Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wedding dresses for alternative brides...

Hello lovelies!

I hope this post finds you well!

Today I'm talking about a subject which is somewhat alien to me...that's right, I'm talking weddings!  For those of you that might have missed my little Instagram post, my lovely Mister of twelve years proposed to me whilst we were on holiday in Cannes in August!  It was totally unexpected, private, romantic (at sunset!) and quite emotional!  

Post proposal-when I'd composed myself!

I know what you're thinking...twelve years is a long time to wait to get engaged?!  Well to some it probably is, but to me it couldn't be more perfect.  I love my Mister very much, but I'm quite private about our relationship; tending not to share much about us on my blog and social media. We've lived together for almost seven years and been blissfully happy, and I've never been that big on weddings (they're lovely, I've just never really wanted one!) so I guess I just wasn't really waiting for a proposal! But now I've had one, I've got to start thinking about some sort of *gulp* wedding...eeek!

I use the term wedding loosely because we are most definitely going to elope!  I hate being the centre of attention, so by just having the two of us at our wedding, I know we'll really, really enjoy it and most importantly, get to choose what we want to do.  So whilst we haven't decided where yet (or when for that matter!), my inner fashionista has already started to consider what I might wear to marry my best friend.  This also got me to thinking, I can't be the only bride in the world that begins to shudder at the thought of choosing and wearing a wedding dress, surely?  So, for all of you brides to be out there, that want to wear a nice dress but definitely don't want white (or a wedding gown of any sort for that matter) consider me your new BFF as I take you through my thought process of choosing my alternative wedding attire.

Needle and Thread

I can't be the only girl in the world that loves to stroke these dresses, right?  Needle and Thread dresses are stunning; I've always wanted to own one but I've never had a glamorous enough event to go to that warrants their price tag.  In wedding gown price terms though, they're pocket money.  Expensive and detailed enough to make you feel special but no where near wedding gown or high-end designer dress prices, they're my favourite so far in my dress search.   Coming in a range of styles, lengths and prices, you're sure to find something wedding worthy, even if you're simply looking for a dress to wear as a wedding guest.  Here are some of my current favourites...

Comet embellished midi dress, £300, Harrods

Whisper midi dress, £145, Needle and Thread

Whisper prom dress, £450.74, Revolve

Whisper Posy Bodice Dress, from £175 via Lyst


Self-portrait dresses are absolutely amazing!  Each dress is flawless and unique, but the brand is instantly recognisable and aesthetically pleasing.  These dresses are for funky brides, a bride who dares to be different.  My main reservation is that many of the styles that I like wouldn't really suit a larger bust (I'm teeny, but my boobs are not!!) but if you're smaller-chested, the dresses with spaghetti straps are to die for (and similar to Needle and Thread, are much more budget conscious than bank-breaking!!).  Here's what I would choose...

Lace embroidered dress, £341, Farfetch

Shoulder Knot Lace Mini Dress, £280, Mytheresa

Blue Peony Mini Dress, £125 via Lyst

Wild cards!

I've looked mostly at the two afore mentioned brands, as they were the first I thought of when I pictured myself in my version of a wedding dress.  But there are so many great dresses out there, just waiting to be found!  As an extra tip, if you use a website like Lyst, and type a brand name, or something as simple as 'wedding dresses' into their search engine, they cleverly find and collate the most gorgeous pieces on sale from stores all across the web, so you might even find yourself a bargain too!  You're welcome!

Thea Dress, £322, Reformation
It wouldn't be my style-but wow this dress is amazing! 

Asos Wedding Frill Shoulder Detail Maxi Dress, £45.50, Asos

Delicate Beaded Bodice Maxi, £85, Asos

With so much choice out there, I'm so glad that I'm taking a non-traditional wedding dress route!  Now the difficult part will just be making a final decision!  All I know is, whatever dress I choose, it's definitely going to be paired with some expensive designer shoes; if getting married isn't a good enough excuse, I'll never have one!  Valentino anyone?

