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

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Handbag Clinic presents Louis Vuitton...

Hello lovelies!

Have you been thinking about bagging yourself a new designer handbag recently?  What about a nice Louis Vuitton?  I love my Louis, and if you've been thinking about buying one, then this may be right up your street.  'The Handbag Clinic' Newcastle are launching their Louis Vuitton week next week and I've got everything you need to know right here!  All that's left now is for you to let me know which one you went for!

Handbag Clinic is hosting a special Louis Vuitton event in Newcastle to give fans of the designer the chance to bag a rare or preloved piece from the French fashion house.

The firm, which has stores in Newcastle, London and Leeds, says since opening in Newcastle in December, it has noticed the favourite designer of customers in the North East is Louis Vuitton, with its famous LV monogram. 

Now, Handbag Clinic is bringing Louis Vuitton bags from across the country to Newcastle to give clients in the region the option to purchase the style of their choice, whether a fan of the Tote, the Speedy or the Bucket style. 

Handbag Clinic purchasing manager Charlotte Staerck said: “There’s no doubt we love our labels here in the North East and it seems we love Louis Vuitton most of all.

“Since our launch in Newcastle, we’ve found Louis Vuitton is the most sold and the most requested brand in the city. That’s why we’ve decided to make it easier for customers to come in and see our Louis Vuittons all together in the same store in Newcastle, whether they’re looking to buy or just to admire some of these design icons.”

Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, first producing flat-top travelling trunks, before evolving into one of the world’s most valuable brands.

Handbag Clinic, which is headquartered in County Durham, cleans and restores bags from leading designers, including Vuitton. The firm also stocks vintage and preloved bags, many of which come in to the store in as-new condition.

Bags are sourced from customers across the country who used Handbag Clinic’s “Buy my Bag” service as well as through Charlotte’s expertise and extensive network of contacts.

Charlotte added: “We have some customers who always want the latest bag on their arm, so they bring in around three bags a month, usually less than three months old, allowing our clients to snap up immaculate and current bags at heavily reduced prices. 

“A large number of our bags come into store in brand new condition, sometimes with the tags still attached. One person’s unwanted gift then becomes someone else’s dream bag. But those bags which do need some TLC are revived by our expert technicians.

“We often have customers desperate for certain bags. Some have been on the shelf for just 20 minutes before being sold so anyone who does have their heart set on a certain Louis Vuitton may need to act fast.”

Handbag Clinic’s Louis Vuitton event runs from August 1 to 7.

Media Contact:Liz Hands (01325) 363 436
Editors’ notes:
Handbag Clinic opened its first store on Chelsea’s Kings Road before launching on Mosley Street, Newcastle. It offers a range of cleaning, protection, stain removal, repair and restoration services. Handbag Clinic also stocks a range of pre-loved designer handbags.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Flannels VIP launch, Intu Metrocentre, Gateshead...

Hello lovelies,

This week saw the opening of Intu Metrocentre's latest designer offering, Flannels, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the VIP launch.  After first discovering Flannels on a trip to Liverpool, then beaming with excitement when a Flannels store recently opened in Sunderland (I've already bought a Micheal Kors trench and Armani jeans-I'm officially hooked!) I couldn't wait to see what Flannels, Gateshead had to offer!

Situated on the ground floor of the Platinum Mall, Flannels offers 9,000 square feet of designer luxury for both men and women.  From Gucci, to Alexander McQueen (and everything in between!) if designer is your thing, then Flannels is the place to be!

My friend Krissi was my date for the evening, and after our initial greeting, we were officially checked off the guest list and let loose in the store.  There were delicious canap├ęs from the Botanist on offer, as well as mini bottles of Lanson champagne, and a golden envelope for every VIP which could've been worth a £1000 shopping spree!

 Valentino anyone?

Heading straight to the accessories (I'll always be a handbag girl!) I set off to plan what I would buy should I win the £1000-I started with Valentino and ended with Vivienne Westwood but sadly I didn't win!

After the competition was over, the real shopping began.  Keen to make use of my VIP discount (10% off sale goods, 20% off non-sale items) I set to shopping with a mission in mind-securing a dress for my visit to Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco for my summer break this year.  Luckily for me, Flannels caters for every occasion.  I started at Self-Portrait, where the dresses never disappoint...

...but in the end it was a little number from Darling that won me over (stick with me-I'll show you later!).

 A quick nod to any Sunderland fans-Fabio Borini in the background with wife Erin-one of the
many VIP celebrity guests to make an appearance at the launch.

Dress safely secured, there was just enough time left to try on a few pairs of sunglasses before we had to leave.

Not to focus solely on womenswear, there's plenty to offer for the men in your life too.  With brands ranging from Barbour to Belstaff, Armani and McQueen, the menswear is wonderfully varied with something to suit most tastes.

Just some of the menswear on offer 

Thanks so much to the team at Flannels, Intu Metrocentre, Gateshead,  for inviting us along to the launch and for looking after us so well.  Flannels is sure to be a huge success and fits in with the Platinum Mall aesthetic beautifully; I look forward to visiting again!  Flannels, Gateshead is open 7 days a week (here).

(oh...and here's THAT dress, a bargain buy at £35.10-thanks Flannels!)


PS-I need to also give a shout out to Krissi, because amongst my iPhone snaps-she provided most of the wonderful images from this post-thanks lady!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Chanel Haute Couture AW 16-17...

Hello lovelies!

Today's post is all about the fabulous Chanel Haute Couture AW'16-17 show which recently took place at the Grand Palais, Paris.  As you know from previous posts, I'm always incredibly excited to talk about Chanel-the shows are always breathtaking; but this seasons was just a little bit special.  Imagine stepping into 31 Rue Cambon, and working up through the floors until you are greeted by both Mr Lagerfeld and his fabulous team of ateliers and you'll come to close to the theme of this season's show.  That's right, we get a preview of the sewing room and the process of the creation of Haute Couture from the initial sketch to the execution of the outfit on the runway.  When I visited Paris a couple of years ago and went on a pilgrimage to the amazing Rue Cambon store, I was so excited to think that Karl and his amazing team could've been constructing those amazing Chanel tweeds right above my head.

Outside 31 Rue Cambon, Paris, August 2014

A journey into the sewing room at the Chanel Haute Couture show

The mood of the show, from the music to the make-up felt very sixties inspired.  Black eyeliner creating doll-like eyes and hair done up in a pretty bows, the models looked flawless.  And the clothes felt very wearable without deterring away from the detail that makes a Chanel Haute Couture show so special.

Look 3

Look 11

Look 14

Look 17

Look 34

Look 35

Look 44

Look 47

Look 50

Look 59

Look 68-alternative bridal!!

Look 71-Edie Campbell closed the show with this beautiful, yet slightly outrageous bridal piece, look at the detail in the jacket and train!

Karl Lagerfeld often speaks amorously about his amazing team of ateliers, and what better way to thank them then to feature them in the presentation and allow them see to their beautiful creations make their public debut.  Many credit the designer with the work, but without good execution of ideas from the team, nothing would be possible and I think this collection was Lagerfeld's way of highlighting that.

You can watch the full show here

What do you think of this latest offering from Chanel?


All images were taken from apart from mine of Rue Cambon.  I do not own these images.