to eat...Ask Italian in Wetherby is a great little restaurant so thought it was worthy of a mention!



So to the verdict?  If you're looking for some real designer bargains and live near Cheshire Oaks, I'd definitely recommend it.  If you love to shop, there's enough choice for you to easily spend a day there and plenty of places to eat or snack should you need a break.  From our house, Cheshire Oaks is quite a journey, so I think in future we'll definitely stick to York Designer Outlet; it may have slightly less choice in terms of brands, but there's not enough extra at Cheshire Oaks to warrant the extra miles and time it takes to get there.  I love McArthur Glen outlets though so I'd really recommend you check which one is nearest to you, there's always a good bargain to be found!

Thanks for reading,

Kay 

xxx







Friday, 7 April 2017

Elsa Schiaparelli comes to The Bowes Museum...

Hello all,

Apologies for my current blog hiatus, but I come back to you with amazing news of an acquisition of an Elsa Schiaparelli jacket made by the Bowes Museum this week...exciting!  After seeing some images of the jacket, I absolutely cannot wait to visit and see it in the flesh (or the fabric in this case!)-although I've been asked to tell you that some conservation work will take place on it before it is put on show.  Here are some beautiful images and a really interesting press release from the Museum into how the jacket was acquired.  And, if you're looking for something to do over the Easter break, why not visit the museum and check out their permanent fashion collection?  It really is worth a trip.  All details and opening hours can be found here.  Enjoy!



AWARD FUNDS PURCHASE OF STRIKING COUTURE EVENING JACKET FOR THE BOWES MUSEUM COLLECTION





A midnight-blue velvet evening jacket dating from 1937, by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, has been purchased for The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle with the aid of an Art Fund New Collecting Award.

The New Collecting Awards scheme was launched in 2014 by Art Fund, the national charity for art, with the aim of encouraging ‘early career’ curators to acquire objects that will progress their museum’s collection while continuing their own professional development.

Following the scheme’s launch Hannah Jackson, The Bowes Museum’s Fashion and Textile Curatorial Assistant, was awarded a grant of £60,000 to invest in a capsule wardrobe of French haute couture in homage to the Museum’s co-founder and Frenchwoman, Joséphine Bowes.

“We know that Joséphine was a collector, a patron of the arts, a society hostess, an actress, a painter and a devotee to fashion,” said Hannah. “She was among the many fashionable women who bought her clothes from Maison Worth on rue de la Paix Paris, aligning herself with figures such as the Empress Eugénie.

“From bills in the Museum archive, we know that in March 1869 Joséphine celebrated her fête-day by buying seven dresses from Worth, spending £234 (equivalent to around £11,000 in today’s money).

So far the New Collecting Award has enabled Hannah to travel to Paris and London for research purposes and to meet with her appointed mentor, Judith Clark, Professor at London College of Fashion. She visited archives in Paris, including the Palais Galliera and Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, and also attended auctions in Paris and London.

As part of the project she attended a week long international training course at the V&A in London entitled Curating Fashion and Dress, which extended her network of professionals in the field and offered her an insight into the V&A’s approach and ethos of collecting and presenting dress.

“Looking toward the future, the course has created an international network of peers working in my field of expertise across the world, which is something we can utilise here at The Bowes Museum,” said Hannah.

Following her in-depth research she has now acquired her first piece of couture for the Museum collection, a midnight-blue fitted velvet evening jacket, created by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli for her autumn/winter 1937-8 collection. The jacket is richly embroidered by Lesage, with gilt strip and cord, sequins, rhinestones and three large turquoise star shaped buttons. The jacket was purchased from Kerry Taylor’s Passion for Fashion Auction in London.

By May 2017, Hannah aims to have acquired a capsule collection of French haute couture which will reinforce the unique identity of The Bowes Museum’s fashion collection.

“Moving forward and beyond the project, our department aims to focus its collecting in a more French direction, in order to reflect the core history of the Museum and its co-founder Joséphine Bowes, whose life will be reflected in a forthcoming exhibition – Celebrating the Life and World of Joséphine Bowes: A Parisian Woman and her Legacy, The Bowes Museum - as we celebrate the Museum’s 125th anniversary,” she added.