Thanks for reading,

Kayleigh x

*This was a collaborative post, but all opinions are my own.  All images are taken from the corresponding websites for each dress and are not my own (other than the first image).*

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Visiting Dé Lisa Boutique, Grasse...

Hello lovelies!

I hope this post finds you well?

I have lots of interesting fashion posts coming over the next few weeks (I hope to get caught up as I have so much to share with you all!) but I thought I'd start with a couple from my trip to the South of France.

This holiday was my third to the French Riviera; my Mister and I seem to have adopted it as our second home we love it so much!  Although we always stay in Cannes, we try to visit different places each holiday and this time we had Grasse on our hit list.  For those of you that are unaware, Grasse is the perfume capital of the South of France.  If you think of all the famous French fashion houses, many of them make perfumes or source ingredients from this beautiful little place.  Both Chanel and Dior as examples have flower fields in Grasse farmed for ingredients to contribute to No 5 and Miss Dior as well as many of their other signature scents.  I won't talk too much about perfume, as I also visited a Dior perfume exhibition and want to share this with you in a separate post (it was a goodie!!).

Beautiful views of Grasse

Before I left for my French vacay, my lovely milliner friend Margaret Woodliff-Wright (who you may remember from my Fenwick visit here) suggested that I look up another talented milliner, Lisa, whose shop and workshop, Délisa boutique, is based in Grasse.  

Lisa's space is situated on the Rue de L'Oratoire; the shops in Grasse are pretty much all together in a loop, so if you're wandering around you'll definitely find it.  My main concern with meeting her was that I wasn't sure if she was French or English; my French is okay and I try to speak as much as I can, but I am by no means fluent, so I was worried that I might struggle to introduce myself properly (and my link to Margaret!).  We wandered into Lisa's place and she introduced herself to us in the most beautiful French accent...followed by an English translation when we looked at her bewilderedly!  Lisa is English, but fluent in French-but if you're visiting France she'll be really excited to speak to you in her Mother tongue, so be sure to drop in!

Lisa is warm and welcoming and I was really excited to learn about her hats.  Her shop is a cornucopia of all things headwear; she also stocks scarves, purses and other little knick-knacks, all beautiful and reasonably priced.  She explained to us that she stocks a lot of straw hats, as in the Riviera summer heat this is usually what the customer wants.  The popular straw hat of the season this year was the boater, a hat shape that I always associate with France because of Coco Chanel.  Chanel famously made boaters when she was first starting out as a designer.  Although Lisa doesn't make the straw boaters, she had some beautiful ones in stock.  Lisa's speciality is fabric and I fell in love with her reversible combination fabric and straw hat.  Such a neat idea and perfect for keeping out of the sun; plus there's always something quite glamorous about an oversized floppy straw-rimmed hat! I also loved some of her berets, perfect for winters in the UK; I'm already thinking about purchasing something the next time I get to visit!

Lisa kindly let me try on some hats, and I was drawn to this beautiful yellow straw number.  I was so red from the sun that although the hat was beautiful, I'm not sure it was my best look!!

It was really interesting to hear about how Lisa fell in love with France at an early age when she visited as part of a school exchange programme years ago.  She also told us that when she first moved there, she spoke French to anyone and everyone so she could master the language fully (which she certainly has!).  As for her business, it's going amazingly and she's just in the process of expanding-there's even talk of her offering some craft-based holidays too!

I'm really glad I got to meet Lisa-I plan to collaborate with her on more blog posts in the future to keep you updated on her latest and to show you more of her millinery skills-she's a super talented lady and quite possibly one of the warmest and friendliest people I have ever met; thanks so much Lisa for welcoming us into your world with open arms (and for helping us choose where to visit in Grasse!).

You can find Lisa on instagram or check out her website here.

Until next time,

Kay xxx

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Diana: Her Fashion Story...

Hello lovelies!

