Monday, 14 November 2016

Fashion illustration @ Orange Pip Market, Middlesbrough...

Hello lovelies!

The last Saturday of every month sees the amazing Orange Pip Market take place on Baker and Bedford Street in Middlesbrough.  Think amazing Artisan food and cool music spread out right across the two streets, snuggled in alongside some of the best boutique eating places you've ever come across.  So what's this got to do with fashion I hear you ask?  Let me tell you all about it...

A little in car selfie with my lovely friend Krissi

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know already that I have a love affair with fashion illustration.  I first explored this on a day course at The Bowes Museum lead by the lovely and extremely talented Frances Moffatt!  I've been lucky enough to keep in touch with Frances, and when Krissi and I found out that she was drawing fashion portraits at the Pip Market, we couldn't wait to visit and see her in action!

So on a blustery October Saturday, under a fun pink canopy, we gave Frances the task of drawing each of us in turn, whilst the other snapped away.  It's always lovely to catch up with Frances and luckily, we caught her quite early into her shift before she got super busy.  

I went first...

Sitting still and shutting up has never been my strong point, but somehow my chattering wasn't too much of a distraction for Frances, as she set to work sketching me out with pencil before moving to ink.  I hadn't planned my outfit (I'd dressed to keep warm!) but I loved the way that she picked out all of the details; including my love heart earrings!  I was more than impressed with the finished result!

Next up it was Krissi's turn...

She was a much better behaved model than me with my constant fidgeting and it was amazing to see her portrait come to life.  It was all about the fur with Krissi's picture...

I love the textures and shadows in her finished portrait!  We were super grateful that Frances drew us, so when we visited the Songbird Bakery for cupcakes to bring home, we made sure to get one as a treat for Frances too (and they were delicious).  If you plan on visiting the Songbird Bakery, my advice would be to go early; they run out of cupcakes later in the day!!

After sitting in the cold for a long time posing, we were ready for some food and decided on Barbarossa, a pizza kitchen and bar offering amazing wood-fired sourdough pizza.  The interior is a blogger's dream, with quirky artwork and hard-wood table tops and the food is simply irresistible!

We chose delicious smoked Arancini which was mouth-wateringly good and shared a sour-dough chicken pizza-it was a taste sensation!  All washed down with Gingerella Ginger Beer (in the coolest bottle!) for me and some rhubarb lemonade for Miss K!  I loved Barbarossa and will definitely be taking my Mister there the next time we're in Middlesbrough!

From stuffing our faces with good food, we wandered down through the market (apparently the scotch egg stall is extremely popular!!) and headed towards MIMA, to browse the gift shop and grab a coffee.  Between all of the quirky gifts and beautiful greetings cards, we found a colouring book from a famous friend...

The Fashion Exercise Book by Frances Moffatt!

MIMA is set in a beautiful area of Middlesbrough, with pretty fountains and beautiful buildings-such a nice place to end the day with some outfit of the day photos-thanks Krissi for your amazing photography as always!

Bag: Vivienne Westwood, Scarf: Vintage Burberry, Jeans: Levi's, Boots: Ugg, Jacket (leather): Triple S, Bomber Jcket: Marks and Spencer

We had such a fun road trip to Middlesbrough!  You can visit Orange Pip Market on the last Saturday of every month (November 26th will be the next one).  If you want to see more work by Frances you can add her on instagram here.  If you're wanting a portrait, make sure to visit Frances early in the day to book your slot to avoid disappointment!



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, 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


Monday, 27 June 2016

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain: A Review

Hello lovelies!

Some of you may have already read my post about my invite to the preview of 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' at the Bowes Museum (here).  I felt so privileged to be invited as a guest to such a prestigious event, but as the opening night was so busy, I was kindly invited back again to review the exhibition on a quiet Sunday morning when I could really spend time having a good old look at those shoes!  So without further ado, here it is...