Joanna Hashagen, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at The Bowes Museum, said: “I am delighted with Hannah’s choice - this is a very exciting new acquisition for our fashion collection.”


Joanna has recently contributed to a new publication on the presentation of dress in museums, Refashioning and Redress, Conserving and Displaying Dress edited by Mary M. Brooks and Dinah D. Eastop, published by Yale University Press, in which she discusses the complex, collaborative process that resulted in the new gallery at The Bowes. The book features the evening dress by Schiaparelli from The Bowes Museum collection, which is currently on show in the Fashion & Textile Gallery.

Many thanks to Sheila Dixon at the Bowes Museum for providing me with this press release and images.

xxx

Sunday, 12 March 2017

My French style and I...

Hello lovelies!

Today I'm chatting about style.  Style is one of those things that's quite difficult to define.  We live in a world where everyone craves being stylish and influencers make a fortune from wearing brands and sharing their style.  I've never considered myself to be stylish, but I've always been one of those people that wears what they want.  Although I love fashion (Vogue is my bible) and I always keep up to date with trends, I don't necessarily try to reflect that through my style of dress.  I like to think I have my own style, and certainly as I've gotten older,  I've felt myself really start to hone my own-I wear what I like and what suits my mood each day, and I love designer labels, but I try to mix the few pieces I have up with high street and vintage buys.  I think your style is seen best through the eyes of others; people have always commented on my clothes and my style, but I don't read too much into it; I like that they've noticed! I never try to imitate, and nor should you!


I've read lots of style books, and my favourites are usually by French women, or by those who have lived in France or have spent a lot of time there.  I've always loved nautical colours (red, white and blue-navy in particular!) and even when I was younger, I favoured them over other choices.  Navy has always been my go to colour and with a pop of red lipstick it can look amazing!  Now I'm in my early thirties (bloody hell, how did that happen?!)  I'm finding myself falling back into my French style; I feel confident in a Breton style top, tapered trousers and a pair of Converse.  Let's face it, if I wasn't English, I'd love to be French!  I love the country, particularly Paris and Cannes, and I love the French way of life and aesthetic.  I hope that one day I can retire there!

SO....to the point of this post I hear you cry?  Well, I have quite a few outfit shots to share and when I put them side by side, I realised just how much I've started to favour this dress code.  There's something about Spring that makes me come over all nautical...


It's finally the time of year where I can wear my Levi's Paris Saint Germain jacket (to be honest I've hardly had it off my back since the sun started to shine!).  I've also been wearing lots of neckerchiefs again, which work really well with this jacket; it's too warm for a scarf now anyways!  I have an enormous Vivienne Westwood neckerchief collection (coming in a post some time soon!); the very first designer piece I ever bought was one of these neckerchiefs and they've been a firm favourite ever since (they retail at around £15-£20...or at least they used to!).  I'm also loving them paired up with my ever growing collection of Breton-striped tops (blogger cliché anyone?!).

 This top was £10 from Zara!


My other obvious Parisian/French style staple is my love of the trench coat.  I once owned a vintage Burberry version, but had to sell it on when I lost quite a lot of weight a few years back.  Since then I've been loving this one from Zara.  Zara are a great go to place for trenches; they come back in stock every season in a variety of lengths and colours, and are a good second to the must have Burberry heritage version (and over £1000 cheaper!).  I also have a Michael Kors trench in navy which is a beauty too!  Here I'm styling it with some of my other Français faves; my neckerchief, a Breton top, my Converse and my Louis Vuitton Neverfull (my favourite handbag!).

Photo credit Miss K Everyday-trench love in the Durham sunshine... 

If all of the styles books I've ever read are to be believed, then another great staple is a well-made pair of shoes.  These leopard-print and leather beauties are by Ugg and were a snip at £30 from a recent trip to York Designer Outlet.  I've been wearing them with everything!  They're perfect for glamming up daywear, when it's sometimes impractical to wear heels.


Another style choice is a well made tailored jacket.  I often choose blazer/suit jackets to smarten up outfits or to give a look a 'business edge'.  My favourite is my one from The Kooples (yes I know, another French choice!) which again was a bargain reduction at £80...


But if I fancy a more 'on trend' style jacket, I'm happy to choose a high-street brand like this newbie I've worn to death from Primark...