I recently visited 'Diana: Her Fashion Story' at Kensington Palace and wanted to tell you all about it.  I'd never been to Kensington Palace before, and if you want to visit and have never been either, it's worth noting that the exhibition is included in the general admission price, so you can wander freely around the open rooms at the palace as well as visiting the exhibition.  I would suggest booking online before your visit though, as there was quite a queue forming for those that were paying at the door.  The palace gardens are free to visit and are absolutely beautiful, so I'd certainly recommend a wander around those too! For the purposes of this fashion post, I'm going to concentrate solely on the Diana exhibition, so without further ado...

I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a royalist; I like that we have a Royal Family but I wouldn't say that I have a massive interest in them.  But there was always something about Diana.  I was only 11 when she died in August 1997, but I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the news broke.  I was a massive Spice Girls fan at the time and was up early awaiting their latest TV appearance.  When I turned on the TV, I saw the bulletin that announced that Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris and I remember running straight into my Mam's room to tell her.  We were a sad household that day; as I said before we aren't really royalists, but the charisma and compassion of Princess Diana resonated with everyone.  She really was the people's Princess.  The chance to view her wardrobe up close and personal was one that I didn't want to miss and it is absolutely stunning.  The exhibition itself is small but perfectly formed and catalogues Diana's fashion journey beautifully from her simple style in the beginning to her status as a style icon even now, almost twenty years after her death.

Creating a style

'Diana knew what she liked' and 'loved anything with frills and ruffles'-Vogue

Before becoming a Princess, Diana was unfamiliar with designer fashion.  Her wardrobe consisted of some simple staples and she borrowed a lot of what she wore from her friends.  After her engagement to the Prince of Wales, she began to meet and form friendships with designers who helped her to create a working wardrobe.  Her early style choices were characteristic of eighties fashion.

Regamus 1980-a popular brand for young aristocratic women

Gina Fratini for Hartnell, 1991
Worn for the ballet in Rio de Janiero
During the same trip, Diana removed her gloves and shook hands with an AIDs patient, removing the stigma attached to the disease and displaying her compassion for others in a single action.

Inspired by Grace Kelly's gown in Alfred Hitchcock's 'To Catch a Thief'
Catherine Walker 1987

Another Catherine Walker dress, from 1987, Diana wore this in an official portrait with Charles 

Bruce Oldfield, 1990

London designers and fashion illustration 

Diana's glamorous wardrobe put London fashion and British designers in the public eye and raised the profile of British fashion worldwide.  Her clothes had to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.  Diana commissioned designers to create bespoke pieces for specific appearances; these designers would work closely with Diana, sketching out her ideas and pinning fabrics to each sketch allowing the Princess to make notes, suggest changes and highlight what she liked.  Together they would finalise each look.  The fashion illustrations featured in this exhibition are a thing of real beauty themselves!

Early public wardrobe

 Tweed suit (right), Bill Pashley 1981
Diana had two versions of this suit made in traditional British tweed.  The larger version, she wore on her honeymoon as it provided more room for manoeuvre for taking part in country sport

 Emanuel, 1981
Diana was loaned this by Vogue magazine for their shoot 'upcoming beauty'.  Shortly afterwards the 'Lady Di' blouse sold out on the high street!  She loved the blouse so much that Emanuel was chosen to design her wedding dress.

Emanuel suit, 1985
This suit was a commissioned piece for a visit to Italy.  Although the boxy look was fashionable, the suit was met with mixed criticism

The Spotlight

'Sometimes I can be a little outrageous which is quite nice.  Sometimes'-Princess Diana, 1985

Diana was unique in that she understood the rules associated with dressing as a royal but often broke with convention; she was a modern Princess.  She often made surprising and dramatic fashion choices, much to the delight of the press.  She abandoned the royal protocol of wearing gloves to greet people as she preferred to make human contact, was the first royal woman to wear trousers and she often wore black, which was usually reserved for mourning.  Many of her fashion choices were inspired by theatre and the arts which she loved and often saved some of her best outfits for attending these sorts of events.  It's clear to see that in her later years she understood clothing and what suited her; she was never afraid to be brave and bold with fashion.