Starting just outside the fashion and textiles gallery, I was greeted by that wonderful neon sign once again, before following the red carpet into the amazing world of Shoes.  Imagine the best walk-in-wardrobe you've ever seen for a shoe collection and you'll start to develop an idea of how amazing this beautiful exhibition is set out.  Not to mention the thousands of red shoe laces suspended from the ceiling, creating a homely, cosy blanket feel to the setting, such an ingenious idea.

Following the little trail of footprints on the floor, prepare to be dazzled at the vast array of shoes on show.  Being a luxury fashion lover, on my first viewing, my eyes were immediately drawn to the shoe designers I've come to know and love.  From beautiful Manolo's that Carrie would be proud to own, to those amazing Vivienne Westwood Elevated Gillies, to offerings from Charlotte Olympia, Prada and Dior to name a few, it's difficult not to be enticed by the beautiful structuring and stunning embellishments.  However, I felt as if I looked again this time and fell totally in love with the more historic shoes.  In this day and age, shoes are bought for purpose, comfort or beauty, which I suppose hasn't changed throughout history.  But I was amazed particularly at how many of the historic offerings were chosen for status or empowerment, particularly over women.  It could be the use of embellishments to draw the voyeurs eyes to the feet of the elite, or curly toes to make an entrance, or the simple use of a heightened sole to put a woman on a pedestal-it's fascinating to see how shoes have played such an integral part in both fashion and function over the years.  I suppose even today in the construction of a Louboutin shoe to draw focus to a pert bottom-shoes are still used as a status symbol even though we may not realise it.  But can you imagine being bought white flat slippers like the women in 1851, in order that your husband could keep you indoors?  No, me either (it would be more than his life was worth!!).

 Silver Geta bridal shoes
Italian chopines

Many of the historic shoes required the wearer to walk in a specific way in order to keep them on their feet, either by binding the toes so that the feet appeared smaller or didn't develop correctly like those from China, or by spreading the toes so that the shoes didn't fall off.  And to think that all we have to contend with is whether the heels of our newly bought shoes will survive a trip over some cobbles!

Lotus shoes-binding is essential.

I made so many notes on my second visit to shoes; I couldn't get enough of learning about both the history and function of each piece, there really is something for everyone!  I'd struggle to choose my favourite shoe from the exhibition.  Initially, I fell in love with the Cinderella shoe from Disney's 2015 adaptation of the story.  But I also adore the Roger Vivier for Christian Dior pink embellished shoes from the 1950s (I bought the postcard of these from the gift shop too!).  Other favourites of mine are the Super-elevated Gillies as I've already mentioned, which are the Vivienne Westwood shoes that famously caused Naomi Campbell to fall on the runway in 1993 and the Charlotte Olympia 'Bananas is my Business' shoes, simply for their fun presentation.

 Spot the Super-elevated Gillies-top right
My beloved Roger Vivier shoes sit pretty with other beautifully embellished shoes

It's interesting to visit the exhibition and listen to other people's reasons for their favourite choice of shoe.  My Mam was particularly fond of the Pierre Hardy shoes that were designed for Kylie Minogue, whereas my niece loved the shoes from Ancient Egypt.  I also loved the inclusion of the shoes from Josephine Bowes, a lady that holds such a special place in my heart and had such impeccable taste.

Whether a historian or fashion lover, I urge you all to visit 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' during its run (open until October 9th, 2016).  I visited it at the V&A last year and whilst I enjoyed it there, there's something about its setting at The Bowes Museum that makes it even more special-you really feel like you're getting up close and personal with some of the world's most beautiful shoe creations!

I've seen it twice already, but I know I'll be going back, even if it's just to make a conclusive decision on which shoe is my favourite-wish me luck!!

'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' runs until October 9th and tickets are available here.  All images used in this post were kindly provided to me by the Bowes Museum and are copyright of the Bowes Museum (exhibition shots) and of the V & A (individual shoe photography).  Many thanks once again to the museum staff, particularly Sheila Dixon, for inviting me to review the exhibition.  All opinions are my own-I love this exhibition-please make sure you visit (and also visit the gift shop for some amazing shoe-related goodies!)

My gift shop goodies ('Love' is from YSL: Style is Eternal)

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