...which I picked up for £25.  It reminded me very much of last season's Burberry and is always a great conversation starter!

I've started to use my Instagram account to post my outfits each day, but I wanted to collect them all here to share with you too.  I'm really interested in what things influence people's style, mine is obviously my love of France, but I'm sure there are lots of other contributing factors too!  I'm not a style guru or anything; but I love putting outfits together and similarly I'm interested in what influences your style choices, please let me know in the comments below :).

Thanks for coming on my style journey,

Until next time,

Kay 

xxx

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Forever Living: A beauty review...

Hello lovelies!

Today I'm covering beauty, a topic that I don't discuss often on Coco, but when I was approached by my lovely work colleague Nicky to sample some Forever Living products for review, I was dying to see what she had in store.  Forever Living is a company that I knew very little about, so I decided to do a little research before I tried out the goodies.  All FL products contain Aloe.  There are over 400 species of Aloe in the world, but it's Aloe Barbadensis Miller (to give it its Sunday name) that FL are interested in.  Known for it's soothing qualities, 'Forever Living' cultivate ABM in plantations in both the Dominican Republic and Texas to create the best form of Aloe Vera to use in their amazing products (if you want to read more about their Aloe story, you can do so here).

Okay, so you've got the gist of what we're dealing with here, so let's have a look at the products:

The massive box of goodies I was given to play with!

I'm not normally one for pampering myself, but because I had so many goodies to try I decided to take the time to use them properly and spread them out over a couple of days.  I started out easy and went with the eye make-up remover, hand and face soap and the moisturiser.  


The eye make-up remover was lovely.  It was really soothing around the eyes and didn't cause any stinging.  I have quite sensitive eyes and skin, so I was pleasantly surprised with how kind this product was to my face.  The moisturiser sample I had was also pretty amazing; the products are all very rich and high in quality, so I found that whatever I was using went a long way, less is definitely more!  My favourite of these three (and probably my favourite product of all), was the hand and face soap.  It smells absolutely unbelievable; think of the best smelling baby soap your mind can muster and you still won't even come close to the scent of this little beauty!  One pump's worth was enough to wash my hands and face, so if you were buying this product you certainly wouldn't have to repurchase it very often.

A single pump's worth of hand/face soap went a very long way!

After that little mini beauty regime, my skin went to bed happy and woke up feeling just as nice; no irritation from these products!  

Shampoo and conditioner samples (a full size bottle retails at £14.71 for 296ml)

During my morning shower, I decided to try out the samples of Shampoo and Conditioner.  My scalp is usually where I suffer most with my sensitive skin;  I regularly have to change shampoo as my scalp is easily irritated, so I was a little sceptical about how these products would affect me.  Again, both products are quite rich; there was more than enough in each little sachet to cover my short hair and I'm also pleased to report that I didn't suffer from any irritation after using them-success!!  If I was buying any Forever Living products, these would probably be the ones I would choose; my hair felt lovely and soft after using them and it's rare that I find a shampoo which leaves me itch free-I'd definitely recommend it for all those with sensitive scalps!

The final products I tested from Nicky's Forever Living box of goodies, were the Aloe Activator and Mask Powder.  A teaspoon of each product mixed together and applied to the face with an old make-up brush, creates a powerful tightening face mask dubbed 'Botox in a box'.  I don't often use face masks, so I decided on my second night of pampering to give this one a whirl!

Mask Powder £17.09 for 29g and Aloe Activator £11.99 for 118ml

The face mask ingredients mixed together...

...and applied.

Once the face mask is applied, it is advised to lie-down for up to thirty minutes to let the product have it's full tightening effect.  I couldn't believe how tight it made my skin before I took it off...


ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

...I looked like a burns victim and I couldn't even move my mouth to smile!!! It was quite possibly the weirdest sensation I've ever had on my face; but thankfully after the thirty minutes, and with a little help from the hand and face soap, the mask removed easily and I could move my face again!  After removal, my skin was quite red and blotchy, which Nicky explained is part of the tightening process; the mask stimulates the blood vessels under your skin which causes the redness.  I followed, as advised, with the Aloe Nourishing Serum (£34.69 for 118ml) which was delectable on the skin and helped to cool my face down.  My skin felt amazing afterwards!