 Murray Arbeid, 1986
This dress was inspired by Spanish flamenco and caused media furore when Diana paired it with one black glove and one red one

 Elvis Dress-Catherine Walker 1989
Although dubbed the Elvis dress, this dress was actually inspired by Elizabethan necklines; it was my favourite from the exhibition (and was also being returned after the weekend I visited so I'm so glad I got to see it) simply stunning!

 Victor Edelstein, 1985
This is the dress Diana was wearing when she danced with John Travolta at the White House

 Catherine Walker, 1990-the embroidery was strategically placed so that it could be seen from behind

 Another Catherine Walker piece (and another of my favourites) 1986
Diana carefully selected her looks to honour host nations.  This dress was embellished with falcons, the national bird of Saudi Arabia, worn when she visited the country.  The high neckline and long sleeves also respected local customs

 Catherine Walker 1986, from the 'Dynasty Di' (named as a reference to the glamorous outfits worn on the television show of the same name)

Victor Edelstein, 1985
The dress shown here has a few fingerprints, said to be from the young Prince's clinging to her legs

Working Wardrobe

'She would never wear a hat to a hospital because she said you couldn't cuddle a child with a hat on'-Philip Somerville, Milliner

Diana was a working woman; she attended around 130 engagements a year and each posed a different set of fashion requirements.  As seen in the previous section (see the white gown with birds), Diana liked to use fashion to display diplomatic messages overseas, but in a stark contrast her other outfits were more cheery and informal.  She had a great connection with children and often chose bright colours and accessories and she would allow the children she met to play with them.  By the late 80s and early 90s, Diana worked more closely with Catherine Walker to create silhouettes that were more streamlined and flattering to her tall frame.  Jasper Conran said that in meeting Walker, Diana had found a designer that could give her exactly what she needed and who concentrated on her; from this her style was born.

After her separation from Charles in 1992, Diana wanted to focus more on her charitable commitments and to be seen as someone who was a 'workhorse rather than a clotheshorse'.  She simplified her daytime look to more executive suits and shift dresses to match this image change.

 Catherine Walker, 1997
Worn for the Courage and Bravery Awards

 Catherine Walker, 1996

Catherine Walker, 1997
This was worn for a Bond Street shopping trip

From a suggestion made by Prince William, Diana decided to auction seventy-nine of her dresses off at Christie's in New York in June 1997, raising £3.4 million for AIDs and Cancer charities.  This was the end of an era; she closed the door on her royal life and style and opened another which allowed her to focus on her charity work.  Mario Testino photographed Diana for Vanity Fair to promote the sale at Christie's in which she wore some of the dresses featured in the auction.  The images are famous and show Diana as the true beauty she was both inside and out.

 Catherine Walker, 1992, smoking jacket tuxedo style dress

Catherine Walker, 1994-known as the 'sexy' dress-Diana wore this for a UNESCO charity event at the Palace of Versailles

Catherine Walker, 1990-a simpler piece and a break from the previous overdone fashion of the eighties

 The dress Diana wore for the auction was another Catherine Walker piece (1997) which was short and embellished but understated in comparison to the auction pieces.

I couldn't finish this post without talking about this stunning Versace dress.  Diana worked with more foreign designers once her royal duties ended.  This stunning work of art was an Atelier Versace piece; Versace was a favourite of Diana's.

Diana was a wonderful royal who will certainly leave a lasting legacy for both those who remember her and for those approaching this exhibition with fresh eyes.  The collection gives the viewer a real feel for how she grew into an iconic fashion figure, with function and practicality considered in each outfit she chose.  Her main focus was how her clothes would work for her when she met people; as long as she could make a connection with people fashion increasingly became a sideline.  She always looked beautiful-in the beginning as 'shy Di' and in the end as 'the people's Princess'.  Beauty shines from within and after learning so much about her its clear to see that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out.

 Scenes from the white garden, in Diana's memory


'Diana: Her Fashion Story' runs at Kensington Palace for the next two years and I'd highly recommend it, it's a sight to behold!  This is not a sponsored post, I visited the exhibition of my own accord.  The information used to write it came from the exhibition, but I'd also recommend  the catalogue, available from the Palace shop.