A little serum goes a long way...
...and my face soon returned to normal!

I wasn't a huge fan of the face mask-I didn't like the burning sensation under my skin, but I can see why people would swear by it!  At thirty-one, I'm quite lucky in that I still have quite youthful skin (I pray to the gods of skin that this will continue!)  so there's not really much yet in need of tightening, but for those slightly older than me, I'd definitely recommend the mask (the effects can last up to forty-eight hours after one treatment!!)

So to the verdict...

I was really very impressed with the range of products offered by Forever Living, and the quality of each in turn.  My favourite product was definitely the Hand and Face Soap, but I didn't really have any major complaints about anything that I tried; I was pleasantly surprised with everything.  The products in the range are quite pricey, but I found that with each one I tried I only needed to use a very minimal amount, so when you consider cost per use, they are very good value for money.

Need to know more?

Forever Living isn't available in the shops, but if you are interested in purchasing any of the products or trying out some samples for yourself, you can contact Nicky by visiting her website here.  

Thanks Nicky for letting me have a play in Forever Living land!  I was given these products for reviewing purposes but all opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading,

Kay
xxx









Monday, 20 February 2017

Burberry February 2017 #LFW...

Image taken from here


Image taken from here

For the February 2017 Burberry runway show, Christopher Bailey took his inspiration from the work of sculptor Henry Moore.  It's hard to imagine how such work could be interpreted for the runway, but Bailey achieved it beautifully.  

The scene was set by music artist Anna Calvi, who provided an eerie soundtrack for the show's opener.  The palette of the collection was fairly neutral and there was a definite correlation between this and the 2016 September show.  There was once again, an abundant use of lace and frill, with Elizabethan collars featuring heavily as part of the show's finale.



The opening look was another modernisation of the trench; Burberry's ultimate staple piece.  This time it was oversized lapels and asymmetric lines that made it different from previous versions.  Asymmetric cuts were a firm favourite of this collection, with off the shoulder dresses, jumpers and capes all featuring.  As always with Burberry, the tailoring was exceptional, particularly with the menswear.

Asymmetric trench

Beautiful tailoring shown in Menswear

One of my favourite looks from the collection was the oversized boiler suit, with detailing on the shoulders.  Such a simple of use of cut and colour made the detailing stand out beautifully.


As a lover of French fashion, I also really loved the inclusion of Breton stripes...


The lines were blurred between Mens and Womenswear and most pieces had a real unisex feel about them (with the exception of some of the lace dresses).


Another favourite of mine was the Pea coat which hung beautifully;  Burberry always get it right when it comes to tailoring!


The show's finale was exceptional; feathers, frills, pearls, glitter and chainmail-every model wore a cape or a collar featuring one of these details.  The result?  Catnip for the eyes; pure perfection.  Bravo Mr Bailey, you've done it again!

As Burberry now deliver their collections under the 'buy now, wear now' format, all of these looks can be purchased now online at Burberry.com as well as makeup and accessories from the show.  Also, Maker's House will be featuring the work of Henry Moore and the inspiration and process behind the show between the 21st-27th of February (for more information click here).

What do you think of the collection?

xxx

All images (other than those whose links have been listed) were taken from Vogue.co.uk and are not my own.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Chanel Haute Couture SS '17...

Hello lovelies!

Fashion month is upon us again and to be honest, I can't wait for the London portion (Burberry anyone?!) but until then, I've been trying to get caught up with what I missed of the Haute Couture shows a few weeks ago, namely Chanel.


Of course everyone was talking about the amazing finalé look modelled by Lily-Rose Depp.  But what I love most about Chanel Haute Couture is the immense tailoring and the finer details that you simply wouldn't get from a normal runway collection.  I've handpicked my favourite looks (and I've even illustrated one of them) from the show and will discuss them in more detail-but if you get a spare moment, you can watch the full film of the collection here SPOILER ALERT-it's a beauty!!

Look 1

From the off, Look 1 was simple yet striking.  The detail here is in the tailoring of the bouclé, and I loved the pussybow collar, very Karl, very Parisienne!  J'adore!

Look 6

Look 6 was my favourite of the 'suiting' looks.  I love the length of the coat, and the combination of this with a lighter more fluid flowing dress.  The hat is the perfect finishing detail of the ensemble.  I loved it so much I had to sketch it....

...thoughts? Expect more illustrations on my blog over the coming weeks!

Look 40

Look 40 is exceptional elegance at its best.  I absolutely love the finer detail on the jacket and on the trim of the dress; a perfect look for a summer ball or wedding (if only I could afford the hefty pricetag!).

Look 52

Again, it was the elegant embellishments that caught my eye with Look 52 but I also love the shape; perfectly flattering for a small waist.  Absolutely stunning!

Look 65

The final few looks of the show were showstoppers, perfect cocktail party dresses with inspiration from a variety of eras and Look 65 was my favourite of them all!  I love the fluidity of it and the flowing feathers after the slim slip-dress style structure.  Perfect for any red carpet-amazing!

Which looks were your favourites?

Happy fashion month!

Kay xxx

(All images (except illustration) credited to Chanel.com, I do not own these images)





Thursday, 9 February 2017

Dining at the Bowes...




The Bowes Museum is celebrating it's 125th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate a birthday than with cake!  Yes, last Wednesday I decided to visit the museum to try out afternoon tea at Café Bowes; my Mam and I love afternoon tea and it's a perfect way to spend a day off!  I love visiting the museum when I have some spare time, and I couldn't wait to see what afternoon tea there (my other favourite pastime!) had to offer!


It must've been wonderful to dine with the Bowes family just over 125 years ago.  John and Josephine were avid collectors, hence the building of the museum in the first place, and if you get chance to visit the museum now, it's worth visiting the 'Dining with the Bowes' display; for a glimpse into the finery of dining with the Bowes family.

 Lady Josephine Bowes, pictured with her dog, loved to collect

Some of the pottery, porcelain and silverware displayed, gives the viewer a glimpse of the crockery that the family would have used in their everyday lives as well as those pieces reserved for finer dining.  





I was really impressed with the silverware on display, (some bearing the Bowes' family coat of arms) and was interested to learn that a lot of it was bought by John Bowes' great grandfather, who spent a whopping £1090 on silverware before his second marriage.  It's clear to see John's love of collecting certainly ran in the family!

Exploring the museum certainly helped to work up an appetite, and after drooling over all of the sweets and treats on offer in the museum shop, we were certainly more than ready for our afternoon tea.  I love Café Bowes; you always get the warmest welcome, the atmosphere is great and the food is absolutely delicious!  I was so glad I booked a table in advance and was given a window seat; my favourite place to sit is one where I can admire the beautiful gardens below.  We were a little early so ordered coffee when we arrived but thankfully, the chef had been informed that we'd arrived so we didn't have to wait long for our food...


...and it looked so beautiful, we couldn't wait to delve into the goodies (my Bertie Burberry bear wanted a piece of the action too!!).

Choice of sandwiches was cheese savoury, ham and pease pudding and salmon and cream cheese on  brown granary bread.  The sandwiches were delicious and there were more than enough; there certainly wasn't any skimping on the portion size!  The small fruit scone was perfect (and still warm!); sometimes a larger scone is too filling with an afternoon tea, so this one was just right.


Last, but by no means least, the cake layer was absolutely outstanding.  The mini Victoria sponge with fresh strawberries was so moist, the chocolate straw melted in my mouth and the mini macaron was absolutely delicious!  The layered Tiramisu cake was tasty too, but a little too rich for my palette (nevertheless I managed to demolish it!!).

On the whole, the afternoon tea was up there with one of the best I've ever had.  With our coffees and pot of tea included in the price, it was £25 for two people; a real bargain as most afternoon teas of this calibre start at around £15 per person.  I also got a ten percent discount for being a Friend of the museum!  I'd certainly recommend it-it was outstanding and my Mam and I had a wonderful afternoon!



With full tummies, it was time for us to make our way home, but I'm sure we'll be back again soon for another adventure!

Until next time,

Kay xx

Afternoon tea at The Bowes Museum is £25 for two people.  To reserve your table you can contact Café Bowes by emailing cafe@bowesmuseum.org.uk or by calling 01833 694605.  For more information on visiting the museum, check out their website here.